Yes, cutting back on calories can offer some health benefits and promote weight loss.
However, for a few different reasons, taking calorie-restriction to the extreme, like by skipping out on entire meals, isn’t a smart weight loss strategy.
The most recent study to shed light on why this “dieting” strategy is actually a bust found that skipping meals can instigate a series of “metabolic miscues” that may lead to weight gain, and especially in the abdominal area.
The study compared two groups of mice: one where the mice ate all of their food in a single daily meal after following a restricted diet that caused them to lose weight, and another (the control group) where the mice were free to eat throughout the entire day.
The results of the study, which were published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, revealed that the single-meal mice regained the weight they had lost as calories were added back into their diets (nearly catching up to the control group by the end of the study) and that the fat around their middles weighed more than compared to the mice who were allowed to eat regularly throughout the day.
"This does support the notion that small meals throughout the day can be helpful for weight loss, though that may not be practical for many people," said Martha Belury, professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University and the study’s senior author.
"But you definitely don't want to skip meals to save calories because it sets your body up for larger fluctuations in insulin and glucose and could be setting you up for more fat gain instead of fat loss."
Additionally, the researchers pointed out that increased abdominal fat is linked to health risks such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.