Big appetite? Don't eat! (!?)
May 26, 2007 7:02 PM   Subscribe

Why is it that when I barely eat anything during the first half of the day, my appetite remains almost nil through the evening? But when I have a sensible breakfast and small lunch, my appetite ramps up and up through the afternoon?

This morning I woke up at 9 am, and didn't eat or drink anything until 4 pm when I had minor hunger pangs (water and 2 cookies made it go away). I've had almost no appetite today. Before we jump to the idea of "lowered metabolism" I did a whole lot of outdoor work and some computer work and didn't feel run down or tired at all. I've noticed this pattern too on other days where I don't bother to eat.

My weight is about 20% over what it should be, so this is an intriguing finding. I know it's not really healthy to skip a bunch of meals, so I figure there's got to be a way to make this work to my advantage.

Any thoughts on this?
posted by chef_boyardee to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I also do this. A fellow coworker described why I go through hunger like you describe.

Basically, when you only eat once a day (as i usually do) your body goes into survival mode. When you have a set schedule of intake for your body to burn it starts to get cranky if you aren't keeping up demand.

made sense to me anyway.
posted by ronmexico at 7:26 PM on May 26, 2007


Previously?
posted by anaelith at 7:47 PM on May 26, 2007


Look up basal metabolim.

The digestive system uses a lot of energy, so your body shuts it down when it's not needed, such as during a fast (ie a night's sleep). It gets switched back on again when you eat.

If you want to lose weight, I think the consensus is actually (counter-intuitively) that you should eat breakfast, as this gets everything switched back on, which means you burn more calories (even doing nothing) than the same activity while still in fasting mode. Then you eat small snacks throughout the day (instead of large meals), so your metabolism has to keep running.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:49 PM on May 26, 2007


Thanks anaelith... I did some searches and that one didn't come up. That will be interesting reading material.
posted by chef_boyardee at 8:08 PM on May 26, 2007


I think the consensus is actually (counter-intuitively) that you should eat breakfast, as this gets everything switched back on, which means you burn more calories (even doing nothing) than the same activity while still in fasting mode. Then you eat small snacks throughout the day (instead of large meals), so your metabolism has to keep running.

I'm not so sure I agree with the consensus. I am still just as active and busy even when in the "fasting" mode. However if I eat and switch those things on, then I'm vulnerable to taking in a lot more calories than I need because the "food" light is constantly illuminated in in my brain.
posted by chef_boyardee at 8:11 PM on May 26, 2007


As I understand it breakfast was originally the breaking of a fast. A guy (a shepherd let's say) would get up in the wee small hours, go to work in the fields, and come home a few hours later for his breakfast. Eating food immediately on waking doesn't make a lot of sense to me anyway: you've just woken up refreshed from several hours sleep, what do you need a meal for? I don't eat breakfast as a rule, and I've never noticed any ill-effects for not doing so; and on the days I do eat breakfast I get the same appetite-ramping syndrome as you. The earlier question linked above gives some thoughts why that may be. But I think the way to get this to 'work to your advantage' if you are overweight may be to just cut out breakfast.
posted by londongeezer at 8:13 PM on May 26, 2007


Well, the consensus assumes you have self control.
posted by vonliebig at 8:17 PM on May 26, 2007


I'm not so sure I agree with the consensus. I am still just as active and busy even when in the "fasting" mode.
posted by chef_boyardee at 11:11 PM on May 26


I think you misread: not your activity, your digestive system's activity.
posted by joannemerriam at 8:51 PM on May 26, 2007


I use a personal trainer, and the plan he drew up for me based on my body composition and habits, and activity level. It broke down with

I) Breakfast
II) AM Snack
III) Lunch
IV) PM Snack
V) Supper

Lunch and supper are full meals, and breakfast and the snacks tend to be two servings of starch and some fruit. Lunch and supper have lots of veggies, a bit of starch and some lean meat.

I find if I deviate from the plan much, I eat much more food overall and tend to attack my meals much harder. I would guess that the hunger you get when you finally break out of your fasting mode is pretty intense - which probably leads you to bad food choices; such as hitting the drive through, or lesser evils like carbs in evening (or at least it does me).

The frequent healthy snacks also means that on certain days I just pick at my bigger meals (it is okay to eat if you are hungry) - I think it has decreased my appetite overall. I have taken off 5 very stubborn pounds in the last couple of weeks, even though I injured my wrist and excercised with less intensity.

I don't know the science, but I believe it works if you are making good food choices and keeping your dietary sugars balanced.

So while I have consulted a professional, I could be talking completely out of my ass - I am voting for the orthodox method.
posted by Deep Dish at 9:41 PM on May 26, 2007



This morning I woke up at 9 am, and didn't eat or drink anything until 4 pm


I used to do this pretty much most of my life until a few years ago. Long story short - I think this really messed me up. I dont know the specifics, but doing this on a daily basis cannot be healthy. Its also an easy way to convert your muscle into fat and screw with your blood sugar.

FWIW, I was a bit shocked at how often normal people eat, but I got used to it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:47 PM on May 26, 2007


um, water and 2 cookies a day is not healthy for anyone. you may be able to do it a few times intermittently but if you tried this on a daily basis, you will be screwing with your metabolism and your health. there are ppl who can (barely) sustain themselves on water and 2 cookies a day as a regular thing. they're called anorexics but eventually their bodies give out.

sheez. when will ppl realize that there's no shortcut to losing weight and being healthy? no. shortcuts. none. barring some sort of actual physiological problem, if you want to lose weight then you need self-discipline. eat healthy. exercise. don't think you can wrangle some sort of real advantage from drinking water and eating 2 cookies a day.
posted by violetk at 12:09 AM on May 27, 2007


chef, -harlequin-'s comment is backed by just about everyone in the health, nutrition, and fitness professions.

Deep Dish's diet plan is also widely respected and practiced.
posted by lekvar at 1:10 AM on May 27, 2007


For the past several months I've tended to not bother with breakfast and often forget to eat through the day, eventually starting to feel a bit shaky, and finally eating something. My weight has varied less than five pounds over this time, but I feel a bit flabbier, and I tend to get a fair bit of exercise. I wouldn't recommend this as a diet strategy.
posted by yohko at 8:21 AM on May 27, 2007


A common refrain among people who have just started something like Weight Watchers is that they are suprised by how much MORE they feel like they are eating. For a variety of chemical and hormonal reasons, it is easier to lose (or maintain) weight when you eat three meals a day of healthy food than when you eat small amounts of unhealthy food.

Lack of hunger does not mean your body doesn't need food.
posted by lunasol at 12:43 PM on May 27, 2007


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