Does anybody remember the song from Malcolm in the Middle by the band They Might Be Giants?
‘Yes, no, maybe, I don’t know….’ and so it goes.
Sometimes answers in health and nutrition can be a bit like that.
Answers similar to this, ‘Yes, but it depends’, ‘No, but we also need to consider X,Y and Z’ and ‘Maybe, I’d need more information before I answer that’.
The answer to the skipping a meal question above is no different.
For some people it wouldn't be the best idea to skip lunch at all.
Other people though, it may be the best option for them at the particular time.
Although, for many, they won’t know the outcome until they try skipping lunch and see how it affects them.
Why is that?
Quite simply put, we are all unique.
Yes, we have similarities, but we also have so many biochemical differences.
How old we are has an impact, our gender has an impact, our ancestry has an impact, our health goals have an impact and so much more.
Intuitively, many of us know this to be true.
Have you ever tried a diet your friend swore by, and the results were definitely happening, only to have it be a monumental disaster for you?
Perhaps it wasn’t the right diet for you right now at this point in your life?
Maybe it'll never will be the right diet for you?
Perhaps the diet will work for you someday and this is just part of the fun of nutrition and diets!
With that all being said, let’s look at a the benefits and a few problems that may emerge if you choose to skip your lunch.
Potential benefits of skipping lunch
Yes, it's true, there are some potential benefits (and health benefits) from skipping lunch and not just the fact you'll get more out of your day.
Here are some of the benefits you may encounter when you skip your midday meal.
It can save you time
This one’s pretty self-explanatory for you, by not having lunch you can save time.
You might not even have time to have a decent breakfast either to be honest.
There are some days, where we’re just extremely busy and spending 30-60 minutes preparing and eating lunch is going to cause more stress than it’s worth.
And that’s ok.
This is a very simple concept.
By eating less frequently, we are giving our digestive system a break, so it can focus on digesting the foods we’ve already eaten for the day.
This may be an especially useful strategy for those of us who deal with frequent digestive complaints
Time restricted feeding
This benefits really depends on when you eat breakfast and lunch.
There is plenty of research coming out showing the benefits of restricting our feeding window to 16 hours or more.
Some of the potential benefits include, helping to improve cellular health, potentially reducing risk of diabetes, help with lowering of blood pressure and assisting with weight loss.
This could mean having a late breakfast, early dinner and that’s it for the day.
Read more like this
Potential issues with skipping lunch
Here are some of the issues you should think about if you're looking at cutting lunch out of your day (or skipping any main meal for that matter).
It may lead to a potential blood sugar crash
Some people thrive on skipping meals, while others crash and burn.
If you’re a crasher and burner it may be that you have issues with how your body stabilises it’s blood sugar.
This may not be as much of an issue for somebody who is keto-adapted, as they are able to tap into their stored body fat and use that for energy, just like they would from the fat in foods.
That being said, it can take some time for our body to adapt to skipping a meal, so don’t dismiss it after one attempt.
Weight, weight gain in particular
If you’re already on the thin end of the scale and struggle to gain weight, you may find it difficult to eat enough food in the day if you’re skipping one of your main meals.
So skipping lunch probably isn't an ideal solution for you at all in this case.
No chance to slow down
Sometimes lunch serves as that anchor in the middle of the day to slow down, to reset, to rejuvenate and refuel before you get onto the next part of your day.
If you’re one who is always up and about and thinking of the next thing to do, it may not be the best idea to skip the opportunity to slow down for a while (i.e. lunch).
Is skipping lunch (or any meal) right for you?
This is by no means a comprehensive overview on the downfalls and benefits of intermittent fasting, it's just a toe in the water for you to start learning about the impact of skipping meals.
In reality, we could write a whole thesis on the topic (and we're betting many already have!).
So, is skipping lunch right for you?
While we can’t answer that for YOU, we can suggest you work directly with somebody who can assess you as an individual and come up with some suggestions short term and long term.
Naturopaths and Nutritionists are two great examples of practitioners trained in nutrition and assess you as individual to determine your unique needs.
The more you experiment with your diet, the more you'll learn what works for you and that's a good thing right?