Sunday, February 10, 2013

Should I Eat If I Am Not Hungry?

Should I Eat If I Am Not Hungry?

There are many misconceptions about weight control and weight loss.
I addressed a few in recent posts such as one on “starvation mode” and one on how to lose a pound.

A recent publication by 20 weight control researchers pointed out other common misconceptions, myths and unproven beliefs.

One commonly held belief is that we must not skip meals and that skipping meals, like skipping breakfast, will make you fat.
That belief holds that if you want to lose weight, you should eat regularly and not skip meals. It turns out there is no good evidence to support these beliefs.

I have seen patients with Type 2 Diabetes who typically eat twice a day, forcing themselves to eat an extra meal. 
Why?  A dietitian told them they had to.
Of course, they all gain weight in the process.

Many people who skip breakfast do so because they eat late at night so they’re not hungry in the morning.
Others skip breakfast for other reasons.

But skipping meals does not translate into obesity and making an overweight person eat more frequently has not been proven to aid in weight loss.

One thing is clear, the more calories you take in, the harder it will be to take off weight. Eating based upon what time it is seems silly to me and is not supported by good evidence.

So don't eat if you’re not hungry. 
And most important: reduce those calories and get more physical.



  1. Good advice, Dr. Weiss. I agree that you should not eat if you are not hungry. I have also seen this in my practice, as well, where the client was advised to eat three meals per day and snacks, and consequently gained weight because they were not use to eating this many times a day. I am not sure if the client “heard” the reasoning behind eating three meals per day vs two meals per day or if the client heard that they needed to cut back on the amount and poor quality of food he/she was usually eating. Sometimes the client only hears what they want to hear, and/or they were not able to receive adequate diet education, due to time constraints, finances, etc.
    But, I do know that if the client who normally eats only two times per day takes the advice of reducing overall calories and getting more physical, they will likely experience hunger between meals and thus ideally I would recommend a soundly-planned snack or meal so they don’t overindulge at their next meal. Learning how to recognize hunger signals is something important to teach, as well, and also planning meals where 50% of the plate consists of non-starchy vegetables, to help them feel fuller and reduce the likelihood of overindulging at the next meal. I appreciate the links you provided on common misconceptions and your personal links, as well, and yes I also believe that bottom line, its calories in and calories out that determine if one loses weight or not, but I also think that it’s the “quality” of the food they are eating that will determine their “appetite” and whether they continue to choose to make healthy or non-healthy food choices. My recent blog post better explains what I mean: I enjoyed your blog post! Thanks for the education.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I enjoyed reading your post too! Keep up the good work!