If there is one nutritional no-no that takes the cake, skipping meals might be it. For starters, “people who skip meals aren’t getting all of the nutrients they need,” says Mickey Harpaz, Ph.D., exercise physiologist and nutritionist in New York City and Fairfield County, Conn., and author of Menopause Reset! (Rodale, 2011). Not only are they missing out on nutrients that will help prevent chronic diseases, they may also suffer more immediate consequences, like not having energy (which then threatens their ability to exercise) and having a weakened immune system, which will make them more susceptible to colds and the flu.
Studies also show that people who skip meals tend to overeat at later meals, especially if they’re giving breakfast the brush-off. “Eating breakfast helps you avoid excessive hunger—and overeating—later in the day,” says J. Graham Thomas, Ph.D., co-investigator of the National Weight Control Registry, a database of people who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for a minimum of one year. Among these successful losers, 78 percent report eating breakfast daily.