Why Eat Only Once A Day
Most people cringe at the thought of missing a single meal. Intentionally missing all but one meal, every day, seems excessive and unnecessary. But proponents of OMAD claim a multitude of benefits, including:
- Increased focus and productivity. Who hasnt hit that groggy 2:30 p.m. slump at the office? OMAD is said to eliminate the sluggishness people feel while digesting their lunch because there is no lunch.
- Weight loss. Its extremely hard to be at a caloric surplus when youre eating one time per day. Even if your one meal is not healthy by normal standards, youre not taking in as many calories as you would if were eating all day long.
- Diet freedom. Forget logging calories or eating out of Tupperware. You free up a lot of mental energy when you dont have to plan four to six meals per day.
Some follow this eating pattern for religious reasons. But others, including prominent pro athletes like Ronda Rousey and Herschel Walker, voluntarily eat once a day for the long term. Walker claims to have been eating one meal a day, typically a salad and some bread in the evening, for years.
Theres even some historical evidence that the ancient Romans only ate one large meal a day before breakfast began its rise in popularity during the Middle Ages.
Eat A Good One Meal A Day Preferably Home
I ate at home a lot more when I fasted. There were environmental reasons for this the town was virtually destroyed by the hurricane with power lines were still down, and it was less than optimal to drive the 30 minutes back to base at night.
I also noticed that I enjoyed preparing my food during this time a lot more than usualeven though I was cooking for myself.
I ate a lot of single-ingredient foods, and often broke my fast with an apple or another piece of fruit. I felt more satisfied and enjoy the food more when my OMAD was home-cooked.
The Science Behind The Omad Diet
Less extreme versions of intermittent fasting that allow a four or eight-hour eating window have been shown to improve glucose tolerance, increase insulin sensitivity, and aid in weight loss. Yet, eating one unusually large meal can have the opposite effect of dieting in the first place.
One study in the journal Nutrition Reviews from 2015 cautions against extreme versions like the OMAD diet because it can lead to an abnormal increase in appetite and body fat percentage beyond where you were when you started the diet.
“When you eat once a day, you feel weak and sick. When it comes time to eat, one tends to overeat which can lead to a surge of insulin and ultimately feeling unwell,” says Melissa Rifkin, a registered dietitian and owner of Melissa Rifkin Nutrition in New York City.
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It May Improve Metabolic Health
Whats even more impressive is that intermittent fasting might help improve various health markers, even without weight loss.
In one small study, researchers had pre-diabetic men follow different intermittent fasting schedules, but gave them enough food to maintain their current body weight.
After 5 weeks, the men had better insulin levels, improved insulin sensitivity, and better beta cell response. They also saw improvements in their blood pressure and had decreased oxidative stress levels.
Another small study followed 10 obese men with type 2 diabetes who were currently taking metformin, one of the most popular diabetic medications.
After two weeks of fasting, the men had better blood sugar control than when they first started the study.
Choose Your Time Wisely
Fasting once a week to lose weight sounds simple in theory, but it can be a challenge if your fasting day falls on the day of your best friend’s wedding, a company picnic or a treasured holiday celebration that revolves around food.
Rather than torture yourself by sipping plain water while you inhale the smoke from your boss’s barbecue, give yourself a little breathing room by being flexible. Even the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says that it’s OK to have occasional treats.
Look at your schedule too. If you work double shifts, are switching from the day shift to the night shift or vice versa, have a new baby or puppy, or have any other reason for lack of sleep, this may not be the time to fast. Lack of sleep affects the hormones that control your hunger levels, reminds the Los Angeles County Department of Health, and can also cause your body to hold on to fat.
Stress can also affect your ability to lose weight, Los Angeles County says. So starting a weekly fast at the same time you start a new job, move to a new place, or are dealing with the effects of a breakup or other loss might not be the most effective choice you can make â both for your physical health and your mental and emotional health. The last thing you want to do is set yourself up for failure.
How Does Omad Work
One meal a day is not so much a diet but rather a particular version of intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting involves alternating between periods of eating and periods of consuming no calories at all . As the name implies, with OMAD, you eat only once per day. You spend 23 hours of the day fasting and have a one-hour eating window. During that time, you eat your single, large meal. You consume the number of calories you need for the entire day during those 60 minutes.
The extended fasting period during the one meal a day diet is beneficial to the body for many reasons, many of which I go into more detail below. One of the main things to understand is when we fast, the Fat Storing Hormone levels in the body drop. Correcting Fat Storing Hormone resistance and blood sugar issues is essential in avoiding common health problems. Doing this through fasting can help solve a lot of problems throughout the body and can help you with everything from weight loss to memory issues.
Persistent Hunger And Disordered Eating
Many people suffer from persistent hunger, for various reasons. People who feel hungry frequently often report that they feel hostage to their kitchen and are constantly foraging for their next meal.
The OMAD diet is a very effective solution for this problem because eating only one meal per day trains the appetite control center in your brain to only expect nutrients once per day.
While this does not work for every individual, many people find that just like their muscles, their brain is a very trainable organ that can alter its function under the right circumstances.
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Omad Diet Benefit #: A More Youthful Appearance
OMAD has also become fairly renowned for its ability to turn back the biological clock. Many people report that their skin becomes plumper and more vibrant following daily fasts. And recent research indicates that this isnt just some sort of hunger-induced placebo effect.
One recent study found that fasting for 24 hours boosted anti-aging hormones like human growth hormone by between 1300 and 2000 percent.
This special hormone plays a vital role in structuring muscle fibers, connective tissues, and the skin. Its likely responsible for the smoothed-out wrinkles and brighter glow many people on OMAD notice when they look in the mirror.
Blood Sugar Increases Arent An Issue
This point piggy-backs off the previous two. One of the benefits is the fact that you arent simply eating snacks, sugary or processed foods all day. In fact, you are eliminating these and other snack foods during the day.
Because of this, your blood sugar levels may actually decrease as a result of this.
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What Should I Eat For One Meal A Day
Choosing the time for an OMAD diet sounds so much easier than choosing the food youre going to eat. Even if we dont take any diet into account we are aware that it is a terrible idea to overeat before some activities. You might as well eat after them.
But what does a one meal a day diet plan look like? Lets check it out:
The Omad Diet Defined
As mentioned, the OMAD diet is an extreme form of intermittent fasting. For instance, one of the most common ratios for IF involves 16 hours of restriction with 8 hours of feeding time, also known as the 16:8 diet.
The OMAD diet lengthens the restriction time to essentially 23 hours, shrinking the feeding period to about an hour for a 23:1 ratio. Part of the gimmick of the OMAD diet is that you can theoretically eat whatever you want for that one hour window and still maintain or even lose weight. The diet has some high profile followers, including athletes like pro wrestler Ronda Rousey and former pro football player Herschel Walker.
Of course, these top-level athletes arent using their single meal to binge on candy and junk food. For instance, Walkers diet mostly consists of vegetables and bread, which affords him a lot of energy in the form of carbohydrates.
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Dark Leafy Green Vegetables
These include kale and spinach, Swiss chard and collard greens. They are packed with fiber and water, which helps keep you fuller. There is nothing keeping you from having that cheeseburger as your one meal, and you might even add those fries you were craving. But you should also try including a big leafy green salad of mixed kale and spinach topped with your favorite salad dressing as a prelude to your burger. I always have a huge bowl of salad prior to eating my main meal, and it definitely helps to keep me satisfied and full.
Fasting One Day A Week
Choosing to fast one day per week to lose weight is not guaranteed to bring you the results you want, cautions the National Institute on Aging, but if done carefully and knowledgeably, it should also not do you any harm. There are several things to keep in mind as you fast, suggests the NIA.
Make sure that what you eat on nonfasting days is a lean and nutritious diet built around leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean protein such as chicken and fish, and healthy fats from avocados and olive oils.
It is also important, say the experts at the NIA, to get enough sleep, do some sort of regular exercise and keep up with your social contacts â it is far easier to tackle a challenge such as intermittent fasting if you are well rested and have plenty of emotional support.
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What Can You Drink On An Omad Diet
With any intermittent fasting, its vital to ensure youre adequately hydrated. So for sure, during my OMAD experiment, I drank more water than usual. I couldnt tell you how many litres on average, but I always like to ensure that Im adequately hydrated, which you can test by the clarity of your urine.
But outside of water, I did drink coffee and tea. Now, most intermittent fasting guides will advise that you can only consume calorie-free drinks when fasting. So this would include black coffee and herbal tea.
Upon further research, I found that some health experts suggest that these drinks are not advisable to consume during a fast as coffee and tea contain xenobiotics which needs to be processed by your liver or gut.
Okay, I must admit that I did have coffee and tea with either nut or soy milk, about 50% of the month.
So if I were a purist, I wasnt technically fasting by the book. This is my next challenge, which I will discuss later in this post.
Physical And Mental Challenges
Psychologically, it can be challenging to prepare for many hours of fasting, and without knowing it, many people binge eat during their single daily meal, creating a daily habit that can lead to disordered eating, and uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms including gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or abdominal pain.
People with eating disorders, or simply people who do lots of physical activity throughout the day may also find it difficult or impossible to eat OMAD.
As we mentioned above, for some people the One Meal A Day diet may simply not be the right dietary plan, especially if you start to notice excessive stress, unhealthy weight loss, or physical strain .
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What Is Omad Diet
Almost all of us have gotten used to eating 3-4 times a day, not including snacks. Now imagine if you should go without food for 23 hours and then youre only allowed to enjoy nutritious food for 1 hour each day.
One meal a day diet is a strict type of intermittent fasting whichallows you to eat for only one hour per day and for the rest of 23 hours, you must fast.
People dive into this sort of diet for various reasons beginning with dissatisfaction with obesity up to challenging their willpower.
Intermittent Fasting May Have Health Benefits Beyond Weight Loss
Still, OMAD in one form or another is a regimen people have been following even before the diet had a buzzy name. Todd Becker, who runs the Getting Stronger blog about thriving on stress, told TODAY in 2015 that he usually ate dinner, but often skipped breakfast and lunch.
Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla told The New York Times he fasts until dinner because food slows him down. There’s a section of Reddit devoted to OMAD, where people post photos of their meals and exchange tips.
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Possible Cons Of Eating One Meal A Day
As noted, individuals who are pregnant or nursing, under 18, take insulin to manage diabetes, have a past eating disorder, or who take food-dependent medication should not follow OMAD. If you have diabetes, Moskovitz advises speaking with your doctor before starting OMAD, as one large meal per day may lead to an unhealthy blood sugar spike.
While, anecdotally, some people note that they have better gastrointestinal function on OMAD, others notice the exact opposite. With so much in your stomach at once, its likely that not everything will get broken down or digested properly, says Moskovitz. In the time after eating this supersized meal, you may not feel well.
Also, you may find that your hunger level can get out of control as you wait to eat your one daily meal. That, in itself, can lead to overeating and cravings for less healthy foods during your meal. Moreover, you may assume you can eat whatever you want in this one meal or eating window. But thats not the case, especially if youre doing OMAD with the goal of promoting your health.
Will I Keep Doing Omad Long
Ive definitely found my sweet spot with OMAD. I am often asked whether I will continue with this lifestyle and initially I stressed out about it, wondering if I went back to eating the way I used to that I would gain all my weight back. Truthfully, Ive become very comfortable with eating this way. Mainly because I dont deprive myself of what I want to eat. Are there days when I dont do OMAD? Sure! During holidays and special occasions, I usually indulge in a longer eating window.
At the end of it I always find myself back to OMAD. Its where I feel my best and most satisfied. I am currently maintaining my weight which fluctuates between 142-145 and I have never been happier. While I didnt exercise much to lose the weight it is something that I would like to incorporate in this new year. With a lot less of me for the past 18 months, Im happier and healthier and most of all I dont see me going back to the way I used to eat.
Im a big advocate for trying this lifestyle because Ive seen the difference its made in my life. Go ahead and give OMAD a try. Here is one of my favorite recipes to get you started!
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Who Shouldnt Do The Omad Diet
Experts agree that there are several categories of people who shouldnt participate in extended fasts like the OMAD diet.
These include people who are: pregnant experiencing dementia have a history of traumatic brain injury
This list isnt exhaustive, and its always essential to talk to a doctor or healthcare professional about the kind of diet thats uniquely suited for your needsespecially when it comes to fasting.
Burning Questions About Intermittent Fasting Answered
Shapiro also advises that people living with diabetes who are taking insulin should not follow this diet, as OMAD can affect blood sugar levels. In general, people with diabetes need to eat balanced meals regularly throughout the day, adds Moskovitz. Going prolonged periods of time without eating can lead to harmful blood sugar lows followed by subsequent highs once a larger meal is inevitably consumed, she explains. This pattern of inconsistent eating can make it difficult to keep blood sugar levels low and stable.
Finally, if you often have gastrointestinal issues like bloating or an upset stomach, OMAD may not be a good fit for you. This diet requires you to eat a lot of food at one time, which may cause GI discomfort.
Still, many people who are not in these categories will decide to move ahead with OMAD and if youre one of these individuals, know that careful planning is key. If youre going to attempt it, you still have to make sure youre doing your best to eat balanced and nutritiously and make sure youre still eating enough calories for the day if you want to stay healthy, advises Moskovitz. Fasting alone wont be beneficial if not carefully constructing the meals youre eating in that time frame.
Always speak to your doctor before starting a new diet, especially if youre managing an underlying health condition or taking medication, or if OMAD represents a dramatic change in the way you eat.
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