OMAD Diet: Is Eating One Meal A Day Right for You?

Intermittent fasting is becoming more and more popular with people for weight loss as well as for its other health benefits.  I love intermittent fasting because it’s backed by research and science has proven the benefits behind this crazy sounding eating method.

One type of fasting that’s been in the news lately is the OMAD diet.  

For all you acronym lovers, OMAD stands for One Meal A Day.  Read on for my take on this extreme variation of one of my favorite weight loss methods.

Woman eating a plate of healthy food.

What is the OMAD Diet?

The OMAD diet is a form of intermittent fasting.  

Intermittent fasting is a method of eating where you limit your eating to specific windows of time and don’t consume anything with calories during the rest of your day.

There are many variations of fasting with fasting windows ranging from 12 to 24 hours and more.

The OMAD diet intermittent fasting schedule is a 23:1 fast.  Meaning you fast for 23 hours and only have a one-hour eating window.

With this kind of fasting, you eat all of your daily calories at one meal, during one hour, and fast for the remaining 23 hours in the day.

If you thought the Warrior Diet or 20/4 fasting was hardcore, the OMAD diet is an even more extreme version of intermittent fasting.   Like intermittent fasting on steroids.

Why Do the OMAD Diet?

From an evolutionary perspective, this kind of diet is what the human body is used to.  For most of human history, people didn’t have access to food all day long. They definitely didn’t eat three square meals plus multiple snacks in a day.

Early humans often endured periods of feast and famine, and that’s why our bodies do so well when we intermittent fast as far as improvements in health and weight loss.

Dividing your day into periods of eating and fasting has many benefits that have been proven in scientific research.

Eating one meal a day is also simple.  No need to pack a lunch, count your macros, points or carbs.

Some fasters really love the challenge and the discipline they feel when they extend their fasts.

OMAD Benefits

Eating one meal a day benefits your health by gently stressing your cells, making them stronger and better able to respond to future stress.

This adaptive stress response is called hormesis, and it’s the same principle behind weight training.  

When you’re working on getting stronger, you are deliberately fatiguing your muscles and damaging your muscle tissues.  This stress makes your muscles stronger, so you can lift more over time.

OMAD benefits are the same as any less extreme version of intermittent fasting.

  • Increased productivity and focus:  You won’t be experiencing that afternoon slump while your body digests your lunch because you probably won’t be eating until dinner.
  • Weight Loss:  Intermittent fasting has been proven to help you lose weight even if you eat the same amount of calories.  But with OMAD, it’s sometimes impossible to eat your full day’s allotment of healthy calories in a one hour window, so you’ll probably lose more weight.
  • Improved markers for health and disease like insulin resistance and cardiovascular health.
  • Increased lifespan.
  • Protection against Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Reduction in inflammation and other diseases from hypertension to rheumatoid arthritis
  • See this recent article for more info on all the benefits of intermittent fasting.

What to Eat on the OMAD Diet

So does the OMAD diet mean I can eat whatever I want during the one hour period??

Not so fast! Did you see what I did there? 😉

Like all forms of fasting, you’ll get the best results and feel the best if you are eating a healthy, varied diet made up of mostly clean proteins, veggies, and good fats.

Part of the appeal of the OMAD diet is the fun of eating whatever you want.

If you’re only doing the OMAD diet occasionally, eating a whole bowl of nachos and a pitcher of margaritas isn’t going to kill you.

But… if you’re doing the OMAD diet on a regular basis, it’s extra important to make sure the food you’re eating during your one hour window is nutrient-dense, healthy, real food.   

Your body is depending on that food to keep it going until your next eating window, so make it count.

When to Eat on the OMAD Diet

As long as you are eating all your calories within a one-hour window, it really doesn’t matter when your 1-hour window is.

The simplest time to eat your OMAD meal is probably in the evening.  That way you can still spend time with your friends and family over a meal.

Eating right before bed can disrupt your sleep so you should eat a few hours before sleep so your body has time to start the digestion process.

One Meal A Day Diet Tips

If you decide you want to put yourself to the test and try the one meal a day diet, here are some tips to help make the drastic transition easier:

  • If you are new to fasting, start with an easier method to get used to not eating for extended periods.  The 16/8 type of fasting is my personal favorite.
  • If you don’t eat a healthy diet,  clean up your eating before you try a drastic form of fasting.  Because you are only eating one meal a day on this plan, it’s important to make those calories count with nutrient dense foods.

OMAD Diet Drawbacks

While eating one meal a day may sound like an amazing way of fasting, there are some drawbacks to consider before you go all out with this type of intermittent fasting.

  • If you suffer from disordered eating, eating the OMAD way can cause an even more unhealthy relationship with food.  If you struggle with anorexia, bulimia or other eating disorders, this won’t be a healthy choice for you.
  • It can be really hard to get all the calories and nutrients your body needs in only one meal a day.   You need to make sure you’re eating calorie dense, healthy foods that are in line with your age, weight, and level of daily activity
  • If you’re a woman, OMAD eating can be complicated.  See the section below.
  • If you’re seriously into weight lifting or fitness, there are less extreme versions of intermittent fasting that may be better suited to you like 16/8 fasting or the 20/4 warrior diet.

OMAD for Women

While there hasn’t been a ton of research into intermittent fasting and women, studies indicate that these extreme varieties of fasting like the OMAD diet may be problematic for women.

Women are amazing creatures that can get pregnant, grow tiny humans and then sustain them all on their own with breastfeeding.  All these processes are governed by a chorus of hormones that all work together to get this important stuff done.

What little research that’s been done indicates that extreme fasting can cause a hormonal shift and throw off a woman’s cycle, metabolism, and fertility.

So if you’re a woman, think twice about doing OMAD fasting.

My OMAD Takeaway

If you’ve been on this website before, you know I am a huge fan of intermittent fasting.  I routinely use the 16/8 method of fasting for weight loss, maintenance and because I just feel great when I’m fasting.

However, the OMAD diet may be too difficult to do every day.  It’s really not recommended as a long term way of eating. It can also be problematic for women.  

It can be hard to get enough quality calories in a one hour period.   And the impulse to binge on unhealthy food and drink can be high when you’ve been denying yourself all day.  

As always, talk to your doctor and listen to your body when trying any new health kick.  

If you want to try my favorite form of fasting, sign up below for a free download of my favorite fat-blasting eating hack.

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pinterest image of mexican food for the OMAD diet.