This content has been Fact-Checked by a Certified Nutritionist in our Publishing Team. Learn more here. Always consult a medical professional before commencing any diet.
Today we are going to explore OMAD benefits and results…
OMAD stands for One Meal a Day, as known as intermittent fasting, a concept that at first, you may think is absolutely extreme because it goes against everything you were taught.
But after reading this, you might just jump on the OMAD bandwagon and feel healthier, live longer and look slimmer!
When you think about OMAD, fasting comes to mind, and yes, fasting does go a long way back to ancient times.
But why do people fast?
Many people may think fasting is for religious traditions only. However OMAD diet results include a range of benefits from boosting brain health, lowering your risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and of course, helps reduce the risk of diabetes. But more on that later.
What is OMAD?
OMAD is a diet that you are only allowed to eat once a day. Essentially, fast for 23 hours and eat for 1 hour.
Here you will only have an eating window of one hour, and in that hour, you have to consume your whole days’ worth of calories. As you can imagine, this will be a substantial amount of food, but if spread throughout the hour, it can be consumed without you feeling too stuffed.
There are other plans to choose from as well, especially if you are a beginner and want to take it slow.
There are plans also known as intermittent fasting that range from eating every 16/8, 20/4, 23/1, to the more extreme alternated day fasting.
Taking 16/8 as an example, this will give you an eating window of 8 hours that can be structured to your lifestyle.
OMAD plans can be arranged to suit your way of life and schedule – another point in its favor.
There are some schools of thought that believe you don’t have to consume all your calories in your eating window but rather stick to filling (not piling) one standard dinner plate and eating just that.
This might be an excellent way to get you to eat at a caloric deficit but for OMAD newbies, it may be a bit too unstructured and may lead to eating the wrong foods, binging, or alternatively, eating too little (which has some nasty side-effects).
We will focus on a more structured OMAD plan, and not the ‘eat whatever you want’ one, where you don’t have to worry about the nutritional value of the food you’re eating.
10 OMAD Diet Benefits
The one-meal-a-day diet has gained popularity due to not just weight-loss claims but many other health-related statements.
1. Lose weight
Losing weight is one of the biggest OMAD Diet results. But why does the flab melt away when you’re following the OMAD diet?
It’s thanks to a little thing called ketosis.
You might have heard about the Ketogenic Diet at some time or another; where people limit the number of carbs they eat in order to go into ketosis to burn fat.
With OMAD, going in ketosis is not based on a low carb diet. It’s about depleting your body’s primary energy source, glucose. Your body then turns to fat as a fuel source, resulting in ketones in your body.
2. Replace damaged cells
Scientific research shows that eating just one meal a day boosts your human growth hormone (HGH).
Now, that doesn’t sound so impressive if you don’t know what HGH actually does. But this muscle-building, the fat-burning hormone is so coveted for the health benefits, you can raise it naturally.
HGH plays a vital role in growth, body composition, cell repair, metabolism, muscle performance and can even help you recover from injury and disease.
This hormone decreases with age, and to maintain your youthful look to some degree and keep your body free from disease as much as humanly possible, that is one thing you don’t want to happen.
Enter intermittent fasting and especially the OMAD diet; doubling your HGH in a wink which leads to maintaining muscle and bone tissue mass, as well as keeping you young from the inside out.
Add to that the mechanism of autophagy which is induced by fasting and calorie restriction according to this research.
But what exactly is autophagy? Essentially, it is the process of your body getting rid of all the old cells or parts of cells. It is predominantly a form of cell cleansing, which is exciting if you think about it.
Bye-bye to all the junk in your body that leads to Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, and other illnesses that impacts your life negatively.
3. Increase your lifespan
Again, thanks to HGH and autophagy.
4. Develop muscles
HGH strikes again.
5. Lowers insulin and increases insulin sensitivity
He says insulin causes weight gain, and while most diets aim to reduce insulin-secreting foods, they forget to look at the issue of insulin resistance.
OMAD is, however, the most efficient way to decrease insulin levels and to reduce insulin resistance.
6. Makes you smarter
Think back to how you felt on Thanksgiving last year or every year for that matter.
After a second helping of the turkey and the third slice of pumpkin pie, you probably found yourself in a ‘food coma’.
Compare that to times where you were starving, and you will quickly see that you are more alert and quicker on your feet – physically and mentally – when you haven’t eaten.
Actually, in one animal study, rats who were put on an intermittent fasting regime underwent motor coordination and cognitive tests.
Their scores were markedly improved compared to when not in a fasting state.
Learning and memory scores also improved, and there was an increase in Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor – a protein that controls the creation and formation of new neurons and synapses in the brain.
Although these studies were carried out on rats, it is possible for humans to experience similar results.
7. Reduces the risk of cancer and other diseases
See points 2,3
The digestive process is very energy expensive.
When your body does not have food to break down and turn into fuel, it can put more energy and focus into regulating your immune system.
Also, since you will be drinking more water while fasting, your digestive system will get a good flush.
Another scientific research concluded that intermittent fasting promotes regeneration and reduces autoimmune diseases.
9. More energy
See point 6.
10. Saves time
This might sound like a silly thing to mention, but if you think about it, a lot of your time goes towards eating if you aim for three meals a day.
If you include second breakfast, elevenses, afternoon tea, and supper – you will spend over two hours a day eating, and your body will be digesting food non-stop, which as you’ve seen above, is not a good thing.
(Oh, those of you who got the Lord of The Rings reference deserves a cheat day)
How to Start OMAD
Yes, you read right; don’t just decide you’re going to go from eating three meals a day to only eating one. It will be a shock to your system and will make sticking to it more difficult.
The stress you place on your body by not preparing yourself physically and mentally can also undo some of OMAD’s powerful benefits.
So, start off by cutting some carbohydrates from your diet. Your body stockpiles glucose and glycogen when you load up on carbs, and that means it will take you longer to get into ketosis.
You might also have noticed that you are hungry more often if you eat a high-carb diet. For that reason, start switching to eating lower-carb (not necessary to go no-carb) and high-fat, and you will feel full for longer which will make fasting easier.
After cutting the carbs, try the 16/8 fasting regime until you feel comfortable to move on to 20/4 and finally OMAD.
That way, your body, and mind will be adjusting to fasting slowly, and you can avoid some of the adverse effects that can go with fasting (those will be covered later on).
Brad Pilon, the author of Eat Stop Eat, found that fasting wasn’t hard because of hunger, it was hard because of the habit of eating a specific number of meals a day at determined times.
“It took a while to get used to letting go of my trained eating styles,” said Brad in a podcast about intermittent fasting.
That is why it makes sense to retrain your brain and start with 16/8 and move your way up.
What an OMAD Meal Should Look Like
As mentioned before, there are people who say that you can eat whatever you want in your one-hour eating window, while others say you should still count calories.
The choice is yours. But here are some things you should be aware of when planning your OMAD meal.
1. Your OMAD meal needs to have enough essential nutrients
A one-hour eating window is very small, and you don’t want to waste the time you have to eat on food that has no real nutritional value. That means OMAD does not give you free rein to buy everything on the McDonald’s menu.
Eat natural whole foods that will prepare your body for the next fasting cycle, and stay away from the highly processed and packaged foods.
2. Keep your protein intake relatively high
You are a chunk of meat and to sustain that chunk of meat, you need protein.
If you were to eat less protein than your body needs, you would gradually lose weight from your muscles more than fat due to the lack of amino acid and protein synthesis. And this is not the type of weight you want to lose.
An average individual weighing between 150-180 pounds needs 54-65 grams of protein a day. To calculate your recommended daily allowance of protein, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36 or you can use this online calculator
That being said, if you exercise, you will likely need to up your protein intake.
3. Eat enough healthy fats
To stay healthy, your fat intake should make up 20-35% of your daily calories. It is important not to go below as this will have a negative effect on your hormones and thyroid. Also, if you are combining keto with OMAD, aim for slightly higher fat intake but remember, just the healthy natural fats. Click here to learn more details about the types of healthy fats.
4. And most importantly and pretty obvious
Avoid food during your fasting window; and “food” includes liquid calories.
That means, no calories shall cross your lips while you are fasting, not even bullet-proof coffee since butter, coconut oil, etc. contain calories.
You are allowed to drink water and coffee and tea without sugar and milk. Even adding BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) to your water is not advised.
In essence, your macros should be divided along the lines of 25-35% protein, 40-50% fat, and 10-20% carbs.
But this is just a guideline and should be adapted to suit your goals.
Some OMAD Staples
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
OMAD Diet Results
OMAD results will vary depending on how long you do it for, how often and the range.
Some people do it once or twice a week. Some others can go for 1 week on OMAD, some even more than 90 days! So you can see how the OMAD results can be super different.
It’s up to you to increase OMAD frequency depending on how your body responds to it.
Other factors that can vary OMAD results i.e. are you exercising while doing OMAD, are you combining OMAD Keto, etc.?
What makes it easy to answer is the various testimonies and research to back up OMAD results.
Even without exercise and doing the OMAD Keto meal plan, you will most likely see results within the first week.
For a little fun and motivation take photos of yourself before and after OMAD to compare results.
If you decide to exercise (especially in a fasted state) and eat low-carb, your body will be a fat-burning furnace!
Most people find it challenging to find the correct time to break their fast. This will take some trial and error, but don’t fret, once you find the time that suits your schedule and body – it’s smooth sailing.
But one thing to keep in mind when working out when you will be fasting is the time spent sleeping.
Think of it this way, fasting is hard, and if you can be asleep for a big chunk of that time, it will be considerably more manageable. But do not sleep all day of course.
That is why a lot of people who do intermittent fasting make sure to count the time they are sleeping as part of the fast. For example, if someone is doing 16/8, they are essentially just skipping breakfast by starting their fast at 6PM and only breaking it 10 AM the next day.
So, take advantage of the time you’re in Lala Land – you can’t eat when you’re asleep anyway.
Are there any?
Well, as with most “diets”, the answer is yes.
With intermittent fasting, most of the negative effects will happen in the first few days until you habituate.
These may include:
- Being extremely hungry (Let’s all say it: “Duh!”)
- Not being able to concentrate
- Feeling tired
- Low blood sugar
- Binge eating
- There’s also something called the “keto flu” which will leave you feeling like a bus hit you and backed up over you again. But don’t worry, this will pass. It is just your body adapting to using fat as fuel instead of glucose.
It is important to note that most of the research done regarding intermittent fasting was on animals and men.
Since the makeup of women is considerably different when it comes to hormones, there might be some adverse effects when women attempt to fast.
If you’re a woman and want to try OMAD, do some research or seek the advice of a dietician or your doctor.
That being said, not all health practitioners are on board the fasting train yet, so you might get some resistance from them.
OMAD is not necessarily for beginners and if you are new to intermittent fasting, starting with a shorter fast will be more comfortable.
When you feel you’re ready to move on to OMAD, you can do it with a higher chance of sticking to it in the long run – leading to better results.
Remember that eating only one meal a day does not mean you can eat whatever you want; eating real foods and getting rid of processed foods such as sugar and refined carbs will make you feel better and ensure faster results.
Lastly, don’t force OMAD if it is not making you feel good; instead, fall back to 16/8 or 20/4.
This content has been Fact-Checked by a Certified Nutritionist in our Publishing Team. Learn more here.