If you’re looking for a diet to help you achieve your health goals, chances are someone you know has told you that they practice intermittent fasting.
There are many ways to practice intermittent fasting, but the general idea is to set strict periods when you don’t eat, and eat as you normally would outside of fasting. You can choose to fast every other day and eat every other day. You can choose a “food window” each day and fast outside of that window. You can fast two days a week and eat normally the other five days, in an approach called “5:2 fasting.”
Today, a new type of fasting is gaining ground: the OMAD diet, for One Meal A Day or “one meal a day”. Simply put, the idea of the OMAD diet is that you get all of your daily calories and nutrients in one meal a day.
- 1 What is the OMAD diet?
- 2 How the OMAD diet works
- 3 Is the OMAD diet safe?
- 4 OMAD diet: plan well
- 5 What to eat while on the OMAD diet
- 6 Claimed Benefits of Eating One Meal a Day
- 7 Effect of OMAD on weight loss
- 8 Other types of FIs that may be safer
- 9 Abstract
What is the OMAD diet?
On the OMAD diet, you are fasting except when you eat your only daily meal. Overall, this is a time-restricted, calorie-restricted diet.
Generally speaking, OMAD is an extreme version of fasting. For this reason, some experts may argue that consuming only one meal a day is unnecessary to reap the benefits of fasting.
How the OMAD diet works
The OMAD diet can be followed in two different ways: They can eat just one meal a day, or choose a short food window in which they consume one meal and limited snacks per day. But practicing the OMAD diet every day is not recommended, so some people practice a less extreme version of intermittent fasting (IF) on other days of the week. For example, a person might practice OMAD one or more days a week and then follow a 16/8 JI program (where they fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 hours) the rest of the week.
Is the OMAD diet safe?
This diet can be safe if done correctly, and if you make sure you get adequate calories and nutrients when you eat. Overall, JI diets (including more extreme versions, such as OMAD) are not likely to cause harm in adults who are healthy weight, overweight, or obese.
But OMAD is a restrictive dietary approach that won’t necessarily appeal to everyone. If you’re following the OMAD, you’ll need to be careful not to overeat or binge on unhealthy foods during your main meal. You may also find it difficult to fit an entire day’s calorie intake into one large meal, or feel uncomfortably full after eating so much at one sitting. There is also a lack of research on the long-term effects of OMAD. Also, OMAD can be dangerous for certain groups of people. These include pregnant or breastfeeding women, young people under the age of 18, and people with eating disorders or a history of eating disorders.
If you are taking medications that must be taken with food, reconsider OMAD. Not taking medications as prescribed could negatively affect absorbability and increase your risk of side effects. Examples of food-dependent drugs include aspirin, some NSAIDs, some steroids.
This diet is also not recommended for people living with diabetes who are taking insulin not to follow this diet because OMAD can affect blood sugar levels. In general, people with diabetes should eat balanced meals regularly throughout the day. Going for prolonged periods without eating can lead to harmful drops in blood sugar followed by subsequent spikes once a larger meal is inevitably consumed.
Finally, if you often have gastrointestinal (GI) issues, such as bloating or upset stomach, OMAD may not be right for you. This diet requires you to eat a lot of food at one time, which can cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
OMAD diet: plan well
Yet many people who do not fall into these categories will decide to follow the OMAD diet. If you are one of these people, know that careful planning is essential. If you’re going to give it a try, you still need to make sure that you’re doing your best to eat a balanced, nutritious diet and that you’re still consuming enough calories for the day if you want to stay healthy. Fasting alone will not be beneficial if [vous] do not carefully construct the meals you eat during this time frame. »
Always consult your doctor before starting any new diet, especially if you are managing an underlying health condition or taking medication, or if OMAD represents a drastic change in the way you eat.
If you’re interested in OMAD but haven’t tried other JI types yet, start slow, suggests Shapiro. “Start with a 12-hour fast, then go to 2 or 4 p.m. Then try the OMAD diet for a few days after your body gets used to it.
What to eat while on the OMAD diet
The single meal you eat on the OMAD diet can contain between 1,500 and 2,500 calories, or even more, depending on your weight, height, and health goals. It should not contain less than 1,200 calories.
The challenge is to ensure that all the necessary food groups are present. To achieve this, fill your plate with whole grains, lean proteins (like fish, poultry, or tofu), vegetables, fruits, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Vegetables, fruits, grains, and proteins should each make up about a quarter of your plate.
Here’s what your day might look like: one day for a traditional diet and another for a balanced OMAD meal:
Balanced traditional diet
Breakfast: Rolled oats with berries and nuts
Lunch: Leafy greens topped with quinoa, vegetables, avocado, and chickpeas, all drizzled with vinaigrette.
Snack: carrots, strips of red peppers and hummus.
Dinner: Piece of salmon served with broccoli
Dessert: Dark chocolate
A meal, example of lunch:
1 turkey sandwich with 2 slices of sandwich bread, 4 slices of turkey, 2 slices of cheese, half an avocado, lettuce and tomato.
2 boiled eggs
1/3 cup mixed nuts
1 smoothie with 1 cup vegetables, 1 cup berries, 2 tablespoons almond butter, 1/3 cup raw oats, and an almond milk base
1 square of dark chocolate
A meal, example of dinner:
60g of fish, chicken, turkey or tofu
2 cups cooked whole grains/starches (rice, pasta or potatoes)
2 cups of cooked vegetables
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup fresh fruit
1 cup Greek yogurt + 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Claimed Benefits of Eating One Meal a Day
There is not enough research on the health effects of eating just one meal a day. However, emerging research on intermittent feeding provides some clues about the potential benefits of this type of diet.
Eating fewer times a day with IF may improve blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation and lead to a ketogenic state in which your body burns fatty acids for energy, suggests a review of 16 studies in August 2020 in The American Journal of Medicine. This may be particularly beneficial for heart health, as IF may help reduce risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, and improve blood sugar control, the authors conclude after reviewing the human studies.
However, these conclusions come with important caveats. The authors point out that there are no large randomized controlled trials investigating how IF habits affect cardiovascular disease. They conclude that more research is needed, particularly to determine which specific diet is best and how long it takes to follow a diet to achieve these benefits.
Effect of OMAD on weight loss
If the program is followed correctly, you can lose weight with OMAD. You will see weight loss due to calorie restriction, healthier food choices, and proper use of energy,” says Shapiro.
But losing weight with OMAD is not a given. If you eat the wrong foods and consume unhealthy junk foods during your eating window instead of nutritious foods, it can be very unhealthy.
In a systematic review of 27 studies on the weight loss effect of JI, people lost 0.8 to 13 percent of their body weight on this dietary plan, according to a February 2020 review in Canadian Family Physician. There are a few limitations. Most of these studies were generally short-term (lasting less than six months) and some had small numbers of participants.
Other types of FIs that may be safer
If you are determined to give the JI a try, consider giving yourself a wider feeding window. Many people have great results with time-restricted eating, with 12-16 hour windows of fasting, because it limits extra calorie intake while allowing your body to burn its own fat for fuel, and provides balanced meals.
Other popular JI varieties with wider feeding windows than OMAD include:
The 5:2 fast, where you eat normally for five days and then fast (or eat very few calories) for two days.
overnight fasting, where you stop eating after dinner and start eating again for breakfast the next morning (at least 12 hours later)
Alternate fasting, where you alternate fasting days and non-fasting days.
The OMAD diet may be a trendy way to practice Intermittent Fasting (IF), but it’s not a surefire way to reach your health goals or improve your medical conditions. The most important thing is that you listen to your body’s needs. Find a diet that works for you. Make sure it fits your lifestyle. If OMAD makes you feel good, keep going, but make sure you do it in the healthiest way possible.