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The OMAD Diet: Is Eating One Meal a Day Healthy?

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OMAD diet - Dr. Axe

The OMAD diet is a popular eating pattern that involves eating just one meal per day.

This may sound appealing to some, as the diet focuses solely on when you eat rather than what or how much you should consume.

But while some praise the diet as an easy, effective and flexible weight loss strategy, others claim that it’s unhealthy, unsustainable and downright dangerous.

So will you lose weight on OMAD? Is the diet healthy, or are there better alternatives out there to help boost weight loss and promote better health?

Here’s what you need to know.

What Is the OMAD Diet?

OMAD, or “one meal a day,” is an intermittent fasting diet that involves eating once a day.

Typically on this fasting diet plan, you eat your one meal late in the day, around dinnertime.

Can you snack on OMAD? Unlike other intermittent fasting adaptations like the Warrior Diet, the OMAD diet involves no snacking or small meals throughout the day.

The diet is a more extreme version of traditional fasting diets, which usually involve fasting for a period of 12–16 hours per day. Instead, OMAD fasting lasts around 23 hours, with just one hour per day allotted for eating.

So what happens when you do OMAD? Most people follow the diet for weight loss, as it restricts your food intake to just one hour per day, which may also reduce your caloric intake.

However, others claim that it saves time, promotes productivity and strengthens self-control and willpower.

Can you eat anything on OMAD? Although many use OMAD intermittent fasting as an excuse to load up on high-calorie junk foods and processed ingredients, it’s best to fill up on healthy ingredients during your daily meal to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs.

How to Follow

Wondering what to eat on OMAD? Because the plan involves just one meal a day, finding OMAD diet meals and OMAD recipes is fairly straightforward.

Ideally, meals should contain a good source of protein, along with some healthy fats and vegetables, all from nutrient-dense foods.

Here is a three-day OMAD meal plan with some delicious OMAD meal ideas and recipes to help get you started:

Day One

  • Breakfast: none
  • Lunch: none
  • Dinner: Carne asada tacos with guacamole quinoa salad, baked veggie chips and mixed fruit

Day Two

  • Breakfast: none
  • Lunch: none
  • Dinner: Blackened salmon with herbed couscous, steamed broccoli, side salad and apple with peanut butter

Day Three

Can It Help You Lose Weight?

Because you’re limiting your daily intake to just one meal per day, the amount of OMAD calories you’re consuming is likely to be lower than if you were following a standard diet with three meals per day.

Some research does show that scaling back on your meal frequency could be beneficial for weight loss.

For example, one small study reported that the OMAD diet benefits weight management and may even boost fat-burning. In fact, according to the study, reducing meal frequency to just one meal per day led to significant decreases in body weight and fat mass for participants.

So how much weight can you lose by intermittent fasting or eating just one meal per day?

Your potential OMAD weight loss can vary based on a number of different factors, including which foods you consume throughout the day. It can also range based on how long you follow the diet; the OMAD diet results from one month may be much different after following it long-term.

However, in general, you can expect to lose between half a pound to two pounds per week as part of a safe and healthy weight loss plan.

Besides weight loss, several studies have found that intermittent fasting could be beneficial for other aspects of health as well.

Although research has turned up conflicting findings, one study published in World Journal of Diabetes suggested that OMAD benefits blood sugar control for those with type 2 diabetes. In the study, short-term fasting for 18–20 hours daily helped stabilize blood sugar and reduce body weight.

Another study showed intermittent fasting may reduce levels of inflammation, which could be beneficial for the prevention of chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Not only that, but in animal studies, intermittent fasting has also been shown to protect brain health and slow signs of aging in mice.

Keep in mind these studies are focused on intermittent fasting rather than eating one meal a day. More research is needed on the OMAD diet specifically to evaluate its potential health benefits.

Is It Healthy? Should You Try It?

Is it healthy to only eat one meal a day? Although there are plenty of success stories about how OMAD results in quick weight loss, along with many OMAD before and after photos available online, research has found conflicting results about the health effects of the diet.

For example, one study published in the journal Metabolism showed eating just one meal per day for two months increased blood sugar levels as well as levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates feelings of hunger.

Another study found the OMAD diet did result in weight loss and fat loss but also caused significant increases in hunger, blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well.

Other potential side effects of the OMAD diet include:

  • Extreme hunger/binge eating
  • Low energy levels
  • Brain fog
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Changes in mood

Of course, what your OMAD meals look like can definitely impact your results on the diet. If you’re filling up on refined carbs, processed foods and unhealthy ingredients, you definitely won’t be feeling your best on this diet.

Instead, it’s important to pick lots of healthy, minimally processed ingredients to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.

Finally, keep in mind that if you have any underlying health issues like diabetes or heart disease, you should talk to your doctor before making any modifications to your diet to prevent any adverse effects on health.

Healthier Alternatives

While the OMAD diet may work for some people, it’s not a great fit for everyone and can be difficult to sustain in the long-run.

Intermittent fasting offers plenty of variations to fit nearly any schedule or lifestyle. You may find a particular variation a better fit for you.

16/8 fasting, in particular, is a popular style of intermittent fasting that involves restricting your food intake to eight hours per day and fasting for the remaining 16 hours.

Compared to the OMAD diet, it’s much less restrictive and makes it easier to get all the nutrients your body needs throughout the day to support better health.

The ketogenic diet also works through a similar mechanism as the OMAD diet. On the ketogenic diet, your body is deprived of its main source of energy — glucose — and is forced to start burning up fat stores for fuel instead.

The main difference between the OMAD diet versus keto is that your eating window is much more flexible on the ketogenic diet, although your options are a bit more limited.

Some people opt to combine OMAD and keto as well. On an OMAD keto meal plan, you eat just one meal per day.

Most OMAD keto recipes are composed mostly of healthy fats with moderate amounts of protein and very few carbohydrates, which helps keep your body in ketosis to bump up fat-burning.

However, regardless of which diet you choose to follow, it’s important to incorporate plenty of healthy whole foods to supply your body with the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it needs.

Additionally, if you have any underlying health conditions, be sure to consult with a doctor or registered dietitian before making any changes to your diet.

Final Thoughts

  • What is OMAD fasting? “One meal a day” is the official OMAD meaning. As its name implies, this diet involves restricting your daily food intake and eating one meal a day.
  • Some research shows fasting for weight loss can be effective. Intermittent fasting may also help improve blood sugar control, decrease inflammation and protect brain health.
  • But is OMAD healthy? Despite the benefits associated with intermittent fasting, the OMAD diet has also been associated with increased hunger, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Filling up on carbs, processed foods and unhealthy ingredients can also be harmful to health and may result in other adverse side effects.
  • Because the diet can be difficult to follow and unsustainable long-term, other alternatives like 16/8 intermittent fasting or the ketogenic diet may be better options.
  • However, if you have any underlying health issues, be sure to consult with a trusted healthcare practitioner before making any changes to your diet.
Josh Axe

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