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Have you ever heard of the one meal a day diet (also known as OMAD)? Let me enlighten you on what it is about and why it is beneficial to your overall health.
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In this Article:
- You Might Have Heard About OMAD
- How Does OMAD work?
- Who Should Try the One Meal a Day Diet?
- When Is The Best Time To Eat Your One Meal?
- Avoiding Nutrient Deficiencies
- Top 23 Benefits of the One Meal a Day Diet
- A Review of the Health Benefits of Eating One Meal a Day
Why Eating One Meal a Day Is Beneficial to Your Health
You Might Have Heard About OMAD
If you follow weight loss trends, then you may have come across this one meal a day approach. To some, it may sound extreme and like something that is more of a hassle than it is worth. But, in fact, there are many advantages to this fasting style.
This pattern of eating can have some profound health benefits like weight loss, improving cognition, and preventing disease. Not to mention, it can help you save time and money. Once you get used to it, it isn't nearly as hard as it sounds.
Below, I’ve outlined the top 23 benefits of OMAD. But first, let me explain what OMAD is, how it works, and some important things to consider before jumping into this fasting strategy.
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 (also known as fasting). 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 insulin levels in the body drop. Correcting insulin 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.
Who Should Try the One Meal a Day Diet?
It is important to note that only people who have prior experience with intermittent fasting should try the OMAD diet. I do not advise going straight from your regular habits to a single meal per day. This causes excessive stress on your body, which only harms you rather than help. Build yourself up to the fasting schedule of one meal per day by gradually increasing the time you fast daily.
When Is the Best Time to Eat One Meal a Day?
It is up to the individual to determine when is the best time to consume his/her calories for the day. Some people prefer to eat all of their daily required calories at breakfast time, some at lunch, and some at dinner. There are many different viewpoints out there, and there is no absolute right answer to what is best. In my opinion, if you want to work with the body as much as possible, eating later in the day is preferred.
Our bodies spend much of the day under the control of the sympathetic branch of our nervous system. This system controls the fight or flight response and helps us respond and react to stress. So during the day, our bodies are naturally a little more stressed.
As the day goes on and we transition into night, the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system kicks in. This branch promotes rest and digestion. In the latter part of the day, our bodies are better suited for good digestion. This is one reason why I recommend eating your one meal either later in the afternoon or in the evening.
Eating later in the day also makes it convenient to enjoy your meals with others. You can still participate in family dinners around the dining room table, go to a dinner party, or join friends out for an evening meal.
Avoiding Nutrient Deficiencies
Some versions of the one meal a day diet allow you to eat anything you want (really, anything at all) in your single meal. I recommend making that meal as nutrient dense and full of hearty superfoods as possible. Avoid carbs and eat lots of healthy vegetables (a plant-based diet), along with healthy sources of fat and lean protein.
My recommended diet plan follows the idea of Healthy Keto™, which is a healthy version of ketosis and fasting. It helps you provide your body with enough nutrients to stay healthy. If you are concerned about nutrient deficiencies while doing OMAD, watch this video. In the video, I list down the common symptoms that can occur early on when you start to become low in various nutrients. It is important to make healthy food choices while eating only one meal a day. Make sure you get all the micronutrients and macronutrients your body needs in that short window.
Top 23 Benefits of the One Meal a Day Diet
What are some of the best things you get out of eating one meal a day? Here are the top eating one meal a day benefits:
1. Save Money
When you eat only one meal a day, there is no doubt you will save money. I estimate your savings to be at least $600 per month. When you cut down on the amount of groceries you have to buy, as well as the number of times you eat out, the savings can be significant.
2. Save Time
People spend a lot of time on food. Whether it's due to grocery shopping, meal prepping, eating, cleaning up, or packing something for on the go, the work and time to make several meals a day add up. Without as much time dedicated to food, you can do other things more productive and exciting to you.
3. Improve Digestion
Fasting for so long each day can really help take the pressure off the digestive system. It gives your gallbladder, stomach, pancreas, and large bowel a rest. The one meal a day meal plan can be especially helpful for people with digestive issues, like irritable bowel syndrome.
4. Boost the Immune System
Going for long periods of fasting is a powerful way to increase immune activity. Whether you have allergies, autoimmune conditions, or inflammatory conditions, intermittent fasting is a great choice. In this video, watch me explain more about this connection and how fasting might even help fight cancer.
5. Increase Autophagy
Autophagy refers to a process in the body in which damaged cell parts are recycled into new tissues. It also helps rid the body of things like viruses, mold, fungi, and candida. Fasting boosts this recycling and detoxifying process. This strengthens the immune system and keeps the body fresh and healthy. Learn more about autophagy in this video.
6. Live Longer
Fasting is a great anti-aging tool that promotes long, healthy living. This is linked to how fasting increases autophagy. It is also related to how fasting boosts human growth hormone, a potent anti-aging factor.
7. Reduce Hunger
You might think that if you are limited to food only once a day, you'll be starving the rest of the day. But when you fully adapt to this way of eating and your body fully transitions into fat-burning mode, hunger actually goes away. You feel a lot less hungry overall.
8. Get Rid of Cravings
Once your body is fully keto-adapted, you don’t experience cravings anymore. It takes a while to get there but not having to fight cravings ever again is an excellent benefit.
9. Have Great Skin
This pattern of eating can help your skin look and feel great. You may experience smoother, younger skin due to the anti-aging effects and increased autophagy benefits.
10. Increase Energy
Wouldn't it feel great to experience light, bubbly energy? That is what you can look forward to when doing the one meal a day diet: tons of physical energy.
11. Improve Mood
A lot of mood problems are due to underlying blood sugar problems. This is the case for things like depression and anxiety. When you fast and insulin and blood sugar issues get under control, your mood improves, and you feel so much better.
12. Increase Cognitive Function
This pattern of eating is really great for boosting cognition. It can benefit things like dementia, poor memory, lack of focus, and trouble concentrating. Once your body is used to this style of eating, all of that improves.
13. Decrease Inflammatory Conditions
Relief from conditions such as arthritis, tendonitis, and bursitis can happen when you only have one meal a day. This is because the blood sugar issues are often at the root of inflammation. When you correct those problems, the inflammation decreases.
14. Decrease Blood Pressure
High insulin is behind high blood pressure. OMAD decreases insulin in the body, bringing your blood pressure down along with it.
15. Protect Your Arteries and Heart
Intermittent fasting, especially one meal a day, helps protect your arteries. Again, this comes down to insulin levels. Insulin resistance and diabetes can cause lots of problems to your arteries and can result in heart problems, too. Fixing that through prolonged fasting supports a healthy heart.
16. Improve Dementia
As mentioned earlier, problems with insulin resistance can contribute to memory problems, and this can lead to dementia. Intermittent fasting can help improve these conditions. Learn more about the link between insulin and memory in this video.
17. Improve Diabetes
Are your blood sugar levels out of control? Do you have diabetes? The ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting can help you improve your condition. A low-carb keto diet along with intermittent fasting are two great tools for diabetes. Watch me explain more in this video. It works for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
18. Fix a Fatty Liver
This extreme style of intermittent fasting actually helps take fat off of the liver. This can help correct fatty liver disease. Learn more about reversing a fatty liver here.
19. Turn the Body into a Fat Burning Machine
One of the benefits people love the most about the OMAD diet is helping them lose weight. When in full fasting mode, your body becomes well-adapted to burning fat. When you eat this way, you burn fat and get a flatter belly.
20. Improve Your Personal Discipline
The ability to withstand any food consumption for 23 hours takes true willpower. Doing this extreme intermittent fasting schedule is a practice. It is one that takes a lot of self-discipline. It as an exercise in strengthening your personal willpower and discipline.
21. Improve Muscles
You might be worried you'll harm your muscles if you don't eat for so long daily. However, fasting allows the growth hormone to be boosted, which helps protect against muscle loss. In fact, fasting actually helps increase muscle density and mass, not the other way around.
22. Fix a Slow Metabolism
If you have a slow metabolism, then this is truly the style of eating meant for you. It helps raise your metabolism and shed fat. Learn more about fixing a slow metabolism here.
23. Boost Mental Clarity
People who try the one meal a day diet report feeling really, really good mentally. Some even report a euphoric-type feeling. In fact, once they start eating, that is when they actually feel worse. Fasting is a powerful way to experience better mental clarity and sharpness.
A Review of the Health Benefits of Eating One Meal a Day
If you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and try something a bit out of the box — eating only one meal a day — you may be pleasantly surprised by the positive results. There are countless health benefits to this particular form of fasting, as well as some practical conveniences. To review, some of these include:
- Getting time and money back from food
- Protecting yourself against disease and common health issues
- Experiencing weight or fat loss
- Feeling better mentally and physically
- Ditching constant hunger and cravings
Whether you are interested in it for weight loss, convenience, energy levels, or something else, giving OMAD a try may well be worth your while. I highly recommend combining one meal a day with my keto diet guidelines. This means avoiding carbs, eating lots of nutrient-dense superfoods, and choosing good sources of fats and proteins. Learn more about my diet plan here.
Remember, I only suggest this one meal a day diet if you build up to it slowly. Take your time with intermittent fasting and gradually increase the amount of time you fast daily. Only once you've let your body adjust to fasting can you fast for 23 hours per day successfully.
Have you tried the OMAD diet before? What benefits did you experience? Share your experience with us in the comments section below.
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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.