If you follow weight loss trends, you have probably heard of OMAD before. OMAD is skyrocketing in popularity because of its reputation for boosting performance and weight loss. Let’s discuss more details about OMAD.
What is OMAD?
One Meal a Day (OMAD) is an extreme form of intermittent fasting.(1) Regular intermittent fasting is often referred to as 16:8. It means fasting for 16 hours and then eating your meals in an 8 hour time frame. OMAD is approximately a 22 hour fast and then you eat one meal in a 2 hour time frame!
Why Would You Do It?
I know you are wondering, why on earth would anyone do this? Well, the fact is that there are many benefits to this type of diet. Regular intermittent fasting receives great results. However, OMAD has even better results. This is because your body is in ketosis, or burning fat even longer. In fact, one 2016 study links eating one or two meals a day to a reduction in BMI (3). Furthermore, some people have great results turning OMAD into a lifelong commitment.(3)
The reason behind this is that fasting unleashes a chain reaction of metabolic processes. These processes trigger physical adaptations that improve our health, increase fat burning and give us more energy as a result.
The most common benefits reported by OMAD participants are:(8)
- Increased Productivity
- Increased Focus
- Weight Loss
- Diet Freedom
- Decreased Risk of Alzheimer’s
- Decreased Risk of Parkinson’s
- Decreased Risk of Stroke
OMAD is said to eliminate the brain fog that many people feel while digesting their lunch. The reason they don’t experience brain fog is simply because they aren’t eating lunch. So they don’t have anything in their stomach to digest. Without brain fog, they have an increased focus and more productivity.(1)
You lose weight because when you’re eating one time per day, it is very difficult to eat as many calories as you would eating three meals a day. This applies even if your one meal is not particularly healthy. The bottom line is, if you are eating less calories then you lose weight.
Another benefit of OMAD is you don’t need to worry about counting calories or planning meals as much. Therefore, you free up some time because you don’t have to plan multiple meals per day.
The OMAD diet also activates autophagy. Autophagy is when your body cleans up toxins and waste. It also occurs in neurons of your brain. This is why intermittent fasting diets fight age-related neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and stroke. (4) Now that you know why you would do this, let’s discuss who can do OMAD.
Who Can Do It?
Anyone can participate in one meal a day. However, there are two populations of people who have a more difficult time with it. Those populations are:
- Some Women
- Diabetics or Pre-Diabetics
There are women who experience complications with this diet. For example, some women experience unbalanced hormones. Sometimes even their menstrual cycles become irregular. This is because of the stress that fasting can put on your body. If this is something that happens to you, you can always back off of the one meal a day plan. For example, you can do the OMAD plan twice weekly instead. Or you could just do regular intermittent fasting if that works better for you. However, if it continues to cause too many issues for you, it is not worth risking your health. You should always do what is best for your body.
Pre-diabetics and diabetics also tend to have issues with OMAD. The most common issue is that OMAD is hard for them to begin. However, OMAD is actually beneficial for diabetics because it helps with stability. This is important because lifestyle changes and weight loss are crucial to managing the disease. OMAD will help them lose weight and change their lifestyle.(4) They just need to stick to it.
Research done at a Sweden University studied the effects of three diet plans on the blood glucose and cholesterol levels of those with diabetes. The plans included:
- A Three-Meal Low-Fat Diet
- A Three-Meal Low-Carb Diet
- A One-Meal Mediterranean Diet, featuring a single large lunch that included a glass of red wine.
The study featured 21 patients with type 2 diabetes, each of whom tried all three diets in varying order. The subjects’ blood was tested as six times throughout the day (2).“It suggests that it is favorable to have a large meal instead of several smaller meals when you have diabetes, ” said co-author Fredrik Nyström. He also stated that traditionally, the Mediterranean diet plan included skipping breakfast. “Our results give us a reason to reconsider both nutritional composition and meal arrangements for patients with diabetes.”(2) Now that we know who can do this let’s discuss how you should incorporate OMAD into your life.
How Do You Do It?
OMAD can be a pretty extreme intermittent fasting schedule. However, there are two important tips on how to begin this diet. They will help make it easier to accomplish.
- Decrease Carbs
- Gradual Transition
It is important to decrease your carb intake because it will make you less hungry. In addition, it will keep your body feeling satisfied longer without the ups and downs of sugar crashes. This is because when you eat a lot of carbohydrates, your body stores glucose as glycogen.(4) The problem with that is it takes longer for your body to shift into fat-burning when you are fasting.
Starting to eat OMAD right away without easing into it can lead to some side effects. Some of the symptoms include:
- Brain Fog
In order to avoid these side effects, a gradual transition into OMAD is essential. You can start with shorter fasts, such as fasting for 16 or 20 hours a day. That way you are slowly building up to the OMAD schedule. For example, you could start by fasting for 14 hours for one week. Then the next week, increase your fasting time to 16 hours for the whole week. The following week, increase your fasting time to 18 hours for a week.
What Should I Eat?
There are many sources that suggest that you can eat whatever you would like on this diet. Although this is true, you would benefit from a quality diet. You will see the best results on OMAD if you stick to the keto diet. There are many advantages of eating just one meal a day while on the keto diet, including the following:(5)
- Increased Fat Loss
- Improved Cognitive Function
- Stabilized Blood Sugar
Both the keto diet and intermittent fasting have been shown to increase fat loss by themselves. However, when you put them together, fat loss can be boosted even more.
Fasting for the better part of the day is also good for the brain. Stanford researchers have found that fasting can boost a specific protein in the brain called BDNF. BDNF has been shown to improve memory and learning abilities. This makes the brain able to function more efficiently.(6)
Some studies have also shown stabilized blood sugar levels in patients. This is because of the decrease in glucose levels that both OMAD and the keto diet result in.(7) Now that you know what is best to eat with OMAD, let’s discuss how often you should participate in OMAD and some helpful tips.
How Often Should I Do It?
You don’t have to do OMAD daily to see results. In fact, if you do it too often, you will hit a plateau. The best way to keep seeing results is to switch it up. For example, you could do 2 days OMAD and then 1 day 16:8. Then switch again. It is best to keep your body guessing which we call metabolic confusion. It is called this because your body doesn’t know what to expect. This causes your body to not hit plateaus, because it doesn’t know what is coming next. Most importantly, you should do whatever is right for you as an individual.
What Are Some Tips for OMAD?
Black coffee should be consumed later in the day. This will help keep decrease your hunger. Also, it is important to note that you can drink keto coffee. However, it will break your fast.
Tea is a good choice as well. You can add a sweetener however, that will raise your blood sugar.
Electrolytes are a beneficial option. This is especially true of long distance runners. When you run, you shed water and electrolytes. This helps replace electrolytes that are lost while running.
Apple Cider Vinegar is a great choice because it has many benefits as well. It helps improve heart health, lowers blood sugar, and increases fat loss.
Amino Acids are important to consume even though they will break your fast. You need to consume them in order to build muscle.
The best time to exercise is before breaking your fast. High intensity interval training and strength training work well with OMAD. However, long distance running is not suggested. This is because long distance running in combination with OMAD can cause muscle breakdown. Also it is difficult to run because you are very hungry.
Hopefully now you know more about OMAD. Maybe you are even thinking about trying it. Go ahead. Try it! What do you have to lose?