Everything You Should Know About OMAD Before Starting

There are plenty of plans and methods to practice intermittent fasting to both lose weight and gain various health benefits.
The OMAD diet sits amongst intermediate and advanced ways of doing intermittent fasting depending on how exactly you structure your fasting times.

  • What is OMAD?
  • How does One-Meal-A-Day work?
  • How to succeed when following OMAD
  • Are there any benefits from doing OMAD?
  • What are the cons of doing OMAD?
  • What kind of foods to eat and to avoid during OMAD?
  • OMAD Meal Example
  • Should you start fasting now?

What Is OMAD?

OMAD or the One Meal A Day is a variation of intermittent fasting. Also referred to as the 23:1 diet, it involves a fasting period that covers most of the day, allowing only a small eating window in which to consume all your daily calories.

It is an effective tool for rapid weight loss and can be helpful for those who have plateaued in their weight loss journey.

Before trying the OMAD diet, you may find it easier to try out other methods of intermittent fasting to get your body used to fasting and time-restricted eating.

The one-meal-a-day diet may not be an effective tool for long-term weight loss and instead is best used infrequently or for a short period of time.

How Does One-Meal-a-Day Diet Work?

The OMAD diet works in the same way that other intermittent fasting diets work for weight loss. Through both the calorie restriction of eating one meal a day and a switch of metabolic state, this fasting diet helps with healthy weight loss.

The OMAD method is effective because it provides a very long fasting period in which your body can switch to the metabolic state of ketosis. In this state, the body burns fat for fuel rather than sugar in the blood.

The OMAD diet allows one meal in each 24-hour period. This means you have one hour to consume the nutrients you need each day before going back to fasting.

It is incredibly important that you eat a nutritious meal in this short eating window as malnutrition can occur if not. 

This method is not suitable for long-term use as long periods of fasting can cause the body to fall into a semi-starvation mode where muscle mass may be burned for fuel instead of fat.

Most people who use the OMAD method use it sparingly throughout the week or as a short-term kickstart to a weight loss journey.

How to Succeed When Following OMAD? 

The OMAD method can work very well as a tool for weight loss and there are some ways you can optimize your practice to ensure you lose as much weight as possible.

  1. Try OMAD only when comfortable with other fasting types

OMAD is not for the faint-hearted. The OMAD diet is tough and eating one meal a day can have significant side effects, including extreme hunger, which means you need to be prepared.

We would suggest trying at least one other kind of intermittent fasting before taking the plunge to OMAD.

The OMAD diet involves a very long fasting period so getting your body to a place where it can survive a long fasting period is a good idea before you try this method out.

You should also be careful when you choose to eat.

  1. Carefully plan which hour should be set to eating OMAD

Everyone is different and so we all get hungry at different times during the day. Choosing your OMAD meal plan based on this is a good idea.

If you know that you cannot function without breakfast, eat in the morning. This is also a good idea if your job requires focus and concentration as lack of food can make this more difficult.

If you are not usually hungry in the morning, you can move your eating period later. Perhaps you socialize a lot in the evenings and need fuel to get through, or maybe you just prefer to eat later on.

  1. Exercise only after the eating window during OMAD

Exercise is a natural part of the weight loss journey but it is imperative that you only exercise once you have eaten, even if this means adjusting your eating period.

If you exercise after fasting for a long time, your body is likely to get exhausted much more easily. You may feel faint or dizzy, and you may not replenish it in time either.

There is also a possibility that your body will break down muscle rather than fat or protein for fuel. This means you’re essentially reversing any good your exercise did.

You will likely ache more and feel worse from exercising. Always exercise after eating so that your body has the proper nutrition it needs.

The one-meal-a-day diet is challenging and so taking care of yourself while you’re on it is essential for good overall health.

  1. Try using fasting supplements to help with hunger pangs during OMAD

Using appetite suppressants, like the DoFasting appetite suppressants, is a good idea to help staff off hunger pangs during your fasting period.

In addition to helping you stay on track with your fasting, appetite suppressants usually contain nutrients that your body needs but have very few calories. 

This means your body is getting fiber and other minerals it usually would when eating three meals a day, while still remaining in the fasting state.

Try out an appetite suppressant to see if it helps you through your fasting.

4 Health Benefits From Doing OMAD

The OMAD diet has a number of health benefits which is why so many people follow it. The research is limited for some of the benefits and more may be needed to fully verify them.

Below are some of the health benefits you may experience from the OMAD diet.

  1. Helps regulate blood sugar

A benefit of all methods of intermittent fasting is the control over blood sugar that comes during fasting.

Because of the time restrictions on eating, blood glucose levels spike less throughout the day which helps the body respond in a normal way to insulin.

This can help to prevent insulin resistance, and by extension, the development of type 2 diabetes.

  1. Reduces the inflammation in the body

Fasting has been linked to a reduction of the markers of inflammation in the body.

While inflammation is the body's natural response to pain and injury, chronic inflammation can be bad for the body.

There are a number of chronic illnesses, like arthritis, that are caused by chronic inflammation. Reduction of inflammation in the body would help to ease symptoms of these diseases.

  1. Improves heart health

Improved heart health is a benefit found in most fasting diets.

Regular, short-term fasting is very good for reducing the markers of poor cardiovascular health. It is thought to reduce LDL cholesterol, which is the bad kind of cholesterol, as well as levels of triglycerides.

Along with this, fasting may also reduce blood pressure. All of this can contribute to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, like heart disease and stroke.

Heart health may also be improved by a reduction of these markers. 

  1. Accelerated weight loss

The main reason that most people follow an intermittent fasting diet is to promote weight loss, reduce body mass index number, and burn fat rather than blood sugar.

By eating only one meal a day, you are imposing a calorie restriction on yourself and eating fewer calories, creating a calorie deficit which is essential for losing weight.

In addition to reducing your calorie intake, the OMAD method can also help to induce a metabolic state of ketosis which pushes the body to burn fat rather than blood sugar for fuel.

Fasting for more than 12 hours moves the body into this state and it is great for weight loss.

Lastly, it is thought that short periods of fasting can improve metabolic health and help to boost your metabolism which can help with weight loss, even after you have stopped fasting.

What Are the Cons of Doing OMAD?

Like many weight loss methods, a strict OMAD diet does come with some drawbacks. Many of the side effects of the OMAD will go away after your body adjust but there are other drawbacks. These are listed below.

By eating just one meal a day you are more likely to experience malnutrition

Only eating one meal a day and in a short space of time can push you to lose weight, but you may not eat enough calories nor enough of the food your body needs.

It is essential during the time-restricted eating periods to eat enough calories in the form of nutritious foods to replenish the food your body hasn’t got during fasting periods.

Long term, you run the risk of becoming deficient in some vitamins and minerals.

OMAD may lead to extreme hunger and binge eating

Fasting for a very long time and eating at a caloric restriction can push your body to the extremes. This means extreme hunger too.

You may find that when it comes time to eat, you overeat because you are so hungry from not getting adequate calories through the rest of the day.

Some hunger cravings can be helped with appetite suppressants but the OMAD diet may not be suitable long term due to the effects on your hunger.

Extreme hunger, in this case, may also lead to an increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin. This can lead to worse hunger cravings and eventual binge eating.

Having just One Meal a Day may trigger an eating disorder

The OMAD diet may lead to a disordered eating pattern.

Disordered eating can lead to mental health issues and lead to developing an eating disorder as you get used to eating just one meal a day.

While this method can help you to lose weight fast, it can also be dangerous which is why it is not recommended for those who have had eating disorders in the past.

What Kind of Foods to Eat and Avoid During OMAD?

When it comes to the eating period during the OMAD diet, it is absolutely essential to make sure you eat enough nutritious foods from each of the food groups to replenish your body. 

There are some foods you absolutely should have and some foods you need to avoid when using this method of intermittent fasting.

To avoid any of the OMAD diet side effects and create a large meal of nourishing food, check out the lists below.

Foods to include in your One Meal a Day

The foods you should include are whole, healthy, and nutrient-dense foods that replenish and nourish the body. These include

  • Fruits: Like berries, citrus fruits, and bananas that have lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber
  • Vegetables: Like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, baby carrots, and pepper
  • Starchy vegetables and grains: including squash, oats, and barley
  • Healthy fats: including those found in extra virgin olive oil, avocado, and nuts and seeds. Always eat fats in moderation.
  • Legumes: like peas, chickpeas, and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds: This can include nut butter as well as nuts and seeds like almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts
  • Dairy, or alternatives: including milk, Greek yogurt, coconut milk, oat milk, and soya milk. Opt for unsweetened versions of the alternative milk.
  • Protein: like lean meat, tofu, and eggs

The foods you eat in the eating hour need to be balanced enough to give your body what it needs to function. If you do not replenish it properly, you may feel weak and dizzy.

Foods to absolutely avoid during OMAD

When it comes to foods you shouldn't eat on the OMAD diet, it is mostly foods that can lead to cravings and negative side effects. Foods you shouldn’t eat include:

  • Fast food
  • Highly processed foods
  • Sugar-heavy baked goods
  • White bread
  • Soda
  • Chips

Avoid any food that has little nutritional value as it is wasted calories and will not nourish your body the way it needs.

OMAD Meal Example

A good meal example for the OMAD diet is listed below.

Oven-baked Camembert with salmon salad:

  1. Oven bake one piece of camembert (250g)
  2. Cook a cup of quinoa seeds. Serve with camembert on top.
  3. Prepare the salad:
  4. Take 300 grams of raw pink salmon. Steam it to the desired level.
  5. Let it cool a little. Wash 100 grams of baby spinach leaves and mix it with 100 grams of dried pumpkin seeds and 100 grams of sunflower seeds.
  6. Add salt as desired. Put one teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil.
  7. Put one sliced avocado and the prepared salmon on top.
  8. Optionally, slice one red onion and add it to the bowl.
  9. Put one cup of cherry tomatoes (you might grill them if desired) and spray some balsamic vinegar
  10. Take two medium-boiled eggs, slice them, and put them at the side of the salad bowl.

Eat together with one slice of wholemeal rye German bread. Enjoy! The meal consists of 1400 calories, is low-carb, and consists of 100% of all your daily recommended vitamins and minerals.

Should You Start Fasting Now?

OMAD is a very big commitment and requires lots of perseverance. If you struggle with little food, try other fasting methods first to see if you can sustain it.

There are some people who should not try the OMAD diet. These people include those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people with health conditions that may be affected by fasting, children, and anyone who has or has had an eating disorder.

Conclusion

The benefits of OMAD dieting include reduced inflammation, improved heart health, and better blood sugar regulation and it is a good kickstart for weight loss.

The OMAD Diet is not easy and requires fasting for a very long time. You should build up to it by practicing other fasting methods first.

OMAD is not suitable for some people, including pregnant people and those with health conditions affected by fasting, and it could be unsuitable in the long term.

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