Did you know that one of the significant aspects of any diet and health is your meal frequency? And that it affects your metabolism? Although having 3 meals a day is a typical pattern followed by many, it lacks the scientific rationale of achieving optimal health. So does that mean intermittent fasting and OMAD are the right eating patterns?
A very recent study has revealed that eating one or two meals a day can significantly lower your BMI. This helps to achieve weight loss and optimal health.
But, can you restrict yourself to eating just one meal a day? Though it sounds crazy, the OMAD diet is one of the growing diet trends followed by many dieters. Can a diet with less meal frequency like the OMAD diet really improve your health? Let’s find out…
What is an OMAD Diet?
OMAD diet or one-meal-a-day diet is a form of intermittent fasting. It is based on the concept that fasting improves glucose tolerance and helps you lose weight. In this diet, you get a one-hour eating window and the remaining 23 hours of fasting. And you can eat and drink anything you want during your scheduled eating window.
Though eating just one meal a day sounds challenging; many people follow OMAD intermittent fasting because it brings surprising health benefits. People find this diet less complicated and healthy. Let’s understand more about this diet, how it works and what are its real benefits.
How Does it Work?
Reduced meal frequency and calorie restriction can enhance your lifespan, reduce age-related changes, and improve health. Fasting and calorie restriction mainly work by two mechanisms;
- Reduced oxidative damage – Generally free radicals cause oxidative stress which can be harmful to your health. Fasting reduces oxidative stress and inflammation thus reduces age-related changes in your body.
- Increased cellular stress resistance – Various environmental stressors cause molecular changes in the cells of your body. Fasting protects cells from DNA damage, enhances apoptosis of damaged cells, and even prevents the formation of cancer cells.
Also, you will be surprised to know intermittent fasting has similar benefits as that of physical exercise on the cardiovascular system and the brain. The OMAD diet creates a calorie deficit that helps you lose weight.
OMAD fasting brings a long-term reduction in caloric intake, which results in insulin sensitivity and stress resistance. It improves glucose regulation and prevents age-related cardiovascular risk factors.
Benefits of OMAD Fasting
Diet strategies to control weight gain are essential to reduce your risk of metabolic diseases and obesity. According to research studies, varying meal frequencies can influence body weight regulation, appetite, and blood markers of health. The study has revealed that reduced meal frequency shows favorable lipid profiles in obese individuals. This means that one meal a day can increase good cholesterol in your body, which in turn reduces the risk of cardiac diseases and stroke.
The one-meal-a-day eating regime has various advantages on your health; let’s dive in to understand these benefits better.
1. Boosts Your Metabolism
Metabolic functions like gastric emptying and blood flow are faster in the morning and slow down towards evening. Even your body’s metabolic response to glucose load decreases during the evening. Circadian synchronization of meal frequency enhances gastrointestinal function and improves metabolic health. In simple words with time-restricted feeding during OMAD, you can eat in accordance with your metabolic shift.
A two-year-long follow-up study has indicated that intermittent fasting affects metabolic parameters positively. Our nutritional habits, sleeping pattern, and meal frequency have a significant effect on health. The OMAD diet brings changes in eating and sleeping patterns, which enhances your metabolism.
2. Weight Loss
You can achieve weight loss either by restricting your calorie intake or increasing the rate of calorie burn. With the OMAD diet, you consume fewer calories than the regular eating pattern. Also, the prolonged fasting duration results in fat burn, helping you lose weight. Evidence suggests that healthy adults who follow a one-meal-a-day diet achieve significant body fat loss.
Diet restriction is also an effective strategy to lose weight. A study was conducted to compare the effect of calorie restriction and intermittent fasting patterns on weight loss. The results revealed that though both diet patterns help to lose weight, intermittent fasting is more effective in weight management and the retention of lean mass.
OMAD diet creates a long fasting window, and during your eating window, you may find it difficult to consume large meals. This way, unintentionally, you create a calorie deficit leading to weight loss.
3. Anti-Aging Effect
Various age-related neurological disorders are the result of the accumulation of aggregates and toxins. Fasting enhances autophagy via the neuronal pathway, which reduces the age-related accumulation of aggregates. Your body starts cleaning up all the toxins and waste cells. By cleansing your body, OMAD fasting delays age-related changes.
4. Helps Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Insulin resistance is the most significant feature of type 2 diabetes. The period of fasting helps in calorie restriction and improves insulin sensitivity.
Traditionally eating three meals a day has been recommended for diabetes patients for maintaining metabolism. According to a new study, one meal a day can be a better option for diabetes patients. Based on the evaluation of 21 type 2 diabetes patients, one meal a day based on a Mediterranean diet plan was more advantageous for diabetes patients. According to co-author Fredrik Nyström, “it is favorable to have one large meal instead of several smaller meals when you have diabetes.”
The Mediterranean diet includes whole grains, fish, nuts, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and herbs. It is considered the healthiest diet, and when you combine it with the OMAD diet, you can get excellent results.
5. Increased Focus
A survey report has indicated that intermittent fasting increases the levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin resulting in better learning abilities.
The OMAD diet simplifies your life and frees up your mind. You can focus more on your work and other things. And intermittent fasting has a neuroprotective effect that reduces neurodegeneration and enhances longevity. This indicates that the OMAD diet helps prevent the aging process of the brain thus enhancing longevity.
How to Start OMAD?
OMAD is an extreme type of fasting, and it may take some time to adjust. In the beginning, fasting can be challenging as you feel irritable, weak, and sometimes even constipated.
OMAD diet basically means you eat once per day so that your body can get all the benefits of fasting and calorie restriction. If you really want to start an OMAD diet, it’s better to start with intermittent fasting. Begin with limiting yourself to an eating window so that with reduced meal frequency your insulin levels are low.
You can start with a 12-hour fasting window, slowly shifting to 16 and then to 20. In 20:4 intermittent fasting, you fast for 20 hours and eat in the 4-hour window. When you are starting out, you can have 2 meals a day. See how you are able to adjust and set your schedule.
To conclude, start your OMAD journey with intermittent fasting. Then cut down your meals and stop snacking. Slowly increase your fasting window. You can plan your OMAD meals to make fasting more convenient.
The OMAD diet will bring discipline to your life and maintain stable blood sugar. You will not see results immediately; so, stay consistent. Once you master this lifestyle, you will experience excellent results that you never thought of.
What to Eat in OMAD?
In the OMAD diet, we say you can eat anything you want in your eating window. Though it is true, remember you need optimal fuel for your body and that one meal should include that. Add food that is high in fats and proteins like whole grains, vegetables, fish, meat, fruits, and nuts to your meal.
A well-planned meal can make the process easy and also enhance the benefits. Make sure you balance your meal by adding all the macro and micronutrients mentioned below;
- Proteins – Eat animal-based foods like eggs, meat, chicken, fish, and cheese
- Healthy Fats – Eggs, avocados, olive oil, olives, coconut oil, MCT oil, fish, nuts, and seeds that are rich in healthy fats
- Vegetables – Include foods like swiss chard, broccoli, and spinach in your meal.
- Carbs – potatoes, rice, sweet potato, quinoa, beetroot, turnips, and carrots, which are rich sources of starch
- Spices and Herbs – You can add nutrient-rich spices and herbs like dill, coriander, parsley, and fennel seeds to your diet
Avoid eating processed food, added sugar, and high-calorie food, which can harm your diet plan.
Risks or Downsides of OMAD
Though one meal a day diet is healthy and safe for most folks, some people may experience the downsides. A study that evaluated a 1 meal/day diet pattern revealed that it might increase blood pressure and cardiovascular risk factors in some.
During the OMAD diet, you may also experience extreme hunger that results in binge eating. Researchers say that if this diet is not accompanied by healthy food and calorie restriction you may end up harming your health.
Type 2 diabetes patients who are on hypoglycemic medications can experience the risk of hypoglycemia during OMAD fasting.
Other than these, the OMAD diet may result in the following adverse effects;
- Feeling dizzy
The OMAD diet is not suitable for everyone. Especially pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with eating disorders, children, teenagers, and older adults should not try this extreme type of fasting. While practicing the OMAD diet, pay attention to your body’s needs and adapt gradually. If you have any medical condition, it is better to consult your doctor before starting this diet routine.
Is OMAD Sustainable?
Can an OMAD diet be practiced for a long time? If you have the same concern, the answer is yes. It simplifies your meal, as you just have to plan one meal a day. People who practice OMAD find it liberating. Though eating just one meal feels challenging, people who have tried OMAD find it more convenient. Many have chosen OMAD as a lifestyle for a long time.
But, to practice OMAD for long, you should choose healthy food and plan your meal to meet all the nutrient requirements of your body. OMAD diet needs disciplined life, and you may find it challenging to choose healthy food for every single meal. This raises concern for practicing OMAD in the long term.
Fasting can bring many health benefits, but an OMAD diet is an extreme type of fasting. Some people find it sustainable and practice it for the long term. You can start with intermittent fasting, two meals a day, and then shift to the OMAD diet. See what works for you and how you can balance your energy needs to stay active all day.
Follow the OMAD diet if you want to lose weight, stay healthy, and have a more disciplined lifestyle.
Are you Willing to Start OMAD Fasting?
OMAD fasting is challenging, and planning meals to meet your nutritional needs might feel overwhelming. Plan healthy meals and lose weight with our well-structured OMAD diet plan.