OMAD: The once-a-day diet
When it comes to achieving your health or fitness goals, you'll soon find that there is not one method but MANY methods. The challenge is to find the diet and training programme (or physical activity) that suits you best.
Whatever diet you adopt, there are ultimately two ways to adapt your diet: you can change what you eat and you can change when you eat.
OMAD is a diet that focuses on when you eat. It's not for everyone, but if you're struggling to find an eating pattern that suits your lifestyle, this could be an option to try to achieve your weight loss or dietary rebalancing goal.
What is OMAD?
OMAD stands for One Meal A Day. It is a diet that falls into the category of intermittent fasting and consists of eating all your daily calories in one meal. Most OMADers choose to eat between 4pm and 7pm - after eating this meal, the next meal is dinner the following day.
With the OMAD diet, you fast for 23 hours a day, longer than the most common intermittent fasting intervals such as the 16:8 method. This long fast means that OMAD may not be suitable for everyone.
The aim of OMAD is to create a prolonged fasting period that encourages your body to burn fat. The OMAD diet can also help to reduce appetite and reduce the total energy consumed throughout the day compared to more frequent meals.
Some claim that the OMAD diet can help extend life, boost metabolism and protect against disease. These claims are based on animal studies and not on humans, so more research is needed to verify these claims.
OMAD is most often used as a weight loss strategy, but this style of eating can have other benefits.
The benefits of OMAD fasting
OMAD and weight loss
Most people who use the OMAD diet have a weight loss goal. However, although eating one meal a day can help reduce hunger, I am not convinced that this is the best way to lose weight.
The OMAD diet can help you lose weight, that's for sure, but it's not necessarily the best option. If you like the way the diet is organised and your weight curve goes down, don't think too long. As mentioned earlier, you should look for YOUR method, not THE method...
It's easy to follow
This is surely the main advantage of the method: the simplicity of OMAD lies in the fact that you don't have to think about organising your meals. Easy to follow and implement, you only have to prepare one meal and you can therefore spend the time you would normally spend cooking or eating on other activities... like training for example!
The risks of the OMAD scheme
The OMAD diet may not be a sustainable way of eating as it may not be suitable for certain lifestyles, including the ability to attend social events outside the meal window.
Another risk of OMAD is that you may not be able to meet your nutritional needs for each day in one meal. When you choose nutritious high-fibre foods such as vegetables, fruit, protein and wholegrain, you may be too full at one time to eat the full amount.
A 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that eating all the calories you need in one daily meal, instead of spreading them out over the day, can lead to increased LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure even when weight and total body fat are reduced.
Other adverse side effects of fasting for prolonged periods may include fatigue, dizziness, irritability, inability to concentrate and brain fog.
How to practice OMAD safely?
Each individual is different and will react to fasting in a different way.
If you decide to try the OMAD diet, you should consider the following points:
- Make sure you get all the nutrients your body needs by eating a balanced meal.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
- Avoid processed and sugary foods as they can lead to weight gain.
- Exercise regularly to boost your metabolism.
The long fasting window means that the OMAD diet may not be suitable for some people. It is probably not suitable if you are taking medication or have a health problem, including diabetes or hypoglycaemia. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take OMAD. It is also not recommended for children, the elderly or anyone with a history of eating disorders.
This means that OMAD may not be an appropriate option for you and your goals. The main objective of any diet should always be quality nutrition.
MDGs and exercise
Depending on your goals and preferences, you can practice the OMAD diet frequently. Some people find it helps them lose weight, while others use it as a way to increase their energy levels and concentration. Exercise is an important part of the diet. While you don't need to do intense workouts every day, moderate exercise can help boost your metabolism and promote overall health. Whether you're new to the diet or have been on it for a long time, adding exercise to your program can help you reach your goals.
The best time to do your sessions is either immediately before your meal or shortly after eating. This ensures that you are replenishing your energy reserves after training or refueling for your session.
When you choose to train will of course depend on how you feel and your tolerance to exercising on an empty stomach. If you feel dizzy or light-headed during a workout, do your workout after eating, it will be safer!
You should always choose a healthy eating style that is sustainable for you and your lifestyle, rather than opting for a fad diet or extreme strategy. First and foremost, you need to ensure that your diet is nutritionally adequate, diverse and that you are eating enough for your body and your health and fitness goals.
Remember that small dietary changes can have as much effect as extreme changes, and are more sustainable in the long run. Some simple, healthy eating habits you might include: snacking less between meals or late at night, eating more mindfully, replacing refined sugars and processed foods with whole foods, or choosing an intermittent fasting style with a larger eating window.