I’ve been on a keto and fasting journey on and off for over two years now so I’ve tried lots of different things to get to my goal weight. That included eating one meal a day. This is a type of intermittent fasting (IF) typically called OMAD. I bet you’re wondering, is eating one meal a day bad for you?
I mean, it can’t be healthy to only eat one meal for the day, right?
Actually, this has been the IF protocol that I have found to be the most manageable that also moves the needle for me in a big way. If you want to lose weight quickly but the idea of extended fasts overwhelm you, this might be the diet plan for you. So what exactly is one meal a day and how does it work?
New to the keto diet? Start here! This will help you to figure out how to stick to this diet and make it a lifestyle for you
What is OMAD?
OMAD or one meal a day is just that. You only get to eat one meal a day and fast for the rest of the day. Sounds a little extreme and difficult to do but it’s not if you do it right and it comes with some pretty amazing health benefits.
A one meal a day diet is not something you have to undertake long-term. On this diet, you literally are only allowed to eat once a day. What you eat, when you eat and how many calories you eat is up to your goals and your health. We’re going to discuss that a bit more in this article. It sounds difficult to do but it’s not. That’s because that one meal isn’t meant to be a typical meal. It’s going to be enough calories to sustain you for the next 23 hours.
Because you’re only eating one meal, you’ll naturally find that your eating window is typically 30 minutes to one hour. It will be important to follow the usual fasting guidelines outside of your eating window.
Some amazing benefits of one meal a day
Besides the obvious health benefit of one meal a day which is weight/fat loss, here are a few other surprising health benefits you probably didn’t know:
- Increased productivity
- Promotes autophagy
- Increases metabolic rate
- Improves memory and cognitive functions
- Improve gut health
Clearly you can see that OMAD really does do the body good.
Today’s society is made to believe that it’s important to eat 3 healthy meals a day and get in 2 good snacks in between those meals. Research shows that nothing is further from the truth.
How many calories should you eat on OMAD?
This is a good question but it’s not a one size fits all kind of answer. If you are doing the one meal a day diet to lose weight you should stick to a keto diet – high fats, low carbs, moderate protein. By sticking to this plan you will get in enough calories to keep you satisfied, put you into ketosis and help you lose weight.
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What’s important is that you consume enough calories, between 1200 to as much as 1800 calories in your one meal. This will depend on how active you are and what your body needs. Consider finding out how many calories your body uses in a typical day by doing a basal metabolic rate test.
The goal here isn’t to restrict your calories, it’s to restrict the time you spend eating.
Of course, you will want to ensure you’re eating lots of nourishing foods in your meal to support your body. This is not an excuse to eat a whole pizza as your one meal.
If you have difficulty hitting your calorie goals, try incorporating some fat bombs or MCT oil in your meals.
One meal a day meal plan
If you are just getting started on the one meal a day diet you are going to have to adjust your meal according to how you feel. Keep in mind that choosing this diet is a major lifestyle change, however temporary, not just a diet.
You are completely overhauling your food intake and your body. It will require determination, some trial and error, and a bit of patience to get into your groove and find what works best for you. Also remember the mental challenges you may go through. It’s tough to switch from what you’ve been accustomed to your whole life to this new lifestyle.
Your one meal a day plan should contain high healthy fats, low carbs and moderate protein. You want to get around 1200-1800 calories (remember there’s no hard fast rule on caloric intake) and you don’t want those calories to include cakes, donuts, or other sugary treats that may have high calories but no nutrients whatsoever.
It may take you a week of testing to find out what combination of foods will satisfy your one meal a day diet plan. Be patient and keep testing. The rewards and health benefits alone are worth it.
Before you start the one meal a day diet
It’s first very important to know that a diet is a lifestyle change. It’s like breaking a bad habit and replacing it with a healthy one. In this case, your daily food habits and intake. OMAD has great health benefits but remember why you are wanting to start the one meal a day diet in the first place.
Is it to lose weight? Is it for autophagy? Is it to help heal disease or for other health benefits?
You know yourself better than anyone else. Can you do it? Do you have the mindset to tackle this? What mindset changes are needed to stick to this diet you know will help you on your health journey?
These are just a few questions you should ask yourself before you start OMAD and if you do decide to try it, it may be wise to ease into it slowly. Maybe start intermittent fasting for a week or two to prepare your body to dive into OMAD.