- I Consumed Nothing but Water for 5 Days. Here’s Why, What Happened, and Why it Was Awesome.
- Why Fast?
- How to Fast Safely
- What Happened During the Fast?
- The Day by Day Rundown
- Refeeding: How to End the Fast “Safely”
- What’s Next?
- OMAD: Should You Do the One Meal a Day Diet?
- What is OMAD and how does it work?
- How to start the one meal a day diet
- Benefits of one meal a day fasting
- Potential OMAD downsides (and how to hack them)
- Join over 1 million fans
- What Should I Eat on OMAD?
- Can You Lose Weight Eating One Meal a Day?
- Is the OMAD Diet Safe?
- Should I Try the OMAD Diet?
- Should I eat just one meal a day?
- I Tried Extreme Fasting by Eating Once a Day — Here’s What Happened
- Why eat only once a day?
- My experience with trying OMAD
- What does science say about OMAD’s benefits and risks?
- The bottom line
- What is the OMAD diet?
- Intermittent fasting may have health benefits beyond weight loss
- What does a typical day on the diet look like?
- What should you include in your one meal to stay healthy?
- Woman loses 100 pounds in 1 year with ketogenic diet and fasting
- Would a typical person doing this lose weight?
- Would a person be starving?
- Make easy, no-added-sugar recipes to help boost your metabolism
- What are the major concerns with this diet?
- What are the potential benefits?
- One Meal A Day (OMAD)
- What I learned eating one meal a day
- Am I going to continue eating one meal a day?
- Do I recommend you follow the OMAD plan?
- Before Warrior Diet:
- Weren’t You Insanely Hungry? (In Other Words: Didn’t It Suck?!)
- How Did You Feel?
- After 2 Weeks on Warrior Diet:
- What Did You Eat?
- Were You Able to Work Out?
- Did You Lose Weight?
- Isn’t It Bad For You Not to Eat All Day?
- Will You Keep Going?
- Final Thoughts
- What Is the OMAD Diet? Everything You Need to Know About This Extreme Intermittent Fasting Weight-Loss Plan
I Consumed Nothing but Water for 5 Days. Here’s Why, What Happened, and Why it Was Awesome.
At 6:00 pm on Saturday, February 14th, I stopped eating. I didn’t pick up a spoon, fork, knife, pair of chopsticks, beer bottle, or finger-food for 120 hours until 6:00 pm, Thursday, February 19th.
Which raises the obvious question: “Why would you do that?”
Let me explain.
We eat three meals a day because… well because everyone else does. And because that’s how we were raised. And because most of us are conditioned in such a way that we get hungry if we don’t eat for 4-6 hours.
But there’s no fixed biological rule saying that we need to eat every 4-6 hours. Homo Sapiens popped up 250,000 years ago but we only developed agriculture 12,000 years ago. There were 238,000 years where we were getting by as hunter-gatherers with unreliable access to food.
We might kill a gazelle one day, share it with our tribe, then go two days without access to meat and have little to subsist on. And this was perfectly fine. We certainly weren’t stopping in the middle of our 16-19 mile a day walks to have a protein bar to refuel.
Not Pictured: Trail Mix, 100 calorie packs, or 5-Hour Energy
Many foods in our modern diet (particularly grains and sugars), combined with eating constantly, has made our bodies lazy and turned off their ability to run on their own energy stores. Fasting forces your body to get back into a more “state of nature” style of operating and brings a host of benefits with it.
The Health Benefits of Fasting
Central to the benefits of fasting is a process called “autophagy.” Autophagy is the body’s natural process of killing off, eating up, or cleaning out bad cell matter that’s built up in your body. It’s an important system for staving off many diseases, including preventing cancer development.
Not only that, but reduced autophagy (the state that most of our diets leaves us in) leads to accelerated cell aging, which explains why in numerous studies on lab animals from single cells to mice to monkeys, restricting their caloric intake significantly increased their lifespan, even when that restriction was occasional (fasting every once in a while).
It doesn’t stop there. Autophagy also helps with the development and retention of lean muscle, and autophagy induced through caloric restriction also slows neurodegeneration and is one of the few things that can lead to the production of new brain cells. This research suggests that fasting can protect you against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinsons. This is also likely why epileptic and autistic people respond very well to fasting.
On top of all of that, periodic fasting helps with reducing chronic pains, rheumatic diseases, high blood pressure, and anything related to inflammation.
Fasting also improves your insulin sensitivity, meaning your body can better process Oreos instead of sending them to your waistline when you decide to cheat.
Then there’s the obvious fat loss benefit. After day two (maybe earlier) your body has nothing to run on but your own fat. The water weight you lose will come back quickly, but that fat loss is real. You can expect to lose ~1-2 pounds per day, but consider this a nice benefit, not the primary motivation. If you’re doing it for fat loss you might do it too long or ignore signs to stop.
How to Fast Safely
Heads up! We’re getting into prescriptive territory where I talk about how you can try fasting. I’m not a doctor, veterinarian, spiritual healer, or anything else that would remotely qualify me to give you medical advice, so if you try this and you die it’s your own damn fault. And PLEASE don’t be stupid and do something like donate blood, go in a sauna, run a marathon, or anything else that will put undue stress on you if you fast.
The fasting community is a little confusing.
Some people say “drink only distilled water while fasting” some people say “be sure you take a lot of electrolytes.” Some say “Make sure you take a vitamin supplement” some say “avoid vitamins.”
What I’ve learned from doing experiments like this is that when you get into newer areas of research (like fasting), 99% of the information online is contradictory nonsense and you have to figure it out on your own.
You should do your research too, not just trust me or another blog. You can die from fasting, usually from drinking too much water, flushing all the salt out of your body, and going into cardiac arrest. That’s why you only drink distilled water. Or is it why you don’t drink distilled water? No one agrees really, so I drank a lot of Brita-filtered water and didn’t worry about it.
Some people said you should only have 1-2L of water a day, some said just keep it under a gallon, some said to drink a ton to flush the toxins out. I just drank when I was thirsty.
Some said you need to stay as inactive as possible. They talked about staying in bed for most of days 2 and 3, not walking more than a half mile, and keeping their activity low even during the refeeding period.
I said screw that and went about life as usual. The only changes I made were not using my standing desk and not working out, but I still averaged ~2 miles of walking and 10+ flights of stairs a day, most of it in sub-zero temperatures.
Five days of movement data to prove it (I’m usually in the 50-70% range)
They also said make sure you spend a week not eating carbs, reduce your diet slowly, etc. etc. I spent the day before eating an absurd amount of junk food.
So… How Do You Fast Then?
Everyone seems to invent their own rules and techniques for fasting, but here’s what I felt sure about:
- Don’t eat ANYTHING. Even eating a small amount keeps digestion going which will make the fast torturous.
- Drink however much water you feel like you need. Don’t drink gallons, and don’t just drink a thimble, and you’ll probably be fine.
- You don’t need the electrolytes / vitamins, but they probably don’t hurt.
- Don’t drink “juice,” that stuff is terrible for you anyway.
- Do as much activity as you’re comfortable with.
- Sleep as much as you feel you need, but don’t lie in bed just because your body is more tired than usual. What I found was that once I started moving or working, my body provided me the energy I needed. If I stayed inert, I got tired.
What Happened During the Fast?
I averaged 9-10 hours of sleep a night, but that was the only change in my amount of rest. No naps.
Days one and two were rough, day three was great except for when I was in boring meetings. When I say “rough” though I mean I had to fight off the occasional pangs of hunger. It really didn’t affect my productivity or life that much. I’d compare it to having half a dozen itchy mosquito bites.
Days four and five I felt amazing. I got an incredible amount done, was completely undistractable, and felt blissfully happy throughout.
All of the claims about mental clarity were true—my mind has never felt so “unclouded.” There was zero brain fog all hours of the day. I had all the benefits of meditation, but without needing to meditate.
Another interesting thing: time moved slower. I was never rushed. But that may have been because I eat really fast. Without that rushed process twice a day, maybe I was less rushed in general. Either way, it was remarkable how calm I was.
The only real negative was that I was very, very sensitive to the cold. My theory is that my body was rationing its energy mostly towards brain functioning and movement, and not spending as much on thermogenesis. I was keeping my room 5-10 degrees warmer than normal, and still wearing a sweater.
Oh, one last positive. I’ve never had more muscular (especially abdominal) definition in my life. I would post pictures, but you would have to buy me a drink first. Hint: I like Malbec.
The Day by Day Rundown
I was taking these notes as I was going, so it’s a little bit stream of consciousness / journal-like. For reference, the fast started on Saturday at 6pm. That was “Day Zero”
Day One: Sunday
8:00 am: Woke up, had a bit of water to start the day.
12:00 pm: Noticed some slight hunger around noon, have a bit more water.
1:00 pm: No headaches despite not drinking tea, good sign that I don’t have a caffeine addiction. I might miss the tea more than the food.
3:00 pm: hunger is starting to kick in. I normally live on a 16-8 intermittent fasting cycle, and this is around the point (18 hours in) when I normally HAVE to have food. But today… water.
4:00 pm: Water seems to help with the headaches. Maybe I was dehydrated?
7:00 pm: So tired, feels like it’s midnight or later. Hardly being productive at all, good thing I finished stuff earlier. I wonder if this is because I didn’t sleep quite enough last night or just from no food? Maybe both. Tomorrow will probably be rough if this fatigue is all from the fasting.
8:00 pm: Time feels like it’s moving slower… maybe that’s just from the fatigue?
Day Two: Monday
9:00 am: Woke up at 9am after sleeping at 11, clearly need extra rest when I’m not eating.
9:30 am: Tried to play it conservative by sitting instead of standing, but my body wanted to stand for about an hour. Maybe the “rules” about inactivity vary person to person based on their prior activity levels? I’m probably a little different since I normally use a standing desk.
10:00 am: Despite not eating in over 36 hours now, I’m actually not hungry. No pain really, though my brain feels a little foggy, slight tunnel vision. Kinda like a mild hangover without the headache. I wonder if this is from the toxins coming out of my bad cell matter and getting dumped into my bloodstream (supposedly part of the autophagy process)… I should probably go out drinking less.
12:30 pm: Time definitely feels like it’s moving slower. There’s much less urgency.
3:00 pm: My business & culture professor talked about food for half an hour… it was terrible.
7:00 pm: Really hungry around dinner time.
8:00 pm: The fasting and hunger are not so noticeable when working, you get weirdly calm and focused, you just don’t think about it.
9:00 pm: Weird feeling, kinda like being tired, but still functional… sort of tunnel vision. I think my body is very tired but my mind is fine, maybe my body is conserving energy by leaving my body weak but still keeping my brain going? Everything is getting done though, it just doesn’t totally feel like I’m the one doing it. Kinda like I’m on autopilot.
Day Three: Tuesday
9:00 am: Woke up at 9 again, still 10 hours of rest. Though I woke up at 6:30 and 8 as well but I kind of forced myself back to sleep, I was a worried about getting that little sleep.
9:30 am: Sitting instead of using my standing desk to play it safe.
10:30 am: Barely any hunger, and much less pressure behind my eyes today.
12:00 pm: Time still feels really, really slow. Weird not having those interruptions of food. I’ll sit down to do an assignment or something then look up and go “wtf, that only took 10 minutes?”
3:00 pm: Climbing a lot of stairs at once is kind of tiring. I had to climb four flights and was very winded afterward. I regain the energy quickly though, and it’s only a physical fatigue, not a mental one.
5:00 pm: Classes were horrible today, I had a 3-hour straight block that couldn’t have moved slower. I thought maybe the hunger was getting to me but it was something about the classes and the hunger, once I was out I was totally fine. It may also have been the boredom + time delay.
7:00 pm: Hyper-focused on whatever I’m working on, had no idea this would be such a pronounced effect. I have no need for the Pomodoro method, the Self Control app, anything like that.
8:00 pm: Some small headaches throughout the day, mostly in classes though. I think I was dehydrated in the morning. They went away in the afternoon when I drank more water.
Day Four: Wednesday
9:00 am: Woke up feeling awesome, slept 10 hours again, no alarm clock.
9:30 am: Funny side effect, I keep putting my water pitcher in the fridge out of habit. It’s a problem because my body sucks so much at keeping me warm right now that I can’t drink cold water, only room temperature. Very European.
12:00 pm: Feeling awesome in general, super focused, no afternoon fatigue this time.
12:30 pm: Barely any hunger today, I started keeping a list of things that I want to eat when this is over and that helps a lot. As soon as I have a craving for something it goes on the list and the craving goes away.
1:00 pm: My skin looks really good. So do my eyes. So do you, reader.
12:00 am: Had a meeting that went until Midnight. I was worried about it since I’d been getting tired around 10, but I was 100% fine. This supports my theory that while fasting, your body provides energy on an as-you-need-it basis, and not by default. Since I had to do stand, walk around, and lead a meeting, I had the energy for it. When I’m sitting around reading, I don’t need much energy so my body provides less and I feel tired. As soon as I went home and relaxed after the meeting, I felt tired again.
12:30am: Otherwise, felt amazing today. Super focused, generally happy, also very patient. Just a great day in general.
1:00am: Going to bed later today too, we’ll see how that affects things.
Day Five: Thursday
9:00 am: Woke up and had my usual glasses of water. Seem to be fine despite only sleeping eight hours and staying up till 1.
10:30 am: Class was much easier to go through today, feel so much better than Tuesday, and even better than Wednesday.
12:00 pm: This might be the best I’ve felt mentally in my entire life.
12:30 pm: Decided to push myself by sitting in a cafeteria for 1.5 hours around lunch time. Turned into one of the best willpower exercises I’ve ever done. I definitely wanted food badly, but I was able to keep focusing on work and other stuff and tune it out. It was a lot like meditation, every time my mind wandered to the enticing scents around me, I just reeled it back in.
2:00 pm: Had some turmeric and ginger tea to get the digestion going again.
6:00 pm: Started breaking the fast at 6:00pm, 120 hours after starting, with sauerkraut, athletic greens, and almonds.
And the standing desk came back!
And then it was over! But, how do you end a fast?
Refeeding: How to End the Fast “Safely”
Now we come to the topic of refeeding.
Refeeding is the process of steadily introducing food to your body in such a way that you don’t totally crash your system.
The biggest risk is something called refeeding syndrome, where your reintroduction of food spikes your insulin so much that you go into shock and maybe die. It’s a concern on fasts five days or longer, and when you’ve lost a lot of body weight.
To prevent this, you steadily reintroduce foods to the body over one to two days, steadily moving up the chain of how hard to digest something is, ending with meat. Some say that you should re-feed for as many days as you fasted.
But here’s what doesn’t make sense: a lot of the sites that talk about fasting say that you should start with fruits and vegetables since they’re easily digestible. Vegetables make sense, but fruit? Fruit has a fairly high glycemic index, meaning it risks spiking your insulin.
So I had a different theory. First, I repopulated my gut microbiome, the healthy bacteria that live inside your gut and help with processing food. I did that with Athletic Greens and Sauerkraut, both awesome sources of probiotics.
Then, I ate nuts since they’re very low glycemic and they’re fat, which won’t spike my insulin and won’t be hard on my kidneys or gut. They’re also a good source of Magnesium, which is one of the mineral deficiencies that leads to refeeding syndrome. I threw in some Potassium and Phosphate supplements as well.
I did that at 6pm…
Then at 8pm I said screw it, ordered Taiwanese food, drank a beer, then had some wine while writing this article.
One item on my “to eat” list done
Why? Because I think people are too careful with fasting. Numerous sources suggested waiting two or more days before reintroducing meat. If you were in the wild, and you hadn’t eaten in four days, and you managed to kill a deer, you wouldn’t go forage for berries before eating it to “work yourself up to it.” You’d eat the damn deer.
Also, occasional shocks are good for your body, that’s the whole point of fasting in the first place. If you treat your body like glass then it will stay like glass. This is the same logic behind bodybuilding, hormesis, vaccinations, cold therapy, and any other process where we inflict small damages to increase the strength of the system (what Nassim Taleb calls “Antifragility“).
And no, I didn’t go into shock, crash, get diarrhea, or anything like that. I just felt totally full, and that one beer got me way tipsier than normal.
Though, if I were to do a 7-day fast or longer, I might be a bit more careful. Again, not a doctor.
As I’ve mentioned a few times now, this was a very, very positive experience. There were hardly any downsides, and the few downsides were totally steamrolled by the positives.
On top of that, like I said, there are an incredible number of health benefits from fasting. I’ll definitely keep doing intermittent fasting. There’s no reason to stop that, it only does good things, and I don’t even know if I could now that I’ve gotten so used to it.
And I’ll most likely shoot for a fast like this maybe once a quarter. Maybe next time I’ll do a 7 day one.
Special thanks to Adil Majid and Zachary Rousselle for checking in on me to make sure I was alive during the fast.
- Share on Facebook SHARE
- Share on Twitter TWEET
- Pin to Pinterest PIN
An apple and water … Michael Jarosky’s diet for the past seven days. Photo: Marco del Grande
- Post on facebook wall
- Share on twitter
- Post to Linkedin
- Share on Google Plus
- Share via Email
I’ve been alive for just over 15,000 days. On any given one I’ve rarely missed a single meal, and during my indulgent corporate days, I just about turned junk eating and boozing into an artform.
If you read last week’s blog, you know I committed to a week-long diet consisting of only seven apples in seven days, and nothing else (bar water).
Seven days is .0004 of my 15,000-day existence – not that long. My decision to take radical action and eat less came about as a way of shining a spotlight on our bloated “more” culture – more food, more fat and more sugary, fizzy drinks is what’s causing the obesity rate to skyrocket and costing Australia $120 billion per year.
By creating a crazy health challenge, I’ve morphed into a white lab rat, and in Twitter-esque style, here’s how I travelled:
Day 1: Hungry, but motivated for the challenge.
Day 2: Monumentally hungry. Stomach churning. The guys at $10 pub poker chuckle at my seven apples.
Day 3: Hunger becoming manageable, and more mental. Taste buds itching for some food, though.
Day 4: Night out in CBD with mates … they eat, they drink. I have my water. Challenging.
Day 5: Exercise is a bit more difficult, but I’m still getting in quality sessions.
Day 6: A Bondi-Coogee walk on a 21-degree day … paradise. Hungry, and excited to start eating again.
Day 7: I made it. A meaningful seven-day journey. Food has never tasted so good in my life.
My “seven apples in seven days” concept is not entirely new. Buddhists, Jews, Catholics, Christians, Muslims, Greek Orthodox followers, Taoists, Hindus and Mormons all endorse some form of fasting. Yoga lovers fast, and when your doctor needs you to cleanse your body before a procedure … you’re asked to fast.
I’m no rebel, and I’m not religious – I just wanted to challenge my body with less. It’s been crazy, yet it’s been a learning experience, and any time I can learn something (good or bad) about health and wellness, I’m interested … and glad I took up the challenge.
My editor did a little Q&A with me on Day 7. Here it is:
On a scale of 1-10, how was it?
I rate it a 6. It wasn’t impossible; it wasn’t easy. It was a serious challenge.
You know the saying … an apple a day keeps the doctor away. I won’t give up apples.
How was your energy and sleep?
I’m lucky I had no detox symptoms, as I read others have experienced in online forums. I don’t drink coffee or tea and take zero medication, so my spirits and energy were on par with a normal week. Sleep was normal. I was pretty healthy going into the week, and I know that contributed to a successful seven days.
Did you exercise?
Most days I did a simple circuit which totalled 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, sprints, 1000 jump ropes, and 1000 stairs.
As one reader sarcastically asked, ‘do you work?’
Ha. Yes, I work. I didn’t cancel on one client, Monday to Saturday. I woke up before 7am most days, and I trained clients some nights until 8pm. Along with that, I wrote many thousands of words for other writing projects, and I didn’t miss a day of exercise. The nature of my profession is I have breaks between clients – on days when energy was low, I relaxed when my body required it.
How much weight did you lose?
If you eat less, you will lose weight. If you fast, you will lose weight. I’ll leave it at that, as I don’t want my experience to be interpreted as an attempt to lose weight and I have no intention to turn this into some new diet. I did it to see what effect “less” would have on my body.
What happened physically?
My skin is as clear as when I was 16 years old. Hunger pains during Day 1 and 2 were the worst, but by Day 3 my body realised nothing was coming in. It then became a mental battle. My hands were often cold. And sorry to bring it up, but I spent a lot more time standing over the toilet than sitting … but it was all water and so little food. I feel good now.
Would you recommend it?
No, and maybe. Everybody and every body is different, so recommending a week-long fast to readers I don’t know would be irresponsible. Fasting is a decision every individual should make based on their current physical health, mental wellbeing, and energy needs. If they’re in any doubt they should talk to their GP first. As popular diet books introduce fasting, I do worry that eating disorders could develop by people taking it too far … for that reason, I’ll stay on the fence.
The most important thing I learned from this week is my body doesn’t want “food”; instead, it’s craving nutrients. My first post-fast shopping trip wasn’t for beer (surprise), cookies, chocolate, or any processed BS that’s loaded with flavour and mass. I bought salmon, lamb, quinoa, spinach, broccoli, fruit, avocado, and so much more fresh, healthy and tasty goods.
That’s the message here … forget fasting, and just eat less (in a healthy manner) because your body can handle it. Also, keep exercising. You can lose weight and you will become healthier – it’s a simple, wonderful formula that applied in 1950, 1980, and still does today. And one that can turn around the global obesity crisis.
Have you ever fasted? What’s your experience?
Follow Michael Jarosky on Twitter or email him.
Some, following Jesus’s example from the Bible, fast for 40 days for spiritual growth—and some have died trying. Others crave a vague “detox” or “reset” of their bodily systems. One graduate student fasted for a month in order to “clean” her insides and get “a fresh start with everything.” Some combine all of these motivations into a hodge-podge, depriving and actualizing the self all at once: “The 40 day fasting diet was like a ‘reset button’ in my life,” one faster wrote. “Isn’t great that God in His wisdom has provided us with this tool to engage in a more intimate way of life with Him, while at the same time restoring health to our bodies and minds!”
Successful fasters post their own guides online, doling out wisdom like, “If you ever feel dizzy during your fast, try to sit down as quickly as possible.” One woman, who drank only juice for 31 days, dismissed her headaches as “healing reactions.” Ryczek is personally inspired by the work of Jason Fung, a Canadian nephrologist and author of The Complete Guide to Fasting. Over email, Fung told me there is “nothing wrong” with fasts of up to a month. “The key to longer fasts is that you should feel well throughout the time,” he said. “If you feel weak or tired, then you should stop.”
The exact numbers of these marathon fasters are unknown. Certainly not all who try it post about it online, since the scorn can be overwhelming. Ryczek said she received death threats after her post was shared on a “lynch mob, troll Facebook group.”
“They were a pro-GMO, pro-vaccine group that came at me and attacked,” she said. “They said I’m a liar and if I’m not already dead from my lie, someone should kill me.”
For those who wonder if Ryczek must have cheated: It’s technically possible to survive more than a month without food, though the likelihood you’ll live depends on your level of fat—and thus, the amount of energy your body can burn before it starts eating itself. The longest known fast was in 1971, when a 27-year-old man survived on water and supplements for 382 days and shrank from 456 to 180 pounds. In 1981, Irish republican prisoners refused food for more than two months before dying, but in 2010, a Florida woman on a water-only religious fast died within just 26 days. (The precise length of her fast wasn’t clear. When her family members broke down her door, she was already gone.)
Ryczek is propelled not by a cause, but by an iron will. She’s fasted for shorter periods previously, even sitting through big holiday dinners without so much as a nibble.
For the first few days of the month-long fast, she was irritable, finding herself “wishing (even more than usual) that Ray would just stop freaking talking,” she wrote, adding, “I’m starting to realize that my defense mechanism against feeling has been turning to food/drink. I’m grateful to be on this path, giving me the opportunity over the next 22 days to break that vicious cycle, no matter how much I cry.”
OMAD: Should You Do the One Meal a Day Diet?
Intermittent fasting to boost performance and weight loss is skyrocketing in popularity, as modern research uncovers the benefits behind this ancient health practice. One type of intermittent fasting style on the rise is one meal a day, or the OMAD diet. Fasting is a powerful tool for modulating your body’s performance, and not eating for anywhere from 16-48 hours (or longer) can profoundly impact your body and brain.
Types of intermittent fasting styles range from calorie restriction, to cycling between regular and fasting days, to limiting the times in a day that you can consume food.
The OMAD intermittent fasting schedule aims for a 23:1 fasting ratio, giving your body 23 hours each day to reap the benefits of a fasting lifestyle. If you’re looking to burn fat, improve mental resilience, and simplify the time you spend on food, eating just one meal a day could be the key to taking your keto or Bulletproof Diet to the next level.
Read on for a quick guide to starting the one meal a day diet, OMAD benefits, plus the pros and cons you need to decide if this fasting style fits you.
(There are infinite ways to incorporate fasting strategies into your diet. Get the scoop on how to get started with intermittent fasting here.)
What is OMAD and how does it work?
OMAD is a form of intermittent fasting, the practice of cycling in and out of periods of eating and not eating. Different intermittent fasting styles range from fasting one day each week, to restricting food to a shortened period each day. OMAD is a popular form of intermittent fasting that shrinks your eating window even more than usual.
In this case, you eat all of your daily calories in just one meal each day — typically fasting for the remaining 23-ish hours. One meal a day fasting lets you reap the health benefits of fasting, while hugely simplifying your schedule (you know, if meal prep and eating feels bothersome to you). Between 4-7PM is an ideal time to break your fast, giving you fuel when you need it, a time to eat with friends or family, and enough time to digest before heading to bed.
From an evolutionary standpoint, humans aren’t meant for three scheduled and square meals a day. Your ancestors developed powerful adaptations to keep their bodies and brains performing at high levels, even when food was scarce. Intermittent fasting schedules such as OMAD supercharge your body by activating stress response pathways that boost mitochondrial performance, autophagy and DNA repair in your cells, as well as triggering beneficial metabolic changes and preventing chronic disease processes.
If you’re a woman, you may have different needs when it comes to intermittent fasting. Read up on Bulletproof intermittent fasting for women here.
How to start the one meal a day diet
OMAD can be a pretty extreme intermittent fasting schedule especially for newbies. Avoiding food for 23 hours a day takes a lot of extra effort, and creating a situation that stresses you out can undo some of the powerful benefits from fasting.
Here, the top three tips for transitioning into a one meal a day schedule, and finding the right balance for your body:
Cut back on carbs
To set yourself up for the best intermittent fasting results and the least crankiness: limit the amount of carbs in your diet. When you eat a lot of carbohydrates, your body will stockpile glucose as glycogen — this means it takes a lot longer for your body to shift into ketosis, or fat-burning mode, when you are fasting. Limiting your starches and fruit by following the Bulletproof Diet or eating keto will curb your hunger and keep your body feeling satisfied longer without the ups and downs of sugar crashes.
Read more: How keto and fasting work better together
Ease into fasting
The goal with one meal a day isn’t to feel like you’re punishing your body or suffering through a challenge. A successful transition to intermittent fasting means training your body to handle a different yet sustainable routine. If fasting is new to you, try a gradual transition through intermittent fasting schedules. Some people may need to introduce intermittent fasting every other day, use small snacks after workouts, or start with shorter fasts, such as fasting for 16 or 20 hours a day as you build to a 23:1 OMAD schedule. If you’ve done full-day fasts before, you can try adding them more regularly into your weekly routine as you build up to everyday OMAD.
As Brad Pilon, author of “Eat Stop Eat,” and a top expert on the science of fasting, explains in an episode of the Bulletproof Radio podcast, “The hardest part of fasting wasn’t the not eating because I was hungry, it was the not eating because of my habits…It took a while to get used to letting go of my trained eating styles.”
But first, coffee
Wait, coffee and fasting? This Bulletproof fasting hack can be applied to any fasting schedule, and includes adding a cup of of Bulletproof Coffee to your morning. If you’re an athlete, stressed student, hectic parent, or busy entrepreneur, you may need a little extra boost to keep you feeling powerful through a day of fasting. The healthy fats from grass-fed butter and Brain Octane Oil give you a stable current of energy that sustains you through the day while boosting your ketosis and metabolic rate. This can be especially beneficial for women whose bodies and hormone pathways are designed to fight famine mode to support reproduction. Remember, the goal is to find how one meal a day works for your body, not to judge yourself for hitting “full-on” fasting.
Read more: Bulletproof fasting with coffee
Benefits of one meal a day fasting
There’s a reason fasting diets have around for centuries, and are making a resurgence today. Long periods of fasting benefit your body by gently stressing your cells, making them more resilient. It’s a process called hormesis — using stress to make you stronger.
Pilon compares the stress of fasting to the benefits your body receives from a weight training session, “The body is introduced with small stress and that small stress actually has beneficial effects. If the stress were to get too large, it would become a negative on the human body. A small amount tends to allow the body to learn to adapt.”
The OMAD diet, or other intermittent fasting styles also activate autophagy, your body’s clean-up mode for damaged cells, toxins and waste. This autophagy also occurs in neurons of your brain, part of why intermittent fasting diets fight age-related neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and stroke.
Fasting also has profound effects on your metabolism. Not only does it reset your tolerance to hunger, and let you burn fat longer, intermittent fasting has a beneficial effect on lowering your blood sugar and increasing insulin function, both factors in preventing obesity and diabetes.
Other human studies have linked intermittent fasting to improvements in weight loss, asthma, cardiovascular disease and inflammation, while intermittent fasting in animal studies protect against cancers, neurodegeneration, and diabetes.
Many fasting variations can achieve these outcomes, but OMAD fasting brings some unique benefits of its own. To begin with, OMAD definitely simplifies things: Leave behind the stress of finding healthy, Bulletproof-approved meals at work, on the go, or at restaurants throughout your day. Eating just one meal a day means prepping just one meal a day, letting you sleep through breakfast prep time, and simplifying the grocery plan. OMAD also adds an extra benefit for weight loss through more natural calorie restriction. Many people find it impossible to comfortably eat a regular day’s calories in one sitting, but still feel like they’re indulging in a large meal.
Read more: The benefits of intermittent fasting
Potential OMAD downsides (and how to hack them)
While one meal a day might simplify your planning, it still requires planning. If your fast leaves you feeling desperate at hour 22.5, you may be tempted to binge on satisfying junk foods as soon as your meal begins. Avoiding the temptations of hunger takes some careful considerations.
Make sure you meals are balanced, diverse, and cover a full range of macro and micronutrients. Filling up too fast on one food group means missing out on the other nutrients you need, and there’s no second meal later in the day to make up for it.
OMAD also doesn’t need to be a strict 23:1 fasting:eating ratio. If it’s more comfortable for you to spread your large meal out over more than an hour, try it! Additionally, if you’re planning on following a ketogenic diet in addition to an OMAD schedule, you still need to be mindful of your macros, and make sure your large meal is staying under your carbohydrate limit.
Even with balanced nutrients, some bodies simply don’t agree with extreme 23 hour fasting, and that’s OK. One pitfall of an OMAD lifestyle is trying to force a schedule without listening to your body’s cues, especially if you have a faster metabolism, frequently deal with mental stress, or enjoy intense workouts. If your body is stressed from fasting, it will release extra adrenaline and cortisol. Restless sleep or waking up unintentionally in the early morning are signals from your body that you’re doing too much. If you’re feeling sluggish, weak, or constantly tired, your body is telling you it needs more energy, more often. All bodies are different, and you can still reap the benefits of fasting with a gentler schedule that fits your body’s pace.
If you notice these symptoms, tell your body that it’s nourished and safe by planning meals around diverse nutrients, healthy proteins and plenty of fat. You can also try cutting down your fasting to once or twice a week, or a more moderate daily schedule, and building up from there. Depending on your goals, Pilon recommends using intermittent fasting less frequently, “If you’re fasting…then the leaner you are, the less frequently … because you’ve earned it. You’re lean. You’ve accomplished what you’re trying to do, now you’re basically fasting for health benefits and as a way to keep your weight in check.”
Transitioning away from an OMAD schedule can pose its own problems as well, as your body adjusts to wanting huge meals when you sit down to eat. Either way, take time to listen carefully to how your body responds, and experiment to find what works for you.
Restricting yourself to one meal a day can also be taxing on your mental stress. Take care of your stress levels by practicing these top hacks for stress relief, and remember that more difficult fasts do not equal better results. Check in with yourself regularly to ask if your schedule feels right, and make sure it doesn’t lead to an unhealthy relationship with your body or your food.
Still not sure if OMAD is the right diet for you? Learn more about other fasting diets here.
Join over 1 million fans
Sign-up for the Bulletproof mailing list and receive the latest news and updates!
What is OMAD?
It’s a question we get a lot from our coaching clients and today we’ll teach you all about it!
A Nerd Fitness Coach can guide your nutrition and weight loss. Learn more here!
OMAD stands for “One Meal A Day,” so the OMAD Diet is a form of intermittent fasting where the participant eats one single time during the day, typically for a 60 minute period.
So on an OMAD Diet, you would eat between 6pm-7pm every day.
While non-caloric beverages are allowed outside of this eating window, nothing else is.
I already know your next question…
What Should I Eat on OMAD?
Outside of the eating window, there are no restrictions on the OMAD Diet.
So you can eat whatever you want on OMAD, as long as it’s in your eating window.
Now, as in any intermittent fasting protocol (which OMAD would fall into), it’s encouraged that you eat as healthy as possible during your eating window.
What’s a healthy diet look like? Check out our full guide “How to Start Eating Healthy” for tips on a sustainable diet.
You can also grab our 10-level nutritional system to help you adopt a healthy diet. Each level gets a bit more challenging and healthier, and you progress at your own speed to make your changes stick!
I’ll send you the 10-Level Guide when you sign up in the box right here:
Download our free weight loss guide THE NERD FITNESS DIET: 10 Levels to Change Your Life
- Follow our 10-level nutrition system at your own pace
- What you need to know about weight loss and healthy eating
- 3 Simple rules we follow every day to stay on target
Why is it that you can eat whatever you want on the OMAD Diet?
Because you have such a limited eating window (one hour), there are only so many calories one can consume in this period.
If weight loss is the goal, you’ll end up with more leeway when it comes to your calorie intake by eating one single meal.
Which I believe will lead me to your next question…
Can You Lose Weight Eating One Meal a Day?
People have reported losing substantial weight by adopting the OMAD Diet.
For evidence of this, just browse the subreddit r/omad for testimonials.
Why does OMAD help with weight loss?
The OMAD Diet works the same way all diets work: it gets you to eat fewer calories than you generally are used to.
If you usually eat three square meals a day and then cram that down to one, you are likely eating fewer calories overall.
Even if that one meal a day is a GIANT meal, it’s still probably not as many calories as you would obtain from eating unrestricted all day.
That’s why the OMAD Diet can help with weight loss.
Is the OMAD Diet Safe?
Studies done on prolonged water fasts have shown fasting to be safe.
However, there are some studies on OMAD specifically that have mixed results.
- One study comparing three meals a day to OMAD showed the one-meal group had worse cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
- Another study found that patients with type 2 diabetes had better blood sugar readings after trying OMAD.
You’ll probably be fine eating one meal a day but chat with your doctor before embarking on the OMAD Diet.
Which will bring us to…
Should I Try the OMAD Diet?
Let me answer your question with a question: can you imagine eating only one meal a day for a considerable period of time?
- Yes: then try OMAD out and see how your body responds. I’ve been practicing a less strict form of intermittent fasting for years and it helps me reach my calorie goals.
- No: then I would try a different strategy to try and lose weight.
As we point out in our guide “How to Lose Weight (Without Dieting),” temporary changes create temporary results.
Meaning, any weight you lose on the OMAD Diet will return as soon as you start eating multiple meals a day.
This is why we encourage our coaching clients to focus on small changes and habits that they can sustain permanently.
If you are just beginning to build healthier habits for sustainable weight loss, instead of attempting OMAD, here’s what I would do:
Make 1 change per week.
Change ONE meal a week, or cut back on ONE soda. Make a change that’s so small that it doesn’t make you sad or scared.
If you accomplish this week after week, you’ll begin to see some real progress. We’ve seen it time and time again here at Nerd Fitness.
For the Rebellion,
PS: Make sure you check out the rest of our Sustainable Weight Loss Content:
- How to Lose Weight (Without Dieting)
- Why Can’t I Lose Weight?
- How to Lose Weight and Build Muscle at the Same Time.
- How to Start Eating Healthy (Without Giving up the Food You Love)
Photo source: Sea spray and crab claws at the Shrimp Shack.
Diet trends are kind of like Kardashians—there’s always at least one making major headlines and taking over our social feeds. One that has gained recent popularity is fasting, which was one of the most Googled diet trends of 2018. Fasting isn’t a new concept, but celebs like Halle Berry, Kourtney Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, and Chris Pratt have all brought it into the spotlight by talking about the benefits of intermittent fasting (IF).
IF is more of an eating pattern than a diet because it doesn’t put restrictions on what you can eat but when. Most people who do IF follow a 16:8 rule, where you fast for 16 hours and eat all your calories within the remaining eight hours of the day. The idea is that by restricting the number of hours in which you’re eating, the total number of calories you’re consuming in a day will be reduced. So if you want to eat cake for dinner, it’s technically allowed during your eating hours (but don’t eat cake for dinner for obvious reasons).
Like all things in life, if something shows promise, we’ll find a way to take it to the next level. This is the case with the “One Meal a Day” or OMAD diet, which is basically an extreme version of IF. Here’s everything you need to know about this trending diet.
What is OMAD?
OMAD is exactly what it sounds like—you only eat one meal each day. You follow a 23:1 rule, where you fast for 23 hours and then have one hour of eating per day. Ideally, and for consistency, you eat within the same four-hour timeframe every day, only use one standard dinner plate (no seconds), and the food on your plate can’t be more than three inches high. You are allowed to drink calorie-free beverages throughout the 23 hours of fasting, and you’re free to choose whatever you want to eat during the other hour.
Related: Here’s How to Hack Your Internal Clock to Lose Weight and Fight Disease
Studies have shown IF to contribute to weight loss and overall health in rats, but the research is less conclusive for humans. Benefits for animals have included reducing the risk of obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, diabetes, and cancer in rodents. But according to Maggie Moon, MS, RD, and author The MIND Diet, “trying to translate results from captive lab animals into practical eating patterns for humans is challenging.”
“The research shows that just about any kind of IF will result in weight loss, though alternate day fasting led to intense hunger on fasting days,” she adds. “That may be one upside to OMAD—at least you get to eat daily. Ultimately, research on IF hasn’t shown superior weight loss compared to standard calorie restriction.” In other words, you may lose weight, but it’s not the only (or necessarily best) way to do it.
A small two-month study showed that subjects following OMAD compared to eating three meals a day had a 4.1 percent weight loss and improvements in blood sugar and cholesterol. However, Moon cautions that there are no long-term studies of either IF or OMAD. “It hasn’t been tested long-term, and doesn’t seem feasible for most lifestyles.”
Imagine how hangry you can get when you skip one meal… now extend that to 96 percent of your day. Eating just one meal of whatever you want may sound more appealing than remembering a list of things you can or can’t eat or tracking every calorie, but you’re more likely to binge and less likely to get all your daily nutrients in that one hour alone. OMAD also requires stricter planning of your day and fewer, say, spontaneous brunches and happy hours.
Moon warns that there are certain types of people who should not try IF and OMAD, such as anyone with a history of disordered eating, growing children who are developing their relationship to food, or pregnant women. Additionally, people with diabetes or those on specialized diets should not attempt fasting without consulting their doctor, as OMAD could interfere with other health monitoring or other prescribed routines.
For those who work out regularly and want to try OMAD, Moon says “while most healthy people can likely survive a moderate workout while eating one meal a day, peak athletic performance is best fueled before and after workouts with the appropriate macro and micronutrients for performance, recovery, and muscle development. Bottom line: You can , but it’s not ideal.”
Related: The Top 11 Wellness Influencers on the Daily Health Habit Changes That Have Had the Biggest Impact
Healthy living should not be tied to weight loss only, and every body functions differently, so there is no magic bullet that works across the board. “The best healthy eating pattern for any individual is a nutritionally balanced diet that is realistic for that individual to maintain for the long term,” says Moon. Figure out what works for you personally, versus blindly following a schedule set by someone else. “For weight loss, it’s one strategy, but there are easier ways to healthfully lose weight. In addition, there just aren’t enough human randomized clinical trials to convince me to recommend this way of eating over a more reasonable approach.”
Want to learn more about other diets? Check out the…
Should I eat just one meal a day?
There has been little research into the effects of fasting for 23 hours per day. As an extreme diet plan, however, there may be risks.
For example, on a daily basis, a person may:
- feel very hungry
- experience fatigue, due to an uneven supply of energy
- feel shaky, weak, and irritable as their blood sugar levels fall
- have difficulty concentrating
For some people, eating only one meal per day may increase the risk of binge eating during the single mealtime. In some cases, following a restrictive diet can even increase the risk of developing a long-term eating disorder, according to some research.
Other problems that may arise include the following:
- The person may find it hard to eat at the single mealtime because they feel full quickly.
- Over time, their desire to eat may increase during the fasting period, rather than decrease, compared with other forms of fasting.
- Body fat may increase, rather than decrease.
- Nutrient deficiencies may occur if a person follows this diet plan long-term.
- The body may start to lose muscle mass as a person enter a state of semi-starvation.
How many calories per day does a person need? Find out here.
Effect on diabetes and cholesterol levels
People with underlying medical conditions may face additional risks. For example, those with type 1 diabetes or low blood sugar need to eat meals regularly throughout each day to maintain a steady blood sugar level.
A 2007 study compared the effect of eating the same number of calories in one or three meals per day for 6 months in a group of healthy adults.
None of the participants experienced a significant weight change, but those who ate only one meal per day experienced a reduction in body fat.
However, their levels of both low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol increased, and there was a negative effect on their morning glucose tolerance levels.
Metabolism and body clock genes
A 2012 mouse study suggested that eating only one meal per day may have worsen health, compared with eating two meals. In mice that consumed just one meal per day, there was an increase in body weight, insulin, and fat in the blood. There was also a higher risk of oxidative damage in fatty tissue and the liver.
The researchers concluded that eating one meal per day could negatively impact the genes that help regulate the body clock, sleep-wake cycles, and metabolism.
In another study, this time from 2017, 100 people consumed 25% of their energy needs in food on one day and 125% on the next, alternating days for a year. However, they did not restrict their intake to one meal per day.
Those who practiced this form of intermittent fasting experienced an increase in LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol may increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Also, those who fasted in this way did not lose any more weight than those who reduced the number of calories they ate each day.
I Tried Extreme Fasting by Eating Once a Day — Here’s What Happened
When I started researching the One Meal a Day Diet (sometimes referred to OMAD), it was the simplicity that drew me to the plan: You eat one meal per day, consisting of whatever you want, typically at your regular dinnertime.
Super unconventional, right?
However, the OMAD is really just an extreme variant of intermittent fasting or a more hardcore cousin of the Warrior Diet. The difference between OMAD and traditional fasting is instead of fasting for the typical window, like 16 hours, you fast for about 23 hours (including the time you spend sleeping).
While the premise sounds a little shady, like a dietary supplement being hawked by a “doctor” on a late-night infomercial, let’s explore the reasoning — and science — on both sides of the debate before we totally write it off.
Why eat only once a day?
Most people cringe at the thought of missing a single meal. Intentionally missing all but one meal, every day, seems excessive and unnecessary. But proponents of OMAD claim a multitude of benefits, including:
- Increased focus and productivity. Who hasn’t hit that groggy 2:30 p.m. slump at the office? OMAD is said to eliminate the sluggishness people feel while digesting their lunch — because there is no lunch.
- Weight loss. It’s extremely hard to be at a caloric surplus when you’re eating one time per day. Even if your one meal is not “healthy” by normal standards, you’re not taking in as many calories as you would if were eating all day long.
- Diet freedom. Forget logging calories or eating out of Tupperware. You free up a lot of mental energy when you don’t have to plan four to six meals per day.
Some follow this eating pattern for religious reasons. But others, including prominent pro athletes like Ronda Rousey and Herschel Walker, voluntarily eat once a day for the long term. Walker claims to have been eating one meal a day, typically a salad and some bread in the evening, for years.
There’s even some historical evidence that the ancient Romans only ate one large meal a day before breakfast began its rise in popularity during the Middle Ages.
My experience with trying OMAD
During my time experimenting with OMAD, I ate once a day multiple times, but never for an extended period of time. My longest streak was five days. Several times, I lifted weights, played full-court basketball, or did other types of strenuous exercise in a fasted state.
Here are my three most important takeaways from trying the OMAD diet:
1. Just because you CAN eat anything, doesn’t mean you should.
Early in my OMAD eating, I got caught up in the childlike glee of being able to eat freely.
Then I realized I had consumed only nachos, wings, and whiskey in 48 hours. This certainly isn’t the optimal fuel for a healthy body.
Yes, part of OMAD’s appeal is the fun of eating what you want, but you should strive to make your one meal balanced and micronutrient rich for the sake of your overall health.
2. It’s probably not great for serious strength training.
I’m an avid lifter. While I didn’t notice any serious loss of strength on OMAD, I wasn’t exactly plowing through the iron either.
If you simply lift for general health and aren’t concerned with performance, restricting your meals probably won’t change anything for you.
But serious lifters who care about increasing their strength over time may want to adopt a less-extreme version of OMAD, like the Warrior Diet or a typical 16:8 eating window.
3. It’s a great way to improve discipline and willpower.
One of the reasons I tried OMAD was to see if I had the mental toughness to prevent myself from eating. It was challenging — hunger is a powerful feeling. On some days I gave in and ate lunch.
But most of the time, I was proud I’d stuck to the diet and felt free to reward myself with a hearty meal. If you believe that discipline is a muscle and yours needs to be strengthened, OMAD is one way to do so, an option that will actually get you in better shape.
What does science say about OMAD’s benefits and risks?
Like lots of health trends, just because people do it doesn’t mean it’s good for you. The research is mixed when it comes to whether or not it’s safe to eat one meal a day.
One 2007 study connects eating once a day to an increase in blood pressure and cholesterol. So if your one meal a day consists of highly processed fried foods or too many simple carbs, you’ll feel pretty bad, even if you’re losing weight.
Other risks of fasting may include:
- feeling extremely hungry or binge eating
- shakiness or physical weakness
- fatigue, or low energy
- brain fog, or trouble focusing
But a small 2017 study of 10 people with type 2 diabetes showed that fasting for 18 to 20 hours a day can lead to more controlled levels of blood glucose.
That said, if you have diabetes, long-term OMAD probably isn’t right for you. And of course, you should consult your doctor before drastically changing your diet.
Research that dates to 2005 shows that fasting can improve the body’s resistance to disease by putting cells under a “positive stress,” in a similar way that lifting weights causes tears that make muscle fibers grow back stronger.
Extended fasts where only water ingested have also been linked to a lowered rate of diseases, such as cancer and diabetes, in one 2016 study with mice as subjects.
In a 2018 chart review of 768 medical-facility patients, it was found that limited, water-only fasts did not result in any long-term medical complications.
The general medical consensus is that it’s probably safe for most healthy adults to fast every once in a while. However, the studies noted here reference general intermittent fasting or days of water-only fasting. There are not many studies specifically on the risks or benefits of OMAD.
Does that mean you should?
The answer is different for everyone. Whether or not OMAD is the right fasting diet is something you should discuss with your primary care provider.
When I decided to try OMAD a few months ago I was already doing intermittent fasting, and the idea of losing weight while eating whatever I wanted was appealing. Plus, I liked the idea of challenging myself and pushing through uncomfortable hunger pangs.
Who should not try OMAD?
This is not a diet that can be sustained for a long period of time, therefore, as a Registered Dietitian, I do not endorse this weight loss diet approach.
When it comes to dieting, as a rule of thumb, people should be wary of methods and fads that presents itself as an easy fix to a complicated problem.
The OMAD diet can be extremely dangerous for children or young adults, people with diabetes or hypoglycemia, obesity, or metabolic rate issues, and it may increase the risk for binge eating.
Katherine Marengo, LDN, RDAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Eating once a day isn’t as crazy or dangerous as you might think, but it’s not for everyone. Personally, I would not recommend it as a long-term way of eating for weeks or months at a time.
However, one 2016 study links eating one or two meals a day to a reduction in BMI, and some people have great results turning OMAD into a lifelong commitment.
Besides MMA fighter Herschel Walker (mentioned above), another example is Blake Horton, the ripped YouTuber who regularly posts videos of massive meals like chicken taco pizza or a 7-lb burrito of Fruity Pebbles.
Like most people, OMAD was a little too difficult for me to do every day. If you want to try fasting but are intimidated by OMAD, you could consider something more manageable for your daily meal plan, like the 5:2 Diet or the Warrior Diet.
However, I still only eat once a day every now and then, especially when I’m extremely busy or after eating a large dinner the night before. It’s also a great way to practice discipline and challenge yourself.
The key to success with OMAD, like any other diet, is to listen to your body.
Change things up if you notice serious negative effects, noting that it’s okay to be hungry from time to time. You may find yourself reaching new levels of focus and productivity as the pounds melt away.
If not, at least you’ll have fewer dishes to clean up!
Raj is a consultant and freelance writer specializing in digital marketing, fitness, and sports. He helps businesses plan, create, and distribute content that generates leads. Raj lives in the Washington, D.C., area where he enjoys basketball and strength training in his free time. Follow him on Twitter.
The “one meal a day” diet (also known as OMAD), as the name implies, means that you eat once a day and only once a day.
Proponents of the OMAD diet claim that it can lead to weight loss, naturally, but also better focus and enhanced productivity.
First, let’s look at the weight loss claim.
In intermittent fasting terms, OMAD is a 23:1 approach. That means you fast—or don’t consume anything with calories—for 23 hours and do eat during the other available hour of the day.
There are two main camps within OMAD. The first advocates that because you’re only eating for one hour out of the day, you can eat whatever you want during that hour. The second recommends eating healthful foods.
Could either of these approaches help you lose weight? Sure.
That’s because you can only eat so much in one hour, regardless of if that foods is a large meat lovers pizza with extra cheese or a few grilled chicken breasts and a pile of steamed broccoli.
In other words, you’ll eat drastically less—regardless of what you’re eating—and by eating less you’ll likely lose weight.
But good nutrition is about so much more than just total calories consumed. Quality matters.
Consider a recent study published in the British Medical Journal that found that people who eat four servings of ultra-processed foods daily had a 62 percent higher risk of dying from all causes compared with those who ate only two servings per day.
The fact that some people use OMAD to blindly eat whatever they want (say, four servings of mac ‘n’ cheese, for example) doesn’t promote proper nutrition and, in fact, hinders them.
On the flipside, if you adopt the OMAD diet and try to eat nutrient-rich foods during your one hour of eating, it’s still hard to consume all the nutrients your body needs in a day. That’s because nutrient-rich foods tend to be loaded with fiber and protein, which fill you up fast during a meal.
Yes, this makes it nearly impossible to overeat, but even though you’re physically full, that doesn’t mean you’ve taken in an adequate amount of nutrients.
Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D.N., and author of Eating in Color, agrees with me. “It doesn’t seem possible to get all of your nutrients in during one sitting. People are already getting so few fruits and vegetables these days (only 1 in 10 of us gets enough), I’d hate to put additional and seemingly purposeless restrictions on anyone.”
And then there’s the fact that active people require more nutrients than sedentary people.
“ I can’t imagine that it’s easy for most athletes and active people to feel their best on a diet like this,” Largeman-Roth says. “If you can’t refuel after a workout, how can your body repair itself? Further, a one meal a day diet certainly isn’t appropriate for teens, people with diabetes or any medical condition, and it would be ill-advised for anyone with a history of disordered eating.”
And, to that point, food isn’t just utilitarian. Eating should be enjoyable act—not something you check off a to-do list.
“I think of the one-day diet as trying to ask for ‘extra credit’ in math class after you’ve failed everything,” says Heather Leidy, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences of at the University of Texas, Austin. “ Eating healthy to promote health and well-being is not going to occur with a single day and a few ‘foods to avoid.” It’s a lifestyle that requires a daily commitment.”
Where I can confirm the OMAD will help you?
It will surely free up time during your day—preparing, cooking, and eating requires time.
And, maybe, with that extra free time you’ll undertake pursuits that’ll heighten your productivity.
Or, maybe (and certainly more likely), you’ll spend that extra free time imagining how great your life was before you started the OMAD diet.
Chris Mohr, Ph.D., R.D. Chris Mohr, PhD, RD is the co-owner of Mohr Results, Inc (MohrResults.com) a well-being consulting company
With so much interest in intermittent fasting, here comes buzz about a more extreme version of the eating plan: the OMAD diet.
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has been part of the movement, fasting most of the day and eating only dinner.
Been playing with fasting for some time. I do a 22 hour fast daily (dinner only), and recently did a 3 day water fast. Biggest thing I notice is how much time slows down. The day feels so much longer when not broken up by breakfast/lunch/dinner. Any one else have this experience?
— jack (@jack) January 26, 2019
What is the OMAD diet?
OMAD, the acronym for “one meal a day,” is sometimes also called the 23:1 regimen because a person spends up to 23 hours a day fasting and only eats during a brief window. A much less strict version of the approach — the 16:8 plan, which requires fasting for 16 hours and allows people to eat whatever they want the rest of the day — has many fans among researchers and dieters.
But experts are much more wary about OMAD. Kristin Kirkpatrick, lead dietitian and manager of Wellness Nutrition Services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, has a few patients who’ve been following the plan for years. But for most people, life getting in the way and old habits can make sustaining the diet very challenging, she said.
“While I am a fan of fasting, this approach is not something I would advise in most scenarios,” Kirkpatrick told TODAY.
“Someone with prior eating disorders could spiral back in with this approach; it carries too high of a risk of malnutrition, and the ability to stay on it long term is difficult.”
Intermittent fasting may have health benefits beyond weight loss
Dec. 27, 201902:43
Still, OMAD in one form or another is a regimen people have been following even before the diet had a buzzy name. Todd Becker, who runs the “Getting Stronger” blog about thriving on stress, told TODAY in 2015 that he usually ate dinner, but often skipped breakfast and lunch.
Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla told The New York Times he fasts until dinner because “food slows him down.” There’s a section of Reddit devoted to OMAD, where people post photos of their meals and exchange tips.
What does a typical day on the diet look like?
The main rule is to eat only one meal a day. That means no snacks, little nibbles or “grazing” every few hours, but you can drink calorie-free beverages such as water, and black coffee or tea at any time.
Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY.
Beyond that, variations exist, but Jennifer Oikarinen, a registered dietitian at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix in Arizona, told Women’s Health that people often follow these rules:
- Pick a four-hour sector of the day, say noon to 4 p.m. or 2 to 6 p.m., and always eat within one hour of that time to stay consistent from day to day.
- Use one dinner-size plate, about 11 inches in diameter, for your meal.
- To avoid having piles of food, the meal shouldn’t be higher than 3 inches.
What should you include in your one meal to stay healthy?
“You would have to be smart about your meal choices,” Kirkpatrick said.
No foods are excluded, but to avoid malnutrition, she advised including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and adequate protein at each one-time meal. You’d have to aim for at least 800 calories to get all the macronutrients you need, such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins, but it would still be “next to impossible” to get all micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals, she noted.
The goal should also not be based solely on calories since a big fast food meal could contain well above 1,000 calories, but would lack nutrient density.
A typical OMAD meal would likely have to have larger-than-average portions and more fat to boost calories. Meals should also vary from day to day to ensure nutrient variety, Kirkpatrick noted. She suggested this sample meal (which doesn’t follow the one-plate rule):
- Large salad with olive oil-based dressing
- Grilled salmon or chicken with whole grain such as farro or quinoa with mixed beans or lentils
- Fruit salad for dessert
Kirkpatrick also advised taking a daily multivitamin and fish oil supplement.
Woman loses 100 pounds in 1 year with ketogenic diet and fasting
Aug. 5, 201901:16
Would a typical person doing this lose weight?
Yes, weight loss is all but guaranteed because this is considered a very low-calorie diet, Kirkpatrick said.
Would a person be starving?
Starvation is the presence of malnutrition, where the body begins to seek fuel from muscle because it has no other options, Kirkpatrick noted. If calories and nutrients are severely depleted, the body can definitely start breaking down muscle, she added.
“If the meal is large enough, however, it can supply fuel for the time in between meals. This is why the structure of the meal is so important,” Kirkpatrick said.
Make easy, no-added-sugar recipes to help boost your metabolism
Jan. 3, 201904:47
What are the major concerns with this diet?
They include malnutrition, mood swings, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and muscle wasting. People who are underweight or have a history of eating disorders; pregnant or breastfeeding women; people prone to gall stones or those who have type 1 or 2 diabetes should stay away from the OMAD plan, Kirkpatrick warned.
What are the potential benefits?
Weight loss, especially for people who are carrying an extreme amount of extra weight, Kirkpatrick said.
“Someone who is morbidly obese, not on medications and has a strong motivation to try this diet may do well, but my assumption is that this would not be a long-term approach,” she noted.
Again, Kirkpatrick would not advise OMAD for most people, but if you want to try it, be sure to work with a doctor or dietitian familiar with the diet to make sure you are doing it right.
Follow A. Pawlowski on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
I have a secret for you…
Your body doesn’t need to eat food every 3 hours to be healthy.
In fact, eating so often is not natural to the body.
The reality is this…
The only reason we desire food every 3 hours is because we’re eating carbohydrate foods.
Carb foods do two things to us:
- They don’t satisfy our hunger and
- They produce intense cravings every 3 hours
So no matter how much carbohydrate foods you eat, you never feel satisfied.
Ever ate and ate and ate until your stomach was about to explode … and then wanted dessert?
That’s because you were eating carbohydrate foods.
When you eat animal foods that are high in vitamins and saturated fat, it’s nearly impossible to overeat.
When you eat fatty meat once per day you become satisfied.
And that’s what I found out when I ate one meal a day every day for 30 days.
One Meal A Day (OMAD)
During the B&D 30 Day Challenge, I challenged myself to eating only one meal per day, every day.
That is not the same as intermittent fasting. I did not eat all of my food in a 4 hour window and call it one meal.
I literally ate one meal per day.
These are the foods I ate: Grassfed ribeye steaks, grassfed beef liver, pastured bacon, raw butter, pastured eggs, goat meat, and pork chops.
This is nearly all I ate, though I did cheat approximately 5 times and eat ice cream which I will explain later.
But first, let’s start at the beginning…
I was used to eating 3 meals per day: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I was on the carnivore diet and my usual meals consisted of steak, steak, and steak.
I felt fantastic eating 3 meals per day (again, meat only).
I wanted to challenge my own self-discipline and will and I wanted to make my mind stronger than my body.
So I committed to one meal per day, even though I felt great eating 3 meals per day.
Here’s exactly what happened…
On the first day I felt intense hunger around noon time.
This hunger lasted perhaps one hour and when I persevered, this hunger vanished and I felt a sense of euphoria and energy that I hadn’t experienced in a long time.
I ate that day’s meal at 5pm, so between 12 noon and 5pm I felt really fantastic.
That evening I ate a fat ribeye steak.
1st day = easy
On the 2nd day I had the exact same hunger pang around noon and again I pushed through it.
I did not experience the same euphoria and energy as I did the first day, but I felt absolutely fine and had no intense desire to eat right away.
I made it until 5pm when I ate another fat steak.
2nd day = easy
Things took a turn for the worse on the 3rd day…
During the day I was reading book after book about nutrition and this caused me to think about food all day long.
I began my meal early because of this (at 3pm rather than 5pm) but halfway through my meal I had to leave to visit a family member in the hospital.
This took 2 hours and when I returned I was obviously still hungry, and mentally weak, so I ate my normal food plus some vanilla ice cream.
This proved to be a big mistake.
3rd day = difficult
On the 4th day I absolutely craved carbohydrates all day long.
On the previous days, my cravings were easy or zero, but after eating ice cream my carb cravings were absolutely intense.
I did not give in and ate only meat, but I certainly wanted ice cream again.
4th day = difficult
On the 5th day I again had intense hunger pangs around noon, but I persevered and did not eat until 5pm.
Again, I craved carbs but not quite as heavily as the previous day. I ate nothing but steak.
On the 5th night my dreams became incredibly vivid.
My dreams were like watching a full movie from start to finish.
5th day = medium
On the 6th day I had great energy in the afternoon.
Vibrant, clear, and alert.
Usually in the afternoon I would eat lunch and my energy would be decreased.
I thought to myself, “If I did eat right now my energy would definitely without question instantly decrease.”
I did not eat until 5pm, at which point again I ate only meat.
6th day = wonderful
On the 7th day I ate liver, raw butter, and pork ribs.
One hour after eating was still hungry and ate some raw milk cheese.
(Cheese seems to make it harder to defecate. I never once felt bloated or constipated but I typically do not defecate the day after eating cheese.)
Regarding the pork ribs, they were pastured pork ribs and very lean. They had almost no fat on them and I found myself again very hungry again even after eating the cheese.
Also on the 7th day I weighed myself at the gym and I had lost 4 lbs in one week.
This caused me to wonder if I was eating enough food and if I was losing weight too quickly.
My goal was never to lose weight, only to conquer the mind.
Unfortunately, the mind conquered me on the 7th day and I wondered heavily if I needed to eat carbs to maintain weight.
Because I was so scared of losing weight, and also mentally weak on this day, I ordered a cheese pizza and bought a bucket of vanilla ice cream.
I had absolutely horrendous heartburn in the middle of the night, something I never experience on the all-meat diet.
7th day = mistakes were made
The cravings on this day were absolutely intense. I felt “starving” and was wondering if I made the right decision to eat only one meal per day.
I felt sure I was not getting enough calories.
On the 8th day I was again mentally weak.
After my 5pm meal of meat I finished it with ice cream.
8th day = hard
On the 9th day I again had intense cravings for carbohydrates but I did not allow myself any ice cream.
At 5pm I ate only meat.
9th day = hard but disciplined
On the 10th day I noted that hunger was with me every day, seemingly all the time.
This is what I wrote in my personal journal:
Hunger is here every day. This process has become spiritual. It is a battle against the mind, to conquer one’s own mind. Hunger is the teacher of the spiritual.
3 meals a day and sleeping in was better for the work, but rising early and eating one meal a day set in motion a chain of events that could not have happened otherwise.
Hunger pangs last about 10 minutes and then they go away.”
I forgot to mention that in addition to eating only one meal per day, I was waking up at 5am every day.
This caused a big change and a forced adaptation, which took a little while to get used to.
10th day = very hard
On the 11th day I finally got enough sleep and felt absolutely incredible all day.
Hunger was no problem at all and I did not have the “black and white” feeling that insufficient sleep gives you.
I felt incredible and happy all day. Loved the idea of finishing all my daily work before I spent time eating.
I ate only meat.
11th day = fantastic
On the 12th day didn’t get as much sleep as the night before but still felt pretty good and banged out a 2400 word article like it was no problem.
At 5pm I ate goat chops and goat burgers. My mind was feeling a little dull or a little down.
I ate ice cream after eating meat and “felt better.”
Later that night I experienced total failure and went to a local Mexican restaurant for 4 tacos. All of my meals were eaten in a 6 hour window, so not OMAD.
That night I noticed that when I eat carbs my hands always fall asleep at night. They get a pins and needs feeling that doesn’t happen when I eat meat only.
12th day = total failure
Up until this day I had been force-feeding because I was scared of losing too much weight.
I was forcing myself to eat past the point of satiety just to get the extra calories in.
It was on the 12th day that I recognized the fact that my body does not like big meals.
What I learned is that big meals aren’t actually necessary. One normal sized meal per day is enough.
I ate a HUGE meal on the 12th day and did not defecate well on the morning of the 13th day.
Big meals make it harder to digest and harder to defecate (and also cheese backs you up).
I also realized how vital sleep is.
Whenever I get my full 9.5 hours sleep I have solid discipline and stay away from carbs but when I get less sleep I crave carbs and give in.
When sleep is insufficient, self-discipline is insufficient.
Insufficient sleep directly leads me to low self-discipline which directly leads me to eating carbohydrates which directly leads me to inferior energy and inferior mental clarity.
As noted in my personal journal:
My concentration is inferior when I eat carbs.”
On the 13th day I ignored the cravings for carbohydrates and ate meat only.
13th day = revealing
On the 14th day I started cooking my steaks outside on the grill.
This proved to be the best choice I made.
The steaks tasted better cooked over an open fire and the air was chilly and proved a good boost of vitality to my lungs.
I absolutely loved cooking my food outside on an open fire and eating my food outside in the cool air.
The cravings for carbohydrates on this day were strong, but I was stronger and did not give in.
On the 14th day I also moved my daily meal from 5pm to the afternoon (on this day it was around 2pm).
14th day = easier
This is what I wrote in my personal journal:
Ate nothing but meat yesterday and feel fine, the carb cravings are decreasing.
It’s easier every day to not eat carbs. When you eat carbs, you crave carbs.
Eating one meal per day with carbs is very emotionally taxing.
Carbs really are drugs, they cause the problems that they then fix.
Carbs fix depression and make you feel better? They caused the depression in the first place.
In the total absence of carbs, the mood is always bright.
When eating carbs, and when away from carbs for more than 3 hours, the mood is dark. Hence “Hangry”.
I prefer an afternoon meal to an evening meal.
I dislike waiting so long to eat, especially when I’ve been waking up at 5am and finishing my work by 1pm or so.
Waiting those extra hours seems pointless. After I eat my one meal I am content for the night so it seems better to be content than to wait and not be content.
Up until this time, eating one meal per day had been emotionally demanding.
I often felt blue, sad, and even depressed.
I was constantly second guessing my decision to both eat one meal a day and rise at 5am every morning.
Moving my one meal to the afternoon helped tremendously.
15th day = medium
On the 16th day I ate my meal around noon.
I felt absolutely awesome eating my one meal at lunch time.
I ate a fatty pork chop and 12 scrambled egg yolks (no whites) and became EXTREMELY full.
16th day = awesome
By now I’ve been cooking all my food outside on the grill.
I never want to use a stove ever again.
I also started blessing my food before I eat it and I will try to keep up the habit forever.
17th day = easy
From my personal journal:
I ate 3 burgers last night and got full. Didn’t poo-poo this morning but feel fine. Haven’t experience hunger yet (11:45am).”
I ate raw beef and some eggs last night. Defecated fine in the morning.
Some days I skip the toilet but I never feel bloated or constipated.
From my journal:
After last night’s raw beef and scrambled eggs, I feel pretty hungry today (12 noon) and will eat the remaining pork chops (maybe). Definitely feel very hungry around noon today. Raw beef and eggs don’t seem to last too long. I passed through the hunger pangs and they vanished.”
20th day – 21st day
4 words can describe every day for the last week:
“Meat only, very easy.”
Not only has every day been very easy, but the initial sadness I felt on this diet completely vanished.
My sleep has been excellent and I only get mild hunger pangs in the afternoon.
I eat my meal at lunch time rather than dinner time and I feel absolutely fantastic.
All of the initial doubts I had in my mind have completely vanished.
My weight completely stabilized after losing only 4 lbs.
I never feel cravings or hunger. I never feel sadness. I feel happy, satisfied, content.
If I had to use one word to describe how I feel every day, that word would be: BLISS.
I have never been happier in my life than I am right now.
I have learned that:
- We constantly overeat food
- We are never satisfied and content
- We are over stimulated in all ways
One meal a day is more than sufficient. I feel I could eat one meal every 2 days and be satisfied. The thought of eating meals every 3 hours seems grotesque.
On the 22nd day I drove to Albuquerque and planned to eat burgers on the drive.
I did this knowing that I would get the carb cravings and I wanted to test myself.
Also after eating 2 fast food cheeseburgers I got a tummy ache.
With this understanding of “junk foods” – that they always make me feel terrible – every day for a week afterwards was very easy.
23rd day – Bacon only
24th day – Beef only
25th day – Bacon, eggs, and pork brains
26th day – Bacon, eggs, pork brains, beef liver
27th day (Thanksgiving) – Duck bacon, wild boar bacon, buffalo steak, beef steak, sausage
28th day – Beef burgers with raw sauerkraut (sauerkraut is fermented and therefore less damaging than cooked or raw vegetables)
29th day – Beef only
30th day – Beef and liver
I didn’t look in the mirror for 30 days.
I hadn’t weighed myself since the end of the first week.
On the 30th day I woke up and looked in the mirror.
My reaction was simply: “wow.”
I had lost weight certainly, and become even mildly skinny, but I was a natural lean. In total I lost 7 lbs in 30 days.
I now have the look of a surfer or a swimmer rather than a bodybuilder, but this look is nearly without effort as I do not do standard bodybuilding workouts.
In fact, the only workouts I do are to activate muscles that atrophy from sitting to do computer work (neck, glutes, hamstrings mostly) and I do a lot of stretching.
Even though I was skinny compared to how I used to look as a bodybuilder, I was quite happy knowing that I could keep a nice physique and nice tone completely naturally (I took no bodybuilding supplements of any kind during this 30 day trial).
Thought other people did notice and remark that I was noticeably skinnier. Because of this, I will likely add raw goat milk to my diet to regain some of my lost weight.
What I learned eating one meal a day
Keeping a strict routine is very important to your success.
If you fall out of your normal routine your self-discipline shrinks.
I noticed this when making the 9 hour drive to Albuquerque. During this long drive, and with constant billboards advertising junk food, it was difficult to not pull over and get junk food.
I also did not listen to any music or any podcasts on the 9 hour drive. I did not listen to any music because I wanted to do a quick dopamine fast and be alone with my thoughts.
But I was hardly alone with my thoughts because in the heartland of the United States you cannot go 3 miles without seeing a billboard for some kind of addictive food.
We don’t eat because we’re hungry, we eat because we’re bored (or addicted to junk).
We often eat not because we are hungry, but because we are bored.
When you make the decision to only eat one meal per day you are forced to confront this fact.
Self-discipline shrinks when you’re tired.
It’s very important to get enough sleep if you plan to do this challenge.
The less sleep you get, the less self-discipline and willpower you have.
I found myself going to bed at 8:30 pm and waking between 5-6 am.
The first 2 weeks are hard.
They can be very hard. But after that, it’s easy.
And actually it’s not only easy, it’s great. It’s wonderful.
On this 30 day journey I found something I was not expecting to find…
Am I going to continue eating one meal a day?
I am going to eat when I am hungry.
In particular, I am going to regain some lost weight. I became noticeably skinnier at the end of the 30 days.
On many days it was extremely easy to eat only one meal in the afternoon.
1 lb of bacon in particular kept me full for 24 hours or more.
On other days, it was harder. I am going to use one meal a day as my “base” but I am not going to limit or starve myself.
If I’m hungry, I will eat. If I am not experiencing true hunger, I will not eat.
I will skip breakfast and eat a meal at lunch time. If I need more in the evening, I will have more.
On any normal day I will follow the zero-carb carnivore diet and eat simply when I am hungry. Your body knows better what you need than a clock knows.
To put it simply, I’m going to eat food when I’m hungry and drink water when I’m thirsty.
The one meal a day for 30 days plan was a spiritual journey.
I will do this every November from now on.
As the muslims follow Ramadan, Victor Pride follows Novembadan.
Do I recommend you follow the OMAD plan?
If you’re fat, yes.
Fat people can and should follow the one meal a day plan until they aren’t fat anymore.
If you’re skinny, no.
Skinny people should not eat one meal a day, they should eat 3 or 4 and gain weight.
If you’re standard, yes.
For standard bodied men and women I recommend you do it once a year for 30 days.
What you will find may surprise you.
You’ll learn more about yourself in 30 days of one meal a day than you will in 55 years of 3 meals a day.
And at the end you may experience what I experienced…
Until next time.
PS – If you want to experience the bliss that I experienced during this 30 day challenge, I would suggest picking up the upcoming ebook entitled: MONK MODE: The Path of the Ultimate and The Key to Self-Mastery.
In the meantime, the original 30 day challenge, 30 Days of Discipline, will be $7 until the end of the year.
I’ve been following the 16:8 intermittent fasting (IF) plan for over seven months now, which means I don’t eat for 16 hours a day and only eat during the other eight hours. I find a lot of inspiration and information from watching YouTube videos on IF. Recently, I’d been seeing a lot about the Warrior Diet. It’s a stricter form of intermittent fasting, during which you have a much shorter eating window of just four hours and then a fasting window of 20 hours.
Before Warrior Diet:
It seems crazy, right? Yet so many people rave about it. You’re meant to obtain more mental clarity, increased energy, better digestion, reduced sugar cravings, and, for those looking for it, faster and better weight-loss and muscle definition results.
I never gave it serious thought, though. I mean, how can you only eat for four hours?! But one day, it happened accidentally. I meant to eat at noon as usual, but I was running around doing tons of errands, and it was 4 p.m. by the time I realized I was hungry and able to eat. If I could do it one day, I could do it for one week, right?
One of the best things I’ve experienced from intermittent fasting is getting a handle on my sugar cravings and food addiction. Not eating until noon was so freeing. It was beginning to help me not obsess about food all the time. I wanted to see how shortening my eating window to four hours would affect that.
I felt like an eating window of 3:00/3:30 p.m. to 7:00/7:30 p.m. would be good for my work, life, and family schedule. I decided to commit to one week on the Warrior Diet because I thought I’d be starving the entire time and wouldn’t be able to stand another day. But by the sixth day, I was feeling so good, I wanted to keep going. I decided to commit to two weeks.
Weren’t You Insanely Hungry? (In Other Words: Didn’t It Suck?!)
This surprised me, too, but no, I wasn’t. I felt a little hungry around 10 a.m., so I’d have a cup of black coffee or green chai tea. The first couple of days I felt a little hungry around noon, since that’s when I was used to eating. But by the fourth day that passed, and I instead noticed noon was the time of day when my mental clarity, focus, energy, and happiness really started kicking in.
How Did You Feel?
One thing I noticed about the Warrior Diet compared to the 16:8 plan is that eating eight hours a day still didn’t entirely prevent me from overeating or wanting sugar, which always made me feel uncomfortably bloated. Eating just four hours a day made it impossible to overeat — my belly filled up so quickly and I felt so satisfied that I didn’t want to eat more. Because I had no desire to overeat, I didn’t feel bloated at night or in the morning.
Mentally speaking, before I started IF, I was always thinking about food, stressing about counting calories, feeling hungry and deprived, or feeling bad if I ate too much or ate “bad” foods. I realized I was so unhappy back then because all my hard work was just making me gain weight. Only eating in a four-hour window helped me think even less about food, and when I ate, I didn’t feel restricted or bad about it. I wasn’t expecting to feel such an emotional weight lifted, and this is what kept me inspired to stick with it.
After 2 Weeks on Warrior Diet:
What Did You Eat?
When 3:00/3:30 p.m. rolled around, I felt a subtle sense of hunger but wasn’t completely famished. I craved mostly healthy foods and would eat a big tofu kale salad, leftovers, or a bowl of roasted tofu, sweet potatoes, and red peppers. I followed that with a banana, sometimes two, with raw almonds or cashews and plenty of water. Dinner was around 6:00 p.m., and I’d have whatever was on the menu: black bean burritos, avocado pasta with Trader Joe’s meatless meatballs and steamed broccoli, lentil soup and bread, or veggie burgers with roasted veggies. If I felt like it, I’d eat a little dessert after. Sometimes it was some trail mix and fresh fruit . . . annnnd sometimes it was a vegan brownie sundae.
I ate what I craved, and as much as I wanted. That was one of my favorite parts about the Warrior Diet. I never felt deprived. I was able to sit down to a huge plate of food and feel completely satisfied and not guilty because my meal was over 400 calories. Another surprising benefit was that my taste buds became so sharp that even basic foods like fresh mango tasted mind-blowingly delicious.
Were You Able to Work Out?
Yep, my 5:45 a.m. CrossFit classes still happened. I felt the same as I always do, but this shortened eating window made for amazing deep sleep, so I felt super rested and energized. I was still able to box jump and burpee as usual, and today I even got a personal record for my squat snatch. One thing I noticed was that from not feeling bloated, I felt lighter and more agile and just more excited to move my body.
Did You Lose Weight?
I was surprised that I lost about two pounds — I’ve been about the same weight for years! This doesn’t seem major, especially since it’s hard to tell from the before-and-after photos, but for me, it was all in my belly. I noticed zero bloating (zero!) and a flatter tummy. I’ve also noticed more muscle definition in my arms and thighs, but that’s not just from the past two weeks; it’s because I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for over seven months now.
Isn’t It Bad For You Not to Eat All Day?
Someone expressed their concern to me that intermittent fasting is an eating disorder. I actually feel like it’s the exact opposite. I feel more in control and have a healthier relationship with food than I ever had. I finally know what true hunger feels like and am learning to listen to my body to eat when I’m hungry and — this is the most important thing — to STOP when I’m full. I’m no longer overeating or obsessing about food, and I feel more free from the thoughts about how eating affects my weight.
Will You Keep Going?
I’ve been wondering this every single day over the past 14 days. Some days I’m like, “Hell, no!” I especially felt that way on the third and 13th days. But then on the other days I just felt so good; I felt like I wanted to keep this up.
There are two main reasons I’ve contemplated sticking with the Warrior Diet. One, not being bloated has been huge for me, since I have been struggling with that since July 2016. It’s made me so self-conscious and uncomfortable — on my worst days, I felt really depressed about it. So to look down and see a flatter tummy and not feel pain makes me tear up; I’m so happy.
Intermittent fasting feels like free therapy. ADVERTISEMENT
And two, I can’t get over how I’m not obsessing about food. Even when I begin my eating window, I’m not scarfing food down or craving sweets, and I’m not overeating. And during my fasting window, I’m not daydreaming about the food I’ll eat. Restricting my diet for over 20 years and obsessing about weight loss really f*cked me up, and intermittent fasting feels like free therapy. It’s slowly curing me of all my worries and detrimental body-negative thoughts.
OK, so the one thing that was hard was the weekends. I had my best friend visiting on the sixth day, and we went out for brunch. Sipping on coffee while she ate pancakes was tough — I’m not gonna lie. But that’s what’s cool about choosing IF as a lifestyle. I can tailor it to meet my needs, which means sticking with it most days and being lenient about not fasting when I want to.
I’ve loved the heightened benefits of the Warrior Diet vs. the 16:8 plan — I’m blown away that I haven’t been famished all day and that I’ve been so energized. I’m over the moon that I’m feeling zero belly bloat because I’m not overeating all day long, and I love not obsessing about food.
I think I’m going to keep going! I’m not sure I’ll be strictly Warrior-ing it up every single day. Maybe some days I’ll have a five- or six-hour eating window. Some days I’ll do 16:8, and, well, other days (like on the weekends), I’ll wake up and hit up my local vegan bakery for a sticky bun and keep eating all day long.
If you’re considering intermittent fasting, I definitely would not try the Warrior Diet right off the bat. I’d start with a 12-hour fasting window, not eating from, say, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Gradually increase the amount of time you’re fasting by 30 to 60 minutes every few days. I took a few weeks to get on the 16:8 plan, so just ease your body into it, and you’ll find more success. As always, chat with your doctor before making any serious changes to your diet.
Aside from jumping into IF too fast, avoid these other intermittent fasting mistakes, such as eating the wrong foods. Once you get into a rhythm, you’ll love the benefits of weight loss, increased energy, and the lowered risk of disease and feel inspired to keep going. You just might inspire someone else to hop on the IF train, too!
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jenny Sugar
What Is the OMAD Diet? Everything You Need to Know About This Extreme Intermittent Fasting Weight-Loss Plan
If you follow weight loss trends, then you’ve probably heard about intermittent fasting—which has dieters forgoing food for up to 16 hours , then consuming their meals during the remaining eight hours of the day. It’s restrictive, but not crazy-grueling.
The OMAD diet, however, takes this to the extreme. OMAD stands for One Meal a Day; the idea is to fast for 23 hours straight and then consume one large meal in a 60-minute window. Lately OMAD has been gaining popularity, with people swearing by it as a weight loss method as well as a way to tackle chronic disease and other health issues.
To find out what the OMAD diet is all about and whether it can really help you reach your weight loss and health goals, we asked two nutritionists to give us their take.
RELATED: 7 Drinks You Can Enjoy on the Keto Diet
How to follow the OMAD diet
Like many diets, OMAD has a host of rules. For starters, your one meal should be eaten in the same four-hour time block every day, so you eat on a consistent schedule. You’re allowed to drink beverages during your 23-hour fast, but they have to be the calorie-free kind, like black coffee or water, explains Dana Angelo White, RD, a sports dietitian based in Connecticut and author of Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook.
You also must consume your one meal on a standard dinner plate—nothing larger. (Sorry, bowl fans.) And no piling on heaping amounts of food. Whatever you choose to eat can’t rise higher than three inches on your plate. “Other than that, dieters can (in theory) eat whatever they like,” says White.
That’s the upside to OMAD: You don’t really need to consider your calories or worry about the exact nutritional profile of the food you eat, as long as you’re saving all of your calories for that one period of time, says New York City–based nutritionist Natalie Rizzo, RD, author of The No-Brainer Nutrition Guide For Every Runner. So if you’re someone who dislikes tracking and crunching numbers, OMAD has appeal.
RELATED: The Best Diets of 2019—and Why the Keto Diet Ranked So Low
Can OMAD lead to weight loss?
This is an extreme level of intermittent fasting, no doubt. But Rizzo notes that there is some positive research surrounding fasting in general, showing that fasting could aid in weight loss as well as assist in preventing chronic disease. “Other research suggests that intermittent fasting helps regulate blood glucose level, which may be therapeutic for those with diabetes,” she says.
Yet whatever weight loss or health benefits you see on the OMAD diet will likely be short-lived. The drawbacks are obvious: Not eating for 23 hours will probably lead to serious hunger, lack of energy, fatigue, and uncontrollable cravings, says Rizzo.
What’s more, fasting for so long might make you so famished, you end up choosing the wrong foods when it is time to eat, like greasy fries and double bacon burritos. True, these are allowed on the diet; no food is off-limits for your one-hour meal. But face-planting in high-fat, low-nutrition foods could leave you taking in more calories than you need, not to mention cause stomach discomfort and mood changes.
“When someone deprives themselves of food for 24 hours, they tend to lose control and overeat when it’s time to eat again. This can lead to choosing unhealthy options and eating way more than what feels natural in one sitting,” says Rizzo.
RELATED: This Woman Says the Keto Diet Destroyed Her 17-Year Marriage—and Now Her Story Is Going Viral
Plus, it’ll be tough getting enough of the nutrients your body needs each day. “Joking aside, it would be fantastically difficult to meet your nutrient needs eating this way,” says White. “Sure, a well-balanced multivitamin and omega-3 supplement would be helpful, but I would still have concerns about dieters meeting their needs.”
Any calorie deficit you achieve would also likely promote muscle breakdown, as your body turns to burning muscle for energy. If you’re an athlete or are trying to build strength, the OMAD diet can backfire.
If you do the OMAD diet, what should you eat?
If you decide to do the OMAD diet, don’t fall into the trap of scarfing down anything you crave. “The diet allows you to eat whatever you want,” says Rizzo. “Personally, I would suggest a well-balanced meal with healthy carbs, protein, and healthy fats.” Since you’re trying to make up for the calories you skipped throughout the day, feel free to load up on foods with lots of healthy fats, like avocado, olive oil, and nuts, she suggests.
Also important: add in variety. “Because our nutrient needs are so diverse, variety would be essential. Mix it up by eating different things every day so you don’t miss out on nutrients,” suggests White.
You probably shouldn’t do it, though
Both Rizzo and White agree: the OMAD diet isn’t a sound one. Says Rizzo: “I would not recommend this diet. I think it’s entirely too restrictive and can lead to choosing unhealthy options. If I starved myself all day, I would be more inclined to eat a pizza than a piece of fish with veggies.”
If you do want to try intermittent fasting, at least go with the 16:8 method, which has you fasting for 16 hours and eating for eight. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a much more balanced approach, Rizzo says.
To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter