On our journey of biohacking our bodies and finding out new and exciting ways to live, we have OMAD. OMAD is an acronym for One Meal a Day. It’s not a new concept but has recently been repackaged and re-presented to us. Challenging, yes, but the potential benefits, both short and long term, are undeniable. Developing discipline around your eating is one of the hardest to achieve, but definitely worth the effort.
What is OMAD and How Does it Work?
OMAD is a way of eating where you consume your whole day’s worth of calories in one meal and fast for the other 23 hours.
It may sound crazy, but it has only been in recent human history that we have had the resources to have more than one meal per day. Before this, we lacked the means of cultivating, storing, and preserving the food we needed over long periods.
We ate when food was plenteous, and when it wasn’t, we lived on our body’s stored fat. Today, we believe that if we don’t get three meals plus two snacks every day, we’ll starve to death. But not so. The concept of three square meals per day is more about social behavior than biological need.
A Word About Fasting
Voluntarily abstaining from food, otherwise known as fasting, has been extensively scientifically studied for years. Its many potential benefits include weight loss, increased mental focus, and lowered blood sugar. Fasting has been used for years for medical purposes.
Intermittent fasting (IF) has recently gained popularity, as people have realized that there may be benefits of health and weight management. Users of this method fast and eat in ratios. For instance, 16:8 means that you fast for 16 hours (including sleeping hours) and have an eight-hour eating window. Another example is 20:4, twenty hours of fasting, and four hours of eating.
OMAD is the most restrictive version of intermittent fasting, with a ratio of 23:1. Twenty-three hours of fasting and one hour of eating.
If you are only eating one meal per day, then surely you can eat anything you want? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, you can eat whatever you like, but why not use the opportunity of that one meal to give your body all the nutrients and calories it needs each day.
What About Keto
Keto is a diet that restricts carbohydrates but is rich in healthy fats and moderate in protein. The purpose of the diet is for the user to enter a state of ketosis, where the body switches its energy sources from simple sugars in the blood to consuming body fat. This is why it is so useful as a weight-loss tool.
Cool Combination: IF and Keto
Combining these two powerful approaches to health has become even more popular than either of them separately.
The Keto OMAD diet works because, during the twenty-three hours of fasting, the body is fooled into thinking that food is scarce, so it starts to lower our insulin levels. This happens before the body breaks down its own stored fat.
Although your body thinks there’s a famine, there is no need for you to feel deprived. The goal of OMAD isn’t punitive. Over time, your body should be trained to feel less hungry during the day.
What You Eat on OMAD
As this is your only meal each day, it should be as delicious and nutritious as possible. Planning your meals will help you stay organized and ensure you’re getting enough calories each day. Planning will also help you to get variety in your daily meals.
Here is a short list of some approved keto/OMAD foods:
- Olive Oil
- Bell Peppers
- MCT Oil
- Green Onions
- Beet Greens
- Heavy Cream
- Chicken Breast/Thigh
- Ground Beef
Within this list are the ingredients of many fantastic meals.
Eating out can be tricky, so you should prepare your own meals as much as possible. Though it is possible to find keto-friendly dishes in restaurants, you should be ready to do a lot of substituting. But if you’re up to it, many restaurants are happy to oblige.
The Phases of OMAD-Keto
Fasting and eating windows quickly become habitual. These are the daily phases of the OMAD-keto diet:
During the fasting phase of OMAD-keto, you abstain from food and drinks, except for calorie-free beverages like water, coffee, and tea. The regular fasting can facilitate the following:
- Blood sugar control, leading to insulin resistance. This lowers our risk of diabetes.
- Improved cardiovascular health.
- Fights inflammation.
- Aids weight loss and boosts metabolism
- Boosts brain function and possibly prevents neurodegenerative disorders.
- Increase growth hormone secretion.
- Possible cancer prevention and increase the efficacy of chemotherapy.
- Delay aging and extending longevity
You choose your feeding window - it may be at some time in the evening or in the morning. This is up to you. But once you have selected your feeding window, you should stick to it as much as possible. The schedule and routine of it will help you keep your discipline.
You should still hold to the rules of keto - low-carbohydrate, moderate protein, and high-fat. Generally speaking, you should aim to eat between 1,800 to 2,500 calories at your one meal. However, it would be okay to leave open the calorie restriction. It is recommended that you take the full hour to consume that meal. Eat slowly and savor the whole meal.
Movement is a natural part of life. Exercise is vital to keep our bodies flexible and can help us to burn fat faster. Some data indicates that exercising while in a fasted state could yield even more outstanding results.
Despite the benefits, listen to your body. If you feel weak or light-headed during exercise, you should take a break or reconsider the form of exercise you’re doing.
OMAD-Keto Meal Ideas
Keto may seem limited in choices, but it’s possible to enjoy a wide and varied menu. Here are a few favorites:
For the salad:
- 1 cup of chopped kale
- 6 slices of bacon, chopped
- 30 g almonds, chopped
- ⅓ cup of parmesan cheese
For the dressing:
- 3 Tbsp homemade mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 Tbsp MCT oil
- 1 Tbsp bacon fat
- 2 - 3 Tbsp water
Wash, dry, and chop the kale. Toss the salad, then mix the ingredients for the dressing.
The macros for this Keto Caesar Salad: 11.3g of carbohydrates, 125g of fat, 37g of protein, and 1304 calories.
Avocados are delicious, and their smooth texture makes them very versatile. They may be eaten on their own, as part of a meal, or in smoothies or dressings.
The macros: 3g of carbs, 24g of fat, 3g of protein, and 240 calories.
8 oz. Sirloin Steak
Homemade steak rub:
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp coarse ground pepper
- ½ tsp paprika
- ¼ cup red pepper flakes
4 oz. Sirloin
1 Tbsp MCT oil
Cook the steak as desired and finish with a drizzling of MCT oil.
The macros: 11g of carbs, 179g of fat, 70.5g of protein, and 1965 calories.
The Benefits of OMAD
Fasting benefits our bodies by gently stressing our cells and making them more resilient. The process is called Hormesis. It comes into play when we exercise our muscles and create gentle stress that results in muscle development. The other benefits that you may experience are:
The calorie restriction of OMAD may result in fat loss. Although we say that you consume the full day's calories in one meal, realistically, that can’t be done for long. You will often feel full well before that, but you will have had a nutritious meal.
Calorie restriction over a long period can have an adverse effect on your metabolism - it will begin to slow down. So if you’re struggling to get your calories in that one meal, consider doing OMAD on just one or two days per week. Or look into other forms of intermittent fasting.
Anti-Aging and Longevity
Fasting for long periods activates autophagy. This is your body’s way of cleaning house. Damaged cells, toxins, and waste are removed from all over your body, including your brain, which is why fasting has been shown to fight age-related neurological disorders, like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and stroke.
Animal studies have shown that intermittent fasting may improve certain medical conditions - asthma, cardiovascular disease, and inflammation. There is also evidence that some diseases may be prevented by intermittent fasting - diabetes, neurodegeneration, and some cancers.
Simplifies Meal Prep (& Costs Less)
This one is a no-brainer. Eating only one meal means that your life is significantly simplified. You only have to plan one meal per day, which will positively impact your grocery budget.
How to Get Started
If you’re still interested in doing OMAD, here are a few tips to get started:
Going from three squares per day to only one meal is a big step. Begin slowly. The goal is not to feel deprived or punished throughout the day, so take the time to train your body for this. Consider other more relaxed forms of IF first, like 16:8 (16 hours of fasting (including sleep time) and 8 hours of eating), if you have never done this before. If you think you’re ready, begin with just one day per week of OMAD, and add others.
Pick A Meal Time
Choose when you will have your one meal. If you’re a morning person who especially loves breakfast, this could work. Or if you prefer your meal at the end of the day, dinner is a popular choice. But it’s entirely up to you.
Once you have chosen, try to stick with it. Eating at all different times of the day will quickly derail your efforts.
Begin Meal Planning
You want to plan meals that are delicious and satisfying but are also nutritionally dense. A keto calculator can help track your macronutrients in the beginning.
Related: Keto Soup Recipes You Need to Know
OMAD Tips and Tricks
OMAD can be challenging, so here are a few tips and tricks to make it a more positive experience.
Listen to Your Body
OMAD isn’t for everyone. Extreme fasting may not work for you if you do intense workouts regularly, have a faster metabolism, or deal with frequent mental stress. If you feel sluggish, weak, or constantly tired, your body may be telling you that it needs more than one meal a day.
Be Flexible with Timeline
If you feel hangry at hour 22, don’t stand on formality - eat! Your 23:1 doesn’t need to be so strictly enforced if life happens and you need to be flexible.
Make the One Meal Count
Be creative with your meals. They should be diverse, balanced, and cover as many micro and macronutrients as possible.
When To Stop
As stated earlier, OMAD isn’t for everyone or for all-times. Consider the following:
It’s Become Too Stressful
Fasting doesn’t just tax the body; it can also stress the mind. In addition to walking in nature, yoga, or meditation, be kind to yourself. If you’re having a tough time, think about doing other forms of IF, or leave off fasting altogether.
Extreme fasting can affect a woman’s insulin response and suppress her reproductive hormones. If you notice negative changes in your cycle or moods, consult your doctor.
Eating Disorders or Other Medical Conditions
Because of the restrictive nature of the diet, it may be mentally and physically unhealthy for people who suffer from eating disorders or certain medical conditions. There are many ways to manage your weight and health; OMAD isn’t the only game in town. If it doesn’t fit - don’t force it.
Transition Out Carefully
At any point that you wish to stop OMAD, do it carefully and thoughtfully. You may be tempted to binge on all the treats you denied yourself before, but this is harmful to your body and potentially triggering if you have had an eating disorder in the past.
Eat nutrient-dense meals and ease yourself back into your chosen way of eating.
OMAD may seem extreme, it is, but so are many of the benefits. A way to simplify your eating, reduce your grocery budget, lose weight, and achieve more excellent health, is nothing to sneeze at. If you’re curious about it, set yourself a trial period, and see how it goes.