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Eat One Meal-A-Day: Why OMAD For Weight loss Works

When eating OMAD for weight loss, calories are consumed in a 1- to 4-hour eating window. This approach can lead to faster weight-loss results.
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Summary

Eating one meal a day (OMAD) for weight loss may seem at first like an impossible task. Building up to a longer fast takes time but is achievable, resulting in many health and weight-loss benefits. Extending the fast a few times a week and eating all the day’s calories during a shorter window can yield significant benefits.

Written by
Jill Lebofsky
15+yr Women's Wellness Expert, Holistic Menopause Support, Intermittent Fasting, Midlife, Essential Oil, Author, Speaker

If you have been doing intermittent fasting for a little while, you may have heard people talk about eating one meal a day (OMAD). It may seem extreme, even unsafe if you don’t understand how the body and intermittent fasting works.

After doing intermittent fasting for a few weeks, your body begins to adjust to your new fasting and feasting schedule. You may find your hunger level naturally decreases. Your body is efficiently using your stored fat for fuel and doesn’t require extra calories to function.

Although some women purposely choose OMAD as their intermittent fasting method, many don’t plan to eat OMAD at first. Instead, it begins to happen naturally.

 

How does OMAD work?

Although there are different intermittent fasting methods, a few are better selections if you want to integrate OMAD fasting into your routine for weight loss.

 

  1. The 16/8 method is based on time restrictions. Following this method, one fasts for 16 hours and has an 8-hour eating window. OMAD extends the fasting time to typically 20-23 hours, leaving a short span (1 to 4 hours) for consuming all calories.
  2. The alternate day fasting (ADF) method restricts eating to 500 calories every other day.
  3. The 5:2 method is like ADF but only has calorie restrictions during two days of the week. Many choose to consume all the calories allotted for the day in one sitting (OMAD).

 

Some people who follow OMAD for weight loss strictly adhere to eating only one meal, whereas others choose to have a meal plus small snacks during the shorter eating window.

 

Reasons to try OMAD for weight loss

Woman in black leggings with a measuring tape.

OMAD boosts all the benefits of shorter fasts, including increasing insulin sensitivity, decreasing inflammation and fat loss (1).  

When doing OMAD, weight loss naturally occurs due to the restricted calories. It is difficult to consume large amounts of calories in the short time OMAD allows for eating. Also, the body spends more time in the fat-burning stage, resulting in more significant fat loss (2).

Other great reasons to try OMAD

  • Can eat whatever you want. You’ll achieve the best results if you eat nutrient-dense, low carb foods
  • Regained time. Plan for and cook only one meal and have fewer dirty dishes to clean
  • Decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. (2) Higher levels of cortisol increase stored fat (3).
  • Breaking a weight loss plateau

 

Potential issues with OMAD

  • May not consume enough nutrients/calories
  • May feel hungry, weak, or unable to concentrate
  • Difficult to follow long-term
  • Eating one large meal at night may cause digestive issues and disrupt sleep
  • Could lead to disordered eating

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Recommendations for best OMAD weight loss results

Although some people do OMAD on a daily basis, weight loss is the same as a calorie-restricted diet. (4). 

OMAD is perfect if you need to jump-start your weight loss, your results have slowed down, or if you want to reap the health benefits you gain when remaining in a fasted state. 

Introduce OMAD intermittent fasting a couple of times a week, ideally not on consecutive days. This is sustainable for achieving long-term weight loss results.

 

Best food choices for OMAD weight loss 

Salmon and carrots.

The reward for fasting 20 to 23 hours is the choice of whatever you want to eat. But choose wisely. 

If following OMAD, once the eating window closes, you need to feel sustained for many hours. Your one meal should be a high protein, high fat, low carb meal.

The average woman should consume 1200 to 1500 calories daily to lose weight, depending on her age and activity level. Consuming less than 1200 calories daily is unhealthy.

Eating enough when doing OMAD is sometimes tricky, especially if the eating window is only one hour. If you cannot consume enough calories, make sure the foods you eat are healthy and filling. Also, consider supplementation.


The bottom line

Eating OMAD for weight loss is an effective method of intermittent fasting. Doing longer fasts safely has many health benefits and leads to quicker weight loss results. It is best done a couple of times a week.

Although beneficial, OMAD is not necessary for intermittent fasting weight loss results. If you experience extreme signs of fatigue, digestive issues, or discomfort, then choose shorter fasts to reach your goals.

Try out OMAD with the support of other intermittent fasting women in this private online support group.


References:

  1. Cho Y, Hong N, Kim KW, et al. The Effectiveness of Intermittent Fasting to Reduce Body Mass Index and Glucose Metabolism: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Clin Med. 2019;8(10):1645. Published 2019 Oct 9. doi:10.3390/jcm8101645
  2. Stote KS, Baer DJ, Spears K, et al. A controlled trial of reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction in healthy, normal-weight, middle-aged adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(4):981-988. doi:10.1093/ajcn/85.4.981
  3. Moyer AE, Rodin J, Grilo CM, Cummings N, Larson LM, Rebuffé-Scrive M. Stress-induced cortisol response and fat distribution in women. Obes Res. 1994;2(3):255-262. doi:10.1002/j.1550-8528.1994.tb00055.x
  4. Harris L, Hamilton S, Azevedo LB, et al. Intermittent fasting interventions for treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep. 2018;16(2):507-547. doi:10.11124/JBISRIR-2016-003248

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