How Much Weight Can You Lose On One Meal A Day?

How Much Weight Can You Lose On One Meal A Day?

Did you know that our cave-dwelling ancestors rarely ate more than one meal daily? Having solid three meals is still a luxury for many people worldwide.

We can survive on a single meal. We can even thrive on it.

It’s an excellent tool for weight loss, especially for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money or put a lot of brainpower into meal planning and calorie counting.

Today, we’ll talk about how much weight you can lose on one meal daily, how to do it safely, and other things you wanted to know. 

Before we start, make sure to contact your doctor before starting any diet, especially this one. You could be cutting many calories, so be smart and stay safe. 

How Much Weight Can You Lose On One Meal A Day?

It depends on how much you eat during that meal.

If you cut all food from your diet but one meal, you will consume only 30-40% of your initial calorie intake. For a 2000-calorie-a-day diet, that’s 600 800 calories a day.

If we assumed that you needed those 2000 calories to maintain your current weight, you would need 4 to 6 days to lose a pound.

The heavier and more active you are, the faster the weight loss. For example, someone who weighs 200 pounds may need up to 2500 calories daily to maintain their weight. In that case, they could be dropping a pound every two days.

What are the advantages of eating one meal a day for weight loss?

The main advantage is that it’s easy and cheap. All you have to do is to cut two meals out of your daily routine. And you are not spending money on those two meals anymore.

If you tried to eat many smaller portions throughout the day and it made you feel miserable, maybe this will work for you. Eating one big meal, even if it’s less food, can keep you happy because your brain only registers the size of that portion.

What are the cons of eating one meal a day for weight loss?

The change in the routine can be challenging. If you’re used to eating breakfast and lunch, the switch can be difficult and may lead to mood swings.

It’s also not suitable for some people with chronic conditions.

Let’s Talk Calories

As mentioned, eating one meal is the easiest way to cut calories. However, it can still go wrong. You can quickly end up undereating and, as you’ll see in a second, overeating.

Let’s start with undereating. Most dietitians and fitness specialists recommend not eating less than 1200 calories per day. This is still under the average human BMR, and eating less than that can lead to significant health issues.

BMR stands for basal metabolic rate. That’s the number of calories your body needs at rest. For an average man, that’s almost 1700 calories; for a woman, it’s about 1400 calories. It’s also called resting metabolic rate (RMR), the energy your body needs to perform essential functions.

You can see where this is going—spending a lot of time eating less than your body needs will significantly impact your body’s way of functioning correctly.

Those 1200 calories are under the recommended amounts but are the smallest number of calories possible, allowing you to get most of the nutrition your body needs.

As for overeating, you only need to look at your favorite fast food menu to see how easily that can also happen. A single Big Mac and a serving of fries can cost you almost 900 calories. And if you fancy washing that down with a White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks, that’s another 400 calories.

But we are only 100 calories away from the recommended minimum, so no biggie? Yesbiggie, because could you be satisfied with these three things being all you consume in a day?

To wrap it up, you still need to be aware of your calories when eating one meal a day. You don’t have to be very strict, but you must stay vigilant.

Are Intermittent Fasting And Eating One Meal a Day the Same Thing?

They can be, but it depends on a couple of factors.

Most people who do intermittent fasting don’t consume anything that can spike their blood sugar levels, which usually includes coffee. If you drink coffee and sweetened tea throughout the day, you are not entirely entering the fasting state.

Also, intermittent fasting has more benefits besides cutting down on calories. People do it not only for weight loss but also for heart health, lower cholesterol, better sleep, motor functions, and mental health.

What’s autophagy?

Autophagy is when our bodies break down and remove damaged and unneeded components within a cell. It keeps the cells healthy and can remove specific toxic proteins connected to numerous diseases.

It starts when glucose and insulin levels drop considerably. That usually happens about 16 hours after the last meal.

What Food Should You Eat?

You can eat anything. Though it’s best to pack as many nutrient-rich foods as you can in that one meal.

It’s easy to lose a lot of nutrients when you take the other two meals out of your diet. So, it’s vital to pile the good stuff onto the plate.

Eating once a day also means indulging in the “bad foods.” But don’t overdo it. It’s OK to add a slice of cake or a serving of ice cream, but don’t do it after dinner with mac and cheese pizza.

Should You Take a Supplement?

This is one of those times when you should consider introducing supplements into your diet.

In most cases, a simple multivitamin and multimineral will do the trick. But if you already had issues with getting certain nutrients like iron and Omega-3 fatty acids, you will probably get less of them through food. You may need to supplement those separately.

One thing you probably won’t need is protein shakes. You are least likely not to get enough protein. Switching to one meal a day will deliver an appropriate amount of protein to those who have been overdoing it for years.

Unless you work a demanding physical job or are bodybuilding, you can skip that section of the supplement aisle altogether.

Can You Snack Throughout the Day?

Yes, but you need to keep the snacking to a minimum. It’s easy to overdo it if you mindlessly nibble throughout the day.

Most fruits with very high water content (which includes cherry tomatoes and cucumbers) are low in calories and can help keep the hunger pangs away until your main meal.

Drinking coffee on an empty stomach increases the production of stomach acid. It’s not likely to cause any health issues, but sure it’s unpleasant. If you can’t give up your morning coffee, having a graham cracker or a sugar-free oatmeal cookie is OK.

Easy Way to Get All Nutrition in One Meal

Before a food pyramid, the US needed us strong and told us to eat the primary 7.

The Basic seven nutrition guideline came out in the 1940s and is still the best food guide. We can make a few adjustments, but we’ll review them in a second.

The first three groups are all about fruits and vegetables. We’ll borrow from Japan’s current guidelines for these to make things easier to remember.

The first group is greens, the second yellows, and reds, and the third is any other color. Eat at least one item from each group to get lots of fruit and vegetables.

The chart recommends milk, cheese, and ice cream. Though ice cream should be a food group, we’ll rename this group calcium. Any food that’s naturally high in calcium or fortified fits in. Now, lactose0intolerant and vegan friends can join.

The 5th group is protein, and as the guide suggests, it’s for meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, etc. Don’t forget the brand products like tofu, hummus, and tempeh.

The 6th group is about carbs, and there’s not much to say here. Maybe pick complex carbs when possible so you don’t get hungry quickly. And finally, we have the fats in the 7th group. The problem is that the chart only includes cooking fats instead of fatty foods like seeds, nuts, aged cheese, or chocolate. So, instead of the original recommendation, have some cheese or dark chocolate with your meal.

After this, add whatever you want if you think you have enough space for more.

Can You Exercise When Eating One Meal a Day?

Yes, and you should. However, we may need to discuss which type of exercise you should do.

First, let’s go over why you should exercise in the first place. Though it’s straightforward for your body to store fat for future energy (even create more fat cells for more storage space), it doesn’t release that energy quickly.

When a body uses stored energy, it’s through a process called lipolysis. However, it’s easier for the body to find another energy source to exploit than to start lipolysis. And the source it usually targets is your muscles.

Fat is more energy dense and provides nine calories of energy per 1 gram of mass. Muscles/protein gives only four calories per gram, but it’s much easier to turn protein into glucose than to start lipolysis.

For example, did you or someone you know put on weight when drinking protein shakes? That’s because all protein not used to repair and grow muscles after a workout turns into pure energy. So, having a new scoop of protein powder (average of 20 grams) means you have unused 80 calories in energy. In about six weeks, that will turn into a pound of fat.

Since you know that your body will start eating your muscles for energy, you should also know that this impacts your weight loss. Not only are you losing less fat with each pound, but it becomes easier for you to put the weight back on.

Muscles raise our good friend BMR/RMR. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. When you lose muscle, your metabolism slows down as well.

Here’s a fun bit. Even if you don’t go into significant bodybuilding mode, simple workouts send your body a message that you’re using all your muscles and that it should eat fat for energy.

So, to lose fat, you shouldn’t concentrate on cardio and building muscle. And when eating one meal a day, ensure you’re exercising at least 10-15 minutes daily.

Exercising on an empty stomach for fat loss

Here’s one of the most exciting things about this diet. You lose more fat when you exercise on an empty stomach. In turn, you gain more muscle after eating.

It all depends on our body’s energy to go through a workout. When you put your body under strain when hungry, it has to tap into the fat cells for that energy because it’s all out of glucose from food.

It has to be at least six hours from your last meal for you to benefit. If you prefer to hit a gym after work, it’s perfect. The longer you fast, the better the results.

Who Should Avoid Eating Only One Meal a Day?

Anyone with diabetes, hyperglycemia, and similar issues requires balanced sugar levels. Some medications may require you to eat before taking them. And people with chronic migraines and headaches may find this diet challenging.

If you have any chronic conditions, consult your doctor before starting any diet, including this one.

Emotional Hunger

Your belly may be complete, but you are still starving. That’s because humans don’t only eat to live but often live to eat.

The biggest challenge when switching to eating only one meal daily is not eating the other two. This transition will be easy; for others, it will torture.

It’s okay if you are having a challenging transitional period, but it’s problematic if that period never ends. While growing pains are typical, no matter what you’re doing, it’s time to rethink the whole thing if they don’t stop.

At the end of the day, if the diet feels like torture to you, it will not work. Not only are you going to be miserable during the whole process, but you are very likely to go on a binge at the first opportunity. That’s a shortcut to yoyo dieting.

Listen to your body. If every fiber of your being is screaming that it doesn’t want to do this, stop the diet.

If you like the concept, but it’s not 100% working for you, stop and reassess. You can quickly adapt it to having some fruit for breakfast, a vegetable soup for lunch, and your big meal in the evening.

You don’t have to love the process, but you’ll not achieve your goal by hating it.

I tried eating only one meal daily, but it didn’t work. What now?

We can have this same conversation about any other diet. Eating one meal a day is not for you, or you have still managed to overeat during that one meal.

In the case of the former, it’s okay. Not every diet or eating schedule will work for everyone. If it did, no one on the planet would struggle with weight loss.

If eating once a day makes you miserable and doesn’t produce results, move on. There’s other stuff you can try. As long as you don’t give up, you’ll do great.

If you’re overeating, you have a bigger problem. It’s easy to underestimate how many calories are in food. Even if you’re preparing a balanced meal, it’s easy to overdo it. That extra bit of cheese can add another 100 calories.

There is also something called secret snacking. You take those sneaky bites throughout the day but don’t even notice.

This habit probably goes back years. It’s the reason why your previous diets failed. And the worst thing? You don’t know you are doing it at all.

You will need a friend or a family member to help you with this. Ask them to spend a day with you and log every time you sneak a treat. Ask them to be discreet so you are unaware of those events.

Go over their notes and see how many of those snacks you don’t remember. You’re a secret snacker if the number is higher than one or two.

The only way to fix this is through awareness and discipline. Start by being more mindful of food, then slowly move forward.

Jim Yi