When it comes to losing weight, it seems there are so many rules about what you should and shouldn’t eat.
Many of us have tried cutting out certain foods that are deemed ‘bad’ due to their fat or carb content, maybe going so far as to eliminate entire food groups from our diet.
But what if we told you that you don’t need to demonize specific foods in order to lose weight?
In this article, we’ll be detailing the before and after comparison that you can expect when following the OMAD diet for a 30-day period. You’ll be shocked by the changes after a month of OMAD compared to before!
What Is OMAD?
If you’re not sure what OMAD is, it stands for ‘One Meal a Day’, which is exactly what the name suggests.
OMAD is basically a more intensive version of intermittent fasting. You’re fasting for roughly 23 hours out of the day, breaking the fast for a single meal.
There are no real restrictions on what you can eat for your one meal of the day and the number of calories in the meal will vary from person to person depending on several factors.
Please speak to your doctor or a qualified nutritionist before attempting OMAD.
Before Trying OMAD
Before successfully trying OMAD, many people are stuck in the same cycle of restricting specific foods and limiting what they are ‘allowed’ to eat.
For example, we can’t count how many times we’ve heard of people separating out the egg yolks from their eggs to avoid consuming too many calories.
Chicken thighs get swapped for plain, unseasoned chicken breasts to eliminate any excess fat.
White rice is replaced with brown rice for the advantage of a lower glycaemic index, and bread and pasta get ruled out altogether.
Even coffee and tea orders are dramatically changed, prepared without milk or sugar for minimal calories.
Unfortunately, a significant portion of the same people will testify to the fact that the results are often underwhelming – or non-existent.
You may expect the weight to start falling off when you eliminate most of your favorite fatty or sugary foods from your diet, but in reality, it’s common for dieters to consume more of other foods to compensate, resulting in little to no weight gain due to the lack of a caloric deficit.
And this doesn’t just apply to people with no knowledge of health and fitness.
Even people with degrees in exercise and nutrition go through this frustrating process because the idea that losing weight involves not eating specific foods is so widespread.
Before transitioning to OMAD, many dieters have tried intermittent fasting. This is a logical place from which to start OMAD because it’s very similar to intermittent fasting.
The problem with intermittent fasting, compared to OMAD, is that most people give up.
Why? Because they’re hungry! If you’ve tried intermittent fasting before, you’re probably familiar with the cycle: you get through your fast, eat at the required time… and find yourself still thinking about food.
You might have felt physical responses as well. For many people, intermittent fasting doesn’t allow for sufficient calorie consumption to satisfy the body’s needs for energy and nutrition.
This can result in feeling stressed and hungry all the time, and even feelings of shakiness, weakness, and lightheadedness.
Combined with all the emotions that come with having high expectations for weight loss, the conditions are optimal for binging.
When you binge, you undo the caloric deficit you’ve been working to put your body in, which brings even more negative emotions to the surface, and the cycle continues.
Recent psychological studies concerned with eating habits show that a great many people are what we call ‘emotional eaters’.
When you have learned to use food as a comfort blanket, it can be extremely difficult to stop doing so, even when you have all the knowledge about macronutrients and calories at your fingertips.
After Trying OMAD
It might surprise you to learn that many individuals who have tried and failed to lose weight using intermittent fasting have achieved success with OMAD.
This might seem illogical since both methods of weight loss involve restricting caloric intake to a specific window of time each day and going without food for most of the day.
However, the key to being successful with OMAD is to stop counting calories.
Many intermittent fasting plans come with strict calorie restrictions on top of the time limits, and even though some don’t put such limitations in place, it’s common for people who are trying to lose weight to impose those restrictions on themselves.
The success stories we have seen from the OMAD diet involve truly listening to your body, not your calorie tracking app.
As we explained earlier, the main reason why so many people struggle to stick to weight loss nutrition plans is because they have learned to eat emotionally rather than listening to their bodies’ genuine hunger cues – even if they think they are!
Learning to honor your body’s real hunger cues and needs for certain nutrients takes time and practice, especially if it’s not something you have focused on before.
However, in our experience, journaling and mindfulness are very useful tools for getting in touch with yourself in this way.
Depending on the extent of your struggle with emotional eating, it may be a good idea to discuss your relationship with food with a therapist who is well-versed in this subject before attempting any kind of diet, including OMAD.
Once you have mastered the practice of truly listening to your body, you will be able to stop religiously counting calories and putting together meals that contain the energy and nutrients that your body really needs.
This might mean that you eat 1,500 calories on a sedentary day or slightly more if you have been more active.
You will also be able to decide based on actual hunger signals (instead of habit or emotions) whether you want to finish everything on your plate or not.
Ultimately, OMAD is not about what to eat. It’s about how to eat, and that’s what sets it apart from other diets.
Tips For Succeeding With OMAD
If you’re reading this and still don’t know how to approach listening to your body as opposed to eating from an emotional place, here are some tips that will help you to maintain a healthy relationship with food while doing OMAD:
- Take your time while chewing. Many of us are guilty of basically inhaling our food, but this will make it virtually impossible to listen to your real hunger cues because your body won’t have time to process your food intake. Plus, you should be chewing each mouthful of food at least 32 times to derive maximum nutritional benefits. So, for your next meal, take your time and chew slowly and deliberately.
- Be mindful. We mentioned earlier how mindfulness can help you to heal your relationship with food, so make sure to eat mindfully. This means eliminating distractions such as the television and focusing on how each bite tastes, smells, and feels. Take the time to truly savor your food.
- Put down your fork. Between each bite, rest your fork on your plate. This will make it easier to stick to the 32-chews rule and encourage mindfulness in the present rather than thinking about the next mouthful of food.
- Set a timer. With OMAD, it’s important to limit your calorie consumption to an hour window each day. If you find yourself getting distracted by other things during mealtimes (even after turning off the television and taking off your headphones), it’s best to set a 20 or 30-minute timer for your meal. This will help to keep you on track.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Calories Should I Eat Per Day Doing OMAD?
It is important to note that your single daily meal should contain a significant amount of calories because while the aim is to force the body to burn fat by regulating the timing of calorie intake, you still need to provide your body with the nutrients and energy it needs to get through the 23-hour fasting period.
An absolute minimum of 1200 calories is recommended since consuming fewer calories than this, especially for taller individuals, can be very dangerous and may cause weight regain due to your body entering starvation mode.
1500 calories or even more is often considered a more suitable amount for OMAD.
It is very important to discuss your plans to try OMAD with your doctor before significantly restricting your caloric intake since doing so without a thorough check-up can be detrimental to your health.
Does OMAD Work?
Yes, if you do OMAD correctly, you should see results in terms of weight loss.
This is because most people will find it quite difficult to surpass their maintenance calorie recommendation in a single meal, so as long as you stick to the plan, you should achieve a caloric deficit.
With that being said, if you do surpass your daily caloric recommendation for either maintenance or weight gain in a single meal, you may not see results.
Additionally, if you undereat and your body enters starvation mode, you may find that your weight loss stops because your body is holding onto the calories.
Therefore, it is important not to overeat or undereat significantly during OMAD.
Is OMAD Safe?
OMAD can absolutely be done safely, but in order to eat one meal a day without jeopardizing your health, you need to ensure that you’re getting enough calories and meeting all of your body’s nutritional needs in doing so.
Of course, getting enough calories and nutrients in a single meal can be a challenge, which is why we recommend getting medical or nutritional advice from a professional before starting OMAD.
Should Anyone Not Do OMAD?
Children and elderly people should not attempt OMAD.
It is very important for children to get their entire daily recommended calorie intake to support proper development, and the increased risk of health conditions later in life makes OMAD a poor choice for a lot of seniors.
If you have an existing health condition such as diabetes or conditions that can impact your metabolic rate, OMAD is not the right choice for you.
Similarly, if you are suffering, or have suffered in the past, from an eating disorder, restricting your calories and strictly regulating your mealtimes is unlikely to be a healthy or sustainable path.
There are people for whom OMAD can be an unhealthy or even dangerous weight loss plan, which is why we always recommend embarking on your OMAD journey with the help of a licensed professional.
Losing weight with OMAD might sound daunting, especially if you’re someone who tends to eat from an emotional place.
However, it’s a very effective alternative to intermittent fasting that tends to produce more success stories.
To succeed on OMAD, you need to be eating enough calories to nourish your body, but not so much that you maintain instead of losing weight.
With that being said, the key to OMAD success is not counting calories but getting in tune with your body’s genuine hunger cues to determine an appropriate amount of food for your one meal.
We recommend practicing mindfulness and eliminating distractions while eating if you’re trying OMAD. Also make sure that you’re chewing your food enough and putting your fork down between bites.
This will give your body a chance to process the fact that you are feeding it and will give you a better chance to make food-related decisions based on actual feelings of hunger.