OMAD is the short form of One Meal A Day. It is a type of diet trending among people of every age.
In this diet, people do intermittent fasting for 23 hours and eat for the same 1-hour window each day.
Although it is like intermittent fasting it is the extreme version. In intermittent fasting, you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 hours but in OMAD, you can only eat for only one hour.
- Part 1. How Does OMAD Works?
- Part 2. What Does Science Say about OMAD’s Benefits and Risks?
- Part 3. Is It Safe to Do OMAD Every day?
- Part 4. Final Thoughts
How Does OMAD Works?
OMAD fasting plans rely on time-restricted eating. It involves food consumption for a limited time approximately one hour allowing only one hour window for eating. This form of intermittent fasting incorporates restricted calories.
The calorie restriction keeps the sugar level down forcing the body to release fat and use it bodily functions. When a body is starving for more than 12 hours, it automatically starts converting the stored fat into energy.
According to Krista Varady, a nutrition researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago, "fasting forces our bodies to rely on our sugar and fat stores first for fuel". However, when you fast for a longer duration, it can cause blood pressure and sugar levels down.
According to her, the calories restriction is a scam. "I just think it's a way to fool the body into eating less, I don’t think there’s anything magical about it".
What Does Science Say about OMAD’s Benefits and Risks?
The health benefits and risks factors of the OMAD diet depend on your body requirements and health conditions. Some people may get benefits of this calorie-restricted diet while others might expose to risks.
Benefits of OMAD
The benefits of the OMAD diet includes:
This diet is calorie deficit which leads to weight loss. When you eat once a day, your body goes into starvation mode. Excess fat starts burning and automatically your weight drops. Thus this diet is a source of rapid weight loss.
Calorie restriction to 4 hours can lead to significantly greater body fat loss than when eating three separate meals throughout the day.
According to research, intermittent fasting like OMAD is likely to result in weight loss.
However, it doesn’t seem to be any more effective than traditional methods of calorie restriction, such as reducing calorie intake at each meal (3Trusted Source).
An analysis concluded that 50,660 people showed have shown less BMI who have taken one or two meals per day as compared to those participants who consume three meals in a day.
Reduce heart disease
Due to an unhealthy lifestyle, there is an increase in heart diseases. This calorie deficit diet eliminates excess fat from the body thus reducing heart disease risk factors.
Decrease blood sugar
As a result of prolonged fasting, blood sugar level reduces. Although a reduced sugar level leads to weight loss, a good factor for obese people and all those people with increased sugar levels. However, it may cause other problems such as you can feel lethargic and your body may collapse.
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Risks of OMAD
Calorie restriction has a variety of health benefits. However, extreme calorie restriction (including consuming one meal a day) is not good for health.
Increase bad cholesterol
Research suggests that this extreme restriction may lead to increased total and LDL "bad" cholesterol. It may increase blood pressure levels as compared to normal eating patterns.
Other studies have shown that eating once a day may increase fasting blood sugar levels, delay the body’s response to insulin, and increase levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin, compared to eating 3 meals per day.
Eating once a day and fasting for 23 hours can lead to extreme hunger. Also this extreme hunger forces you to eat more and more. Thus your normal eating pattern may get disturbed which in turn leads to weight gain.
Further, restricting calories may increase the chances of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia in those with type 2 diabetes.
Other adverse effects of OMAD may include:
Is It Safe to Do OMAD Every day?
Which Kind of People Should Not Try OMAD?
OMAD is a restrictive eating approach that needs to take care of overeating or overindulging in unhealthy foods during the main meal.
You may also struggle to fit an entire day's caloric intake into one large meal — or find yourself feeling uncomfortably full after eating this much in one sitting. There's also a lack of research on the long-term effects of OMAD.
Pregnant and nursing women
OMAD can be unsafe for certain groups of people. It includes pregnant women and nursing mothers who are younger than 18.
It is because that this diet is based on calorie restriction and pregnant and nursing ladies need constant energy. If they restrict their calorie intake to one meal per day, it may lead to the loss of essential nutrients.
People with an eating disorder
People with eating disorders or having a history of disordered eating should not follow the OMAD diet. Also, the reason for restrictions of food intake for people with an eating disorder can create mood swings. They start gaining more weight as it’s difficult to handle hormones.
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People with diabetes
Diabetic People who are taking insulin are advised to not follow this diet, as OMAD severely affects blood sugar levels. Diabetic patients should take balanced meals regularly throughout the day to keep their sugar level normal.
According to Moskovitz "Going prolonged periods without eating can lead to harmful blood sugar lows followed by subsequent highs once a larger meal is inevitably consumed". According to her "This pattern of inconsistent eating can make it difficult to keep blood sugar levels low and stable."
People with gastrointestinal issues
People having gastrointestinal (GI) issues like upset stomach or bloating are advised to avoid the OMAD diet. As this diet allows you to eat a heavy meal at one time, thus it may cause bloating or can cause stomach problems.
What Should You Eat on the OMAD Diet to Keep Healthy?
The OMAD diet should be strictly based on consistent nutrient-dense foods. Most health professionals are not recommending the OMAD diet but if you have chosen this pattern then it's a must to include a variety of nutritious to avoid deficiency.
Here are some food groups to be included while following the OMAD pattern.
Fruits are essential for the proper functioning of the body i.e. berries, citrus fruits, and bananas.
Protein-rich foods such as fish, chicken, tofu, eggs, and milk are recommended.
The vegetable is a great source of fiber. It should be included in every meal. Vegetables such as kale, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and peppers should be included.
Not all fat groups are bad. Some good fat such as olive oil and unsweetened coconut is good for health.
Dry nuts and fruits
Seeds, nuts, and other dry fruits such as cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, and pumpkin seeds intake are recommended.
As OMAD diet is a calorie-restricted diet. Therefore, highly processed foods such as fast food, white bread, sugary baked goods, sugary cereals, soda, and chips are not recommended.
Eating this food too often can cause weight gain and it can increase disease risk. Also, it consists of little nutrition.
OMAD diet means complete restriction of calories. You can eat for one hour only a day. As it is based on calorie restriction, most healthcare providers do not recommend taking one meal a day. It may cause nutrition deficiency.
If you’re considering trying this dietary pattern, consult a trusted healthcare provider for advice before you start.