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diets

What is the OMAD diet and how does it work?

Any diet is by definition a restricted program of caloric intake. Whether you are working toward a rigorous control of calories or a program that regulates carbs, a diet restricts what you eat. It is not much of a stretch to consider diets that regulate how many meals you can eat in a day. 

Most people have probably heard of intermittent fasting. This is a diet program that regulates when you can eat and how much you can eat at any given time. There are extreme forms of intermittent fasting, but there are more doable programs like eating one meal a day or OMAD. 

OMAD is exactly what it sounds like: you are restricted to one meal a day. This means living on the OMAD diet necessarily entails paying careful attention to what goes into this one meal. In this way, OMAD is like other forms of intermittent fasting. 

The key to OMAD diets is careful planning to ensure that your one meal contains the nutrients you need. The benefits of the OMAD diet are explained below. What exactly is the OMAD diet? How does the MAD diet work? And what are the benefits of the OMAD diet? This guide will give you all the information you need to understand the OMAD diet. 

What is the OMAD diet?

There are many ways to do what is called intermittent fasting. Most intermittent fasting programs involve periods throughout the day when you do not eat, followed by times when you can eat. One of the most common programs of intermittent fasting is the 16/8 method in which you do not eat for 16 hours of the day and allow an 8-hour window in which you can eat. 

One meal a day, or OMAD limits you to one important meal a day. The OMAD diet is designed to create a calorie deficit. This leads to losing weight. For OMAD, you do not eat for most of the day and pack in your nutrients and calories in one crucial meal.

Some people choose to eat dinner only, while other people take their meal at breakfast time. There are versions of OMAD that allow for small snacks throughout the day. However, most programs for OMAD insist that you not consume any calories during the fasting window. 

One key consideration for OMAD is making sure you get the basic calories you need. IF you do not get a minimum of about 1200 calories a day (for most adults), there can be health consequences. For example, your immune system can be compromised by not getting the minimum number of calories. 

Hydration is also key for successfully going through an OMAD diet. OMAD allows water, coffee, or tea throughout the day. 

It is suggested that you eat your one meal at the same time every day. This helps your metabolism adjust to the caloric deficit and maintain normal functions. Also, many people recommend taking your one meal right after you exercise. Your daily meal will help you recover from the physical exertion. 

Below are some examples of OMAD diet plans. 

If you choose to take your meal at breakfast it would follow this plan: 

Taking your meal at dinner would look like the following:

  • 880 Calories: 300 grams of boneless, skinless chicken breast (429 calories) with 1 cup of quinoa (150 calories) and 2 cups of broccoli (61 calories) sauteed with 2 tbsp of olive oil (240 calories)
  • 350 Calories: Kale salad with butternut squash, edamame, and fuji apple slices (350 calories)
  • 309 Calories: 1 cup of lentil soup (169 calories) with 1 cup of roasted Brussel sprouts with parmesan (140 calories)
  • 275 Calories: 1 medium banana (105 calories) with 1/4 cups almonds (170 calories)
  • Total Calories: 1,814. You may need more or fewer calories depending on your age, weight, gender, and activity level.

As you can see, both options bring you to just under 2000 calories a day. Keep in mind that it is tempting to eat whatever you want while on an OMAD diet, but it is important to make sure you eat the right foods to provide you with all the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals you need to keep yourself healthy. 

Benefits of OMAD

Weight Loss 

The primary benefit of OMAD is weight loss. Most people turn to an OMAD diet for this reason. The key to any weight loss program is to achieve a calorie deficit. This is just basic math. If you take in fewer calories than you expend, you will burn calories faster than you will accumulate calories. 

People on an OMAD diet will necessarily take in fewer calories than they burn in a day. Intermittent fasting naturally leads to significant weight loss. Even the 16/8 plan will lead to weight loss. But the OMAD plan is more effective than other plans. Research has shown that fasting for as much as 18 hours out of the day results in the most weight-loss as compared to other forms of intermittent fasting. 

Blood Health

OMAD has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels and cut down on excess levels of LDL, or the so-called bad cholesterol. 

Reduces inflammation

OMAD and other forms of intermittent fasting can help reduce inflammation which is the underlying cause of numerous health problems. OMAD reduces levels of what is called a C-reactive protein which is linked to chronic inflammation. 

The health of your nervous system

OMAD can slow the progress of neurodegeneration. 

What should you eat on the OMAD diet?

Since you are only having one meal a day you are free to take liberties with what you eat. You should avoid certain types of foods, and we will address these below. The main thing to think about is making sure you eat a good variety of foods that ensure you are getting the proper nutrients in your single meal of the day. 

These are the foods you should consider for an OMAD diet: 

  • Fruits, such as berries, citrus fruits, and bananas
  • Vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and peppers
  • Starchy vegetables and grains, such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash, oats, quinoa, and barley
  • Healthful fats, such as avocados, olive oil, and unsweetened coconut
  • Legumes, such as peas, chickpeas, lentils, and black beans
  • Seeds, nuts, and nut butter, such as cashews, macadamia nuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds
  • Dairy and plant-based alternative products, unsweetened yogurt, coconut milk, and cashew milk
  • Protein sources, such as chicken, fish, tofu, and eggs

Some foods should be severely limited, if not outright avoided. These include:

  • Fast food
  • Sugary baked goods
  • White bread
  • Sugary cereals
  • Soda
  • Chips

These foods offer no real nutrition and are loaded with calories and fats. You should avoid these things anyway even if you are not on an OMAD diet. 

During the fasting window, you can enjoy any non-caloric drinks you like. Even coffee and tea are allowed. 

Does the OMAD diet help you lose weight?

The simple answer to this question is yes. The OMAD diet can help you lose weight, In many cases, people lose weight quickly with substantial weight loss within a short time. 

The simple fact of the OMAD diet is that it greatly reduces your caloric intake. This leads to a caloric deficit which naturally leads to weight loss. Part of the appeal of OMAD is that it does not require you to count calories or carbs or anything else. 

You do need to pay attention to nutrition and make sure you do not eat counterproductive foods. Beyond this, OMAD is simple and it is effective for helping you lose weight. 

OMAD diet risks and side effects

As long as you are healthy, to begin with, there are few risks to the OMAD diet. The difficulties most people encounter have mostly to do with adjusting to eating once a day. Some of the symptoms people have reported from an OMAD diet include:

  • Feeling extremely hungry
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling shaky, weak, and irritable which is due primarily to decreases in blood sugar levels

If you have any underlying health problems such as diabetes, cholesterol issues, high blood pressure, or any other health problem related to dietary issues, consult a health care professional before taking on an OMAD diet. 

The OMAD diet can be extremely dangerous for children or young adults, people with diabetes or hypoglycemia, obesity, or metabolic rate issues. There is also an increased risk of binge eating while on an OMAD diet. Since this type of diet will leave you feeling hungry for much of the day, there is a chance you will fall into dangerous binge eating if you are not careful.

OMAD diet FAQs

What is the OMAD diet? 

One meal a day, or OMAD limits you to one important meal a day. The OMAD diet is designed to create a calorie deficit. This leads to losing weight. For OMAD, you do not eat for most of the day and pack in your nutrients and calories in one crucial meal.

What are the benefits of the OMAD diet? 

Most people take on an OMAD diet to lose weight. The OMAD diet can also help reduce blood sugar levels, LDL or bad cholesterol levels, and help reduce inflammation. 

Does the OMAD diet help you lose weight? 

Yes. The simple fact of the OMAD diet is that it greatly reduces your caloric intake. This leads to a caloric deficit which naturally leads to weight loss. Part of the appeal of OMAD is that it does not require you to count calories or carbs or anything else. 

What should I eat on an OMAD diet?

You can eat almost anything you like on an OMAD diet, but you need to make sure you eat foods that contain all the nutrients you need to stay healthy and avoid foods that offer little or no nutritional value. 

Are there any risks to the OMAD diet? 

The most common complaints of the OMAD diet are feeling extremely hungry, irritable, fatigued, shaky, and weak. 

Conclusion

The secret to losing weight is often really simple. If you take in fewer calories than you use, you will have a calorie deficit and most often lose weight. Getting to this calorie deficit has always been the hard part. 

Counting calories, counting carbs, watching your fat intake—all of these things are geared toward some form of calorie deficit. With the introduction of intermittent fasting, a short cut is found to get to this place where you can lose weight. 

One of the recent forms of intermittent fasting is eating one meal a day, or an OMAD diet. The most common form of intermittent fasting is to fast for 16 hours and have an 8hour window in which you are allowed to eat. With OMAD, you eat once a day. 

In many ways, OMAD diets are really simple. You eat one meal a day and fast for the rest of the day. It is up to you when you eat and largely what you eat. The main thing to think about with an OMAD diet is making sure you get all the necessary vitamins and minerals in that one meal 

The bottom line of OMAD diets is that they do help you lose weight. Pay attention to your nutrients, listen to your body, and the OMAD diet might be the one that helps you lose weight and keep it off. 

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