The What, When and How Much of OMAD
How does the thought of eating one meal a day sound? Scary or even impossible? Well, the one meal a day diet plan is none of that. Unfortunately that’s what many beginners think when they hear of the diet plan.
Today we’re discussing what the One Meal A Day (OMAD) diet plan is and will attempt to answer some potential questions you and many other people have. We will attempt to answer the questions of what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat for beginners who want to try the diet.
Many people get attracted to the OMAD plan because of how simple it is.
Would it not be simple if all you have to do is to eat one meal, any time of the day, consisting of whatever you want, in any amount you want and still lose weight? Yes it would simple but having your fill on burgers, fried potato chips and soda everyday is not the best.
The one meal a day diet can be very effective in helping with weight loss and burning body fat. However, there are a lot of people who have questions such as about what to eat and also in general how to set up the die properly.
If you’re a beginner and wanted to know more about the OMAD plan, here’s an explanation on everything from A to Z including what to expect, what to eat and how much of it to eat. With the information presented here you can get started with a one meal a day dieting structure as early as today.
If you’ve never tried to eat one meal a day you might think that it’s impossible, unhealthy or too difficult for you to do. However, if you give this style of eating a chance I promise you you’ll find that all those thoughts are simply untrue.
How to Start the One Meal A Day Plan
#1. When to Eat – Pick 1 Hour of the Day
The question is when should you eat when following OMAD? To set up the OMAD or a one meal a day diet, plan you want to start by picking one hour of the day that you would like to eat your meal. When it comes to losing weight or burning body fat it doesn’t really matter whether that meal is consumed in the morning or at night.
For most people, that would be the normal dinner time for convenience and stickability. However, you can pick any hour of the day to consume your meal.
You do want to try to start and finish eating within one hour. The other 23 hours of the day are gonna be for fasting. Now if you’re a beginner just the thought of that probably got your stomach turning and growling. And there’s no denying that when you first start you are gonna feel hungry.
But most people think that they’ll feel a lot hungrier than they do when they gather the courage to actually try the diet plan. A lot of the hunger that you currently feel throughout the day is actually a conditioned hunger response.
Nobel Prize winner Ivan Pavlov accidentally discovered this when studying starvation in dogs ultimately leading to something known in psychology as Pavlonian Conditioning.
Without getting too in-depth into his study, the bottom line of his experiments was that hunger is a highly suggestible state. That hunger can not only be caused by the taste, smell and sight of food but hunger can also be trained as a conditioned response.
This means if you’re used to eating breakfast every day at 7 a.m., lunch at 12 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m. you’ve conditioned yourself to get hungry every day at those times.
The stimulus that causes you to get hungry isn’t the smell, taste or sight food but it’s the time. This applies further. By paring things like eating snacks while watching TV, or while studying or whenever you feel boredom, you develop even more conditioned hunger responses.
So the ironic truth is that by practicing fasting you can break a lot of these conditions hunger responses. And start feeling only the unconditional hunger response when you’re actually feeling hungry. This allows you to develop a better relationship to food in general.
To help you break your conditioned hunger responses throughout the day you can slowly ease into a one meal a day diet by cutting out snacks and meals slowly, one at a time. You can also incorporate things like black coffee, apple cider vinegar and sugar free tea throughout the day to help suppress your appetite.
Remember it’ll take some time but your body will for sure adapt.
#2. What to Eat on One Meal a Day Plan
Can one eat anything on OMAD?
When you actually get to your one meal a day for the day, you don’t want to restrict your calories. A lot of people try this diet plan to lose weight or burn fat and they think that they can lose weight faster by cutting calories from the only meal to eat for the whole day. This is a big mistake that leads to feelings of extreme hunger and binge eating almost every time.
Another big mistake is trying to do something like a one meal a day ketogenic diet plan as a beginner. You should allow yourself to eat all three macronutrients: protein carbs and fats.
Again do not restrict calories or macronutrients during this one meal especially when first starting as it will likely lead you to failing the diet.
Instead you want to eat your fill of single ingredient, real healthy foods. I believe we all know what single ingredient real foods are but here are just some examples of single ingredient foods: fruits, vegetables, rice, potatoes, oats, barley, buckwheat, natural cooking oils, eggs, chicken, turkey and fish, among a host of others. These are essentially foods that contain only one real natural ingredient.
You can also have foods that are a combination of a bunch of single ingredient foods. An example of that would be something like Ezekiel bread which is made up of a bunch of real natural sprouted grains.
#3. How Much to Eat on OMAD?
How should your portion servings be?
Once you decide what to eat grab a large dinner plate as well as a large bowl. Start by adding your protein source to your plate.
Normally when you’re trying to burn fat it’s recommended you have about one gram of protein per pound of body weight to preserve muscle mass. Now this is a major area of confusion for people when it comes to the one meal a day diet. So you will most likely not be able to eat one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight when eating one meal a day.
For someone like me that would be 200 grams of protein in just one meal. And that’s just not gonna happen. Luckily fasting itself is great at preventing muscle loss because of the hormonal changes that will occur in your body while you’re actually fasting.
By combining fasting with a heavy weight training program, you can prevent most muscle loss without having to eat a ton of protein in one sitting.
However as a general rule of thumb, you want to take that dinner plate and fill about 40% of it with your protein source. The rest of the plate can be filled with fats and carbs in whatever ratios that you choose.
When I say fill up your plate I mean fill it up. It’s very unlikely that you’ll exceed your total daily calories with just one really full plate of wholesome single ingredient foods.
Those single ingredient foods are gonna fill you up without you having to worry about calories too much. In fact if anything you should be worried about getting enough calories and eating enough rather than eating too much.
Here’s an illustration of how you should fill up your plate…
Just to help illustrate what to put in your plate let me give you a couple examples.
1. You might fill your plate with a large piece of salmon and the rest of your plate might be baked potatoes that were baked in some cooking oil.
The salmon will give you your protein and your fats, while the potatoes will give you your carbs and the extra fats from the cooking oil.
2. Another example would be chicken thighs or a large piece of chicken breast with 30% of the plate filled with rice and the other 30% with avocados. You can also have multiple protein sources.
So you might feel 20% of your plate with steak and the other 20% with scallops. Then the rest with brown rice, pasta cooked in olive oil, topped with tomato sauce.
There’s really an infinite amount of ways that you could fill your plate as long as you’re sticking to real food, not processed food.
Now for the big bowl, you’re gonna want to use that to fill it up with at least 2 to 3 cups of vegetables. Again don’t try to restrict calories. There’s no point sitting there chewing on a raw broccoli stock to try to lose weight faster because it won’t work.
These vegetables can be cooked in oil, they can be seasoned and they can be made very tasty. Since you’re only eating one meal a day you want to make sure that you still take in plenty of nutrients.
It’s usually recommended that you start by eating your big bowl of vegetables first. This will also take the edge off of your hunger then you can move on to your plate of proteins, carbs and fats, making sure to prioritize eating all the protein off your plate.
After eating everything in your bowl and off your plate you’re most likely gonna feel extremely full. However if you’re not full then eat more single ingredient foods.
You can also at this point eat more healthy snacks like fruit,s seeds and nuts but trust me you’re probably gonna be full.
I know this diet sounds absurd because we’re not doing the usual things we do when dieting:
- we’re not tracking calories
- we’re not concerned with having one gram of protein per pound of body weight, and
- we’re not eating all day long, and
- when we are eating we’re eating until we’re totally full.
However despite all of that, the truth is that it works for it’s intended purposes of loosing weight in the long term.
#4. A Couple More Questions on OMAD
Now there are a few more questions that needs answering for OMAD to work successfully for you.
Can you eat anything else during the fasting window on OMAD?
First off the one meal a day diet is a flexible dieting approach. The main goal is to break the conditioned hunger response and to teach you to only react to your unconditional hunger response. If you find yourself really low on energy during your workouts, then add a second meal during one of the days to take in extra calories.
The flexibility implies that you don’t have to eat one meal a day every day. As unbelievable as it sounds there are going to be days where it’s time for you to eat your one meal and you’re not all that hungry and you wind up leaving food in your plate.
Well the next day if you feel low in energy and you’re starving then allow yourself an extra meal for that day.
You can add an extra meal a couple days a week and still end up with a large net caloric deficit. This slowly teaches you to respond to natural hunger signals rather than eating based on a clock or a calculator.
Again if you find yourself extremely hungry once you’ve already adapted to the diet, then occasionally add in an extra meal.
How much weight do you lose on OMAD diet?
The amount of weight you lose isn’t based on calories consumed per day but then it’s based on calories consumed over time. So small re-feeds will be necessary especially if you’re following the single ingredient food approach because that approach fills your stomach up without costing too many extra calories.
Can I eat anything on OMAD?
One last thing that’s very important on OMAD is the topic of junk food. Yes you can eat anything you want on OMAD, including junk food. But is that what you really want? If you’re once a meal per day is full of highly processed food, you risk developing high blood pressure and other problem as this 2007 study found.
If you’re trying to simply maintain your weight rather than lose weight you can definitely get away with eating more junk food during your one meal. However I still recommend eating those junk foods and snacks after already consuming your single ingredient foods.
That’ll prevent you from overeating and will ensure that you’re taking in plenty of nutrients.
The one meal a day diet plan may sound super simple in theory but that’s exactly the way that it’s meant to be. If you want to feel more calculated with your diet plan you can track your calories in the beginning to ensure that you’re not taking in too little or too much.
If you decide to give it a shot, the best approach will be to always monitor how your body responds to the diet and make adjustments as needed. If you have any additional questions we did not answer, leave comments below and always speak to your doctor before trying any diet, when you’re not sure.