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Is the One Meal a Day (OMAD) Beneficial to Your Health?

What is OMAD?

OMAD is an abbreviation for one meal a day. Proponents of the OMAD diet claim that it helps with weight loss and also improves overall health.

The timing of OMAD, as well as the meal contents, vary. It depends on individual preference. OMAD dieters restrict their calorie intake to a single meal daily.

The health benefits of the one meal a day practice are associated with fasting benefits — reducing the number of calories you take within a specific time frame.

How does the OMAD diet work?

The one meal a day practice can be implemented in multiple ways. It is also important to note that intermittent fasting can be implemented in different ways.

For instance, one can have one meal and then fast for the rest of the day, or one can have one meal and then eat small amounts of food when fasting.

The person following this meal plan will experience a calorie deficit, which will, in turn, trigger weight loss.

Other health benefits of fasting include:

  • · Reduction of blood sugar levels
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Reduction of heart disease risk factors

It is, however, important to note that, unlike other fasting techniques, restricting oneself to just one meal a day is very extreme. It is the most extreme method of intermittent fasting.

Some diets encourage a single meal daily. For instance, a person who follows the Warrior diet will eat just one meal a day and then cycle between extended periods of fasting and short periods of food intake.

Many OMAD dieters tend to eat only dinner. Some may choose to eat only breakfast or lunch. A few versions of the OMAD diet allow snacks alongside the meal.

It is also important to note that some OMAD dieters do not take in calories when fasting. Calorie intake occurs only when they are taking the day’s meal.

Does the OMAD diet support weight loss?

Weight loss involves creating an energy deficit. You can create an energy deficit either by burning more calories or reducing the number of calories you take at a time. The truth is that calorie restriction enhances fat loss.

What’s more? OMAD diet supports weight loss because it involves consuming a small number of calories.

A 2007 study by Stote and colleagues found that restricting intake of calories to a 4-hour timeframe in the evening caused greater fat loss than eating three meals at separate times in a day.

Studies have shown that extended fasting techniques like OMAD enhance weight loss.

But is it better than conventional calorie restriction methods, like reducing the number of calories consumed per meal? Well, the research says no.

A large study that involved analyzing 50,660 individuals found that people who took one or two meals daily had a lower body mass index than those who had three meals daily.

The study also found that an 18-hour overnight fast caused a reduction in body weight compared to short fasting periods.

It is also important to note that the weight loss benefits of the OMAD diet are associated with intermittent fasting in general.

What’s more? Like the one meal a day plan, extreme fasting techniques may have serious side effects on one’s health, including metabolic changes and increased hunger.

General benefits of OMAD diet

Apart from weight loss, studies have found other health benefits associated with fasting. For instance, fasting may reduce your risk of heart disease and blood sugar level.

Studies have shown that fasting reduces several markers of inflammation, like C-reactive protein.

Also, fasting is beneficial to the nervous system.

Animal studies have shown that it slows the degeneration of the nervous system and promotes longevity.While these benefits are promising in themselves, it is worth knowing that they are not specific to OMAD but are associated with fasting in general.

Several studies have found that the OMAD diet may be more harmful to health than other less restrictive fasting techniques.

The potential downsides of eating one meal a day include:

· Constipation

· Low energy

· Irritability

· Dizziness

· Nausea

Not everyone is eligible for the one meal a day plan. People in this category include older adults, children and teens, breastfeeding mums, and pregnant women. People experiencing eating disorders are also not eligible for the one meal a day plan.

Restricting your meal intake to just once a day can trigger a disordered eating pattern. Of course, this impacts negatively on one’s social life. Many people may find it hard to stick to it.

Also, people who eat one meal a day may find themselves binging on processed foods like doughnuts, pizza, and ice cream.

Takeaway — Is OMAD a healthy weight loss option?

The OMAD meal plan is a popular weight-loss method, but it isn’t so good for your health in the long term.

While fasting may benefit your health in several ways, you can achieve these benefits with healthier and more sustainable methods. For instance, you can do the 16/8 intermittent fasting or adopt a healthy, low-calorie diet if you are currently eating large portions and seek to enhance weight loss.

Many dietitians and health professionals do not recommend the OMAD eating plan because of its extreme nature.


  • Aly S. M. (2014). Role of intermittent fasting on improving health and reducing diseases.International journal of health sciences,8(3), V–VI.https://doi.org/10.12816/0023985
  • Harris, L., Hamilton, S., Azevedo, L. B., Olajide, J., De Brún, C., Waller, G., Whittaker, V., Sharp, T., Lean, M., Hankey, C., & Ells, L. (2018). Intermittent fasting interventions for the treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis.JBI database of systematic reviews and implementation reports,16(2), 507–547.https://doi.org/10.11124/JBISRIR-2016-003248
  • Kahleova, H., Lloren, J. I., Mashchak, A., Hill, M., & Fraser, G. E. (2017). Meal Frequency and Timing Are Associated with Changes in Body Mass Index in Adventist Health Study 2.The Journal of nutrition,147(9), 1722–1728.https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.116.244749
  • Malinowski, B., Zalewska, K., Węsierska, A., Sokołowska, M. M., Socha, M., Liczner, G., Pawlak-Osińska, K., & Wiciński, M. (2019). Intermittent Fasting in Cardiovascular Disorders-An Overview.Nutrients,11(3), 673.https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11030673
  • Paoli, A., Tinsley, G., Bianco, A., & Moro, T. (2019). The Influence of Meal Frequency and Timing on Health in Humans: The Role of Fasting.Nutrients,11(4), 719.https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11040719
  • Stote, K. S., Baer, D. J., Spears, K., Paul, D. R., Harris, G. K., Rumpler, W. V., Strycula, P., Najjar, S. S., Ferrucci, L., Ingram, D. K., Longo, D. L., & Mattson, M. P. (2007). A controlled trial of reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction in healthy, normal-weight, middle-aged adults.The American journal of clinical nutrition,85(4), 981–988.https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/85.4.981
  • Wilhelmi de Toledo, F., Grundler, F., Bergouignan, A., Drinda, S., & Michalsen, A. (2019). Safety, health improvement, and well-being during a 4 to 21-day fasting period in an observational study including 1422 subjects.PloS one,14(1), e0209353.https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0209353

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