What Is the OMAD Diet and Is it Safe?

What Is the OMAD Diet and Is it Safe?

Various forms of fasting are becoming more and more popular, leading some people to try the OMAD diet. OMAD stands for “one meal a day,” and this style of eating appeals to those who don’t want to restrict certain foods, count calories or fast for entire days at a time. The rules are simple: “Advocates suggest 4 ones: 1 meal, 1 plate, 1 beverage and 1 hour,” says Lisa Andrews, M.Ed., RD, LD, owner or Sound Bites Nutrition. In other words, eat one plate of food, drink one beverage, and do it within one hour of the day.

Although the lack of food rules may make the OMAD diet sound appealing, the small amount of food you’re allowed to eat on a daily basis may be a cause for concern. Here, we’ll discuss the foods you can eat on the OMAD diet, the pros and cons of following this eating plan and whether or not you should try it.

What Is the OMAD Diet?

“[The OMAD diet] is considered a form of intermittent fasting but is much more extreme,” says Andrews. “A person has only a one (yes, ONE) hour eating window and 23 hours of fasting,” she adds. Naturally, a person eats fewer calories with This style of eating and tends to lose weight.Proponents of the diet are such that they don’t have to count or track calories.Besides the one meal per day, there really aren’t any other rules to follow.You can choose foods that you enjoy and combine them into one meal.

OMAD Diet Foods List

Although you can eat whatever you want on the OMAD diet, a well-balanced meal with healthy carbs, lean proteins and healthy fats will help keep you full and energized. In addition, “limiting alcohol and added sugar may reduce cravings during the time you are supposed to fast,” says Andrews. She also notes that black coffee, unsweetened tea, seltzer water or other non-caloric beverages are allowed when you are fasting.

During the “eating” portion of the OMAD diet, build a balanced plate with:

  • Healthy carbs such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Lean proteins such as poultry, eggs, fish, beans, soy products, legumes and dairy
  • Healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado and oils

Is the OMAD Diet Safe?

Before diving headfirst into the OMAD diet, consider the pros and cons. There is some research on the benefits of fasting, but eating once per day is drastic and likely unsustainable (and potentially unsafe) for most people.

Pros of the OMAD Diet

There is an abundance of research on the health outcomes of fasting, but the science on eating just one meal per day is very limited. A 2021 study in Frontiers in Physiology It examined the effects of eating one meal per day on metabolism and physical performance in healthy individuals. The authors concluded that a single meal per day in the evening lowers body weight without affecting physical performance. However, the study was extremely small, with only 13 participants, and only lasted for 11 days. More research is definitely needed in this area before the results are conclusive.

Time-restricted fasting with a larger feeding window, such as 8 hours, has been extensively studied. A 2020 review in The Journal of Physiology Observe the effects of time-restricted fasting on weight and cardiometabolic health. They discovered that time-restricted fasting may decrease calorie intake by 20% to 30% and induce weight loss of 1% to 4% of body weight. In addition, time-restricted fasting decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure, regardless of weight loss.

Cons of the OMAD Diet

The drawbacks of the OMAD diet may seem obvious—extreme hunger, lack of energy, fatigue and uncontrollable cravings, to name a few. Andrews also adds that “fasting causes headaches and irritability due to being ‘hangry.'”

Plus, eating one meal per day may not be sustainable if you like exercise, religion out or travel. Lastly, eating only a few foods per day may put you at risk for nutrient deficiencies, since different foods have varying nutrients and it would be challenging to meet all of your nutritional needs in just one meal.

Should You Try the OMAD Diet?

“As a registered dietitian, this seems like a punitive eating plan,” says Andrews. “Personally, I couldn’t do it or advise this to my clients,” she adds. If a person does try it, they should drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and invest in a daily high-potency multivitamin to help bridge nutrient gaps. This style of eating is not recommended for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, those with diabetes, or anyone with a history of an eating disorder or who is at risk for an eating disorder.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the rules of the OMAD diet?

The only rule on the OMAD diet is that you should eat one meal per day with one beverage within a one-hour time period. In addition, the meal should fit on one plate, without any second helpings.

2. How long should you stay on the OMAD diet?

Nutrition professionals do not advise trying the OMAD diet for any length of time. It’s incredibly restrictive and unsustainable and can lead to extreme weight loss, nutrient deficiencies and binging.

The bottom line

Although there are metabolic and cardiovascular benefits to certain styles of fasting, the OMAD diet has not been thoroughly studied. It’s a very confined style of eating that isn’t sustainable for the long term and can lead to disordered eating patterns. Yet, some people may find it appealing due to its simple rules and omission of calorie restrictions. If you decide to try the OMAD diet, consult a health care professional first.


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