The OMAD (One Meal A Day) diet is making waves in health circles at the moment, with proponents suggesting it’s just a super-effective method of intermittent fasting which can lower inflammation levels and prompt deep cellular healing. Critics, however, are voicing the question on everyone’s lips—how safe can eating one meal per day *actually* be for you?
If you’ve got your finger on the pulse of health and wellness, you’ll have no doubt heard countless debates surrounding the concept of intermittent fasting over the past couple of years. Well, the OMAD diet is effectively intermittent fasting on (figurative) steroids—tapping into the notion that fasting is a part of our DNA, as our ancestors didn’t have the means to adhere to a classic ‘three meals and two snacks’ per day protocol—and would thus regularly endure periods of both feast and famine.
OMAD, by nature, adheres to a 23:1 fasting-to-eating window; meaning that you’ll fast for 23 hours and consume all of your daily calories in the remaining hour. Usually, this means breaking the fast at dinner time as opposed to breakfast—but could theoretically be any time or meal of the day.
Essentially an advanced form of intermittent fasting, the OMAD lifestyle offers all of the benefits that have come to be synonymous with the practice. These include lowered inflammation levels, increased human growth hormone (HGH) levels which allow us to burn fat and build muscle, improved cell repair and enhanced nutritional ketosis. Because OMAD is a longer fast, these benefits tend to be maximised; as longer periods of fasting gives the body time to enhance the advantages.
Aside from the health benefits—a huge drawcard of the OMAD diet to intermittent fasting evangelicals is that it’s pretty damn convenient. Prepare one meal a day as opposed to three? Yes please! While it can be time-consuming in the beginning to place all the pressure of meeting your calorific and nutritional needs on one meal; once you get the hang of it—it dramatically reduces the number of hours in the day spent planning, preparing, and cooking food.
As with all things intermittent fasting—the jury is still out on whether or not it’s a beneficial and healthy practice for women. Some schools of thought insist that if done to excess, intermittent fasting can seriously throw off a woman’s cycle and negatively impact her delicate hormonal balance—which, in extreme cases, is thought to decrease her fertility.
Meeting your calorie and nutritional needs through one meal is no mean feat; so it’s inevitable that one of the biggest problems with OMAD is that people often fall short of these requirements. Ensuring that your one meal a day consists of whole, real and healthy foods is integral for its success—you can’t just make your meal pizza and expect to reap the health benefits.
Similarly, if someone is coming from a past of restrictive eating, it might not be the best idea to limit your eating window to one meal a day. As with any extreme-sounding diet; OMAD should only be performed out of love and respect for your body; not as a way of punishing it and starving it of what it needs, however we always recommend just sticking to a wholesome, balanced way of eating.