Few people have yet to experience the glory that is eating one meal a day.
- No, eating one meal per day won’t make you fat.
- It won’t make you lose all your muscle.
- And it won’t screw your metabolism into the ground.
But it does allow you to feast like a fucking king every single night while eating your favorite foods.
And no, this isn’t a scam and there isn’t even any secret “guru” magic behind it.
It’s really just common sense.
But fitness and common sense is a lost art these days.
If you follow it, eating once per day JUST WORKS.
And if you’ve struggled with more traditional diets that make you eat 3-6 meals per day, then this may be the most stupidly simple way for you to successfully lose weight, ever!
If you’ve dreamed of eating 24 ounce steaks, with a mountain fries and ice cream, EVERY SINGLE night while still losing fat and building muscle then read on.
The basic idea behind eating one meal per day is simple.
Every day, you eat one big ass meal (preferably at night). The basic idea is to get the majority of your calories in a single meal.
And during the day, you don’t eat anything.
However during the day you can eat 1-2 pieces of fruit or some protein after you workout.
This allows you to eat much more, feel fuller, and better adhere to your diet.
Remember, eating one meal a day is NOT magic
It might be nice to believe that eating once per day causes all these different hormones to change in your body that help you to burn “more” body fat. But that’s just not the case.
Focus on creating a calorie deficit – that’s the only way to lose weight and always will be.
Eating once per day just happens to be a great way to create a deficit that many people can actually stick with.
For example, let’s say you need to eat 2000 calories per day to lose weight.
Diet #1 has you eating 3 meals and 2 snacks.
Diet #2 has you eating one meal.
In the end of the day, calories are exactly the same.
You’re just splitting your calories up a lot more in Diet #1.
That’s it. There is no magic. Just simple math.
I’m not saying it works for everyone, but if you love to feast every single day, have more energy, and potentially be 200x more productive during the day, then maybe this something you should give a shot.
Here are 5 reasons I recommend eating once per day:
How many times have you eaten lunch only to feel super tired 2 hours later? It sucks.
We’re all told lunch is supposed to give us this magic boost of energy, and maybe it does for some people, but I’ve found that most people just fall into a 2pm slump where they eat lunch and their productivity shoots down the drain.
When you fast throughout the entire day, you experience this amazing surge of energy that lasts the entire day.
Never feel deprived when dieting
One of the many reasons people fail at diets is because they don’t get this sense of satisfaction with what they’re eating and how much they’re eating.
When you follow the conventional 6 meals per day model, you have survive on a couple hundred calories every few hours.
At the end of the day, you just never feel satisfied.
You feel like something is missing…
Ironically, eating once per day solves this problem for most people.
The act of fasting throughout the day is a very powerful appetite suppressant, so when you have your massive feast at the end of the day, you practically feel “stuffed” every night.
More time & more productivity
Imagine how much more work you could get done if you didn’t have to worry about eating during the day.
No more worrying about that mid morning snack, no more stopping at subway during lunch, and no more 2pm energy slumps.
All this time you save can now be used to do more productive things that truly matter (like looking at pictures of cats online).
EVERYTHING tastes better
Fast the entire day then eat a grape.
Just one grape.
I guarantee that grape will be the best tasting grape you’ve ever had in your entire fucking life.
Look, I don’t know the scientific reason for why food tastes so much better after a fast, and frankly, I don’t care.
But some of the best meals in my life have been after a long fast.
Because eating cake every night is awesome
You know what’s awesome? Cake.
You know what’s not awesome? Not eating cake.
Cake makes everything in life better but with traditional dieting, you aren’t allowed to eat cake, which sucks.
Everyone needs more cake in their, so why not have a slice…or two, every night.
When you only eat one meal per day, you can afford to have some cake every night since your calorie budget is so much bigger.
Is coffee, water, tea, or diet soda okay during the fast?
Coffee and tea is actually a great appetite suppressant.
Eat 1-2 pieces of fruit during the day
While it’s totally fine if you can go the full day without eating anything, a lot of people do get hunger pangs no matter how much experience they have with intermittent fasting.
In this case, you can have 1-2 pieces of fruit throughout the day. This shouldn’t add up to any more than 200 calories plus you won’t feel a huge drain in energy compared to eating something high in carbs like a granola bar or a sandwich.
Supplement with some whey protein after you workout
If you train hard with weights 3-4 times per week while fasting (and you should) and follow the 1 meal per day diet then you should consume some 100% whey protein powder after working out so you don’t go half the day without any protein in your system.
I’m not really anal about the post workout “window of opportunity,” but it’s best to get some protein in within 2-3 hours after your workout.
Why 100% whey protein? Because it has the most complete amino acid profile which is great for muscle growth and recovery.
The one meal per day approach might not work great for muscle building
You can absolutely build quality, lean muscle by eating once per day.
BUT…some people need A LOT of calories to put on muscle and if you’re supposed to eat 4000 calories per day, it’s going to be pretty hard for some to get that in one meal.
So unless you have a huge appetite, I would probably be better off splitting it up into 3-6 meals.
For more info on gaining weight and building muscle, check out these posts:
Eating one meal per day vs. other intermittent fasting protocols
Eating once per day is just one version of intermittent fasting.
And there are dozens of other fasting/feasting protocols out there that play with different fasting and eating windows.
But after looking at all of them, you’ll notice that the majority of them have the same underlying concept – fast for an extended period of time and get the majority of your calories in a small eating window.
Let’s look at some of the other intermittent fasting systems and how they compare to eating once per day.
One meal per day vs. 16/8 Leangains
If you follow Leangains, this means you’ll be fasting for 16 hours per day and eating for the other 8 hours.
During the 8 hour eating window, you’ll typically be eating 2-3 main meals.
There really isn’t a big difference between a Leangains style fast and eating once per day. The main difference is in the eating window and that all boils down to personal preference.
One meal per day vs. Eat Stop Eat
Eating once per day and Eat Stop Eat are not the same thing.
Many people confuse the two since they both involve 24 hour fasts.
Here’s the difference:
Eating once per day – Fast for 24 hours, under eat during the day, and get your entire daily calorie intake in one meal, every day.
Eat Stop Eat – Completely fast for 24 hours 1-2 times per week (no calories at all), eat a “normal sized” meal at the end of the 24 hour fast.
The problem some people might face is defining what “normal sized” means. It’s basically telling you to not eat until you’re stuffed and make sensible food choices.
But if you want to get more technical, your meal after an ESE style fast should be no more than 40% of your daily calorie intake.
ESE forces you to create a massive calorie deficit on your fasting days while the one meal per day approach simply changes up your meal frequency but you still get the same amount of calories every day.
One meal per day vs. 2 meals per day
Nothing different here besides meal frequency. If you want to eat 2 meals per day, that’s fine, just make sure your overall calories are the same by the end of the day.
Can you mix and match different diet & fasting approaches
I am all about diet flexibility.
If you want to follow the one meal per day approach one day and do 2-3 meals per day the next, that’s totally fine.
For example, you can structure your diet to look something like this:
- Monday: 1 meal
- Tuesday: 2 meals
- Wednesday: Eat Stop Eat
- Thursday: 1 meal
- Friday: 1 meal
- Saturday: 4 meals
- Sunday: 1 meal
Remember, a calorie deficit is the most important thing to create when dieting.
So just because you’re following a one meal per day diet doesn’t mean you literally have to eat one meal per day, EVERY SINGLE DAY.
If you want to go out and have brunch on Sunday, then screw it, have 2 meals that day. Don’t be obsessive about this stuff.
What kind of foods should you eat?
There isn’t any single food that you should or shouldn’t eat.
If you have specific macro/calorie goals, you still need to hit them. The only difference is you have the luxury of hitting them in a single meal so for those that like to eat a ton of food in one sitting, you’re going to love this way of eating.
But obviously, you need to get a hefty amount of protein, a good amount of carbs, and some fat.
So something like a massive steak, some roasted potatoes, a big ass salad, plus some cookies and ice cream would make for a pretty epic feast.
How many calories per day should you eat in my one meal?
I recommend multiplying your bodyweight in pounds by 10-12 to get your daily calorie intake.
Use 10 if you have 50+ pounds to lose or if you’re a woman. Everyone else can start with 12.
This is just an estimate. It’s impossible for any formula to accurately tell you your daily calorie needs.
How many hours should you wait before going to sleep after you have your big meal?
Doesn’t matter. Sleep whenever you want.
How long can you eat one meal per day for?
As long as you want. This isn’t a quick fix diet.
Eating once per day is a real, long-term approach to dieting that can work for as long as you want.
Does it matter whether you eat your one meal in the morning or at night?
Nope doesn’t matter at all.
It’s a matter of personal preference. Most people do it at night.
If you eat your one meal for breakfast or lunch, you might feel sluggish and tired the rest of the day since you have so much food in your system.
Can I eat McDonalds for my one meal?
Sure, but I wouldn’t eat fries and Big Macs every night.
Use some common sense here.
You can still eat the foods you love, but you should still be eating mostly whole, nutritious foods for maximize your health and performance.
Can I add milk and sugar to the coffee?
I would stick with zero calorie sweeteners if possible. A splash of milk is fine, but don’t go overboard.
Is eating one meal per day guaranteed to help you lose weight?
Of course not.
It will only work if you put in the work.
I know the majority of you reading this are looking for some magic fat loss hack but eating one meal per day is not that.
You still need to make sensible food choices and you still need to be consistent like any other diet.
Nothing is guaranteed in life.
I tried this diet and it doesn’t work for me? What do I do?
Impossible to say. Maybe you’re eating too many calories. Maybe you’re not tracking your calories correctly.
It’s usually one of those two problems.
Why do you recommend the main meal to be eaten at night?
Whatever you want but try to make it sensibly healthy.
That means something like grilled meat, a carb source like rice/pasta, some veggies, and maybe some ice cream at the end is great.
Obviously food choices vary from person and culture, but use some common sense.
Do you need to count calories while eating one meal per day?
I personally recommend tracking calories when starting out, only because it gives you an unprecedented level of tracking.
If you’re not losing weight, then you know exactly why and you can adjust calories accordingly.
I never want people to become obsessed with tracking calories, but it does give you a level of precision that you can’t get anywhere else.
But as you become more advanced and can recognize/estimate portion sizes more accurately, then you can back off from the calorie counting.
What if you get hungry when fasting?
Here are some tips:
- Drink plenty of water, black coffee, and tea.
- Chew sugarless gum.
- Stay busy and productive. People eat more out of boredom than anything else.
How much water should you drink?
At a minimum, enough to stay hydrated.
Also, if you’re pissing green, then you prob need to drink more water (and see a doctor).
The “8 glasses per day” recommendation is pretty solid.
I will say that drinking more
water can help ward off hunger pangs.
One Meal a Day Diet: Benefits, Risks, and More
Overview The one-meal-a-day weight loss plan promotes fast weight loss through restricting the time of day during which you eat and the number of meals you eat in a day. This type of diet has different forms, such as intermittent fasting, alternate-day fasting, or eating only one meal a day.
It may also be referred to as caloric restriction. The idea is to reduce calories but keep the same nutritional content that your body needs.
This diet works under the concept that restricting your calories to one feeding time ensures that your body stays in a constant state of burning fat.
When you eat regular meals and snacks, your body uses those calories at a steady rate for energy.
When you take away that steady stream of calories, your body is forced to use fuel from other places, like fat in your body. Read on to learn more about the health benefits and risks of this type of diet.
How it works The theory behind the one-meal-a-day diet is that you only eat one meal per day.
Most people choose dinner, so they fast all day long and consume all of their calories for that day within that one meal. Your one meal can contain up to the number of calories you need per day depending on your activity levels, and have a healthy balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. You don’t count calories or focus on macronutrients.
Instead, you eat enough to feel full and focus on including foods from all of the food groups.
In some cases, you’re allowed to eat one or two small snacks during the day in addition to your one meal, such as a piece of fruit or a high-protein food, like a hard-boiled egg, after a workout.
Benefits There are few long-term studies on fasting in humans, and many of the studies that have been done focus primarily on fasting in men.
Women may be affected by different body processes, such as menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. Some studies that have been done on fasting have shown some promising benefits.
For example, restricting calories by 20 to 25 percent on a daily basis has been linked to heart health and more stable blood sugar by decreasing glucose levels and increasing how well insulin works.
A 2017 study on diabetes found that intermittent fasting for six weeks significantly improved fasting blood sugar levels, as well as body weight in type 2 diabetics.
Longer studies are needed to confirm these benefits can be maintained long term.
A two-year follow-up study comparing intermittent fasting to daily calorie restriction reported that intermittent fasting can be a helpful treatment approach for those with prediabetes or insulin resistance.
Restricted eating has also been shown to help with memory in older individuals and may even help increase life span by reducing the processes that can cause disease.
People following the one-meal-a-day lifestyle claim that it can help increase energy, avoid the “afternoon slump,” and keep you full longer.
Risks Intermittent, alternate-day, and other forms of fasting diets can lead to negative side effects such as: extreme feelings of hunger
- brain fog
- feelings of weakness
- inability to concentrate
- binge eating
Fasting can also be very dangerous if you have any medical conditions, such as diabetes or hypoglycemia. Some people may be able to adjust quickly to only eating one meal a day, while others may have difficulty going that long without calories.
Everyone is different. Also, although your body may adjust and not feel hungry when you fast, once you stop, your body may overcompensate by making you feel hungrier.
It appears in women who aren’t obese and aren’t yet menopausal that fasting may be more detrimental than beneficial to metabolism and body weight maintenance than for other women or men.
One study on alternate-day fasting revealed that this type of dieting led to the highest dropout rates and increased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (or “bad” cholesterol) after 12 months. Alternate-day fasting also didn’t lead to more weight loss than daily calorie restriction.
Aside from the physical side effects, there’s also the potential emotional side effects of fasting. It may make you irritable, and this way of eating could lead to binge eating or put you at risk for another eating disorder.
Healthy ways to lose weight In the long run, fad diets and extreme measures of losing weight aren’t sustainable and can be harmful.
There may be some health benefits to intermittent fasting, but there are also some serious risks to using severe calorie restriction as the only way to lose weight. Fasting for extended periods of time, or regularly, may slow down your metabolism, lead to binge eating, and interfere with your efforts to lose weight and maintain the weight loss, though studies are limited on this side effect.
Instead of relying on any single method to lose weight, you should talk with your doctor about safe and effective ways to maintain a healthy weight.
Schedule a physical checkup with your doctor. Sometimes weight gain or the inability to lose weight can be linked to an underlying medical condition.
Track your food. This tactic has been associated with healthier weights and may help you become more aware of the food and beverages you’re consuming.
Educate yourself on nutrition. Your local health center or hospital may have dietitians who offer classes on healthy eating and portion control.
Consider buying a food scale so you can weigh and measure your food to learn correct portions.
Start an exercise program. It doesn’t matter what you do, just get moving!
Join a support group. Meeting with a group of like-minded people, whether in an official weight control program, online, or in your community, is a great way to get support as you get healthy together. Shop for food scales.
Next steps It’s
always a good idea to discuss any diet changes with your doctor, especially if
you’re considering a diet with intermittent fasting or severe calorie restrictions.
These diets may be harmful for some people. To maintain weight in the long
term, develop healthy, sustainable eating habits, and include regular exercise
in your daily routine. Learn more: Safe ways to lose weight fast
More Potential benefits
People who follow the one meal a day diet believe there are numerous benefits to eating this way, including rapid weight loss.
Other purported benefits include:
the diet is easy to follow because a person does not count calories
there are no “cheat days” because there are no foods considered off-limits
There have been several studies conducted on the effects of intermittent fasting. However, most of the studies have been carried out on men, so less is known about the effects of intermittent fasting on women.
Because of women’s hormonal cycles, it is likely that the effects of intermittent fasting may be different in women. Women also have different nutritional requirements than men, including more iron, which may not be fulfilled while fasting.
The studies done on intermittent fasting show the following benefits:
Eating only one meal a day may cause weakness, exhaustion, and inability to focus. Eating only one meal a day may cause weakness, exhaustion, and inability to focus.
While some research supports the benefits of intermittent fasting and the one meal a day diet, an extreme diet plan comes with several risks.
- The daily risks include:
- becoming extremely hungry
- inability to concentrate
There are also serious risks for people with underlying medical conditions. People with diabetes or low blood sugar, known as hypoglycemia, need to eat meals regularly throughout the day to avoid any serious side effects.
One study in published in JAMA involving 100 people found that intermittent fasting raised LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). Higher levels of LDL cholesterol are linked to increased rates of heart disease and stroke.
The same study also found that the participants following an intermittent fasting diet did not experience any more weight loss than those who simply reduced the number of calories they ate each day.
Finally, people following the one meal a day diet may have an increased risk of binge eating.
Binge eating is a disordered pattern of eating where a person eats unusually large amounts of food in a short period, even after they are full. Some people that follow the one meal a day diet may even develop binge eating disorder.
Healthy weight loss options
Weight loss support groups and regular exercise are safer and more reliable methods for losing weight. Weight loss support groups and regular exercise are safer and more reliable methods for losing weight.
While the one meal a day diet may be appealing to people looking for quick weight loss solutions, there are other, less extreme ways to lose weight safely and healthily.
Anyone interested in losing weight should consider one of the following safer alternative ways to shed some pounds. These include:
Exercising regularly : People who want to lose weight should get at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, such as running or aerobics, each week.
: People who want to lose weight should get at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, such as running or aerobics, each week. Keeping a food diary : A person trying to lose weight can gain insight into their food intake by keeping a journal of food eaten and when. Food journals are available for purchase online.
A person trying to lose weight can gain insight into their food intake by keeping a journal of food eaten and when. Food journals are available for purchase online. Getting support : People who are trying to lose weight find support from loved ones or fellow dieters valuable.
People who are trying to lose weight find support from loved ones or fellow dieters valuable. Eating a balanced , nutritious diet: People looking to lose weight should eat enough fruits and vegetables and limit consumption of high-calorie junk food.
People looking to lose weight should eat enough fruits and vegetables and limit consumption of high-calorie junk food. Talking to a doctor: A doctor can check for any underlying medical conditions, such as thyroid problems, that may be causing a person to hold on to unwanted weight.
The best weight loss solutions are sustainable, long-term changes to a person’s diet and lifestyle.
Not everybody will be satisfied with a one meal a day lifestyle. Some people will prefer to spread their nutritional intake throughout the day. Eating 2 to 3 meals a day will still provide many of the same benefits.
Some nutritionists caution against restricting food to only one meal a day and warn that it may foster an unhealthy relationship with food. Some nutritionists claim that restricting meals to once a day can encourage obsessing on food. While this may be true for some, many people who have switched to a one meal a day lifestyle may also notice a significant decrease in hunger and a healthier relationship food. When eating only one meal a day, the body and mind eventually become programmed to think about food less and to only become hungry when you have programmed your body to expect food.
Other experts question the claim that eating one big meal a day helps the body detoxify.
“You do not need to skip meals to detox your body,” says Jennifer Kanikula, a registered dietitian with thesofulltraveler.com. “Your liver and your kidneys are working 24/7 to naturally ‘detox’ you. Also, this process of eating one meal a day does not eliminate extra water unless you actually are not drinking anything else throughout the day either, which is an awful idea. Water may increase your weight temporarily if you are drinking heaps of it, but does not actually cause weight gain or bulkiness.”
Many dietitians and nutritionists have the misconception that the one meal a day, and other intermittent feeding lifestyles are simply ways to skip meals.
During OMAD and other intermittent lifestyles, having fewer meals a day only work to reroute when you have your energy intake. Never on this lifestyle change should you significantly reduce your overall calories for weight loss.
While the liver and kidneys are always working to detoxify your system, fasting produces extra benefits because you are not adding in more toxins that may interfere with the process. Drinking plenty of water will also help flush out excess water and toxins from your body.
This way of eating might not be for everyone, but if you feel like your eating plan is making you bloated or bulky, one meal a day might be something worth trying.
Here’s how to do
How to Eat One Meal a Day to Lose Weight
For your only meal
of the day, determine how many calories you need and how to get all of your
nutrients for the day. Calories are still important because you can gain weight
even if you’re only eating one meal per day. However, it’s more difficult to
eat enough calories to gain weight in one sitting.
How Bad Is It To Eat Just One Meal A Day?
Some people swear by it. It’s the preferred way to eat (or not eat) for a group that spans scientists to regular Joes, all of whom brag about mental clarity, through-the-roof energy and weight loss. They go all day without eating, then, come dinner, fill their pie hole with whatever they want, including pie—no counting calories required. (Take back control of your eating—and lose weight in the process—with our 21-Day Challenge!)
So yes, eating once a day may sound simple enough—but is cramming all your calories into one meal a legit way to eat healthy and lose weight over the long haul?
On paper, the benefits of one meal a day, or a 20-hour fast, sound perfect. You don’t have to worry about what you’re going to eat during daylight hours, which could save you time, money, and kitchen clean up. Plus, studies of time-restricted eating suggest it can improve insulin sensitivity, fight disease, and boost weight loss. You can thank ketosis for the latter; without a constant supply of carbs and sugar in your system, your body burns fat as a default.
But, of course, there are some major caveats. An empty stomach for prolonged periods of time can also lead to fatigue, headaches, irritability, brain fog, and that hangry feeling—something women are more prone to (experts suspect this is because women have evolved to seek out food more regularly than men to ensure the health of their future offspring). In fact, it’s not clear that one-meal-a-day or other varieties of intermittent fasting would benefit women much at all, given the fact that nearly all the research has been done on men.
Fasting can also lead to rebound binging on the wrong foods. “When you have cravings and you’re cranky, it’s easy to overconsume foods high in carbs, fat, and calories,” warns Serena Marie, RD, a Brooklyn-based registered dietitian. And then there’s the social side: “While not eating during the day gives you an easy out for skipping office birthdays and other unhealthy food opportunities, it’s also rather anti-social,” says Lauren Slayton, MS, RD, author of The Little Book of Thin.
Needless to say, this type of intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone. There are the obvious groups who should avoid it, namely children and anyone pregnant or trying to get pregnant, but what about the average person? While Marie says it can work for runners who want to become more efficient at using fat as fuel before a race, fasting for any period of time is not something she recommends for the general population, and certainly not for the long term. “You’re probably not eating enough fruits and vegetables or getting your recommended daily 25 g of fiber in one meal, which is the optimal number for health and fighting chronic disease,” warns Marie. (Find out what happens when you don’t get enough fiber.)
For Slayton, it’s a lot more reasonable to fast 16 hours (aka skip breakfast) than to go food-free all the way to dinner, not that she endorses doing either on the regular. “However, I do think there’s something to be said for paying attention to when you eat in addition to what you eat,” says Slayton, whose clients use a 12-hour window rule for typical days—so if they start eating at 7 AM they finish by 7 PM, effectively eliminating unnecessary late-night snacking.
Stay on track with these 100-calorie snack ideas:
So what’s the
bottom line? The only time Marie recommends skipping a meal is delaying
breakfast in order to work out in a fasted state. “This can boost growth
hormone and help with insulin sensitivity and fat burning,” says Marie. While
Slayton says any version of fasting can be useful 1 to 2 times a week, she
suggests starting with 12 hours food-free first, then 18 (this includes the
time you sleep), to see if fasting’s for you. “It’s not for everyone, and it’s
not for me,” adds Slayton.
Longevity & eat once a day
The logic would be that more nourishment, more food would make you healthier and live longer. But let’s take a look at this from the First Principles method as described by Elon Musk: “It’s kind of mentally easier to reason by analogy rather than first principles. First Principles is a Physics way of looking at the world. And what that really means is you boil things down to the most fundamental truths and say ‘OK what are we sure is true?’ and then reason up from there. That takes a lot more mental energy.”
So what do we know about longevity? Other than exercise, the word “superfood” might come to mind. Maybe more Omega-3’s or some Red Wine or making sure to take supplements and drink less alcohol. There are a lot of things that contribute to longevity, but there is one method accepted by science that you can use to consistently increase longevity. Whether a yeast cell, a mouse or a rhesus monkey, research shows that calorie reduction will almost always increase longevity in animals. We had been seeing results like this since the early 1900’s. Depending on the animal, a 30% reduction in overall caloric intake can result in a 30% increased life span. Let’s reason up from here.
For some time, the conventional wisdom has been that you need to get 3 balanced meals a day to stay healthy. Ever since I was a kid, “Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner” seemed as natural as sleeping or going to the bathroom. Breakfast was the most important meal of the day, I needed a healthy lunch to focus the rest of the school day and being sent to bed without Dinner was child abuse. The situation is basically the same in Japan where I now live, as with the rest of the world. If we want to reduce caloric intake to increase lifespan, the only choice then is to eat less at each meal, because we need 3 meals, right?
But where did this 3 meals a day idea come from? As Abigail Carroll suggests in her book “Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal”: Eating three meals a day was basically invented due to culture, not out of biological necessity. It goes back to Middle Age Europe when they would eat a light meal before going out to work, then a heavy meal in the middle of the day, then another light meal at night. When European settlers got to America, they found Native Americans were basically just eating whenever they felt the urge to, rather than at specified times. The Europeans took their lack of defined eating times as evidence that they were uncivilized and had them change. In short: The 3 meals a day paradigm is not based off of our biological needs.
How our environment designed us
In a Hunter Gatherer culture it wasn’t surprising at all to feast on a big catch, then survive on very little or no food for an extended period of time until they were in need of another big source of fat and protein. In fact, the environment up until now would suggest that if we could not do that, we probably wouldn’t be alive to be reading about dieting. The Pirahã people, an indigenous hunter-gatherer group of the Amazon Rainforest was extensively studied by an anthropological linguist named Daniel Everett. He found they do not eat every day or even attempt to do so. They were even aware of food storage techniques yet never used them except to barter with Brazilian traders. When questioned about why they do not store food for themselves they explained “I store meat in the belly of my brother”.
Until the advent of Agriculture, eating 3 meals a day and in some cases even eating every day was a near impossibility. Some of you may be pointing to the fact that the life expectancy in the Paleolithic era was much lower than now at around 33 years, as a sign that our modern eating habits are healthier. However, infant mortality rate was a big factor in bringing that number down. You have to understand that one of the effects of modern civilization and technology is that you can be unresourceful or made up of weak genetic material and not die. As Doug McGuff explains: “[Life expectancy] didn’t really have anything to do with anabolic catabolic balance or long term health benefits because there were older survivors and the fossil evidence of those older survivors based on ligamentous attachments and bony assessment and bone mineral density was: they were extraordinarily robust.”
Glucose Metabolism & How “conventional wisdom” screwed us
The common misconception is that a stable blood glucose is necessary for survival, which would biologically justify 3 meals a day. Bear with me through a bit of Biochemistry to understand why constantly consuming Carbohydrates to maintain blood glucose is not only unnecessary but can be a detrimental and vicious cycle.
After you eat some carbohydrates- Bread, Pasta, Potatoes, Candy et cetera, Glucose enters the bloodstream and insulin is secreted to distribute the glucose properly. Via an insulin receptor, glucose enters the cells and a chain of enzymes act on it to produce energy in the form of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). This process produces a waste product called Pyruvate which is shuttled through the Mitochondria, “the powerhouse of the cell”. Mitochondria processes the Pyruvate through the Kreb Cycle which produces much more ATP. A waste product called Citrate is produced in the Mitochondria and when enough stacks up it blocks an enzyme called PhosphoFructoKinase in the enzyme chain creating a roadblock so excess glucose doesn’t harm the cell. When the process can’t continue downward, 70 grams is stored in the Liver, and in the Muscle 200 grams. So you have your morning bagel and some Frappacappa thing and you’ve stored all the glucose you can store. After that, glucose can’t be converted to ATP in the cell, stored in the Liver or in the Muscle.
Your body really doesn’t want glucose overloading cells or stacking up in the bloodstream because like pouring pancake syrup on a car engine, it can muck up the machinery in there. This is a harmful inflammatory situation called Glycation where glucose binds to proteins and inhibits their functions. So your body continues to secrete insulin to deal with the glucose. The insulin receptors on your cells become resistant to insulin everywhere, except on your body fat. Your fat cells do not have as complex machinery as other cells, so this probably the safest place to store it. As well as an energy storage depot, your body fat is protecting you from that Glycation damage.
The problem here is that if your energy levels start to wane, you can’t tap the energy out of your stored body fat because the Hormone that does that – Hormone Sensitive Lipase is sensitive to insulin. Insulin will not allow you to tap body fat for energy. If you have an elevated serum insulin and you need energy, you’re going to get ravenously hungry and will need to jack your blood sugar up short term with a snack to raise energy levels.
This is why if you’re following the recommended American diet, you’re usually going to be stuck in this loop of wanting to eat every time your blood glucose drops and 3 meals a day will feel very necessary. Even Medical Doctor Peter Attia fell victim to this: “Despite exercising 3 or 4 hours every single day and following the food pyramid to the letter, I gained a lot of weight and developed something called ‘Metabolic Syndrome’ “
Ketosis to the rescue
There’s another source of energy in your body that is a lot more efficient and stable than glucose. Ketone bodies are produced by the liver from fatty acids to produce energy, when you have depleted your Glycogen stores (which takes 10 to 12 hours depending on your activity level and body composition) ★Glycogen is the stored form of glucose. Ketone bodies can enter the aforementioned Kreb Cycle like Glucose to produce energy in the form of ATP.
You may have heard of this Ketosis state referred to as “Starvation Mode” in school, but this by no means suggests you are about to starve. I particularly dislike this term because it suggests that glucose/carbohydrates is our body’s primary fuel source, when in fact it is possible to live entirely without carbohydrates. Case in point: A 456 pound 27 year old man in Scotland fasted an incredible 382 days consuming only water and vitamin supplements. He lost 276 pounds and completed the fast with no ill effects. He was technically in “Starvation mode” this entire time and his body was using his stored body fat for energy.
Quick note: Ketosis and Diabetic KetoAcidosis are NOT the same.
Several years back, when I first heard about low carb diets, I was skeptical and frankly when I heard my close friend’s mother was trying the Atkins diet, I was worried for her.
However, after doing a lot of research and finally properly understanding glucose metabolism, I started doing the ‘Paleo diet’.
I felt great in general, had a better physique with less effort and much more stable energy levels.
The downside was it got kind of annoying to have to plan my meals, so I would cheat a lot here and there.
The Benefits of Fasting
Even after people were in environments where they could eat much more frequently, the concept of fasting for health benefits has been around for some time.
An Egyptian Pyramid Inscription from around 3800 B.C. reads “Humans live on one-quarter of what they eat; on the other three-quarters lives their doctor.” Plato apparently fasted for greater mental efficiency, the “Luther of Medicine” Philippus Paracelsus called fasting “the greatest remedy” and Mark Twain suggested fasting to be more effective than any medicine. The Romans even found that they cure people who were possessed with demons (actually poor misunderstood Epileptics) by shutting them in a room without food.
To simplify an incredibly complex process, aging in essence is the result of cumulative damage to your DNA. Professor of Genetics, David Sinclair and his team found that not eating stimulates the Sirtuin proteins which are directly responsible for DNA repair. Mark Mattson, a professor of Neuroscience at John Hopkins University, gave a speech at TEDxJohnHopkinsUniversity talking about the extensive benefits of fasting for your brain and body. In particular fasting stimulates the production of Neurotrophic Growth Factors, BDNF and FGF which promote the growth of new neurons in the brain. This explains why fasting has been linked to the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
This information got me excited about Intermittent fasting. With intermittent fasting you’re not eating for 16 hours of the day which gives your body time to deplete the glycogen stores and start burning fat as well as reap the benefits discussed above. So many sources are pointing to the key being that whether you are doing extended fasting, intermittent fasting or simply eating less, you are giving your body a chance to deplete its Glycogen stores and dip into ketosis, leading to many health benefits. Check out these two studies: “Ketones Keep Neurons Alive” and “The neuroprotective properties of calorie restriction, the ketogenic diet and ketone bodies” I was keen on the fact that I could get similar effects to Paleo with more leeway in my diet. The problem with Intermittent Fasting was I found with myself craving food outside of the 8 hour eating period, and I still had to be somewhat strict with what I ate (although not as strict as my 3 meals a day regimine)
Upton Sinclair who
was born in the the late 1800’s and lived to the swell age of 90, published a
book in 1911 called “The Fasting Cure”(click here for full text). The book was
inspired by the personal accounts of 250 people who cured some ailment with
extended fasting. The ailments ranged from colds, headaches and constipation to
arthritis, valvular heart disease and cancer. Dr. Alan Goldhamer spoke about
how in 2012, a 42 year old patient cured her cancer (stage 3 follicular
lymphoma) with a 21 day fast. Nowadays you can find personal accounts of people
on Youtube who have cured some ailment of theirs with an extended water fast
(consuming nothing but water).
More Negative Effects of Eating One Meal a Day?
With your packed schedule and desire to drop a few pounds, eating one meal a day seems like an easy way to go. While intermittent fasting, going long periods of time without eating, has become a popular way to lose weight, like most other diet trends, it’s a fad that won’t lead to lasting results. In addition to the havoc it plays on hunger, both physical and emotional, eating once a day may impact your health and lower your metabolism. If you’re struggling with your weight and finding time to eat is an issue, consult with a dietitian to design a plan that fits your diet needs and lifestyle.
Hunger: Enemy Number One
One of the major downfalls to most diet plans is that they make you hungry, and as it turns out, following a diet where you only eat once a day is no different. A 2007 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the effects of eating one meal a day on health parameters in a group of healthy adults. The researchers found that one of the biggest complaints among participants was hunger. This one little complaint, may make the one-meal-a-day diet very difficult to stick to.
Eating one meal a day not only affects your physical hunger, but your emotional hunger as well. You know, when you’re so hungry you snap at your husband when he asks you what time you’re going to be home from work. This type of hunger is affectionately known as being hangry. Unfortunately, feeling hangry may tap into raw, uncomfortable emotions, which for some may lead to poor food choices and overeating to console those feelings.
Impact on Health
Limiting your meals to once a day may not have a positive effect on your health, even if you lose weight. While the participants eating only one meal a day in the 2007 study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition lost weight and fat mass, their blood pressure and cholesterol levels went up. And a 2008 study published in the journal Metabolism found that eating once a day increased fasting blood sugar and insulin levels. This study also noted an increase in ghrelin levels, the hunger hormone, in those eating only once a day.
Risk a Slower Metabolism
While you certainly
could eat all the calories you need in one meal, limiting yourself to eating
only once a day makes it harder. If you eat too few calories, less than
1,000-calories a day, your body goes into preservation mode, which causes a
metabolic slow down, which means you burn fewer calories. Additionally, eating
more often, three meals a day, may help you burn more fat, according to a 2008
study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
The One-Day Super Diet
No joke: What you eat tomorrow can change the way the scale shifts. Of course, you know how easy it is to put on pounds in just one day (think Easter basket — followed by dinner!). Now it’s also easy to start taking weight off, with our One-Day Super Diet. This meal plan is superlow in calories — but it’s designed to also be supersatisfying and supergratifying. Follow it for one day every week, without changing your other eating habits, and you’ll see results in a month. But the truly “super” part of this plan is that it helps us deal with all the following ways we sabotage our own diets:
1. You went overboard last night at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Now you’re teetering on the brink: Do you have the willpower to go back to your diet — or will you just keep eating?
How our one-day plan can help: This menu is perfect for the morning after — it will return you to mindful eating, undo yesterday’s damage and help you cut calories without leaving you ravenous an hour later.
2. You eat sensibly during the week but are undone by the weekend. After two days of eating out, drinking wine and indulging in dessert, you start the week feeling like a blimp.
How our one-day plan can help: You need damage control, and more than just careful weekday eating. Do the Super Diet every Monday, and you may be able to keep the pounds off.
3. On hectic days, you skip meals until you’re starving and then end up scarfing down whatever’s at hand — candy, chips, fast food, etc.
How our one-day plan can help: The last column of our menu includes fast-food and microwavable options — perfect for hunger emergencies. The next time stress strikes, you can eat something that’s quick, tasty and nutritious.
4. You’re on a diet and sticking to it religiously, but somehow the scale just won’t budge.
How our one-day plan can help: Our plan is very low in calories, so it can give you an extra boost that could ratchet up your weight loss by a pound or more a month.
Why the One-Day Diet Works
If you’ve ever tried to cut back calories on a given day (and then got so hungry that you ate twice as much the following day), you’re probably skeptical: Can this diet really work? Yes. “But choosing the right foods is essential,” says Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., professor of nutritional sciences at Pennsylvania State University in State College and author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan. Using Rolls’s research, we developed satisfying dishes — with lots of filling fruits and veggies plus some low-sugar and reduced-fat foods — that won’t have you backsliding.
Have a Snack!
You can add one of the following to complement your meals each day. Choose a brand with 100 to 120 calories per serving.
- 1/2 cup light ice cream
- 1 granola bar
- 1 mini bag popcorn
- 50 very thin pretzel sticks
The 24-Hour Meal Plan
On your diet day,
choose one breakfast, lunch and dinner from the chart below and add a snack,
for a total of about 1,200 calories. Use spices as desired and drink
One Meal a Day Diet – How To Eat One Meal Day
To many, eating one meal a day is as simple as it sounds.
But, is it really?
Is there a certain structure or approach we should use while eating one meal a day?
Yes, for a few reasons
Structured Discipline – when beginning changes that will be occurring within the body and the mind, having a structured discipline will help you achieve long-term success. Staying Consistent – Consistency is also vital to achieving your weight loss goals. When you are consistent in your daily habits, it tends to become second nature which also leads to long-term success.
The basic structure below is how I achieved my own long-term success with the Omad Diet and lost over 80+pounds.
Let’s take a look at what to expect, how to start, and the 4 “Ones” rule when starting one meal a day.
What to Expect When Starting One Meal a Day
When you do start the one meal a day diet, you’re most likely going to be hungry.
This can be a “mind over body/stomach” issue you will most likely battle in the first few weeks.
It might not actually be that you are hungry at all, but your mind is tricking you into thinking so.
Some may even experience what is known as a “fasting headache” in the first few weeks.
This will vary with different people, but most tend to go away after initially beginning the omad diet.
You are most likely used to eating every few hours and consuming processed meals or snacks.
Early on when starting out the one meal a day diet, you will
Want to have no calorie beverages on hand so they can help with hunger and act as an appetite suppressant.
so they can help with hunger and act as an appetite suppressant. Get out of the house . If you work from home or the office, make sure you distance yourself from food. The more active you are, and the more productive you are, the less likely you are going to think about food.
. If you work from home or the office, make sure you distance yourself from food. The more active you are, and the more productive you are, the less likely you are going to think about food. Make a plan. Make any necessary adjustments in your lifestyle that are going to allow long-term success.
You want to train your mind to know it is only going to eat once a day (for a short period of time).
Once your mind is informed, it can then send the message down to your stomach as well.
How do you actually begin with the diet?
Now that you understand some of the aspects when starting to eat one meal a day, you are ready to get underway.
You will want to do a few preparations when you are starting out.
The most important is to set goals for yourself.
These can include:
– Weight loss you would like to achieve while on the omad diet.
– Set incremental goals (Set realistic goals that fit with your lifestyle).
– Make sure to track your progress as well. Even if the pounds don’t come off right away, record your progress so you can track your habits. This will allow you to track areas of improvement.
On any diet, the one meal a day diet included, you have to give your body time to adjust.
Set timelines and mark the minor accomplishments along the way.
This is going to make it easier to stay on track and focused.
When you do start to see success, eating one meal a day, is not going to seem so much like the enemy.
It will become easy to follow and allows you to attain your weight loss goals quite easily.
The “Four One’s” Rule
Eating one meal a day teaches you to have a “structured discipline” when it comes to your plate every day.
In order to maintain this discipline, it’s important to have a “structured” way of eating.
When I lost my weight, I found this method to work best for my weight loss and helped me to maintain a long-term healthy lifestyle moving forward.
A good way to look at the one meal a day diet is to consider the “Four Ones.” This would be (1) One meal, (2) One plate, (3) One beverage, and (4) one hour.
How do you follow the “4 ones” rule when eating one meal a day?
Let’s take a look.
1. One meal
You are only going to be eating one meal within one hour of your 4-hour eating window.
You won’t be eating snacks, junk foods, or other smaller meals throughout the day.
There are no cheat windows or small eating windows during the day.
Keep in mind if you do a workout, you might want to incorporate a whey protein shake/drink post workout.
This is not really considered a “meal,” and should only be done on the workout days.
If you workout four days a week, you can incorporate this as a means to fuel your body with protein until your eating window arrives.
2. One Plate
When you are eating your one meal, it’s important to understand how much you are putting on your plate.
You want to select an average sized plate (traditional dinner plate).
Your meal should not sit over 3 inches high on your plate.
Try to incorporate veggies, a fruit, carbs, fiber-rich foods, and some form of fat and protein.
The average dinner plate is 11 inches in diameter.
Try not to eat on plates much bigger than this or you will be defeating the purpose of the one plate rule.
Your one meal a day could actually be two, depending on how big the plate actually is.
This is another instance where it’s very important to make sensible choices.
Try to eat your one meal a day on the same size plate every day to maintain consistency.
As mentioned before, consistency is very important for long-term success.
3. One beverage
Allow yourself to consume one beverage which does contain calories(or not).
There are no restrictions here, and this can be anything you crave.
This becomes a psychological advantage as well as it’s important not to deprive yourself, especially when starting the omad diet.
Drinking a caloric beverage will also help in getting your calories for the day.
Keep your beverages between 12-16 ounces.
Keep in mind that when eating one meal a day, you can drink during the day.
You can have liquids such as water, tea, and coffee.
Drinking things like coffee help suppress the appetite and also “trick” the mind into thinking it is getting some type of food.
4. One hour
When you do start the one meal a day diet, you are going to choose a four-hour window.
This can be something in the evening from 3 PM to 7 PM, or you can go with something in the afternoon 12 PM to 4 PM.
It can be any 4-hour window during the day that you choose.
Make sure you choose a four-hour window that will best fit your schedule and lifestyle.
Try to stay as consistent as you can with your eating window.
Once you are settled on the four-hour window, you are then going to consume your food within one hour.
So once you sit down to eat, you should complete your entire meal as well as your calorie beverage within that one hour.
Anything after the hour concludes, should be no caloric beverages, until your eating window the next day.
Make sure that you are only eating within your one hour window and that you maintain a rather structured eating pattern during the days which you are following the one meal a day diet.
Take the time to figure out which eating window will work best for your situation.
FAQ – Getting started on the Omad Diet
Is there any prep you should do before starting?
With many diets, people believe a cleanse before starting, not eating for 24 hours (a fast), or doing something like a liquid diet might help them “jump start” weight loss.
When it comes to one meal a day diet, this is not the case.
As a matter of fact, diets which force you to put things in your body which aren’t natural, (those cleanses or other products you buy at health food stores) typically don’t result in success.
Early on you might lose some weight, but it is usually only water weight which you will gain right after you stop the program.
So, when starting the one meal a day diet, take a few short weeks to prepare, and go for it.
Make sure you are mentally prepared, you are willing to dedicate to it 100%, and that you are ready to make the change in your eating patterns.
Is there a “cheat day,” on this plan?
There really is no single right or wrong answer as it pertains to this.
I didn’t take any cheat days on my weight loss journey, but this comes down to your own goals.
I would advise you to follow omad as close as possible to achieve maximum success.
If you need a cheat day or a “free day” once a month in order to maintain your sanity, it will be personal preference.
But, make sure you are right back on track the very next day, and that this cheat day or meal, doesn’t last an entire week or several days.
Try not to eat too many fats or sugary foods. You want to make the “cheat day” as clean as possible.
Basically, try to consume foods you like, but prepare them at home, avoid refined and processed foods, and make sure you get right back on track the next day.
Are there certain foods which are on/off limits?
No, but here are some important points to remember:
Be sure to eat whatever you are craving; this only helps from a psychological standpoint of feeling deprived.
My meals usually contain around 1200-1700 calories, but there isn’t a specific requirement. Just be sure you are sticking to the 4 “ones” rule.
Make sure that you are not undereating and depriving yourself of nourishment. My recommendation is at least 1200 calories per day, but try to get more.
Try to hit your macros (protein, fats, carbs) when you eat your one meal. If you don’t feel you are getting all your nutrients, make sure you are supplementing.
Should I strictly follow this diet?
It really is up to you. Many people like to mix things up. Intermittent fasting has many forms.
So one day they will do the one meal a day diet, the following they may choose to eat three meals, and the next couple of days might choose to go into a deficit.
The main thing to remember is that consistency is key.
Try to follow the same pattern of eating consistently as you can. As mentioned before, long-term sustainable success will only come naturally with these habits.
Is this diet for everyone?
One meal a day requires consistency and discipline; a great deal of it.
So you have to make your mind up, and you have to be willing to follow it.
Further, this diet is more so for those who are in maintenance, or in a calorie deficit to lose weight.
If you are bulking or doing lean gains, you might better benefit from eating twice or three times a day (as your calorie intake is usually far higher, and eating all calories in one sitting is quite difficult to do for most).
It is also important to consider yourself as a person.
If you know you need to snack, if you are diabetic, or if you have other medical concerns/issues, you might want to consider other diets.
But, the one meal a day diet is very effective, as long as it is properly followed. It helped me to lose my weight and gave me a structure for long-term success.
As long as you are willing to dedicate yourself to following the rule of the “four ones,” and properly training your mind and body to stave off hunger, you will succeed.
Trial and error are critical in any and every diet you plan on trying out; this is going to be the case with the one meal a day diet as well.
Some can jump into it, but long-term success comes with proper planning and discipline.
It is entirely possible to attain your goals within the time frame you have set, and it is possible to do so on the one meal a day diet.
As with any way of eating or dieting that you do, your success will also depend on your dedication.
If you are ready to start seeing the weight come off, want to feel better, feel more energized, and rid your life of those unhealthy cravings, you will find relief in this diet plan.