The One Meal A Day diet, often referred to as OMAD, has become very popular over the last couple years. Following the diet is as easy as it sounds. You eat one meal and then stop until it’s time to eat again at the next day.
Some people, myself included, prefer to have their OMAD in one sitting. I like to take an hour or so to enjoy myself and make sure you I eat enough of the right foods, especially protein. Others stretch it out to a 2-4 hour window. Either way works great. Just don’t go any longer or you’ll receive fewer benefits.
The Key Reason To Eat OMAD
The main benefit of eating once a day is that you’re fasting for 20-23 hours between meals.
This means your body is burning off your excess body fat as its primary source of energy for at least 16-20 hours of the day. The lower carb you eat, the longer your body will be in fat burning mode during the day.
While it’s easy for me now, I know that following this diet can be a little difficult at times. Especially when you’re starting out. If you’re interested in trying the OMAD diet or want to make it work better for you this article will help.
In it are 10 tips that I’ve learned after eating this way and talking to others who do the same successfully. Give some or all of them a try and I think you’ll find success like myself and so many others have.
*Always check with your doctor before starting a new diet or exercise plan.
OMAD – 10 Tips For Success
- Make sure you eat enough protein every meal
This is the most important tip of them all. Getting enough protein in your diet will help you stay full, recover and grow stronger between workouts, and ensure your body doesn’t break down your hard earned muscle for energy.
Not eating enough protein may make this happen and while you’ll still lose weight it will be from muscle and fat. This leads to you feeling weak and tired and produces the ‘skinny fat’ look that you do not want.
A good rule of thumb is to start with 1 gram of protein per pound of your goal body weight. Your mileage may vary so you should adjust accordingly after eating this much out for a month or two.
The best sources of protein are beef, eggs, pork, fish, and dairy. If you find it difficult to eat enough protein from whole foods, a whey protein shake will help. I like to drink one after I finish eating. I often add a tablespoon of MCT oil to help me stay full and keep me in nutritional ketosis so I continue to burn fat for my energy needs.
- Don’t binge on processed carbs, sugary foods, other junk.
When you do eat your daily meal, don’t turn into a human vacuum for pasta, chips, pizza, and cookies. This will quickly cancel out all the benefits of your fast. When I do this it also makes it much tougher to fast until the next day.
While processed and sugar rich carbohydrates may taste great after a fast they’re going to cause your blood sugar and insulin to spike. This can lead to these calories being stored as excess body fat, kick your body out of fat burning mode (ketosis), and make you feel tired and grumpy.
Don’t be tired and grumpy. Avoid or limit processed carbs and sugar as much as possible.
I will say, that as you get leaner, it’s possible to eat a cookie or slice of pizza on occasion without horrible effects. As the amount this affects us various I recommend being very cautious, especially until you reach your fat loss goals.
- Don’t be afraid of fat.
If you eat really low fat doing OMAD you’re going to be hungry all of the time. Don’t be afraid of eating fat when you’re on the OMAD plan. Just don’t go overboard or you’re likely to eat too many calories and slow fat loss.
Remember, you want your body to burn off as much of its own body fat for energy as possible. I like to stick to getting my fats from the foods I eat and avoid adding lots of extra fat after my food is cooked.
The exception I make is to add 1 tablespoon of MCT oil to my meals. It helps me stay full longer and keeps me in nutritional ketosis, even if I eat a few too many carbs at dinner. Every tablespoon only has 130 calories and it is used as a nearly instant source of energy instead of being stored around your belly like other fats are when eaten in excess.
- Stay Busy And Away From Temptation
The first thing you’re likely to notice when eating once a day is that you have a lot more time on your hands. Since you’re not thinking about and then preparing a meal or going out to eat when you’re likely to have 2 or more hours free.
Don’t use this extra time to dwell on what you want to eat. Instead go out for a walk, workout, or read great stuff like this blog. After a 2-3 weeks you’ll be pretty used to this way of eating and won’t be tempted nearly as much.
I find it takes me and others I speak to who eat OMAD that it takes about a week for cravings and urges to break my fast subside. Once I’m 2-3 weeks into this way of eating, they’re 90% eliminated.
Another cool thing is that when cravings and temptations to break my fast kick in, it’s much easier to dismiss the thought and remind myself that I’ll be able to eat in a few hours.
- Try A Fat Fast
One way to curb your cravings without screwing up your fast is to eat a little bit of fat when you feel them creeping up on you. Unlike protein and carbohydrates, fat doesn’t cause your blood sugar or insulin to rapidly increase, which throws your body out of fat burning mode. What it will do is help your stay full and keep cravings in check.
While any fat helps, the one I think is best – and use myself – is MCT oil. They curb my appetite better than other fats and give me lots of mental and physical energy.
Within 30-60 minutes of taking MCTs I feel more focused and have greater mental and physical endurance which helps me get more done and workout hard, even though I haven’t eaten all day.
- Stay Hydrated
This will help keep you feeling full while you fast which goes a long way toward keeping your cravings at bay. You’ll also be replacing the water you lose due to the diuretic effect being in nutritional ketosis creates.
Don’t go overboard though. Too much water can be a bad thing. Just drink enough so that you aren’t thirsty. A good measurement is to check the color of your urine. If it’s clear to light yellow, you’re okay.
- Add Electrolytes To Your Water
This had been a game changing tip for me. I first learned about it from low carb experts Drs. Phinney and Volek, authors of “The Art And Science Of Low Carb Performance.”
When you’re eating OMAD and getting into nutritional ketosis, you’re going to lose more electrolytes than normal due to water loss. When you lose too many and you end up feeling sluggish, weak, and tired.
Therefore, you need to make sure you get your extra electrolytes through your diet by eating foods that are rich in sodium, magnesium, and potassium. These are what low carb experts recommend replacing. Especially sodium and potassium.
As soon as I began paying attention to getting enough electrolytes I quickly eliminated the keto flu symptoms I felt, slept better, and was able to once again complete an intense workout.
Sodium is easy to get. Just add a little extra salt to your meals. Potassium rich foods include: leafy greens, zucchini, broccoli, and mushrooms. Foods that include adequate amounts of magnesium are: almonds, avocados, dark chocolate, and salmon.
I prefer to make my own electrolyte drink that I sip throughout the day. It’s super easy to make. It tastes like margarita without the tequila and is really refreshing.
Here’s what I add:
- 1 teaspoon (2000 mg) salt
- 1 teaspoon (175 mg) magnesium citrate – I use a product called Natural Calm
- 135 mg potassium
- ½ – 1 tablespoon of lemon and/or lime juice for flavor
Don’t go overboard with any of these ingredients. More is definitely not better. Especially with the potassium and magnesium.
If you try the drink above, don’t have more than 2 servings a day.
- Drink A Cup Of Coffee.
Taking in a little bit of caffeine from a cup of coffee, tea, or as a supplement can really help you get through the day when you’re eating OMAD.
I prefer to get a little bit by drinking a cup of strong cold brew coffee before I workout. It enables me to focus and train hard. Even when I haven’t eaten for 20 hours.
Remember, drink your coffee black. Milk and half and half have sugar in it that can trigger cravings and throw you off your diet. While sugar free, I don’t think cream is a good idea either.
- Remind yourself that the hunger pains will pass.
The worst thing you can do when eating OMAD is to dwell on your hunger pains or think about long it will be until you eat. I know it’s tough. I used to do it too until I realized that giving into these thoughts was throwing me off my diet and sabotaging my health and success.
Now, when cravings and thoughts about eating before it’s time come up, I remind myself that the hunger and time will pass and I’ll be able to eat soon. Since cravings often occur midday, it’s only a 2-4 hours until I eat anyway.
One caveat to this tip. If you’re feeling sick, dizzy, nauseous, etc. having something to eat. Tomorrow is another day and this isn’t worth fainting over.
- Don’t skip your workouts.
While it’s true that exercise can stimulate your appetite I find that working out gives me a lot of mental and physical energy. These benefits make my daily fasts much easier.
It’s also important to lift weights on this diet to stay strong and hold onto your hard earned muscle. Studies find that lifting weights as few as 2-3 days a week, even when you are cutting calories significantly enable to your body to maintain and even build muscle and get stronger.
If you are lifting weights 3 or more days a week, it’s especially important you eat enough protein. Aim to eat between .7-1 grams of protein per pound of body weight every day and you’ll be fine.
You now have 10 easy to implement tips for sticking to the OMAD diet plan. Use whichever one’s work best for you. You’ll probably come up with a few of your own as you adapt to this way of eating.