Delving into the world of diets, things can quickly get complicated. From assigning points to all your dishes to painstakingly counting calories, most meal plans can feel more like maths than a daily menu. Well, there is one diet that’s so simple that it can be summed up in just four words: One Meal a Day. You might’ve heard of it branded as OMAD, and countless guys online are singing the praises of this minimalist weight loss approach.
What Is OMAD?
It’s what it says on the tin: you’ll only be allowed to chow down on one meal every day. Yes, that means no snacks, or second breakfasts (sorry Hobbits). You can drink beverages; but you’ll have to opt for (mostly) calorie-free options like green tea, black coffee or water. Essentially, it’s a 23-hour fast, forcing you to squeeze all your dining into one paltry hour, and it’s having some success.
The Science Behind OMAD
In short, OMAD is another version of intermittent fasting. While most variants of the latter will give you a significant eight-hour window to tuck in, this diet is simply shrinking that window to just a single hour. In one study, a group of adults who restricted their eating times to just 4-hour periods each day were able to torch off a significant amount of weight.
In an analysis, those who ate just one or two meals every day were able to pare down their BMI at a faster rate than those eating the standard three.
But it’s not just your waistline that could benefit from this minimalist approach. Research into the effects of fasting found that the diet could reduce certain heart disease risk factors, decrease inflammation and slow down neurodegeneration.
Remember, these perks aren’t specific to OMAD, but fasting in general; so you won’t necessarily have to go to extremes to get healthier. And there are also a few risks to consider, too.
The Risks of OMAD
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that extreme restriction can increase the so-called bad cholesterol levels in your body. Even worse, some research has shown that fasting might wreak havoc with your blood sugar levels and delay your body’s response to insulin.
There’s also the risk of several other side effects, including nausea, constipation, dizziness and low energy—a few immediate factors that might make it difficult to get through your day. Anecdotally, many of those who try the diet complain about suffering from extreme hunger during the day. And there are some who warn that the incredibly restrictive nature of the diet could lead to disordered eating.
Are There Any Alternatives to “One Meal a Day”?
OMAD can be effective for some. However, it’s a relatively extreme approach that can be sidestepped with a few simple meal plan tweaks. You could instead opt for a regular intermittent fasting schedule that will give you eight hours to chow down—a method that has been proven to help guys shed extra weight. However, according to most studies, the effectiveness of intermittent fasting still pales in comparison to keeping track of your calories.
If you’re looking for a diet favoured by science, few trump the Mediterranean Diet. A recent US News & World Report assembled a panel of doctors and nutritionists to vet the most popular diets in the world. Assessing each against a rubric of factors such as ease of following, safety, sustainability, healthiness and weight loss, they named the Med Diet the undisputed champ for the sixth year in a row.
The expert panel concluded that this diet not only encourages healthy eating patterns but also helps slash the risk of chronic diseases. Following this diet closely can also be great for you gut health because most dishes are plant-based.