Four letters, one mission: to achieve your dream weight – as quickly as possible. The OMAD diet is therefore not for the undecided, because iron discipline and perseverance are just as essential as a very minimalist menu. This is an extremely restricting and extremely effective way to lose weight, but is this radical diet trend still healthy? Take a look at our guidelines for beginners and find out how the OMAD diet works!
What’s OMAD diet?
Intermittent fasting emerged as one of the biggest diet trends over the past year and has today numerous versions. However, the basic principle always remains the same: There is a certain time window for eating and another one for fasting. The most popular methods are 5/2 (five days eating window, two days fasting), 12/12 (twelve hours eating window, twelve hours fasting), and 16/8 (16 hours fasting, 8 hours eating window). The OMAD diet relies on the hardcore version of intermittent fasting – that 23/1.
How does OMAD diet work? The abbreviation OMAD stands for One Meal A Day. As the name suggests, you can eat only one meal a day: you fast for 23 hours and you are only allowed to eat in the remaining hour. And that was not all. In this short eating window, you cannot eat what you want but have to stick to a single meal. This also explains the name of the diet.
Is OMAD diet effective?
The good news: Of course, you can lose a lot of weight on this diet. From the annoying 4 pounds (2 kg) that stubbornly hold on to your belly and hips up to over 22 pounds (10 kg). The reason for this is the concept of the diet that literally starves our bodies. One meal can not cover the daily calorie requirement. The body uses more energy than the calories it takes in and therefore we automatically lose weight. Due to the extremely reduced food intake, the body also goes directly into ketosis. This is a condition in which stored fat deposits (aka problem areas) are used as the energy source instead of carbohydrates ingested through food. So fat burning is in full swing during the OMAD diet. Studies have also shown that intermittent fasting lowers blood sugar levels and regulates insulin release, which in turn prevents obesity and diabetes in the long term.
Is OMAD diet dangerous?
The OMAD Diet is not only popular for its great success but also heavily criticized. This is mainly because it’s considered an extreme diet. The calorie deficit can lead to unpleasant side effects such as mood swings, exhaustion, dizziness, or headaches, and can even disrupt your hormone balance and cause stomach pain. Since the low food intake saves not only calories but also nutrients, the OMAD method can lead to a mineral and vitamin deficiency. Some complain that they can’t sleep, can’t poop and that it has ruined their metabolism.
The diet is therefore not to be seen as a long-term nutritional philosophy, but should only be carried out for a few days to a week at a time. There is also criticism for the effectiveness of the OMAD diet. Because even if it offers quick results, the yo-yo effect can strike back just as quickly.
How to do the OMAD diet correctly?
The principle of the OMAD diet is super simple: counting calories, expensive supplements or the preparation of countless meals are no longer necessary due to the reduced meal plan. Still, one must follow the 7 golden rules of diet in order to achieve the desired results. The rules may be strict – but it is better to follow them once than to lie to yourself for weeks and not make any progress.
Rule # 1: One meal a day
As mentioned earlier, only one meal per day is allowed. Everyone can decide for themselves whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner and also what comes on the plate. While healthy, light, and vitamin-rich foods are recommended, in theory, the meal could also consist of junk food like pizza, pasta, or burger. No solid food is allowed in the remaining 23 hours.
Extra tip: Since the eating window is just one hour, you shouldn’t gulp down your food in ten minutes. Better try to eat it slowly and with pleasure.
Rule # 2: Eat your meal at the same time
Continuity plays an important role during the OMAD diet. Instead of eating once in the morning and once in the evening, the only meal of the day should always take place at around the same time. This allows the body to get used to the fasting rhythm. If you can’t stick to a specified time, it is allowed to postpone the meal up to four hours forwards or backward.
Rule # 3: Pay attention to plate size
Though tempting, the point of the OMAD diet is not to fill your stomach for an hour. In order to stick to the correct portion size, it is therefore recommended to eat from a plate about 28 centimeters in diameter.
Rule # 4: Don’t stack up food
You should also pay attention to the height of the food in the plate. This should never exceed seven centimeters. A stack of fries or a triple burger are unfortunately out of the question.
Rule # 5: Make sure you get enough nutrients
With the only meal a day, OMAD fasters are basically allowed to eat what they want. But since there is nothing else for the remaining 23 hours, your one meal should be as vitamin-rich and healthy as possible to prevent a nutrient deficiency. Fruit and vegetables should always be the basis of your meal. Avoid eating the same meals in a row to ensure variety and balance.
Rule # 6: Drink enough fluids
In general, fluids keep your metabolism going so that your body can burn those calories during the fasting period. Above all, fluids prevent headaches, concentration disorders, constipation and fatigue. What can you drink? At least 2-3 liters of fluids per day or that is eight to ten 8-ounce glasses per day. You can also drink unsweetened green tea or black coffee. Beef stock or any other meat broth is also allowed. It supplies the body with important electrolytes. Avoid alcohol.
Rule # 7: Listen to your body
Of course, OMAD fasting requires a lot of self-discipline to overcome hunger. However, anyone who suffers from heavy side effects like dizziness, insomnia, or even fainting should rather break off the diet and turn to other intermittent fasting methods.
Extra tip: Glucose against Dizziness and Light-headedness
The body is extremely unfamiliar with not eating anything for such a long time. Side effects that can occur include symptoms such as nausea, headaches, tiredness, and lack of concentration. These can be also warning signs of low blood sugar. If nothing works anymore, glucose can help over the worst lows.
OMAD diet for beginners – How to start?
Get used to it slowly. This reduces the psychological stress and the metabolism can get used to the longer fasting times better. Start with a gentler intermittent fasting method, such as the 16 to 8 method (16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating) or dinner canceling. As a next step, you can reduce breakfast from day to day on OMAD days until you finally leave it out completely.
How does the OMAD diet affect your workout?
If you want to lose weight and do strength training to get ripped, your biggest concern is muscle loss. If the body is in a long-term calorie deficit, it draws on energy from the muscles. The result is muscle breakdown, whereby the body adapts to the deficit in the long term. However, especially short fasting periods also have positive effects on muscle building. It is now known that short fasting intervals even promote the release of the human growth hormone HGH which also affects muscle growth. If you pay particular attention to a few things with the OMAD diet, muscle breakdown can be avoided and muscle building can even be promoted. The following things are essential:
- On average, the calorie deficit from food should be minimal so that the body does not break down any muscles.
- Nutrient distribution is essential for building muscle. Vegetables and quality proteins should be a priority and should be included first in the eating windows.
- When to exercise and when to eat? It’s best to eat after a workout when the body is in an anabolic (building) phase.
- Since the body’s energy requirements are higher on workout days and it is generally more difficult to meet these requirements in just one balanced meal. You should therefore exercise on days with more than one meal.
- Appropriate interaction between training and regeneration: Strength training with a higher level of performance is just as important for building muscle during intermittent fasting as adequate regeneration. If one of them falls short, you will also get limited success.
How long to do OMAD diet?
Many forms of intermittent fasting are particularly popular nowadays because they are also suitable as a long term nutrition strategy. If you manage to pay attention to the following things, you can incorporate OMAD intervals into your lifestyle in the long term:
- OMAD days should not follow one another.
- You shouldn’t do OMAD during illness.
- In the long term, OMAD days should be limited to no more than once or twice a week.
- You should follow a nutrient-rich and balanced diet every day.
- You should drink 2 to 3 liters of water daily.