When it comes to weight loss, one thing many people are starting to do is to only eat one meal per day. This one-meal-per-day diet may also be called OMAD (one meal a day). Many people will have a single meal, and some may or may not have some snacks.
However, the defining feature of this diet is consuming the vast majority of your calories in one go. Some would consider this to be a type of intermittent fasting.
This is something that I have tried, and I want to talk about my own experiences with eating one meal per day. In addition to my own experiences, I’ll discuss whether this is healthy. So, is it healthy to eat once a day?
What Is an OMAD Diet?
We are obviously talking about having only one meal per day. Most people will have one large meal sometime during the day, consuming most or even all their daily calories. Some may have very small snacks, although many do not.
One of the purported benefits of this diet is weight loss. However, if you only eat one meal per day, you likely won’t meet your daily calorie requirements; you just can’t eat 2,000 calories in a single meal, at least not easily.
This is a type of intermittent fasting − you reserve only a few hours per day to eat. One of the most popular types of intermittent fasting is the 16/8 method.
This means that you reserve 8 hours of the day to eat, and the other 16 hours are spent wishing you were eating; at least, this is how I felt about intermittent fasting. If you aren’t used to it, it can take time to get accustomed to only eating at a specific time.
Now, I found this OMAD diet was quite difficult to maintain. First, I was used to eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, and several snacks. Now I just eat lunch and one small snack in the evening; it took time to get used to.
However, I notice changes in my body − positive changes. Therefore, let’s move on and talk about the benefits I got from this OMAD diet. I’m also going to talk about potential benefits − those I didn’t see.
I’m really here to talk about the benefits of eating one meal per day. But, of course, perhaps the most significant benefit is weight loss.
Once again, if you eat just one meal per day, you probably won’t meet your calorie intake needs; you are creating a calorie deficit. When you have a calorie deficit, you will lose weight regardless of exercise.
Obviously, losing weight if you are overweight is beneficial to your overall health. Being overweight causes joint and bone problems, heart problems, liver problems, respiratory issues, diabetes, etc. Therefore, if you are overweight and eat one meal per day to help lose weight, it is definitely healthy.
There are many other benefits associated with eating one meal per day or intermittent fasting. For example, it is shown to reduce high blood sugar levels in some people, which helps manage diabetes. Also, intermittent fasting may help reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in your body.
In addition, intermittent fasting and eating one meal per day are also associated with reducing inflammation. So, when it comes to your overall health, an OMAD approach may be beneficial − it can help you lose weight, increase your heart and cardiovascular health, decrease inflammation, and reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
I did see a great deal of weight loss, and I also felt I had more energy because I was eating far fewer processed sugars throughout the day. So, generally speaking, I did feel better when I was doing this one meal per day strategy.
Risks and Downsides of Eating Only Once Per Day
As you might imagine, there are also risks involved with just eating once per day. One of these downsides is that such extreme diet restrictions can lead to higher bad cholesterol levels and higher blood pressure. However, I didn’t stick with this diet long enough to see this happen, but it is possible.
Some studies show that eating just once per day can spike blood sugar levels at certain times and cause the body to have a delayed response to insulin.
Moreover, something I did experience was extreme hunger. So, of course, I went from having three meals and two snacks per day to having just one meal per day.
I was constantly hungry, and I definitely noticed that I had low energy levels (especially just before my big meal), was constantly irritable, and was nauseous and dizzy.
Once again, I wasn’t on this diet very long, but I know that it can also lead to nutrient deficiencies. If you only eat one meal per day, getting all your vitamins and minerals may be difficult.
This is perhaps one of the most significant risks associated with just having one meal today. Moreover, pregnant people, who have cardiovascular issues, low blood sugar, or diabetes, shouldn’t eat just one meal per day.
So, creating a calorie deficit by having just one meal per day can help you lose weight. If you are overweight, losing weight is obviously crucial for your overall health.
However, as you can see, eating just one meal per day does have some problems. It is something that I would recommend trying if other diets have not worked for you, but be aware that eating just one meal per day does take massive amounts of willpower. As always, you should always consult with your doctor if you are unsure this type of diet would work for you, or if you have specific concerns that apply to you personally.