Why I Eat One Meal a Day (OMAD – How to Eat One Meal a Day)

Siim Land

I like to take care of myself and strive do great things. That’s why I eat one meal a day – I do it once to be done with it and not worry about eating at other times. Let me explain how this works.

The ‘F-Word’

This flies in the face of almost everything that is currently being advised by fitness specialists and doctors. “You have to eat small meals every few hours, otherwise you’ll get fat and slow down your metabolism.” The opposite is the case.

One Meal a Day or OMAD is a way of eating that limits your daily meals to just a single feeding period. Usually, you fast for about 22 hours and eat within 2 hours.

Why I Eat One Meal a Day OMAD Schedule
Why I Eat One Meal a Day OMAD Schedule

Fasting has become the F-word in the vocabulary of health and fitness – the forbidden fruit that must not be tampered with if you were to stay abundant. In reality, it is actually one of the most powerful tools we can use to optimize our biology.

Let me explain to you how this works. I’m going to keep this brief and relevant to the topic.

Mechanisms of Intermittent Fasting

After 6-8 hours of not eating, the body shifts from a fed state into a fasted one, in which it has run out of its immediately accessible inner fuel, namely carbohydrates in the form of liver glycogen. (About 100-150 grams worth)

Because we still need the energy to keep ourselves going, the liver will then start to produce ketone bodies that are manufactured fatty acid molecules with the capacity to produce 25% more energy than glucose.

After 2-3 days of not eating, the body shifts into its prime-primal state of fasting ketosis and goes through a series of biological adaptations all of which leave the organism stronger and actually more nourished than before.

Nutritional ketosis is a safe and natural metabolic state – characterized by 0.5-3.0 mMols of serum blood ketones – which is achieved either over a prolonged period of fasting or by restricting carbohydrate intake to close to zero – usually somewhere between 30 to 50 grams NET.

Benefits of One Meal a Day

Intermittent Fasting (IF) comes with a whole set of beneficial effects on health, longevity, and wellbeing.

  • Protection against precancerous cells, malignant tumors, and neurodegenerative disease
  • Reduced blood sugar, circulating insulin and LDL cholesterol levels
  • Improved insulin sensitivity and nutrient partitioning
  • Increased metabolism of 3.6% after the first 48 hours[i] and 14% 4 days in[ii]

But these are just the surface benefits of OMAD.

  • Fasting for 16+ hours increases growth hormone by 1300-2000%[iii]
  • After liver glycogen gets depleted, the metabolic pathway called ‘autophagy’ gets triggered that begins to conduct cellular repair and detoxification processes
  • Because of all that, you’ll improve your longevity and life-span

And there are even more advantages characteristic solely to eating one meal a day

  • It’s simple, you just eat once a day
  • You save a lot of TIME by not having to cook and eat
  • It’s FREE, as fasting doesn’t cost you anything
  • You can eat large meals and enjoy your favorite foods

Burn calories, not cash. #tweet that @inthevanguard

Why I Eat One Meal a Day

The biggest reason for me is that it’s the meeting point of all of the agendas I’m trying to accomplish with my nutrition.

  • I don’t have to waste time eating or cooking, which I can then direct into other more productive and creative channels, such as this blog, my YouTube channel, coaching business, reading or anything the like. What’s best, I still get to eat nice dinners with friends and family
  • It is incredibly enjoyable and effortless. Having done this for such a long time, I don’t even get hungry during the day anymore nor feel tired or weak, quite the opposite.
  • My mind stays fresh and sharp throughout the day. In my experience, food can slow me down, which is why I thrive on eating less. If my body is slightly underfed, I keep my physiology in its prime-primal state. Fasting also increases neuroplasticity, which can make you smarter (wohoo).
  • My physical and mental performance do not suffer but actually receive a short boost because of increased norepinephrine or adrenaline.
  • There are a ton of benefits on longevity and increased life-span. Fasting keeps the organism rejuvenated and youthful thanks to reducing inflammation and promoting mitochondrial density
  • Because of that, your body has a greater capacity for producing more energy with less effort
  • It develops mental toughness and willpower. Being able to go without food is incredibly powerful for your mindset. Although it isn’t difficult for me anymore nor am I trying to lose weight, it still requires you to follow simple disciplines that actually give you more freedom.

When you look at the things a great nutrition strategy should provide you with – health, performance, longevity, well-being, and freedom, then it all gets traced back to OMAD.

How to Eat One Meal a Day

Although the best advice I would want to give you is to jump in right away, it’s not the most optimal. On a sugar burning metabolism, too intense fasting will lead to lean tissue loss. You have to build up your fat burning engine first before you can start eating only one meal a day.

A few guidelines for switching from several meals a day to intermittent fasting.

  • Start extending your daily fast until 14-16 hours.
  • Don’t eat processed or high carb foods.
  • Quit snacking and eat only 2 meals a day.
  • Drink more water during the fasting window.
  • Eat more fiber and vegetables with protein and fat during your eating window to promote satiety.

Depending on what time you choose to have that ‘one meal to rule them all,’ the main premise is that you spend the vast majority of the day in a fasted state.

  • You decide on an eating window and when you’re going to have your meal. This feeding period can last for 2-3 hours, depending on how fast you eat.
  • Fast the rest of the day – it ain’t rocket science, boy!

One Meal a Day Guide Step By Step

It’s really that simple, but to make it more sustainable, follow this step-by-step guide

  • Wake up in the morning and have a glass of water with a pinch of sea salt. This balances your electrolytes, hydrates you and keeps your adrenals from pumping out too much cortisol.
  • Spend the first hours doing something productive to keep your mind busy.
  • Have some green tea or black coffee, if you get hungry. This initial phase is zero calories, during which you can consume only non-caloric beverages. Sparkling water is also amazing.
  • Before dinner, have a workout of either resistance training or HIIT cardio.
  • At about the 20-22 hour mark, have a huge dinner that would supercompensate for the abstinence. It’s going to be a feast but don’t gorge yourself like an animal. Moderation. Stop whenever you feel like you’ve had enough.

The Best Way to Eat One Meal a Day

Another one of those benefits of OMAD is that it can be applied to virtually any diet plan. Intermittent fasting should be a staple in every nutritional program so everyone should do it in some shape or form.

The best way to do intermittent fasting is to do it on a ketogenic diet. Why? Because the two are physiologically almost identical and work very well together. Fasting induces nutritional ketosis and the ketogenic diet mimics the physiology of fasting to a great degree.

Because keto shifts your body into its prime-primal fat burning state, you’ll experience no hunger whatsoever, have constant access to abundant energy, reduce muscle loss to ZERO and improve other aspects of your health as much.

After you become very well fat-adapted, you can fast effortlessly for several days in a row without feeling any different or losing muscle. Just recently, I fasted for 100 hours and went to the gym to do heavy back squats for reps, not a problem.

If you want to learn more about how to combine intermittent fasting with the ketogenic diet and OMAD, then check out my KETO // IF program that teaches you how to adapt to handling any period of abstinence while thriving.

Keto intermittent fasting cover
Keto intermittent fasting cover

References

[i] Enhanced thermogenic response to epinephrine after 48-h starvation in humans. Am J Physiol. 1990 Jan;258(1 Pt 2):R87-93.

[ii] Resting energy expenditure in short-term starvation is increased as a result of an increase in serum norepinephrine. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jun;71(6):1511-5.

[iii] Fasting enhances growth hormone secretion and amplifies the complex rhythms of growth hormone secretion in man. J Clin Invest. 1988 Apr; 81(4): 968–975.