Is the One Meal a Day Diet Dangerous?
As a form of intermittent fasting, the one meal a day, also known as the OMAD diet has been rising in popularity since 2012. It entails fasting for 23 hours and having a meal during the remaining one hour of the day.
However, people implement the one meal a day diet in multiple ways, depending on their preferences, daily routine, and beliefs on what a healthy lifestyle should be. For instance, some followers choose to have dinner as their single meal of the day, whereas others eat only breakfast or lunch.
Another important aspect concerning people who follow this diet is whether they allow themselves to have snacks or small meals throughout the fasting period. While some OMAD dieters consume only unsweetened tea and coffee or have snacks or a small amount of food during the fasting period, other individuals take their eating habits to the extreme and only have water during the fasting period. Regardless of the way in which one chooses to follow the one meal a day diet, the goal of it is to create a calorie deficit so that the person can lose weight. So far, the OMAD diet is the most extreme type of intermittent fasting.
No matter how it is achieved, a calorie deficit will inevitably result in weight loss sooner or later, and with the OMAD diet, the results will appear significantly more quickly than if the individual followed a more conventional diet. Because the people who are on this diet consume fewer calories, they are bound to eventually lose the amount of unwanted weight eventually. However, if you have recently heard of the OMAD diet and are thinking of giving it a try, you may wonder whether it is dangerous. The following article will discuss the benefits and the risks of this diet, as well as offer you tips on how to eat healthy on the OMAD diet.
The Benefits of the One Meal a Day Diet
Even though the primary benefits of the OMAD diet are weight loss and improved fitness, this eating pattern – the fasting part, to be more specific – was found to imply numerous other benefits for the followers. Some of the most notable benefits of fasting are:
Nevertheless, it is essential to know that, in order to reap these amazing benefits of fasting, you should not have your stomach empty for more than 24 hours. Otherwise, you may experience the downsides of the OMAD diet, which can seriously affect your health. It is also important to mention that these benefits stem from fasting itself and not necessarily from the OMAD diet. Since the one meal a day diet is quite extreme, people who decide to follow it must be very careful and ideally consult with a nutritionist before adopting this way of eating.
The Potential Dangers of the One Meal a Day Diet
Although studies found that the OMAD diet can have noteworthy benefits for your health, others revealed that this extreme way of eating could actually be detrimental to your body. For example, the restriction involved in the one meal a day diet may increase your blood pressure, as well as your total cholesterol levels, and it may also delay the response of your body to insulin, thereby increasing the levels of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates your appetite. Consequently, you can experience extreme hunger if you do not eat anything caloric during the fasting period of the OMAD diet.
Furthermore, restricting your calories to one meal a day may increase your risk of hypoglycemia, which means that your blood sugar levels will be too low, especially if you have type 2 diabetes. Moreover, the OMAD diet has been associated with the following symptoms:
It is worthy of note that the one meal a day diet is not adequate for certain categories of people, including women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, children and teenagers, the elderly, and individuals with eating disorders. Another potentially dangerous downside of the OMAD diet is the fact that you may find it difficult to take in enough nutrients in only one meal. Lastly, limiting your caloric intake to one meal a day can lead to disordered eating, take a heavy toll on your social life, and make it challenging to follow this diet in the long run.
In conclusion, while you may experience some major benefits if you follow the OMAD diet, it is not sustainable for a long time and may actually create more health problems for you. According to research, it is best to have 2 or 3 meals a day instead of just one. If your goal is to shed a few extra pounds, you can slightly restrict your caloric intake during these meals and also add exercise to your routine.
How to Correctly and Safely Follow the One Meal a Day Diet
If you still want to try the OMAD diet, there are some key tips you should know about before following it. Firstly, it is recommended to have your single meal following the most active part of your day and to include at least 1,200 kcal in it. It is crucial that you consume foods that are rich in nutrients in your one meal of the day, as otherwise, you risk experiencing serious deficiencies. The following variety of foods should be part of your single meal of the day:
- fruits, such as bananas, citrus fruits, and berries
- vegetables, such as broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, kale, and peppers
- grains and starchy vegetables, such as quinoa, oats, sweet potatoes, and barley
- healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocados, and unsweetened coconut
- legumes, such as chickpeas, lentils, black beans, and peas
- nuts, seeds, and nut butter, such as macadamia nuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, and almonds
- dairy and vegan alternatives, such as coconut milk, unsweetened yogurt, and cashew milk
- protein sources, such as fish, tofu, eggs, and chicken
On the other hand, you should limit your intake of processed foods as much as possible, as they have little nutritional value and can result in weight gain and a higher risk of disease. These foods refer to:
As for your fasting period, it is up to you whether you choose to have low-caloric foods and beverages or just plain water to keep you hydrated. Some people decide to eat foods low in calories but rich in protein during their fast, such as chicken, egg whites, and tuna. Once again, we strongly advise you to discuss whether the OMAD diet is beneficial for you with a nutritionist before following it in order to avoid health issues.