Whats your favourite meal of the day? Maybe its breakfast when you can have a hearty plate of eggs and bacon, or dinner when you can finally have that salmon youve been thinking about all day.
Now, imagine thats the only meal you can eat each day. Thats the premise behind the OMAD diet, which stands for one meal a day, which is essentially a form of fasting.
While fasting can be good for you (just ask Vanessa Hudgens or Jenna Jameson), some experts believe certain methods like the OMAD diet arent a healthy, sustainable solution for weight loss. Heres what you need to know.
Think of OMAD as intermittent fasting on steroids, says Dena Champion, R.D., of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. OMAD is literally when someone eats one meal daily during one hour of the day and then fasts the other 23 hours. You are allowed to drink black coffee or other non-calorie drinks during that fasting timebut nothing else.
On top of that, youre instructed to eat that one meal during the same four-hour window every day, says Jen Oikarinen, a clinical dietitian with Banner University Medical Center Phoenix. Consistency is emphasized in the OMAD diet, she says. And while it is recommended that you make healthy food choices, its more about when you eat than what you eat, says Champion.
OMAD dieters are supposed to adhere to a set of rules known as the 4 ones, says Oikarinen. So if youre on the OMAD diet:
Worth noting: While the OMAD diet is technically a fasting diet, its quite different from other intermittent fasting diets like the 16:8 diet, which instructs you to fast for 16 hours and eat three (or four!) meals during the remaining eight hours.
Yes, but again, some experts say its neither healthy nor sustainable weight loss.
OMAD is basically a starvation diet, if you follow all the stipulations, says Rebecca Elbaum, R.D., clinical administrative dietitian at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Thats because youre not consuming enough calories with just one meal as you would by eating three or four times a day, so weight loss will occur.
Also, because youre eating so little (and so sparingly), youd also likely go into ketosis (the state during which your body burns fat for fuel instead of carbs) from this dietnot because youre upping your fat content and decreasing your carbs, but because youre eating very little in general, says Elbaum.
Aside from the weight loss, a fasting program like OMAD can also result in mood swings, muscle loss, hormone disturbances, and even changes in your menstrual cycle (like having it stop completely), says Oikarinen. Another major concern is the increased risk for nutrient deficiencies; decreased intake of food also means decreased intake of beneficial vitamins and minerals, Oikarinen says.
While plenty of people sing the OMAD diets praises online, and some experts certainly endorse various forms of intermittent fasting, Elbaum believes not even healthy people should try the OMAD diet. And that goes doubly for anyone whos pregnant, breastfeeding, recovering from past disordered eating, has diabetes, or even regularly exercises or lifts weights, she says.
Healthy weight loss will be whatever is the most sustainable over a lifetime, she says. This includes a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise.
If you are interested in some type of fasting, a less intense form (like the 16:8 diet) might be your best betbut even then, its wise to talk to an R.D. about your options and how best to work an intermittent fasting diet into your lifestyle, says Oikarinen.
The bottom line: Definitely steer clear of the OMAD dietit wont promote healthy or sustainable weight loss.
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