Please note that I am not a health or medical professional. All of the information contained within this blog are based on my own experience and research, and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your own health or medical professional before starting any new weight loss, health or fitness program.
You’ve probably come across the term OMAD if you’ve been looking into starting an intermittent fasting lifestyle. I had no idea what it meant the first time I saw the term “OMAD”.
So, what is OMAD intermittent fasting? The simple answer, is that OMAD stands for one meal a day. OMAD intermittent fasting means that you eat only one meal, every day.
Of the two types of intermittent fasting schedules, OMAD would be considered a daily eating window form of intermittent fasting. Your eating window is however long it takes you to eat your one meal, whether that be 20 minutes or 5 hours.
Different Types of OMAD
While you wouldn’t think that the seemingly simple concept of eating one meal a day would be up for debate, that isn’t entirely true.
Basically, there are two schools of thought when it comes to eating one meal a day.
The more strict version of OMAD, means that you sit down and eat only once.
This might mean that you sit down and eat until you are satisfied. Your eating window might be half an hour or an hour, but once you finish that is all you eat for the day.
The very strictest of this form of OMAD is also sometimes referred to as OPAD, or one plate a day. As the name suggests, this is where you eat one plate of food per day and then you’re done.
My preferred method of OMAD is one meal a day within an eating window. Much like if you go to a restaurant for a meal that includes an appetizer, entree and dessert, this type of OMAD may include a snack, your main meal, and then a dessert.
In this case, an eating window of 19/5, 20/4, or 21/3 could all be considered one meal a day. You would open your eating window with a small snack, have a bigger meal an hour or two later, and then perhaps close your eating window with a dessert or another small snack. You would still only be eating one meal, just not necessarily all in one sitting.
Why You Should Try It
No matter which of the above ways of eating one meal a day you decide to try, it’s probably not something that you want to jump right in to if you’re currently eating 3 meals a day plus snacks.
However if you find that 16/8 intermittent fasting isn’t giving you the results you want, then decreasing your eating window to one meal a day is a great goal.
More fasting is not always better, but many people find that eating one meal a day is the method of intermittent fasting that allows them to reach their health and weight loss goals.
The great thing about one meal a day, is that there is still a lot of flexibility. Try it at first with 19 hours of fasting and 5 hours of eating that includes a snack, main meal and dessert.
As that becomes easy, you can try a stricter version where you decrease your eating window or only eat once.
How to Do OMAD Intermittent Fasting
If you’re eating one meal a day within a longer window, the easiest way to do it is to start with a small snack at the beginning of your window. Then eat your main meal toward the middle of your eating window. Finally, close your window with some dessert or another small snack, always making sure to listen to your body’s hunger and satiation signals.
You don’t want to eat too little, but there’s also no need to stuff yourself.
As with all intermittent fasting plans, it will take some trial and error to determine how much food your body needs to easily sustain the fasting hours.
You can also experiment with eating your main meal first or pushing it to the end of your window.
Do what works best for your lifestyle and what feels the best for your body.
The 19/5 method of OMAD intermittent fasting could look like the following:
- Fast from 8pm-3pm. Have a snack at 3pm, dinner at 6pm, and then dessert at 7:30pm.
- Fast from 11am-6am. Have a smoothie or protein shake at 6am, breakfast at 8:30am and then a snack at 10:30am.
- Fast from 3pm-10am. Have a snack at 10am, lunch at 12:30pm and then another snack or dessert at 2:30pm.
The 20/4 method of OMAD intermittent fasting could look like the following:
- Fast from 12am-8pm. Have dinner at 8pm and then dessert or a snack at 11:30pm.
- Fast from 4pm-12pm. Have lunch at 12pm and then dessert or a snack at 3:30pm.
- Fast from 7pm-3pm. Have a snack at 3pm and then dinner at 6pm.
These are just examples, you can always plan your OMAD eating times the best way to fit your work, family and social schedules. Remember, the more you fit intermittent fasting into your lifestyle, the easier it will be to stick to!
Strict OMAD or OPAD
Sitting down to eat only once, whether you decide that’s eating until you are full or eating just one plate, may be the method of OMAD intermittent fasting that sounds most appealing to you. There are several advantages to this stricter method, which I will outline below. It may be the method that fits best into your lifestyle, or it may be the method that will allow you to meet your health and fitness goals.
Strict OMAD or OPAD intermittent fasting could look like the following:
- Fast from 6pm-5pm and eat from 5pm-6pm.
- Fast from 8am-7am and eat from 7am-8am.
- Fast from 1pm-12pm and eat from 12pm-1pm.
This is also sometimes referred to as 23/1 intermittent fasting, although the timing here is really just an example. It may not take you a full hour to eat your one meal or one plate. Or it may take you a little longer. The point is that you only sit down to eat once a day.
OMAD Intermittent Fasting Meal Planning
The one meal a day method of intermittent fasting makes meal planning easy. Instead of 21 meals to plan if you’re eating 3 meals a day, now you only have to worry about 7. If you love leftovers like I do, then that’s even less meals to worry about! I love to make up a batch of easy slow cooker pulled pork on the weekend, and then use it for different recipes all week long.
Like all intermittent fasting methods you can eat according to your own personal preferences.
However it becomes extra important to make sure you’re getting some nutritious food in your meal, since you only have one chance. Opening up your window with a smoothie or a salad is a great way to make sure your getting all of your vitamins!
Do You Have to Eat Your OMAD at the Same Time Every Day?
Intermittent fasting is very flexible, and OMAD is probably the most flexible of all.
Because your fasting window is longer, in general you are going to get in a good amount of fasting every day, even if you eat dinner one day and then lunch the next.
Perhaps Tuesdays and Thursdays there are lunch meetings at work so a lunch time meal would work best on those days, and then a dinner window works best for the rest of the week.
You could even combine the OMAD methods and have a 5 hour eating window on 4 days of the week, and a stricter one hour window on the other days.
Experiment and see what works best for your schedule and your goals.
Pros of OMAD Intermittent Fasting
As I mentioned above, a great benefit of eating one meal a day is having less meals to plan. This translates to less time spent cooking, less dishes to wash, and less time cleaning up the kitchen.
If you’re eating only one time or one plate per day, then you would definitely be saving money on food.
OMAD is also great for learning how to eat healthier because you are more likely to want to make that one meal count. It’s also less overwhelming to try to prepare a nutritious meal once per day then worrying about sticking to a healthy eating plan for 3 meals.
OMAD intermittent fasting is super flexible and you can adjust when you eat your one meal according to your work, family and social schedule. You can switch it up every day, if you want to.
My favorite benefit is that I don’t feel like I have to do meal preparation if I don’t feel like it. With some other weight loss plans you have to eat six meals a day and take food with you wherever you go. OMAD intermittent fasting is so much easier!
Cons of OMAD Intermittent Fasting
If you go straight from eating 3-6 times per day to only once per day, then you may end up feeling deprived and find the plan difficult to stick to.
Cutting down to one meal a day gradually will probably help with this. Even if you dive right in and find it hard to maintain, you can always increase your eating window.
Practice really does make perfect when it comes to intermittent fasting.
It may be harder to get your required nutrients in. If you’re eating nutrient dense food it shouldn’t be a problem, but if you love to eat less nutritious food it may become a problem over the long term.
Eating one meal a day also means that you have to really experiment with getting in the right amount of food so that your fasting hours don’t become too difficult. Less opportunity to eat is great for portion control, but it’s also important to eat enough for your body.
You also have to make sure that you’re taking any vitamins or medication that need to be taken with food during a much smaller eating window.
Success with OMAD Intermittent Fasting
Some of my favorite intermittent fasting success stories to follow online got healthy using a one meal a day protocol.
If you want to learn more about the OPAD or one plate a day style of intermittent fasting, check out the YouTube Channel for OMAD Revolution.
My favorite way of intermittent fasting is eating one meal a day throughout the week, and then extending my eating window to 16/8 on the weekends.
Eating one meal a day works perfectly for my schedule during the week, since I don’t have to worry about taking food with me to work and preparing meals in advance so that I can eat several times a day. OMAD intermittent fasting has given me so much freedom!
Have you tried OMAD intermittent fasting? If not, do you think it’s something that you could see yourself doing? Let me know in the comments!