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I would stick with zero calorie sweeteners if possible. A splash of milk is fine, but don’t go overboard.
I Tried Extreme Fasting by Eating Once a Day — Here’s What Happened
The one meal a day (OMAD) diet is a type of intermittent fasting. With OMAD you can eat what you want, but you go without food for longer than with other types of fasting.
You could eat pizza and burgers every day, drink beer, and still lose weight — but is it a good idea?
When I started researching the One Meal a Day Diet (sometimes referred to OMAD), it was the simplicity that drew me to the plan: You eat one meal per day, consisting of whatever you want, typically at your regular dinnertime.
Super unconventional, right?
However, the OMAD is really just an extreme variant of intermittent fasting or a more hardcore cousin of the Warrior Diet. The difference between OMAD and traditional fasting is instead of fasting for the typical window, like 16 hours, you fast for about 23 hours (including the time you spend sleeping).
While the premise sounds a little shady, like a dietary supplement being hawked by a “doctor” on a late-night infomercial, let’s explore the reasoning — and science — on both sides of the debate before we totally write it off.
Most people cringe at the thought of missing a single meal. Intentionally missing all but one meal, every day, seems excessive and unnecessary. But proponents of OMAD claim a multitude of benefits, including:
- Increased focus and productivity. Who hasn’t
hit that groggy 2:30 p.m. slump at the office? OMAD is said to eliminate the
sluggishness people feel while digesting their lunch — because there is no
- Weight loss. It’s extremely hard to be at a
caloric surplus when you’re eating one time per day. Even if your one meal is
not “healthy” by normal standards, you’re not taking in as many calories as you
would if were eating all day long.
- Diet freedom. Forget logging calories or
eating out of Tupperware. You free up a lot of mental energy when you don’t
have to plan four to six meals per day.
Some follow this eating pattern for religious reasons. But others, including prominent pro athletes like Ronda Rousey and Herschel Walker, voluntarily eat once a day for the long term. Walker claims to have been eating one meal a day, typically a salad and some bread in the evening, for years.
There’s even some historical evidence that the ancient Romans only ate one large meal a day before breakfast began its rise in popularity during the Middle Ages.
During my time experimenting with OMAD, I ate once a day multiple times, but never for an extended period of time. My longest streak was five days. Several times, I lifted weights, played full-court basketball, or did other types of strenuous exercise in a fasted state.
Here are my three most important takeaways from trying the OMAD diet:
1. Just because you CAN eat anything, doesn’t mean you should.
Early in my OMAD eating, I got caught up in the childlike glee of being able to eat freely.
Then I realized I had consumed only nachos, wings, and whiskey in 48 hours. This certainly isn’t the optimal fuel for a healthy body.
Yes, part of OMAD’s appeal is the fun of eating what you want, but you should strive to make your one meal balanced and micronutrient rich for the sake of your overall health.
2. It’s probably not great for serious strength training.
I’m an avid lifter. While I didn’t notice any serious loss of strength on OMAD, I wasn’t exactly plowing through the iron either.
If you simply lift for general health and aren’t concerned with performance, restricting your meals probably won’t change anything for you.
But serious lifters who care about increasing their strength over time may want to adopt a less-extreme version of OMAD, like the Warrior Diet or a typical 16:8 eating window.
3. It’s a great way to improve discipline and willpower.
One of the reasons I tried OMAD was to see if I had the mental toughness to prevent myself from eating. It was challenging — hunger is a powerful feeling. On some days I gave in and ate lunch.
But most of the time, I was proud I’d stuck to the diet and felt free to reward myself with a hearty meal. If you believe that discipline is a muscle and yours needs to be strengthened, OMAD is one way to do so, an option that will actually get you in better shape.
Like lots of health trends, just because people do it doesn’t mean it’s good for you. The research is mixed when it comes to whether or not it’s safe to eat one meal a day.
One 2007 study connects eating once a day to an increase in blood pressure and cholesterol. So if your one meal a day consists of highly processed fried foods or too many simple carbs, you’ll feel pretty bad, even if you’re losing weight.
Other risks of fasting may include:
- feeling extremely hungry or binge eating
- shakiness or physical weakness
- fatigue, or low energy
- brain fog, or trouble focusing
But a small 2017 study of 10 people with type 2 diabetes showed that fasting for 18 to 20 hours a day can lead to more controlled levels of blood glucose .
That said, if you have diabetes, long-term OMAD probably isn’t right for you. And of course, you should consult your doctor before drastically changing your diet.
Research that dates to 2005 shows that fasting can improve the body’s resistance to disease by putting cells under a “positive stress,” in a similar way that lifting weights causes tears that make muscle fibers grow back stronger.
Extended fasts where only water ingested have also been linked to a lowered rate of diseases, such as cancer and diabetes, in one 2016 study with mice as subjects.
In a 2018 chart review of 768 medical-facility patients, it was found that limited, water-only fasts did not result in any long-term medical complications.
The general medical consensus is that it’s probably safe for most healthy adults to fast every once in a while. However, the studies noted here reference general intermittent fasting or days of water-only fasting. There are not many studies specifically on the risks or benefits of OMAD.
Does that mean you should?
The answer is different for everyone. Whether or not OMAD is the right fasting diet is something you should discuss with your primary care provider.
When I decided to try OMAD a few months ago I was already doing intermittent fasting, and the idea of losing weight while eating whatever I wanted was appealing. Plus, I liked the idea of challenging myself and pushing through uncomfortable hunger pangs.
Who should not try OMAD?
This is not a diet that can be sustained for a long period of time, therefore, as a Registered Dietitian, I do not endorse this weight loss diet approach.
When it comes to dieting, as a rule of thumb, people should be wary of methods and fads that presents itself as an easy fix to a complicated problem.
The OMAD diet can be extremely dangerous for children or young adults, people with diabetes or hypoglycemia, obesity, or metabolic rate issues, and it may increase the risk for binge eating.
Katherine Marengo, LDN, RD Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Eating once a day isn’t as crazy or dangerous as you might think, but it’s not for everyone. Personally, I would not recommend it as a long-term way of eating for weeks or months at a time.
However, one 2016 study links eating one or two meals a day to a reduction in BMI , and some people have great results turning OMAD into a lifelong commitment.
Besides MMA fighter Herschel Walker (mentioned above), another example is Blake Horton, the ripped YouTuber who regularly posts videos of massive meals like chicken taco pizza or a 7-lb burrito of Fruity Pebbles.
Like most people, OMAD was a little too difficult for me to do every day. If you want to try fasting but are intimidated by OMAD, you could consider something more manageable for your daily meal plan, like the 5:2 Diet or the Warrior Diet.
However, I still only eat once a day every now and then, especially when I’m extremely busy or after eating a large dinner the night before. It’s also a great way to practice discipline and challenge yourself.
The key to success with OMAD, like any other diet, is to listen to your body.
Change things up if you notice serious negative effects, noting that it’s okay to be hungry from time to time. You may find yourself reaching new levels of focus and productivity as the pounds melt away.
If not, at least you’ll have fewer dishes to clean up!
Raj is a consultant and freelance writer specializing in digital marketing, fitness, and sports. He helps businesses plan, create, and distribute content that generates leads. Raj lives in the Washington, D.C., area where he enjoys basketball and strength training in his free time. Follow him on Twitter.
How we reviewed this article:
Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.
- Aranson T, et al. (2017). Effects of intermittent fasting on health markers in those with type 2 diabetes: A pilot study.
- Blake_201. (n.d.). Home [YouTube Channel] https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCay8ax_pRTYy0LUhUsFPDwA/featured
- Fessenden M. (2015). Mostly the old and ill ate breakfast until the rise of the working man.
- Mattson MP, et al. (2005). Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems.
- Stote KS, et al. (2007). A controlled trial of reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction in healthy, normal-weight, middle-aged adults. DOI: https://www.doi.org/
- Strengthening self-control. (n.d.)
Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
Eating One Meal A Day [2022 Update]: A Stupidly Easy Way To Lose Weight?
Few people have yet to experience the glory that is eating one meal a day.
- No, eating one meal per day won’t make you fat.
- It won’t make you lose all your muscle.
- And it won’t screw your metabolism into the ground.
But it does allow you to feast like a fucking king every single night while eating your favorite foods.
And no, this isn’t a scam and there isn’t even any secret “guru” magic behind it.
It’s really just common sense.
But fitness and common sense is a lost art these days.
If you follow it, eating once per day JUST WORKS.
And if you’ve struggled with more traditional diets that make you eat 3-6 meals per day, then this may be the most stupidly simple way for you to successfully lose weight, ever!
If you’ve dreamed of eating 24 ounce steaks, with a mountain fries and ice cream, EVERY SINGLE night while still losing fat and building muscle then read on.
Eating one meal per day in a nutshell
The basic idea behind eating one meal per day is simple.
Every day, you eat one big ass meal (preferably at night). The basic idea is to get the majority of your calories in a single meal.
And during the day, you don’t eat anything.
However during the day you can eat 1-2 pieces of fruit or some protein after you workout.
This allows you to eat much more, feel fuller, and better adhere to your diet.
Remember, eating one meal a day is NOT magic
When I first started eating one meal per day, I had this weird belief that eating once per day gave me the power to lose more weight than traditional diets.
While this might seem like the case, nothing could be further from the truth.
It might be nice to believe that eating once per day causes all these different hormones to change in my body that helps me to burn “more” body fat.
But that’s just not the case.
And insulin levels – everyone always brings up fucking insulin levels.
Don’t worry about your damn insulin levels.
Just focus on creating a calorie deficit – that’s the only way to lose weight and always will be.
Eating once per day just happens to be a great way to create a deficit that many people can actually stick with.
For example, let’s say you need to eat 2000 calories per day to lose weight.
Diet #1 has you eating 3 meals and 2 snacks.
Diet #2 has you eating one meal.
In the end of the day, calories are exactly the same.
You’re just splitting your calories up a lot more in Diet #1.
That’s it. There is no magic. Just simple math.
5 reasons why you should eat one meal per day
I originally came across the idea of eating one meal per day from the Warrior Diet back around 2008.
At that time I was brainwashed by all the “eat 6 meals per day or die” BS and the Warrior Diet was my first foray into intermittent fasting.
I’m not saying it works for everyone, but if you love to feast every single day, have more energy, and potentially be 200x more productive during the day, then maybe this something you should give a shot.
Here are 5 reasons I recommend eating once per day:
Reason #1: Increased energy
How many times have you eaten lunch only to feel super tired 2 hours later? It sucks.
We’re all told lunch is supposed to give us this magic boost of energy, and maybe it does for some people, but I’ve found that most people just fall into a 2 pm slump where they eat lunch and their productivity shoots down the drain.
When you fast throughout the entire day, you experience this amazing surge of energy that lasts the entire day.
Reason #2: Never feel deprived when dieting
One of the many reasons people fail at diets is because they don’t get this sense of satisfaction with what they’re eating and how much they’re eating.
When you follow the conventional 6 meals per day model, you have survived on a couple of hundred calories every few hours.
At the end of the day, you just never feel satisfied.
You feel like something is missing…
Ironically, eating once per day solves this problem for most people.
The act of fasting throughout the day is a very powerful appetite suppressant, so when you have your massive feast at the end of the day, you practically feel “stuffed” every night.
Reason #3: More time & more productivity
Imagine how much more work you could get done if you didn’t have to worry about eating during the day.
No more worrying about that mid-morning snack, no more stopping at subway during lunch, and no more 2 pm energy slumps.
All this time you save can now be used to do more productive things that truly matter (like looking at pictures of cats online).
Reason #4: EVERYTHING tastes better
Fast the entire day, then eat a grape.
I guarantee that grape will be the best tasting grape you’ve ever had in your entire fucking life.
Look, I don’t know the scientific reason for why food tastes so much better after a fast, and frankly, I don’t care.
But some of the best meals in my life have been after a long fast.
Reason #5: Because eating cake every night is awesome
Do you know what’s awesome? Cake.
Do you know what’s not awesome? Not eating cake.
Cake makes everything in life better but with traditional dieting, you aren’t allowed to eat cake, which sucks.
Everyone needs more cake in their life (scientifically proven), so why not have a slice…or two, every night.
When you only eat one meal per day, you can afford to have some cake every night since your calorie budget is so much bigger.
Is coffee, water, tea, or diet soda okay during the fast?
Yes, as long as it’s zero calories, it’s fine.
Coffee and tea is actually a great appetite suppressant.
Eat 1-2 pieces of fruit during the day
While it’s totally fine if you can go the full day without eating anything, a lot of people do get hunger pangs no matter how much experience they have with intermittent fasting.
In this case, you can have 1-2 pieces of fruit throughout the day. This shouldn’t add up to any more than 200 calories plus you won’t feel a huge drain in energy compared to eating something high in carbs like a granola bar or a sandwich.
I recommend 2 large apples due to the large fiber and water content to keep you full
Supplement with some whey protein after you workout
If you train hard with weights 3-4 times per week while fasting (and you should) and follow the 1 meal per day diet then you should consume some 100% whey protein powder after working out so you don’t go half the day without any protein in your system.
I’m not really anal about the post-workout “window of opportunity,” but it’s best to get some protein in within 2-3 hours after your workout.
Why 100% whey protein? Because it has the most complete amino acid profile which is great for muscle growth and recovery.
As for which protein powder is best? Try Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard.
The one meal per day approach might not work great for muscle building
You can absolutely build quality, lean muscle by eating once per day.
BUT…some people need A LOT of calories to put on muscle and if you’re supposed to eat 4000 calories per day, it’s going to be pretty hard for some to get that in one meal.
So unless you have a huge appetite, I would probably be better off splitting it up into 3-6 meals.
For more info on gaining weight and building muscle, check out these posts:
- The 7-step beginners guide to building muscle
- Gaining weight and your “slow” metabolism
Eating one meal per day vs. other intermittent fasting protocols
Eating once per day is just one version of intermittent fasting.
And there are dozens of other fasting/feasting protocols out there that play with different fasting and eating windows.
But after looking at all of them, you’ll notice that the majority of them have the same underlying concept – fast for an extended period of time and get the majority of your calories in a small eating window.
Let’s look at some of the other intermittent fasting systems and how they compare to eating once per day.
One meal per day vs. 16/8 Leangains
If you follow Leangains, this means you’ll be fasting for 16 hours per day and eating for the other 8 hours.
During the 8-hour eating window, you’ll typically be eating 2-3 main meals.
There really isn’t a big difference between a Leangains style fast and eating once per day. The main difference is in the eating window and that all boils down to personal preference.
One meal per day vs. Eat Stop Eat
Eating once per day and Eat Stop Eat are not the same thing.
Many people confuse the two since they both involve 24-hour fasts.
Here’s the difference:
Eating once per day – Fast for 24 hours, under eat during the day, and get your entire daily calorie intake in one meal, every day.
Eat Stop Eat – Completely fast for 24 hours 1-2 times per week (no calories at all), eat a “normal sized” meal at the end of the 24 hour fast.
The problem some people might face is defining what “normal sized” means. It’s basically telling you to not eat until you’re stuffed and make sensible food choices.
But if you want to get more technical, your meal after an ESE style fast should be no more than 40% of your daily calorie intake.
ESE forces you to create a massive calorie deficit on your fasting days while the one meal per day approach simply changes up your meal frequency but you still get the same amount of calories every day.
One meal per day vs. 2 meals per day
Nothing different here besides meal frequency. If you want to eat 2 meals per day, that’s fine, just make sure your overall calories are the same by the end of the day.
Can you mix and match different diet & fasting approaches
I am all about diet flexibility.
If you want to follow the one meal per day approach one day and do 2-3 meals per day the next, that’s totally fine.
For example, you can structure your diet to look something like this:
- Monday: 1 meal
- Tuesday: 2 meals
- Wednesday: Eat Stop Eat
- Thursday: 1 meal
- Friday: 1 meal
- Saturday: 4 meals
- Sunday: 1 meal
Remember, a calorie deficit is the most important thing to create when dieting.
So just because you’re following a one meal per day diet doesn’t mean you literally have to eat one meal per day, EVERY SINGLE DAY.
If you want to go out and have brunch on Sunday, then screw it, have 2 meals that day. Don’t be obsessive about this stuff.
The one meal per day FAQ
I’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions from readers about eating one meal per day.
Hopefully, this answers all your questions and gets you on the right path.
What kind of foods should you eat?
There isn’t any single food that you should or shouldn’t eat.
If you have specific macro/calorie goals, you still need to hit them. The only difference is you have the luxury of hitting them in a single meal so for those that like to eat a ton of food in one sitting, you’re going to love this way of eating.
But obviously, you need to get a hefty amount of protein, a good amount of carbs, and some fat.
So something like a massive steak, some roasted potatoes, a big ass salad, plus some cookies and ice cream would make for a pretty epic feast.
How many calories per day should you eat in my one meal?
I recommend multiplying your bodyweight in pounds by 10-12 to get your daily calorie intake.
Use 10 if you have 50+ pounds to lose or if you’re a woman. Everyone else can start with 12.
This is just an estimate. It’s impossible for any formula to accurately tell you your daily calorie needs.
How many hours should you wait before going to sleep after you have your big meal?
Doesn’t matter. Sleep whenever you want.
What does this do to the metabolism?
Nothing bad. Read this article on metabolism myths for more info.
How long can you eat one meal per day for?
As long as you want. This isn’t a quick fix diet.
Eating once per day is a real, long-term approach to dieting that can work for as long as you want.
Does it matter whether you eat your one meal in the morning or at night?
Nope doesn’t matter at all.
It’s a matter of personal preference. Most people do it at night.
If you eat your one meal for breakfast or lunch, you might feel sluggish and tired the rest of the day since you have so much food in your system.
Could eating one meal per day be bad for you? I keep reading other articles online that say it’s bad for you.
Most people criticizing eating once per day are just woefully ignorant. Read those articles, and you’ll find it’s just people making assumptions without any real-world data.
Can I eat McDonalds for my one meal?
Sure, but I wouldn’t eat fries and Big Macs every night.
Use some common sense here.
You can still eat the foods you love, but you should still be eating mostly whole, nutritious foods for maximize your health and performance.
I love to drink coffee. Can I drink coffee during the fast?
Yup, coffee is a great appetite suppressant to use while fasting.
Can I add milk and sugar to the coffee?
I would stick with zero calorie sweeteners if possible. A splash of milk is fine, but don’t go overboard.
Is eating one meal per day guaranteed to help you lose weight?
It will only work if you put in the work.
I know the majority of you reading this are looking for some magic fat loss hack but eating one meal per day is not that.
You still need to make sensible food choices and you still need to be consistent like any other diet.
Nothing is guaranteed in life.
I tried this diet and it doesn’t work for me? What do I do?
Impossible to say. Maybe you’re eating too many calories. Maybe you’re not tracking your calories correctly.
It’s usually one of those two problems.
Why do you recommend the main meal to be eaten at night?
Whatever you want but try to make it sensibly healthy.
That means something like grilled meat, a carb source like rice/pasta, some veggies, and maybe some ice cream at the end is great.
Obviously food choices vary from person and culture, but use some common sense.
Can you drink alcohol while doing this?
Having one drink per night is fine.
Everything in moderation.
Should you exercise before or after your meal?
Again, it doesn’t matter.
It’s all up to you. Find what works best with your schedule and lifestyle.
Do you need to count calories while eating one meal per day?
I personally recommend tracking calories when starting out, only because it gives you an unprecedented level of tracking.
If you’re not losing weight, then you know exactly why and you can adjust calories accordingly.
I never want people to become obsessed with tracking calories, but it does give you a level of precision that you can’t get anywhere else.
But as you become more advanced and can recognize/estimate portion sizes more accurately, then you can back off from the calorie counting.
What if you get hungry when fasting?
Here are some tips:
- Drink plenty of water, black coffee, and tea.
- Chew sugarless gum.
- Stay busy and productive. People eat more out of boredom than anything else.
How much water should you drink?
At a minimum, enough to stay hydrated.
Also, if you’re pissing green, then you probably need to drink more water (and see a doctor).
The “8 glasses per day” recommendation is pretty solid.
I will say that drinking more water can help ward off hunger pangs.
2176 Comments – Leave Your Thoughts
Nice post. As an adult, I realized I had awful allergies to dairy proteins and gluten. Dairy was the worst; growing up w/ painful inflammations, boils/cysts, migraines, joint pains, nerve pains (that caused lower back pinch where I couldn’t walk (was bedridden for 2 weeks and w/ gut wrenching pain). Wish I had known this growing up, but everybody promoted dairy and eating 3 square meals/day. After giving up dairy, the above issue never happened!! Also soon after learning about OMAD, After hitting 41 yrs old, I tried and have been eating only dinner Mon-Fri for over 1 year (weekends I eat like breakfast, lunch and dinner since I’m w/ family). No calories during day.
A lot of pros from OMAD alone. My blurriness is gone when reading book/print. No more sensitivity to bright lights. Anxiety & depression greatly reduced (and I feel positive and focused throughout the day). I’m able to eat potatoes w/out digestive pains or insulin crashes. Better endurance, strength, immune system, teeth/gums, eyes. Lower inflammation (no aches after tough physical work). Skin heals faster after gluten allergy or cuts/scrapes. No hunger pains or discomfort during the day and no more using the toilet 2-3 times per day (only once/day) and no odor after using using toilet. Weight stay within my BMI weight. Flat stomach. Toned upper body. I can drink more servings of alcohol before getting tipsy (better liver or kidney function?).
My OMAD meal is a lot of Complex Carbs and Veggies and occasional add nuts and non-citrus fruits.
thanks, love OMAD
I forgot to mention OMAD cured my motion sickness too. I could never eat on a plane or boat. And could only tolerate flights up to 6 hrs. After few months of OMAD now don’t have a problem eating on 18+ hrs on flights and long cruises.
Michelle Gayle says:
What beverages can I drink while on my 23 hour fast? I am partial to a tea with skimmed milk.
a little milk is fine but the whole idea is to minimize calories before your big meal.
The less sugar in the creamer, the better, so I would go with a fat free half and half or heavy whipping cream no more than 1 tbsp. Remember to count whatever calories in the cream for your tracking.
Fuck calorie deficit says:
Another brainwashed idiot with counting calories shit…
please bless us all with your alternative magic fat loss methods.
Jason Rust says:
Would you be able to give more examples of what a meal would look like on OMAD? I’m finding it hard believing that I could eat over 2,000 calories in one sitting!
you wont find any. Just take any normal meal and 2x/3x portions sizes.
Deacon Stylz says:
I do the: 17 / 7 feeding window
The trick is eat like those magazine models.
Eat anything healthy , just keep portion sizes 6oz everything.
That’s 6oz greens , meats, veggies, ice creams, desserts all 6 oz portion.
The 17/7 window
7am light breakfast like eggs omelette or burritos.
12pm hour is “dinner” not lunch or snacks. 12pm-1pm
Try to get all your vitamins in the dinner meal.
Can even drink blended protein shake or vitamins skake with the dinner at 12pm
All solid foods feeding stops at 1pm daily.
This means no more eating …untell breakfast hour the next day.
Keeping calories total no more than 900 daily total.
But keep it over 500 calories daily so you will not suffer malnutrition.
This the secret female models use:
Example: breakfast avocado, or two eggs boiled and or just a apple.
Then at 12pm noon – around mid day salad of any kind.
And a hand full amount of nuts .
And that’s all the food eating the rest of there days.
Then in afternoon: some type of cardio or pilates class or home exercises.
For a hour.
What occures is calories are under 1000 total per day.
The body goes into ketosis at night. And body fat drops in 7 days. Truth