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OMAD Benefits: The Art and Science of One Meal a Day

By Liam McAuliffe Updated on

Intermittent fasting (IF) is one of the most popular strategies for reclaiming your metabolic health and boosting overall wellness. There are many types of IF, and one of the most straightforward is called OMAD, for One Meal a Day. In this article we’ll explore OMAD benefits and if it’s the right approach for you. 

OMAD Lifestyle Benefits

  • It’s simple
  • It’s affordable
  • It boosts productivity

OMAD is simple 

The OMAD diet is simple. You eat one meal a day. You can enjoy the meal slowly, and you can eat as much as you want. For the other 20+ hours of the day, you fast. 

OMAD’s simplicity means it can free up your day to focus on other things. Just think about how much more efficient you could be if you didn’t have to:

  • Think about what to have for breakfast each morning
  • Take a lunch break at work each afternoon
  • Pack or buy lunch each workday
  • Shop for, prepare, and clean after multiple meals each day

OMAD promotes mental efficiency, too. Most people find it immensely freeing to not have to think about food. 

OMAD essentially provides a condensed form of fasting’s mental benefits. The primary difference is you get to experience these benefits daily, not just monthly or quarterly as you would with a much longer fast. 

Many people who try OMAD find that it redefines their entire perspective on food. To put it simply, OMAD is probably the simplest way of eating there is. It allows you to eat to live, instead of living to eat. 

OMAD is Affordable

The OMAD diet is surprisingly cheap, even if you pay a premium for grass-fed, pastured foods. There are several reasons for this. Eating just once a day:

  • Allows you to prepare your meal at home, instead of eating out
  • Allows you to avoid pricey packaged foods and prepared snacks
  • Cut out snacking which can add up quickly

Contrast OMAD with the countless small expenses that come with more standard meal frequency, and it’s easy to see why it’s so much cheaper. ‘Normal’ eating typically requires, eating out and buying low-quality and overpriced meal replacements and snacks.

Though this might sound surprising, roughly 80% of the costs of one’s diet come from 20% of its foods in the form of processed, packaged, snack and convenience products. 

Cut out these hidden costs and prioritize beef, eggs, and organ meats, and you should be able to save big.  

OMAD boosts productivity

Imagine a scenario that’s all too often among white-collar workers: it’s noon at the office (or home office) and you’re fully in the zone. You’re almost done with a big project, but your coworkers (or housemates) are ready to take a lunch break. At the risk of feeling left out you go with them. 

You get back to the office around one o-clock and resume your work, but instead of feeling focused, you’re now feeling overly full and groggy. Talk about lost time and efficiency. 

OMAD eliminates this all-too-common problem. Instead of necessitating frequent breaks for meals, OMAD provides long, unbroken periods of time where you can focus on creative pursuits, business ideas, and family. Essentially it helps you stay in the flow longer.  Just as the fast and feast cycle made space for our hunter-gatherer cavemen ancestors to devote themselves fully to their next hunt, or their next communal ritual art.   

Research shows that certain hormonal changes make this fasting-focus connection possible. 

During your fasting period, your body produces larger amounts of energizing hormones like adrenaline and norepinephrine. These hormones may boost both mental acuity and overall metabolic function. [1]

Many people choose to practice OMAD cyclically for these very reasons. They might normally eat 3 square meals a day, but then switch to one meal a day if they need to get through a demanding project at work or home. 

Proponents of this approach say that occasionally going OMAD helps them process info faster and be more decisive. 

Health Benefits

In addition to the lifestyle-related benefits listed above, OMAD can impact your health in several incredibly beneficial ways. It may:

  • Boost gut health
  • Induce weight loss
  • Promote autophagy
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Increase hormonal sensitivity

OMAD Boosts Gut Health

Intermittent fasting is one of the best ways to improve gut health by allowing your digestive system time to rest and repair itself.

While we talked about many of OMAD’s health benefits in this article, here’s a gut-related benefit you may not have heard of before: reduced endotoxin levels. 

Endotoxin is very rarely talked about, even in the health and wellness/space, but it likely deserves more attention. Also known as LPS (lipopolysaccharides), endotoxin is a large molecule that accompanies gram-negative bacteria. Your gut microbiome synthesizes endotoxin when faced with chronic stress or bacterial infection. 

A small amount of endotoxin production may not be harmful — but large amounts of endotoxin can transfer into the bloodstream–especially if you have leaky gut— causing problems related to inflammation and cell damage. [2

Temporary calorie restrictions — such as those produced by OMAD — may directly reduce endotoxin levels. 

One animal study found that reducing calories by ~40% led to lower LPS synthesis and reduced LPS leakage into the bloodstream. These calorie-restricted (CR) animals had more lean mass, less fat mass, and better insulin sensitivity than their non-CR counterparts. 

Just as important, this study found that animals with already-high LPS levels didn’t benefit from fasting as much as animals with more normal LPS levels. “It may one day become possible to treat obese people with a drug that simulates caloric restriction,” study authors concluded. In the meantime, OMAD presents a great way to simulate calorie restriction while still consuming a normal amount of total calories. [3

Other types of ‘bad’ bacteria are eliminated by intermittent fasting, too. One study found a clear correlation between fasting’s pro-microbiome and anti-inflammatory effects. This study concluded that intermittent fasting holistically improves gut health. [4

If you’re experiencing gut-related problems like IBS, Chron’s disease, or SIBO, the OMAD diet may be beneficial. 

OMAD Induces Weight Loss

One study of healthy adults found that eating within a daily four-hour window led to far greater fat loss than a calorie restricting diet featuring three meals a day. [5] Another study showed that intermittent fasting burns through visceral fat even more quickly than low-carb diets. [6

It appears that OMAD activates the metabolic state called ketosis that switches the body to metabolizing fat into energy molecules called ketones. 

The hormonal changes described earlier are also responsible for OMAD’s ability to induce speedy weight loss. In addition to promoting mental clarity, the hormone norepinephrine may prevent your metabolic rate from falling during OMAD’s daily fasts. [7

OMAD promotes autophagy

Like other types of fasting, OMAD promotes a cellular process called autophagy. Autophagy occurs when damaged cells are broken down, recycled, and used to form new cellular components. Autophagy may also allow your liver to remove stored toxins from the body. It’s thought that fasts of 16 hours or more are needed to initially trigger autophagy.

OMAD’s connection to autophagy may grow even stronger when one temporarily restricts their liquid intake. This practice is known as ‘dry fasting.’ 

Some studies claim that occasional dry fasts can boost mood, activate the immune system, and speed the transition into ketosis. Dry fasting could also upregulate autophagy even further. 

The discovery of Autophagy’s benefits was significant enough to have warranted a Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2016. These benefits include the prevention of cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases. In addition, autophagy may slow down the degeneration that normally comes with aging. [9]

OMAD may reduce inflammation

Fasting has been used to reduce pain and inflammation for thousands of years. More recent research has confirmed fasting’s anti-inflammatory benefits, finding that it can reduce inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein. [10]

Lower levels of inflammation, in turn, are associated with: [11]

  • Reduced neurodegeneration
  • Improved ‘healthspan’
  • Improved longevity

These benefits are associated with general fasting techniques. It’s likely that OMAD offers these benefits, but additional research is needed before we fully understand OMAD’s exact effects on inflammation. [12]

OMAD Increases Hormonal Sensitivity

The standard American diet can cause several types of hormonal imbalances. One of the most significant hormone imbalances is known as hyperinsulinemia. 

Chronic hyperinsulinemia can lead to more severe health problems including: 

  • Diabetes [13]
  • Parkinson’s [14]
  • Alzheimer’s disease [15]
  • Cardiovascular problems [16]

Hyperinsulinemia triggers a negative feedback loop, meaning it makes itself worse over time — but OMAD might be able to reverse this vicious cycle. 

Medical professionals have been using fasting to reduce hyperinsulinemia for over 100 years. [17] Newer research, meanwhile, shows that intermittent fasting may reverse insulin resistance faster than conventional dieting. [18]

Why Food Quality still Matters on OMAD

Some studies imply that OMAD works for weight loss almost regardless of what you choose to eat for your daily meal. [19]

To get the very best results from this way of eating, however, we’d encourage you to combine OMAD’s meal timing with a nutrient-dense, animal-based diet that eliminates plant toxins and antinutrients. These guidelines can help; 

It’s also a good idea to diversify your diet on OMAD. You might want to eat fish one day, beef the next, and an omelet the day after that. Some experts believe that building some variability into your OMAD diet may provide even better results. Keeping things diverse is also a great way to make OMAD more sustainable.

OMAD Diet Benefits FAQ

What should I eat on OMAD?

While you can technically eat anything on OMAD, this way of eating works best when coupled with animal-based, keto-friendly foods that will fuel ketosis. People with higher activity levels may want to incorporate higher amounts of carbs

Is OMAD Good for Weight Loss?

It sure is. Most people find that fat simply burns off on OMAD. Water-weight should melt off, too. OMAD is somewhat unique in the sense that it can allow for weight loss without accompanying food cravings and hunger pangs–especially when eating a diet high in satiating animal fats. 

Is coffee allowed on OMAD?

Yes — just keep your coffee sugar-free in order to not break your fast. Some OMAD proponents do allow coffee with healthy keto fats like butter, cream, or MCT oil during the fasting period, as these foods are virtually free of insulin-spiking carbs.  

Is OMAD difficult to follow?

That depends in large part on eating well-formulated nutrient-dense meals. With the right food–lots of animal fat and protein–most people find OMAD easy to follow once their body’s hunger hormones have adapted to the reduced meal frequency.  

Is OMAD right for me?

If you have any of the following goals, OMAD could be a great fit for you:

  • Weight loss/fat loss
  • Greater productivity
  • Relief from type-II diabetes
  • Improved body composition
  • Enhanced focus and mental clarity

OMAD may not be right for you if you are 

  • Pregnant or nursing
  • Underweight
  • Have a history of eating disorders

OMAD Benefits: The Takeaway

OMAD is a particularly simple take on intermittent fasting that offers numerous benefits to lifestyle and health. It can boost productivity, increase focus, balance hormones, improve gut health, reduce weight, and promote cellular regeneration. 

If you’re looking for a minimalistic path to optimal health, look no further — just be sure to pay close attention to your body as you learn how OMAD affects you. And don’t forget to eat plenty of fatty,  nutrient-dense animal foods during that 4-hour eating window. This carnivore diet food list and keto food list can help steer you in the right direction. 

© 2022 DOCTOR ROBERT KILTZ. ALL RIGHT RESERVED