Can you do OMAD forever? There isn’t a lot of evidence for or against long-term fasting. In this post we look into the research on this question of whether or not OMAD is healthy in the long run.
For me personally, I feel my best following an OMAD diet for several days of the week (and a 16:8 or 18:6 intermittent fasting protocol on the other days), so I’m unlikely to stop unless that changes at some point in the future.
You may be thinking, yeah but won’t OMAD ruin my metabolism?
Or maybe you’re wondering whether Intermittent fasting’s better than OMAD?
I mean, isn’t OMAD hard?
Like I mean really hard – especially to think of doing it forever?!
But actually, even though it’s one of the most extreme types of intermittent fasting, and some people do struggle with it, for others it’s a breeze.
And I’m lucky enough to be one of them.
Once you’ve got used to it, that is.
Of course when you first go to OMAD you have to rewire your brain! And you do have to eat healthy in your one meal a day.
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Summary of Can You Do OMAD Forever?
OMAD has a ton of health benefits including prevention of disease and improved longevity and cellular health but as yet there aren’t many studies on long term OMAD fasting. One concern is that you might miss out on vital nutrients because of the lack of variety you might get if you eat only one meal, causing deficiencies in the future. It may be difficult to eat a full day’s requirement of protein in one sitting. And once the optimum weight is achieved, calorific deficiency could become an issue. For people who choose to do OMAD long term it’s important to eat a fully balanced meal and to do it for a few days a week, eating normally on the remaining days.
Intermittent Fasting and OMAD According to Trials
At the time of writing there isn’t much in the way of scientific studies looking at long-term fasting. It’s interesting to note that in the studies which do exist, it’s pretty much a given fact that intermittent fasting has profound health benefits.
And that our habit of eating too much every day is is a real health threat to modern society.
The belief that we need to eat 3 meals in order to be healthy only compounds the problem. In fact a major cause of death is over-eating, which leads to so many other chronic health issues and diseases.
The positive effect of reduced-frequency meals is better documented in animals but less so in humans. In tests, rodents have increased lifespan and are shown to be protected against: cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders.
That’s a ton of benefits.
As if that wasn’t enough, intermittent fasting also has a positive effect on: cognitive health, blood pressure, glucose metabolism and cellular health.
Another trial states that intermittent fasting causes little-to-no side effects, and in addition to the diseases listed above, it can also be used to prevent or to treat autoimmune and metabolic disease.
And when you think about hunger levels, we’ve always been taught that grazing our way through the day is a good way to keep hunger levels down, or at least by having three full meals a day.
When you’re hungry, eat, right?
Wrong. (Or at least may be wrong, depending on the situation.)
It seems that the hunger hormone Ghrelin doesn’t behave in a linear fashion. You don’t just get increasingly hungry.
And yet another trial concluded that hunger levels were no lower in those who ate regularly compared with those doing intermittent fasting. And when meals were increased to x6 a day, hunger levels were at their highest.
So basically, although it’s early days, the evidence is backed by history and by scientific studies: intermittent fasting is healthy.
Long-term intermittent fasting is still largely uncharted territory, but will most probably become part of a protocol for treating chronic disease in the future, at least it should in my opinion.
If you want to do OMAD long term there are some things to bear in mind . . .
Doing OMAD Long Term
Are you thinking of doing OMAD long term? Or are you just curious as to whether it would be possible?
There are tons of people who feel better on OMAD that have been doing it for years. The actual time of day to eat the OMAD is most often in the afternoon or early evening, and the faithful OMAD-ers, swear by it.
That’s not to say you can’t run into problems. One of the concerns is whether you’d cover all the nutrients you need in just one meal a day.
Specifically for vegans, one concern which you will hear repeatedly is being able to eat sufficient protein in your OMAD meal. And if you don’t eat enough protein, will OMAD cause muscle loss?
While covering the necessary nutrients is a very valid (essential) point, I think it demonstrates more of a need to eat a fully balanced OMAD WFPB meal than it is about eating more frequently.
For me it’s about weighing up the options. What are you gaining on OMAD? Do you maintain a healthy weight and feel fit and vibrant? Is your skin clearer? Have you narrowly escaped sickness or disease because you found OMAD?
All these things have to be weighed up against the possible fact that there could be a long term negative consequence of practising OMAD.
Also, once you hit your ideal body size, you don’t want to be forever living in calorie-deficit, yet it might be difficult to eat all the calories you need, in one sitting. This can be easily remedied by switching OMAD for a 16:8 or 18:6 routine for a few days a week.
By not doing OMAD every day you’re more likely to cover your micronutrients, calorie needs and protein requirements and it will also support your metabolism (see below).
If you’re unsure about OMAD, you could wait until the definitive research comes in (eventually, one day, maybe not in my lifetime) or go with how you feel.
I feel better when I’m on OMAD than when I’m not, so for now I’m going to continue. If the day comes when I feel it isn’t for me, I’ll stop.
But there’s another very important point . . .
Don’t Do OMAD Every Day
There are two very good reasons why you shouldn’t do OMAD every day. The first has to do with your body’s metabolism.
And this could be a vital key if you’ve ever wondered why OMAD isn’t working for you.
There’s a lot of discussion about whether fasting slows your metabolism, but no matter the answer to that question which is hotly debated, the fact is, when you eat once-a-day every day, you get used to it.
Your body adapts.
People who were fed an OMAD diet without any change in calories, maintained their weight. That’s because the body isn’t stupid and it adjusts to this new eating window.
Now, you may be thinking that it’s a great thing, and it is, because it makes it easy for you to stay on OMAD.
But if you want to burn excess fat, then you’re better off doing a couple of days a week either normal eating, or on 16:8 or 18:6 or 20:4 so that your body doesn’t become totally dependant on the OMAD eating time.
By surprising your body, you spike the metabolism on those days and optimise the keto fat burning process on your OMAD days.
The second reason is that you give yourself every opportunity not to miss out on vital nutrients because by eating normally twice a week you’ll have more opportunity to cover those missing nutrients.
Why Some Top Athletes Only Eat One Meal a Day
Conclusion on Can You Do OMAD Forever?
OMAD works really well for many of the people who persevere through the early days, and many of them choose to carry on doing OMAD for long term.
Despite that, there aren’t any conclusive studies done on the safety of OMAD long term.
So it’s a personal choice to carry on with it and to listen to your body and gain all those incredible benefits that come with fasting. (Read about my 5 day water fast here)
The most important aspect of OMAD is that you can combine it with normal living. You don’t have to (and maybe even shouldn’t) do OMAD every day of every week.