Does the idea of going 23 hours without food sound a little scary to you? Is OMAD hard?
The answer depends on who you ask.
And for sure many will answer a big fat yes. It is hard.
Oh, sorry, you’re asking me. Well then, I have to say that now, after doing the practice I’ve done, the answer is no, it isn’t hard. It’s easy.
And in case you wondering, yes, long-term OMAD is for me.
I totally get it why it’s hard.
I mean it’s so individual, not everybody’s the same. And there are so many questions hovering over the success of OMAD.
And what about muscle? Will OMAD make me lose muscle mass?
Plus, there’s so much contradictory information out there, who to believe?
So let’s unravel the story a bit and get to the real point – will OMAD be hard for you when you first start doing it? (Here’s a couple of tips: drink plenty of water during OMAD and be careful of what other drinks you put into your body during fasting to help make it easier.)
But first of all, who is OMAD for and who shouldn’t practise OMAD?
Table of Contents
- Who Shouldn’t Practice OMAD?
- Who is OMAD Great for?
- Is OMAD Hard?
- How to Prepare for OMAD
- 12 Secrets to Help You Smash OMAD
- #1 Observe Your Eating Habits
- #2 Keep a Journal
- #3 Practise Intermittent Fasting First
- #4 Observe What You Normally Eat
- #5 Cut the Alcohol When Fasting
- #6 Avoid Sweet Foods and Refined Carbs
- #7 Don’t Do OMAD Every Day
- #8 Value Your Reasons for Doing OMAD
- #9 Choose the Right Time of Day for Your One Meal
- #10 Drink Lots of Herbal Teas While Fasting
- #11 Beware of Caffeine in Coffee and Tea
- #12 Drink Lots of Water
- Bottom Line: Is OMAD Hard to Do?
Who Shouldn’t Practice OMAD?
The OMAD diet’s great for a large portion of the population, but there’s an equally important sector whom it doesn’t serve well. People with type 1 diabetes or hypoglycaemia should avoid the OMAD diet as it may cause issues with the blood sugar levels, and if you’re diabetic (type 1 or 2) and DO want to do OMAD, you should enlist the help of a healthcare specialist. Some studies have shown that fasting’s a safe intervention for successful management of type 2 diabetes. OMAD is not recommended for elderly people, pregnant women or growing children. And anyone with a tendency towards eating disorders should also avoid this way of fasting as it could become an unhealthy obsession, or an addiction, or encourage binge eating.
Who is OMAD Great for?
If you’re looking to reap the benefits from eating one meal a day and you have a positive attitude towards trying new things then OMAD’s for you. You like experimenting and you know that determination’s a muscle which gets stronger with use. You want a health boost or a reduction in specific symptoms, you’d like to shed a few kilos and/or reduce your body fat (BMI) or maybe you’d like a break from all the over-eating and drinking you’ve been doing. Maybe the health benefits autophagy (where the body recycles its damaged and inflammatory cells during fasting) has enticed you into the picture.
Is OMAD Hard?
So you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work. You’re still searching for something which will give you back the feeling you had in your youth.
You know, bundles of energy. Healthy vibrancy. Maybe some weight loss.
But the soft layers stubbornly cling to your belly, glaring back at you from the reflection in the mirror, your trousers still tight at your waist.
Or maybe it’s your energy levels that are slacking? Or you’re looking to boost your mental clarity? Manage your type 2 diabetes or reduce inflammation in the body?
Frustrating, right? (Who the hell gave menopause the right to make us strangers to ourselves anyhow?)
I am the same.
I hate calorie counting. Always have. Like with a passion. Calorie counting goes against everything my love of food stands for, turning food into some kind of measured-out-gasoline to run the vehicle, instead of a source of joy.
The reasons for practising OMAD go on and on. And you only need one good reason for this to bring benefits.
Some people try OMAD and call it impossible. Others conclude that it’s a type of continual daily self-inflicted torture.
Like, you’re going without meals, voluntarily? You gotta be kidding me!
Then there’s the people who dive in for a 5 day crash-course on OMAD only to conclude that it’s a load of hype (or even BS).
But it isn’t any of those things for the right person with the right preparation.
So if you’re fed up with feeling sluggish or with carrying around extra fat on your body, or if you want to do OMAD for your health, then this is for you.
Do it right and you’ll get results.
Be prepared to work at it and give it a proper chance, to discover whether this is right for you or not.
And like anything, it works best if you lay the strong foundations first.
How to Prepare for OMAD
When you get it right you can feel on top of the world on OMAD.
Lot’s of people who eat one meal a day feel better than ever before (okay that’s a lie, that may mean ever before as in since their issues began. But if we’re honest, that can feel like forever, right?).
So what’s their secret? Why is it easy for some and hard for others?
Well, firstly there’s not just one reason but many, which when taken all together can be the difference between plain sailing or stormy seas.
12 Secrets to Help You Smash OMAD
You got this.
Welcome to the new you, eating one meal a day, happily.
Feeling energetic. Feeling healthy. Losing excess fat.
You just gotta set it up right.
#1 Observe Your Eating Habits
Before you start practising OMAD, start getting on a first-name-basis with your eating habits. Really dive in deep and get to understand them. Answer these questions and make a note of your answers.
- Do you eat a mainly healthy diet?
- What about processed foods?
- Refined sugar?
- What time of day do you normally eat?
- How many times a day do you eat?
- Do you snack in between meals?
- What’s your emotional relationship to food?
- Do you eat to help manage stress?
- Do you drink sugary drinks?
- What about alcohol?
#2 Keep a Journal
Keep a journal for recording your daily food-related activity.
Treat is as a hobby – do it for fun and don’t get obsessed by it.
It will become your best friend!
#3 Practise Intermittent Fasting First
If you’re used to eating all day long, start by cutting out breakfast. Read our guide to intermittent fasting for vegans and think about which style fits into your life better, between intermittent fasting and OMAD.
Play with this in a positive-mindset way. You’re strengthening your determination-muscles! You’re playing with your power!
Never see it as ‘missing out’ on breakfast! You aren’t missing out on anything. You’re gaining.
Once you can handle not eating breakfast, shift to a 16-8 relationship, so that you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8. The easiest way to do this is to eat your first meal of the day at lunch time and bring your dinner forward a few hours so that it’s within the 8 hour window.
Remember, you don’t have to do this every day, just on and off so that you get comfortable doing it.
From there you can launch into OMAD, no problem.
#4 Observe What You Normally Eat
What you eat is equally important to your success in OMAD as when you eat. It just gets overlooked by so many people because they’re thinking in terms of calories.
Yes, it’s true, they say you can eat whatever you like in your eating window.
But not if you want it to feel easy. Not if you want to be healthy either.
You need to cover all your nutrient requirements in the eating window. So eat a bit of lots of vegetables, proteins, a piece of fruit, some tofu etc. Vary what you eat each day so that you cover your chances of not missing out on micronutrients.
Apart from needing a healthy, balanced diet for health reasons, eating processed foods which contain sugar will lead to food cravings in your fasting window, making it MUCH more difficult to go without food.
#5 Cut the Alcohol When Fasting
This comes back to the sugar and how it sets you up for hunger cravings. So if you drink alcohol, you’ll be starving hungry in the fasting window, setting yourself up for failure.
Related post: can I fast with a hangover?
#6 Avoid Sweet Foods and Refined Carbs
Sweet foods and carbs will cause sugar cravings in your fasting window. Don’t be scared of what you eat, just be sensible and limit these foods as much as is comfortable for you.
#7 Don’t Do OMAD Every Day
Aim to do OMAD several times a week. Exactly how many depends on your lifestyle, social life and work commitments.
By not doing OMAD every day you take the pressure off. So what if yesterday I went out with friends and ate lunch and dinner? It doesn’t matter because today I’m back on my path of OMAD eating.
As well as that, by having some normal eating days too, you will keep the body on its toes.
If you do OMAD every single day, it’s likely that your metabolism will become a pro at maintaining your body weight on the calories from that one meal.
But by eating more meals on some days, you switch it up and put your foot on the gas pedal of your metabolism.
I usually do OMAD whenever I’m at home on a normal day, which usually translates as anything from 3 or 4 or 5 days in the week.
#8 Value Your Reasons for Doing OMAD
Keep a positive mindset while doing OMAD.
Easier said than done? Not really, the trick is to give up the blaming-game.
Give up thinking you ‘can’t’ do something. You can do anything you want. You can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. At no point in the OMAD should you think that you’re depriving yourself of anything.
Instead be excited that you’re being the one making decisions about when you eat. When you feel the temptation to eat but you don’t want to, focus on the reasons you’re doing this. Include the reason of self-control, of experimenting with your determination as well as your weight-loss or health goal.
That makes the journey itself the goal instead of some far off distant finish line. (Hint: there isn’t one!)
It’s the process that’s your goal. The fact of actually deciding not to eat all day long! Then you can feel exhilarated & proud! You’re breaking habits! Yaay!
And if you eat at the wrong time, don’t beat yourself up. Who cares? Be light about it. Don’t think you’ve failed, because you haven’t.
So you reach out and grab a snack? Just go back to your OMAD routine and let it go. Move on.
Stop acting as though you cause everything to go wrong. You don’t.
#9 Choose the Right Time of Day for Your One Meal
This can get overlooked but it’s a deal breaker. Eat at the wrong time and you may find yourself spiralling into tiredness, hunger and irritability because you want to eat.
If you eat breakfast, you’re body will automatically cut into its old habits and start to request lunch at lunch time. Eating breakfast makes you hungrier than skipping breakfast.
To the other extreme, if you eat too late in the evening you’ll have a long day to get through and you’ll still be digesting when you got to bed, which can affect your sleep patterns.
So the best window for eating your one meal is a very late lunch or an early evening meal.
Look at your obligations in a day and try to choose a time which will fit in conveniently while not being too early or too late in the day.
I tend to have my one meal at 3 p.m. during the week as I’m working from 5 p.m. – 9:30 and then it’s too late for me. On the weekends I eat my one meal at around 5 p.m.
In my opinion the best time to choose for your meal on OMAD is somewhere between 4-7pm.
Then you feel full enough to carry you through the rest of the evening without feeling hungry at all.
#10 Drink Lots of Herbal Teas While Fasting
Even if you don’t like herbal teas you might find that relationship changing when you become a pro at fasting.
It’s such an easy fix if you feel that pang of hunger in your growling stomach, to walk over, stick on the kettle, choose a flavour and drink a hot cup of tea.
#11 Beware of Caffeine in Coffee and Tea
If you normally drink a lot of coffee with caffeine (or tea) and then you suddenly start fasting, you can get withdrawal headaches from the reduction in caffeine. Those headaches are nasty!
So if you want to avoid them, try weaning off the caffeine before you start your fast.
I drink black decaffeinated coffee, Yogi teas, Pukka teas, liquorice tea and Hibiscus flower infusion. None of these will break a fast but be careful of drinking too much hibiscus tea as it can lower your blood pressure.
#12 Drink Lots of Water
You don’t need to go overboard but make sure you keep yourself well hydrated throughout the day. Pay attention to how much water you drink.
Headaches are often caused by dehydration. It’s common sense really, but also easy to forget to drink. Don’t!
Bottom Line: Is OMAD Hard to Do?
Nooo. Because when you’ve got this thing, you’ve got it. Know what I mean?
No struggle. No fight. No missing anything.
Nothing negative at all.
I mean is driving a car hard? Yeah sure it is, until you know how. Once you know you can do it, it becomes second nature.
OMAD’s the same.
You enjoy that wonderful hour (or so, I mean come on, nobody’s looking at the clock) while you eat your one meal, which you truly and fully enjoy and appreciate.
And at the same time you improve your health, lose the fat and feel back in control.
You got this! Imagine how you’ll feel one month from now!
Of course there are always hiccups that can happen with any lifestyle plan but if you feel that OMAD has stopped working for you, there are often things you can tweak to get back on track.
If you’re interested in reading more about fasting, you might like to take a look at my experience with a 5 day water fast, which, I confess, was harder than OMAD for me.
Take the first steps and claim back your body! What’s holding you back?