Which is better intermittent fasting or OMAD? Is it daunting to decide which to choose because there’s so much contradictory information out there when it comes to food?
Yeah, I know.
Whatever you look up in the world of healthy eating, you’ll find one million five hundred people claiming one thing and another million and a half claiming the opposite is true.
Navigating it all can be near impossible, and let’s face it, most of us have tried countless different ways to try and find the golden solution which truly fits us and our lifestyle.
So could it be that this time you’ve found the right one for you?
I believe so.
But then, just as you get excited, there’s another decision to be made: IF or OMAD?
Table of Contents
- Intermittent Fasting Vs OMAD
- Starting Out on Intermittent Fasting or OMAD
- Final Thoughts on Which is Better, Intermittent Fasting or OMAD?
Intermittent Fasting Vs OMAD
First of all, what’s the difference between intermittent fasting and OMAD?
OMAD is actually a type of intermittent fasting.
In fact most people would consider it the most extreme type of intermittent fasting. But for the purposes of this article, we’ll refer to them as two separate entities.
OMAD stands for one meal a day. IF for intermittent fasting.
So you eat for 1 hour and fast for 23 hours. That’s the deal with OMAD.
Intermittent fasting on the other hand is the practise of restricting your eating times, so that there’s always a period of fasting in any 24 hour period.
The most common IF practices are 16:8 (where you fast for 16 hours), 18:6 (where you fast for 18 hours) or 20:4 (where you fast for 20 hours).
Intermittent fasting’s also sometimes called 2MAD – or 2 meals a day.
This article assumes you already know about the general benefits of fasting, but if not, you may like to read our guide to intermittent fasting for vegans.
Starting Out on Intermittent Fasting or OMAD
If you’re new to fasting, jumping straight into OMAD probably isn’t the best or easiest choice for you. As with most things, fasting becomes easier with practise.
With practice you get used to not eating. Hunger isn’t an issue anymore. Water plays an important role in the fasting window and helps to keep the hunger at bay.
And it becomes more effortless for your body to flip the switch over to burning fat instead of carbs. But it’s logical to start with the option which is easiest to fit into your day.
For most people that means starting out with a 16:8 routine. Skip breakfast, eat your first meal of the day around1 p.m. and your last meal before 9 p.m.
As soon as that becomes easy, tweak each meal by one hour, so now your eating window is between 2p.m. and 8 p.m.
You may be happy to stay at that point, or if you want to take it further, shorten the window even more so that you eat between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. and become a fully fledged 20:4 intermittent faster!
If you’ve reached that point comfortably, it’s just a step more and you’ll be doing OMAD. Choose the best time to eat your OMAD meal so that it fits with your other daily commitments.
For me, the easiest time to eat my OMAD is either 3-4 p.m. or 5-6 p.m. depending on my other appointments.
Comparing Intermittent Fasting and OMAD
Both intermittent fasting and OMAD have significant health benefits (like improving metabolism, lowering blood sugar levels, increasing insulin sensitivity, releasing growth hormone and instigating autophagy for example).
Here are some of the pros and cons of IF vs OMAD.
Pros of Intermittent Fasting over OMAD
Intermittent fasting and OMAD are both popular ways to create a fasting window for health benefits, autophagy and/or weight loss. Here are some of the possible benefits of IF over OMAD.
- For most people intermittent fasting is easier to start with, especially psychologically because with IF we only skip one meal a day instead of two.
- More flexibility – we can shift the eating window around to suit our day, include more snacks and generally be less rigid in our eating habits.
- IF is more socially accepted and less likely to raise eyebrows or cause criticism from those around us.
- For some people IF is a more sustainable option (because of the reasons above).
- The longer eating window can translate as a greater variety of food, making it easier to cover all our nutritional needs.
- For those of us who are focussed on getting enough protein in the diet for muscle building it can be more practical to do that in two meals than in just one.
- There’s more research into IF than there is into OMAD.
Cons of Intermittent Fasting vs OMAD
- The shorter fasting window means less of the incredible benefits of autophagy.
- Eating twice a day in a window of 6 or 8 hours can easily become completely ‘normal’ – with no calorie deficit at all, leading to body maintenance and zero weight loss.
Pros of OMAD vs Intermittent Fasting
While intermittent fasting (IF) has some advantages over one meal a day (OMAD), there are also some potential benefits to OMAD compared to IF. Here are a few possible pros of OMAD:
- For many of us it’s easier for the body to burn fat while practising OMAD
- More difficult not to have a calorie deficit on just one meal a day (this can be a pro or a con depending on your motivation for fasting)
- For many, OMAD feels more amazing for energy and mental clarity
- Trains our body to effortlessly switch over to burning fat stores
- More freedom to eat what we want during the eating hour
- Easier to follow because you just have one hour in which you eat what you like (of healthy food)
- Meal planning and preparation become so effortless on OMAD
- Greater autophagy (where the body clears up damaged or old cells and generates new ones)
- May have a greater impact on longevity, due to autophagy
- Time saving – more hours in the day to do other things!
- Super experience for will power and for realising that hunger doesn’t need to control us
- The hunger hormone ghrelin seems to adapt easily to OMAD meaning no cravings (for some but not all of us)
Cons of OMAD over Intermittent Fasting
As always, there are also some cons of OMAD vs intermittent fasting and everything depends on the individual person, their mindset and their lifestyle.
For some people they wonder why OMAD isn’t working for them, for example. Here are a few possible cons of OMAD.
- Doing OMAD every day long-term (especially for us women) can make our metabolism adjust to compensate. Instead of becoming regimented into OMAD, choose 3, 4, or 5 days a week to do one meal and practise IF on the other days
- If we’re trying to build muscle, we may struggle to eat enough protein in our one single meal – be sure to eat a balanced meal with enough protein to support your musculature
- Unless we eat a great variety (e.g. wfpb diet), over time some voices have expressed concern that we could possibly become deficient in essential nutrients – eat the rainbow and include natural whole fats, plant protein, complex carbs and fibre
- Some people may become obsessed about the one meal – try to normalise it within your mind – not eating for 23 hours is our new ‘normal’ therefore no need to binge eat when you do eat
- Can lead to overeating at one sitting – listen to your body and eat as much as you need but not more
- OMAD is less socially acceptable i.e. people may think you’re weird/unhealthy/extreme
- There’s very little in the way of studies about long term OMAD but there’s anecdotal observations from people who have successfully and unsuccessfully practised omad long term. And studies supporting the health benefits of longevity in mice.
Definitive Answer: Which is Better, Intermittent Fasting or OMAD?
In my opinion, the best protocol which covers weight loss, health benefits and autophagy, is to combine the two methods and eat WFPB on OMAD.
In fact, according to Dr. Mindy Pelz, author of Fast Like a Girl, variation is key to success.
Studies show that fat loss and specifically belly fat loss becomes resistant to the fat burning mechanism if we stay on the same fasting routine day-in day-out over a long period of time.
Start off with intermittent fasting and increase it to OMAD for several days a week.
I’ve found that by doing OMAD on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and sometimes Thursday, my body is burning off my excess fat at a slow but consistent pace (more sustainable).
On the other days, I usually start the day the same, in a fasted state. I then have lunch, and later on in the early evening I’ll have another snack or light meal.
I prefer OMAD because of the autophagy and fat loss, but I don’t want to overdo it and find myself on a plateau by letting my body comes to expect OMAD at the same time every day.
And the time of day for eating OMAD is crucial to our success.
And even though the emphasis is on when we eat, it’s also important to consider what we eat while doing intermittent fasting.
A healthy balanced WFPB diet is the perfect combination.
Try combining both IF and OMAD and watch as you begin to feel more and more trim!
It’s a great feeling. And we become so much more in control of our reactions to hunger!
It’s liberating not to be dominated by our hunger gremlin anymore!
The hormone responsible for those hunger attacks is called ghrelin, so of course I’ve nicknamed it our hunger gremlin.
Final Thoughts on Which is Better, Intermittent Fasting or OMAD?
You know what it’s like when you rave about a book or a movie to someone? You know – like you rave at them: You really must read it! It’s such an incredible book!
Only to find that your friend doesn’t get the wow factor. And then years later when you come across it again, you find the magic’s gone. What was so earth-moving in it in the first place?
The reason is, different moments need different inspirations.
Different recipes, different ingredients.
Different problems, different solutions.
So we’re not just talking about differences from one person to the next, but also about from one moment to the next in our lives.
The things which will affect the outcome are so intricate – from who you are, to what lifestyle you enjoy, your mindset, your genes, your weight, your health, your metabolism, your eating habits, your daily diet . . . .
So many things will affect the outcome.
But if you ask me my opinion, (and I’m going to give it to you even if you don’t!) a combination of OMAD and intermittent fasting’s an incredible and life-changing practice.
Just imagine as you slip into your jeans and you notice the extra room round the waist, the spacious rumpled fabric between your legs and your jeans.
Think of all the extra time you have for doing all the things you love! An added bonus – your shopping list shrinks and you save money on groceries!
And then you get to wear the clothes you thought you’d long since grown out of.
And to top it all off, you feel superbly, expressly, delightfully, healthy!
And all the time without any stress.
I encourage you to play around with fasting and have fun. Enjoy the journey and see it for what it is – a superb exercise which has the power to change your life.
Fasting isn’t recommended for children, elderly people, pregnant women or anyone with a predisposition to eating disorders. Anyone with health issues should consult their health advisor before starting IF or OMAD. And finally, this article is just about sharing my experience and my opinion with you. Please do what’s right for you!