Seeing as this is a new blog, I don’t have the luxury of writing whatever about whatever I want. I have to do keyword research to make sure the massive articles I write have a chance of ranking for low-competition keywords.
Fortunately, the OMAD diet is not only a keyword that fits that description, but is also a topic that I happen to know a ton about.
I’ve been eating one meal a day pretty much since 2002, so I feel like I’m pretty qualified to speak on this subject.
To be honest, if you’re looking for science and facts, you can find them on most bland health sites. They’ll give you the same watered down advice that you see repurposed from Wikipedia:
“::Insert diet name:: MAY contribute to losing weight, but you should consult your doctor first because we don’t have any actual experience with it and don’t really know.”
I’m here to talk to you as a real, authentic person who has experience with OMAD.
I’ve done it for years and am about to tell you why it’s the #1 Supreme Method Of Eating For Humans (with the occasional 48-72 hour fast thrown in for fun).
The OMAD Diet will keep you lean and sexy
When it comes to staying lean, there’s nothing better than doing the OMAD diet.
But this begs the question: if it’s so easy, then why doesn’t everyone do it?
I believe the answer is that we are so conditioned to think that we NEED to eat 3-5 meals a day, that we tend to throw common sense out the window when making decisions about our health.
We’re constantly fed this nonsense about “messing up your metabolism,” as if there was some sort of metabolism organ in our body that was capable of being injured.
Which brings me to my first point: your metabolism is not a thing – it is a process.
Specifically, it’s a process that determines how efficiently your body uses fuel to keep itself alive and do other cool things like burning fat and building muscle.
Now let’s think about it for a second: if you were to not eat for 20ish hours, what do you think is more likely?
- Your body would completely forget how to metabolize food and you would gain lots of weight when you finally did ingest some food
- Your body would ravenously devour any and all food you ate when you finally DID eat, utilizing it MUCH more efficiently than it would have if you had eaten in the past few hours
I understand that you could make an argument for either. And if you believe the mainstream media and medical community, then you are probably dead set on believing that the first explanation is true.
As you can probably guess by now, I’m about to tell you that when it comes to the speed at which your body metabolizes food on the OMAD diet, the second explanation is actually what happens.
We’ll come back to the health benefits of OMAD in a moment, but there are a host of other advantages to the OMAD diet which we’ll dive into right now.
Eating one meal a day means you have more time to do important stuff
If we were to take a completely PRACTICAL look at how we spend our day, one could make the argument that eating isn’t really that important.
Yes, I realize that we need to eat to stay alive. I’m not saying that you should become anorexic, and if you’ve ever seen pictures or videos of me you’d be hard-pressed to say I wasn’t well-fed.
However, if we look at the amount of time we spend eating in a given day, we can see that the return on investment is disgustingly low compared to how much time we spend on the activity itself.
You might never have thought about this before, but if we assume you cook and eat three meals a day, look at all the time you have to spend on eating:
- Driving to the store
- Buying the food from the store
- Driving back home
- Cooking the food
- Eating the food
- Recovering from the tiredness and insulin spike that results from eating the food
If you’re doing this for every meal, you can see how the amount of time spent on eating would begin to add up.
If we assume three meals a day then it’s clear how this practice would get out of hand pretty quick.
Again, I’m not saying that you don’t ever need to eat. I’m saying that the amount of time spent eating is essentially “dead time” that serves no purpose.
I suppose the ONE exception would be for extremely social individuals who have to wine and dine clients. There are some people like this: they literally never eat alone and are always in the process of making some deal.
But for the rest of us normal people with average social lives, do you really have an excuse to spend 6 hours of your day devoted to the food-ingesting process?
Eating one meal a day, preferably at night (more on this later), means you have all day to work on whatever it is you need to work on. No downtime from eating food or any of the other stuff that goes into the food-eating process.
Doing the OMAD Diet indirectly causes you to eat healthier food
My first exposure to doing OMAD was via the Warrior Diet – a book by Ori Hofmekler that advocated snacking on low-GI foods during the day and eating one large meal at night before bed.
I was already in pretty good shape back then, but when I reduced my eating frequency to only once a day, my level of fitness spiked to levels I’d never experienced before.
To be fair, part of that had to do with the type of workouts the Hofmekler recommended in his book. He advocated super slow, super heavy, and super low rep ranges for training.
Super slow training – combined with the hormonal changes that I experienced from only eating once a day – added another layer of dense muscle to my frame that I wish I had taken more pictures of.
That said, arguably one of the most useful tidbits of information in Hofmekler’s book was the order in which he recommended dieters to eat their evening meal.
I’ve gone over this before, but he said to eat the evening meal in 3 steps:
- Start with raw vegetables and leafy greens
- Then move to lean protein
- Eat carbs last, but only if you’re still hungry and/or have lots of activity planned for the next day
When I first started eating one meal a day, I followed his instructions to a T.
Naturally as time went on, I began to add in my own variations. When you live in the modern world with other human beings, you’re obviously going to be thrown into situations where you don’t have as much control over what and when you eat.
However, I noticed that when I ate in a different order than what Hofmekler recommended (i.e. protein or carbs first instead of veggies), that I almost always got a stomach ache.
Pro tip: eat a wide range of flavors on the OMAD diet
In his book, Hofmekler claims that after a full day of fasting, your digestive juices are so concentrated that introducing foods that are harder to digest will cause a stomach disturbance.
I never checked the research on this, but in my bro-science (read: empirically-focused) mind, this seemed to make sense.
Regardless of the science behind it, eating anything other than vegetables for my evening appetizer resulted in icky feelings in my stomach that were further exacerbated by the massive quantities of food I would inevitably ingest after starving myself all day.
The result of this was that I 1) ate a considerable amount of vegetables daily, and 2) was more conscious of the foods I put in my body at the end of the day.
While one could argue that eating vegetables is largely unnecessary (aside from those that have peripheral benefits like onions and garlic), at the time I was under the impression that vegetables were healthy. And more vegetables was more healthy.
If nothing else, this helped to keep me lean as it reduced the overall amount of calories I was able to ingest.
I was essentially at a caloric deficit every single day unless I managed to pound myself full of high calorie foods after stuffing myself on a full salad at dinner time.
Furthermore, on days when I went off the rails and ate pizza or some other food that I shouldn’t have, I felt absolutely awful.
It was almost like I had a food hangover from something essentially devoid of nutrients.
I believe that modern humans are so used to feeling awful that they don’t notice that it’s the foods that they eat.
Most people rarely eat ONLY nutrient-dense single-ingredient meals, so they are in a constant state of not-feeling-good-ness that they don’t realize is because of their diet.
But when do the OMAD diet, accounting for the difference in how you feel based on the foods that you eat becomes second nature.
By fasting all day, you are controlling a major variable: eating frequency.
The only new variables that you are introducing into the equation is the type of foods that you eat. After a long enough time, you’ll begin to notice that eating certain foods make you feel amazing while others make you feel awful.
The OMAD diet inevitably leads to a gradual focus on healthier foods not because of some desire to be healthy, but because eating anything OTHER than healthy foods will make you feel awful.
(As a side note, this is why I don’t really feel so proud of being a fit and healthy person. It’s not like I’m some paragon of health that pursues ultimate health – it’s really more just an issue of avoiding feeling awful.)
Eating healthy will help you avoid feeling awful. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t need any help with that.
The OMAD diet is cheaper than eating multiple meals per day
As a perpetually poor person, saving money is important to me. Despite being a big Jew, I’m not so great with money either. If I have it, I spend it.
Strangely enough, the past few years I’ve noticed that my biggest expense actually tends to be food. I spend more money on food than I do on rent.
To quickly touch on this, I believe that the reason is that by depriving myself of food for so many hours a day, I am inadvertently becoming more obsessed with finding pleasure in food when it finally is time for me to eat.
Interestingly enough, in the Warrior Diet, Hofmekler recommends dieters to include as many different flavors as possible in the evening meal.
The idea behind this is that it is supposed to help with satiety, as eating only a single food or group of foods is likely to leave dieters still craving something in the purgatorical (yes I just made that word up) time period that exists when their stomachs communicate to their brains that they are full.
In other words, eating lots of flavors during your meal will make the whole process easier.
In my experience, that seems to be true, at least indirectly. What I mean by that is that I crave SO MANY different flavors during my evening meal that it actually takes me longer to be satisfied.
These days, I am stuffing myself on raw meat during my evening meal.
Once I’m “full” (read: not interested in eating any more raw meat), I’ll have a few hardboiled eggs with hot sauce. When I don’t feel like eating those anymore, I’ll eat a bag of peanuts. Then I’ll have some rice crackers…. you get the idea.
The process repeats itself until I either run out of food or I literally can’t eat another bite.
The cost of this entire “meal” varies from country to country. In Vietnam, it could be as low as $7, while in Tokyo where I am at the time at this writing, it could be as high as $20.
That may not sound so low to you, but you have to keep in mind that I eat almost exclusively nutrient-dense foods like meat, eggs, and dairy.
Add to that the fact that even though I am eating a massive meal at night, I am skipping two additional meals during the day. Regardless of what country you’re in, eating a Western-style meal is going to cost you around $10, minimum.
If you aren’t like me and have a real job that allows you to spend money in restaurants without feeling guilty, then that probably doesn’t sound like such a big deal to you.
The OMAD diet is perfect for minimalists
But if you prefer a minimalist lifestyle, where your main priorities are keeping your abs visible, your skin the color of a coconut, and your bank account in the 4-digit range, then eating one meal a day might appeal to you.
And if you’re one of these frugal people who is obsessed with saving every penny, then eating one meal a day can be great as well. I’m not one of those people unfortunately, so I’ll let my advice on the topic end there.
That said, you should also understand that not only will you eat healthier when you have more control over the food you eat (i.e. eat at home instead of at restaurants), but that it’s also cheaper.
Not only do you have to pay a premium for the “experience” of eating in a restaurant, but they often charge you for the act of cooking the food.
Maybe I sound like some kind of prehistoric hipster LA wannabe for saying this, but cooking food is inferior to eating it raw and should really be treated as something you do in moderation.
Yes, I know it sounds extreme. “What, you’re saying that you should only eat cooked food in moderation?” Yes, that’s what I’m saying.
Cooking not only destroys 30-40% of the nutritional value of food, but it makes your digestive system work that much harder to break it down.
I know that goes against what most people say about eating cooked vs raw food, but in my experience it’s completely bass-ackwards.
Again, I base this on absolutely no scientific evidence whatsoever. But as I’ve said many times in many articles and videos, I don’t need to read a paper written by fat scientists to “know” something that goes against my experience.
Granted, I like to think of myself as a “free-thinker” who isn’t constrained by silly things like “science” and “facts.”
I know that probably sounds insane, but I prefer to find my facts on my own through experience. I’m not saying that science is NEVER right, or that the earth is flat or anything ridiculous like that. But when it comes to nutritional science, I find the “facts” to be lacking and HEAVILY influenced by the food and beverage lobby.
But hey, that’s just me.
Getting back on track, I’ve found that when I eat raw meat for example, I am full without feeling full. However when I eat cooked meat, it feels like I have a giant ball of food in my stomach that my body has to work extra hard to digest. I feel bloated and gross.
What’s the exact scientific process by which this can be explained? No idea and I don’t care.
All I care about is that I feel great when I eat raw meat and I feel less great when I eat cooked meat. And that’s enough for me.
The OMAD diet will help improve your hormonal balance
My “anti-science” attitude notwithstanding, let’s talk a little about some actual scientific benefits of eating one meal a day.
I’ve mentioned this before, but the OMAD diet has the benefit of controlling insulin levels.
Insulin is a hormone that your body produces that, among other things, makes you store fat and build muscle.
It’s not “bad” in and of itself, but if you’re eating a modern diet of 3 meal a day full of processed foods, then your body will produce too much of it too often.
Your body will release insulin in a directly proportional amount to the amount of foods you eat that are high on the Glycemic Index.
Eat more high GI foods and your body will release more insulin.
This can be beneficial if you time it right – eat lots of high GI foods before eating lots of protein and theoretically you will build more muscle. Your “anabolic window” will be larger and you’ll be able to greater utilize the foods you eat during your refeeds.
The other side of the insulin coin that rarely gets talked about is another hormone called glucagon.
You can think of glucagon as the opposite of insulin – where insulin makes you fat, glucagon will keep you lean. Glucagon will help you break down fat during periods of undereating or fasting.
Furthermore, when you keep yourself fasted, your body will produce another hormone called ghrelin.
This is the “feel hungry” hormone that your body will release to tell you that it needs to eat something.
In the modern world, our natural inclination is to give in to the first signs of hunger, fearful that we will “mess up our metabolism” or “go into starvation mode” or some other such nonsense.
Meanwhile, most people in the modern world look like they could do with a little starvation.
Anyway, there are a slew of benefits that come with increased ghrelin levels – chief among them is that ghrelin releases GHRH – growth hormone-releasing hormone.
I realize that this sounds like something I just made up, but it’s actually a thing. In fact, it’s the chief mechanism of action of one of my favorite nootropics: MK677 (Ibutamoren).
As the name implies, GHRH is responsible for causing your body to produce growth hormone.
Scary stories that you may have heard from the bodybuilding world about acromegaly: growth in the jaw, increased cranium size, or increased hand size are all true – with exogenous GH.
In other words, when you are injecting 20-30 times the amount of growth hormone that your body can produce, yes, you run the risk of acromegaly as a side effect.
But when you are fasting for a brief amount of time in order to trick your body into producing 2-3x the amount, you have nothing to worry about.
Not only do you have nothing to worry about, but growth hormone is touted by the life extension community as the veritable fountain of youth. It works like magic in the body, helping to build muscle, burn fat, and repair any cellular damage that you may have undergone over the course of your day.
This is arguably the biggest benefit of fasting and the OMAD diet and why people who claim you’ll go into “starvation mode” or some other such nonsense have no idea what they’re talking about.
To recap, the process looks like this:
- Be in a fasted state from eating one meal a day
- Body releases ghrelin to make you feel hungry
- Ghrelin releases GHRH
- GHRH releases growth hormone
Conclusion: is the OMAD diet right for you?
Um, yes? Why do I even have to answer that question?
Of course it’s right for you.
But again, here we run into the same problem that other non-mainstream advice encounters: it sounds crazy and isn’t recommended by the medical and scientific community, so therefore it must be wrong.
And as I’ve said before, this is both a good and bad thing.
It’s bad because it means that this message will fall on deaf ears. Only people who are willing to experiment on their own will realize that it’s legit advice. Those people will be drawn to my content and hopefully decide to consume more of it.
It’s good because it implies that most of the world is not going to follow this advice, so I’ll retain yet another advantage over any of my competitors.
As a traveling digital nomad without a traditional business who isn’t particularly money-motivated, it’s not like I have so many competitors to begin with.
But I guess I’ll be able to maintain my feeling of smug superiority when I interact with the rest of humanity who doesn’t practice the OMAD diet.
I’ll see their jelly rolls and backfat and think to myself, “Ha, they don’t do the OMAD diet and I do. I’m better than them.”
Maybe that sounds evil or selfish or something. And I should probably write something more altruistic like, “Gosh darn it I just wanna help people!”
But at the end of the day, do any of us care about other people? Don’t we just do things for selfish gain anyway and then only dress it up after the fact to make ourselves look better to our potential customers?
I dunno. But this article is long enough now. Bye.