by Jon Sullivan - 2019-08-30 - Status<<<<< previous blog next blog >>>>>
For a long time now I've been eating one meal a day. Let's talk about that.
One meal a day (OMAD) is just what it sounds like. I eat one big meal, then don't eat anything for another 23 hours. Repeat forever. No juice, no diet soda, small snacks. Outside of my one meal I only consume water or black coffee, and sometimes not even coffee. Originally I did it to try and lose weight, but after a few years of it it just feels like a better way to live.
Other than a 6 month break after the blow to the head incident, I've been doing it for over two years.
I've done many diets over the decades. And all of them not only failed, they had me rebounding and gaining more weight back than I'd had before the diet. Beyond the numerous benefits, I found OMAD seemed more like a diet I could stay with as a lifestyle. More energy, no hunger, super simple. I'm sure it's not for everyone, but for me it works.
Q: Don't you get too hungry?
A: No. Once my body got used to eating only one meal a day I actually experience less hunger. Eating three or more small meals a day, plus snacks, trains your body to ask for food all day. Eating one big meal with all the calories you need trains your body to not initiate hunger pangs for food it won't get. If I go 30 hours with no food I certainly get hungry. My body expects that one meal, and complains if it gets delayed.
Q: How do you have enough energy to get through the day?
A: I feel like I have more energy. Unless you are super lean, your body stores enough energy to not eat for weeks. Being tired is due to other factors. One meal a day seems to promote more energy due to hormones responding to your fasted state. Even waking up in the morning seems to be much less lethargic. I usually, about every other day, go for workouts in the morning before work. I even seem to have more energy for those.
Q: Won't you be burning up muscle tissue?
A: Studies have shown that intermittent fasts spare muscle rather than burn it. My experience has been that if I maintain a calorie deficit I lose fat and not muscle. At least that's what my pricy weight scale says. And I feel we've been lied to about the need to constantly eat. After doing this for years I feel like it's a more natural way to live.
As far as weight loss, the only way I've ever been able to do that is counting calories, and counting calories is much easier if it's one meal instead of snacking throughout the day. And even at a calorie deficit, one meal a day is really one big feast. So less tendency to feel like the diet is forcing me to deprive myself. It's also way harder to cheat with one meal a day. Once a day is a simple rule, with no wiggle room for "just a tiny snack" temptations.
I feel you judging me......
"But it's not healthy!!!"
I feel like people don't think this through. They feed their cats and dogs once a day. Similar carnivores in the wild will eat a massive meal then fast for several days. Imagine a zoo trying to feed a lion 3-4 small snacks a day. Both the lion and myself would rather feast one a day.
I've spent a lot of time looking at studies on intermittent fasting. Which is basically what I'm doing. Studies on one meal a day are pretty rare, so that's all I have. But the science seems to solidly debunk the idea that it's not healthy. Maybe I'm biased, but the consensus I get it that it's much healthier. And it certainly feels healthier to me.
For me the benefits I seem to get are worth staying on it as a lifestyle forever, irregardless of weight loss.
But I will say that most of the articles I've read about OMAD describe risks and dangers that don't match my experience at all. "If I starved myself all day, I would be more inclined to eat a pizza than a piece of fish with veggies.". Bullshit. I'm not hungry for pizza at all, and fish with veggies sounds delicious. So beware the, "it seems to me" sorts of articles.
But........ There is one factor specific to me that might make it harder for others. I am a hermit. I'm single. I don't have lunch with people. I don't go to parties. I don't have a partner or kids that need breakfast. I don't date.
But I know it's weird to try and be social and just not eat. Or go to dinner with folks and eat 2-3 times as much as everyone else. In fact that would be the #1 problem with it as a diet in my opinion.
I'm also sure that it's not for everyone. There are probably health issues that would make OMAD a bad idea. So I'm certainly not suggesting everyone dive into it.
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