The one meal a day diet – How to get settled in when you are just starting out. Seems contrary to every popularized diet plan out there. If you were to talk to a nutritionist about the one meal a day diet, they would likely tell you not to follow it. With this in mind, think back to our ancestors (way back, hunter-gatherer days). They basically followed the one meal a day diet even though it hadn’t been labeled the “Omad diet” in their day. Basically, they ate when they could. During the course of the day, they would forage, hunt, and gather. At night end, they would finally consume their meals. What’s the difference between us (today’s society) and cavemen? Probably the fact that we have so many options and we are led to believe that we have to eat more (frequently) in order to attain dietary success.
When cavemen followed this one meal a day diet plan, they lived extremely long periods of time (of course if they weren’t hunted down themselves). They were healthier, weren’t overweight, and health issues weren’t a concern. It has been a long-standing diet plan. It hasn’t been given a name until recent years when health gurus and gym rats started following the one meal a day diet plan themselves. Whether you need to lose those 20 pounds you put on over the holidays or want to eliminate the processed junk in your diet, it can be difficult for one to know how to get started.
What to consider
When you do start the one meal a day diet, you are going to be hungry. This is basically a “mind over body/stomach” issue you are going to have to weed through for the first few days or week. It might not actually be that you are hungry at all, but your mind is tricking you into thinking so. You are most likely used to eating every few hours and consuming those processed meals. Your probably even used to having snacks during a certain point in the day. You are going to have to train your mind to learn how to consume food only once per day.
Early on when starting out the one meal a day diet, you will
– Want to have no calorie beverages on hand in order to fill your stomach so that you don’t feel those hunger pangs at lunch time.
– Get out of the house. If you work from home or the office, make sure you distance yourself from food. The more active you are, and the more productive you are, the less likely you are going to think about food.
– Make a plan. Talk to yourself, let yourself know what is going on, and allow yourself to recondition the manner in which you think about food (yes, you will talk to yourself for a few days).
You basically want to train your mind to know it is only going to eat once a day (for a short period of time). Once your mind is informed, it can then send the message down to your stomach as well.
How do you actually begin with the diet?
Now that you have coached yourself through the difficulty of knowing you are only eating once per day on the one meal a day diet, you are ready to get underway. You will want to do a few preparations when you are starting out. The most important is to set goals for yourself. These can include:
– Weight loss you would like to achieve while on the omad diet.
– Set incremental goals (don’t simply state I want to lose 60 pounds as this will make it more difficult; instead, set small goals along the way).
– Make sure to track your progress as well. Even if the pounds don’t come off, you might drop a few inches initially, so take the small progresses as they come.
On any diet, the one meal a day diet included, you have to give your body time to adjust. The very first thing you will want to do (even before considering the food aspect of things) is to set your goals. Set timelines and mark the minor accomplishments along the way. This is going to make it easier to stay on track and focused. When you do start to see those successes, the one meal a day diet is not going to seem so much like the enemy. It will become easy to follow and allows you to attain your weight loss goals quite easily. Use the community forums for support and be sure to read over any questions you might have.
You are doing this in order to lose weight. You are going to have to know what and how to eat when on the one meal a day diet. A good way to look at the one meal a day diet is to consider the “four ones”. This would be: (1) One meal, (2) One plate, (3) One beverage, and (4) one hour.
Let’s delve a little deeper into these “ones” on the one meal a day diet program.
1. One meal
You are only going to be eating one meal. You aren’t going to snack on fruits, you aren’t going to eat nuts or protein bars post workout, and you will not be eating small meals throughout the day. Get this dietary idea out of your mind and understand there are no cheat windows or small eating windows during the day (there are other diets out there which allow it, but not the one meal a day diet).
Keep in mind if you do workout, you might want to incorporate a whey protein shake/drink post workout. This is not really considered a “meal,” and should only be done on the workout days. If you workout four days a week, you can incorporate this as a means to fuel your body with protein until your eat window arrives.
2. One Plate
Just because you are only eating once daily doesn’t mean throw everything in the refrigerator on a plate and go to town. Consider tracking macros when you are doing the one meal a day diet plan. You want to select an average sized plate (traditional dinner plate) when you finally do sit down to your meal. Try to incorporate veggies, a fruit, carbs, fiber-rich foods, and some form of fat and protein. You want to target all macros.
You can eat three packs of pop tarts during your eating window, but what good is this going to do? Yes, it is possible to lose weight this way, but you aren’t learning how to condition your body and aren’t making the right food choices. If you do choose to go back to a traditional diet after you lose your weight on the one meal a day diet, this can’t sustain you. Use your head when making your meal choices.
Keep in mind you are not cutting calories either. You are basically consuming all of your macros in the eating window, on one plate, and you should be eating your caloric intake (for weight loss or maintenance, depending on what your goals are). This diet is nothing crazy and it is really based on using your common sense with your food choices and eating window.
3. One beverage
Allow yourself to consume one beverage which does contain calories. Keep in mind that on the one meal a day diet you can drink during the day. You can have water, tea, coffee, and diet drinks which are calorie free. Drinking things like coffee help suppress the appetite and also “trick” the mind to thinking it is getting some type of food.
During your meal or eat window, you are going to want to incorporate a beverage which does contain calories. It is also similar in nature to the food choices you are making. Sure, you can choose chocolate milk or high-calorie drinks which have tons of sugar, but what good will this do you? Instead, try something like natural fruit juices, fruit shakes, or make your own veggie/fruit drink during the hour eating window. Not only will this help you get in your daily fruits and veggies, but they are also far more filling. They are going to allow you to hit your macros when you are trying to consume all your daily calories in the period of one hour.
4. One hour
When you do start the one meal a day diet, you are going to choose a four-hour window. This can be something like 7 PM to 11 PM or you can go with something in the morning 9 AM to 1 PM (if you work night shifts). Make sure you choose a four-hour window into which you are going to fit in your one hour eat window.
You aren’t going to eat during the entire four hour period, but this is the period in which you can eat food which contains calories (your meal). Choose a time which is convenient, and stick to it. This is not an eat stop eat (where you are doing a 24 hour fast a couple times a week), it is the one meal a day diet. Make sure it is consistent and that you are eating at the same time each day. Also make sure that you are maintaining the proper macro balance when you are within your eat window.
Once you are settled on the four-hour window, you are then going to consume your food within the one hour window. So once you sit down to eat, you should complete your entire meal as well as your calorie beverage within that one hour window. Anything after the hour concludes, should be no calorie (diet drinks, water, coffee, etc) and nothing more until the 24 hours in which you will be within your eat window the following day.
It really is quite simple. It will take some time to getting used to. Early in the diet will be difficult. Also, keep in mind it is not a 100% exact science. If you eat at 6 PM on Monday and eat at 6:15 PM on Tuesday, this is not going to ruin everything. Make sure that you are only eating within your one hour window and that you maintain a rather structured eating pattern during the days which you are following the one meal a day program.
Is there any prep you should do before hand?
With many diets, people believe a cleanse before hand, not eating for 24 hours (a fast), or doing something like a liquid diet might help them “jump start” weight loss. When it comes to one meal a day diet, this is not the case. As a matter of fact, diets which force you to put things in your body which aren’t natural, (those cleanses or other products you buy at health food stores) typically don’t result in success. Early on you might lose some weight, but it is usually only water weight which you will gain right after you stop the program.
So, when starting the one meal a day diet, simply go into it. Make sure you are mentally prepared, you are willing to dedicate to it 100%, and that you are ready to make the change in your eating patterns. Once you are ready to do so, there is nothing special you have to do prior to starting the diet in order to start seeing the weight come off.
Is there a “cheat day,” on this plan?
There really is no single right or wrong answer as it pertains to this. Remember, as with any other diet, you can choose to strictly follow the one meal a day diet, or you can mix things up. If you need a cheat day or a “free day” once per week in order to maintain your sanity, go for it. But, make sure you are right back on track the very next day, and that this cheat day or meal, doesn’t last an entire week or several days.
If you do choose the “cheat day or meal” mentality, try to do something similar to a refeed. Here, you basically are going to increase your carb intake, and increase caloric intake by about 25 to 30% of what you are consuming daily on your one meal a day diet. Don’t eat too many fats, don’t go with sugary foods, and try to make it as “clean” a “cheat day” as possible. Basically, try to consume foods you like, but prepare them at home, avoid refined and processed foods, and make sure you get right back on track the next day.
Are there certain foods which are on/off limits?
You are going to want to hit your macros for the day (protein, fats, carbs) on the one meal a day diet. This is the case with any diet. So, if you do want a piece of cake one night (as long as it is within the one hour eat window/one plate mentality), do so. But, remember you may feel hungry over night, you might not see the results you want during that week, or you might suffer certain setbacks.
On any diet, you are going to have cravings, you are going to want to swerve off track, and you are going to want to eat those “taboo” foods you know you shouldn’t. The same goes when following the one meal a day diet. So, if you do happen to do so, or if you aren’t 100% on track each day, simply make sure you get back on the next day. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Although, you should try to eat natural foods and avoid processed foods, everyone slips up every now and then. Make sure you allow yourself room to make mistakes. They will happen along the way.
In terms of foods, as long as you are hitting your macros, making the “healthiest” possible choices, and eating within that one hour frame, you shouldn’t have too many restrictions or foods you shouldn’t eat during the eat window.
Should I strictly follow this diet?
No. Yes. – It really is up to you. Many people like to mix things up. So one day they will do the one meal a day diet, the following they may choose to eat three meals, and the next couple of days might choose to go into a deficit. The main thing to remember is that consistency is key (consistency in the pattern you follow, not in only choosing to do one diet, and nothing more).
So this means if you decide to strictly do the one meal a day diet for a period of one or two months, then stick with it until the end. Don’t simply switch things up midway, as this will mess with your progress, get you off track, and may actually set you back. If you choose to mix and match a few days a week, and do a refeed every couple of weeks (for a period of one to two months) make sure you do so until the conclusion of that time.
Anything you choose to do, in terms of dieting, has to be consistent. You don’t have to follow one program, you don’t have to eat the same exact meal each night of the week, and you don’t have to cut out certain foods entirely. It is extremely important to remain consistent. You have to make a plan and stick to it. If you simply “wing it,” or try something new every few days, without having a plan in mind, you are not going to see the results you want to see, and you are not going to attain the goals you want to attain.
Is this diet for everyone?
Probably not. One meal a day requires consistency and discipline; a great deal of it. So you have to make your mind up and you have to be willing to follow it. Further, this diet is more so for those who are in maintenance, or in a calorie deficit to lose weight. If you are bulking or doing lean gains, you might better benefit from eating twice or three times a day (as your calorie intake is usually far higher, and eating all calories in one sitting is quite difficult to do for most).
It is also important to consider yourself as a person. If you know you need to snack, if you are diabetic, or if you have other medical concerns/issues, you might want to consider other diets. But, the one meal a day diet is very effective, as long as it is properly followed, as long as you are willing to dedicate yourself to following the rule of the “four ones,” and as long as you can properly train your mind and stomach, to learn to stave off the hunger until the eat window you have for each day.
Trial and error is critical in any and every diet you plan on trying out; this is going to be the case with the one meal a day diet as well. You simply can’t jump into it without planning and without dedicating to following through with it. It is entirely possible to attain your goals within the time frame you have set, and it is possible to do so on the one meal a day diet.
If you are considering this as a means for weight loss, these are a few of the many factors you should weigh, prior to simply jumping into this once a day eating pattern. As with any other diet, your success is going to depend on you and how dedicated you are. If you are ready to start seeing the weight come off, want to feel better, feel more energized, and rid your life of those unhealthy cravings, these are a few of the basics of the one meal a day diet you should familiarize yourself with, in order to ensure success once you jump into it from day one.