If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you know there are countless different kinds of diets that all have their own unique approach. Finding the “best” diet for you can be a challenging proposition since not all diets are backed by scientific research. One approach to weight loss that has become quite popular in recent years is called intermittent fasting. Yet even within the framework of intermittent fasting, there are numerous configurations. An example of one of these diets that many people swear by is called OMAD, which is short for One Meal A Day.
The basic goal of intermittent fasting is to manipulate the timing and scheduling of your meals in order to reduce the number of calories you consume. Rather than focusing exclusively on counting daily calories, intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of time when you’re eating and periods when you’re fasting. During fasting windows when you go extended hours without eating, the body exhausts normal stores of energy and begins burning fat. This process is called metabolic switching and it is the primary way intermittent fasting is purported to promote weight loss.
One reason this fasting diet has gained popularity is that you can choose a form of intermittent fasting that fits with your preferences and lifestyle. One example is alternate-day fasting; it involves cycling between a full 24-hour period of fasting and a full 24-hour period of eating without calorie restriction. A similar version is known as periodic fasting and calls for cycling between consecutive days fasting and consecutive days feeding; one specific example is the “5:2” plan with 5 days of normal eating and 2 days of fasting.
If skipping entire days of eating sounds too daunting, another option is known as time-restricted fasting. This type of intermittent fasting involves breaking up the fasting and eating periods within a single day. Perhaps the most common example of this is the “16:8” plan that calls for 16 hours of the day fasting and 8 hours of the day eating normally. A popular way of implementing this version is by eating lunch at noon and dinner shortly before 8pm; the aim is to intake all of your daily calories some time during that 8-hour window.
Research on the effectiveness of intermittent fasting for weight loss is still ongoing, but studies have thus far shown that people who follow the diet have been able to lose 3-8% of body weight over several months. So while it does seem to “work,” the weight loss results are comparable to more common calorie-restriction diets. However, because this area of research is still so new, scientists don’t know the effects or effectiveness of the diet over the long term.
While the preliminary research is worthy of optimism in terms of weight loss, it also indicates that intermittent fasting can have a positive impact on many areas of health. The key driver of the health benefits of fasting seems to be metabolic switching and ketosis; in ketosis, the body switches its energy source from glucose in the liver to ketones stored in fat (a process that is also central to keto diets). Yet beyond their association with burning fat, the ketones released in ketosis act as signaling molecules that can lead to positive changes in metabolic rates, blood sugar, and insulin levels.
The One Meal A Day diet is another type of intermittent fasting that appeals to some people. As the name implies, you only eat one meal every day that must include all the calories you need. OMAD is essentially a version of time-restricted fasting where you fast for 23 hours and then have one hour of unrestricted eating. Unlike other forms of intermittent fasting, which some nutritionists support, OMAD is not generally recommended.
Indeed one of the biggest challenges with OMAD is making sure you eat enough calories in the one-hour eating window to maintain health. While research on eating only one meal a day suggests weight loss might be possible, it also pointed to potential problems with blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. OMAD appears to be especially risky for those who have heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
Though there is still much more research needed, intermittent fasting in general appears to be a safe approach to both weight loss and better metabolic health. With the OMAD diet or any other type of intermittent fasting, however, it’s important to make sure that you get all the nutrients you need regardless of how short the eating window is. Dietitians typically recommend that all adults eat at least 1200 calories a day; fewer than that could compromise the immune system or trigger the metabolism to start breaking down muscle tissue for energy.
Just as there is a concern about not getting enough calories, there is also a concern about overeating. For some people, the fasting periods lead to intense cravings, especially for snack foods that are high in carbs or saturated fat. One of the ways to fight cravings is to focus on eating foods that are high in protein, fiber, and other nutrients. These foods tend to fill you up and keep you feeling full for longer.
The bottom line is that the OMAD diet isn’t a good option for most people and may be unsafe for other people. In fact, the truth is that most people who attempt to lose weight by modifying their diet tend to either not succeed or lose some weight but then regain it a few months down the road. At True You Weight Loss, we know how frustrating the weight loss journey can be, and that’s why we specialize in alternative weight loss solutions.
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