You can do OMAD every other day and still be in a caloric deficit. Some people may benefit from doing OMAD every other day, especially if they feel like 7-day fasting is too much, according to experts.
For me, OMAD is a great way to drive a caloric deficit (without measuring and calculating calories.)
However, as much as eating one meal sounds simple, and easy, this is not for everyone.
Doing OMAD Every Other Day
Doing OMAD every other day means you alternate your one meal a day days with eating normally.
It’s a similar approach to alternative day fasting, but you’re allowed to eat one meal instead of not eating for 36 hours.
(This approach is more flexible and helps with consistency.)
So this is a great alternative to doing OMAD for 7 days a week. It allows you to have some “freedom” and eat more. It is also a great way to get used to intermittent fasting.
Is doing OMAD every other day effective?
There are so many ways to skin the cat, and doing OMAD 3-4 days a week is a simple example.
Don’t think you need to be somehow perfect to get the best results.
Some people may have this mindset that you need to be either 7 days on diet or it’s not gonna work. So it’s either all or nothing.
According to a recently published randomized controlled trial in Cambridge University Press, People are losing weight by eating 3-5 meals a day.
“Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss,” according to the review.
Eating one meal a day (every other day) is still hard
Reducing your menu to just one meal is almost like a home run. It’s simple. But not easy.
It’s not easy because it’s quite a radical change.
According to Cambridge University Press, multiple factors will determine your eating habits:
- your cultural tradition (the way you’ve been raised in your family);
- your top priorities (what you value and prioritize); and
- your beliefs around food.
It will all play a role in how you behave when the food is not around.
I’m not gonna lie. I’ve struggled with OMAD for the first few days.
So just to let you know, this is normal.
I know that people seek out a less aggressive approach to make it more sustainable. (hint: there is none.)
How does eating one meal a day every other day work?
Eating one meal a day every other day is a good alternative for people who are not ready yet to commit to eating one meal a day for 7 days.
It improves hunger tolerance and lowers appetite, which means you get more comfortable eating less food.
“Many people start by setting up ridiculously high expectations,” says a dietitian from Clarksville, Mary-Catherine Stockman, RD.
“The higher you set up the bar, the more disappointed you will feel when it doesn’t work as you planned,” says the expert.
“Instead, lower the bar as much as possible”.
How to eat only one meal every other day?
Start with one day per week
Thinking about experimenting with one meal a day every other day? Follow these steps that can help make this practice more sustainable.
Start from 1-2 days per week
Eating OMAD every other day can make it much easier for you to stay on track.
“The lower you set up the goal, have higher your chance of success,” explains the dietitian.
“In fact, it makes it almost impossible not to score the victory,” adds the dietitian.
You want small results that come fast, are achievable and are visible.
So if you think that OMAD for 7 days is too much for you right now, lower the bar. Look for low-hanging fruit that gives you immediate wins. Because this will motivate you to continue.
Focus on one day at the time
To make it even easier, don’t think about the whole week ahead.
Just focus on today. (That’s all you want to think about.)
One day at a time. (Don’t worry about the end. Don’t worry about the middle.)
The middle is going to look totally different once you reach out there. (So don’t stress about it.)
Some people push it to the extreme and want the fastest way to get the body they want. (This means doing everything at once.)
- wake up at 5 am;
- eat more fruits and veggies;
- cut on sugar;
- exercise 7 days a week;
- sleep 7 hours a night;
- do yoga, meditation; and
- intermittent fasting for 24 hours.
That’s how I did it for the first time (and how I fall of the wagon).
The more you try to change at once, the harder it gets to stick to the plan.
We get overwhelmed, drop all the balls, and then feel like a failure at the end.
Set achievable goals
Slow and steady wins the race.
I know it may seem counterintuitive, but small changes at the time will go much further down the road than shifting your entire life around at once.
Instead, its better to set up achievable goals.
This means is much better to do OMAD 5 day a week, or even once a week, rather than every day.
OMAD every other day and weight loss
People do one meal every 48 hours for weight loss benefits.
However, longer fasts don’t guarantee better results.
“To be able to do one meal every 48 hours, you must be comfortable with your body signals and know how your body reacts without food under stress,” says senior researcher from Lithuanian Sports University, Rima Solianik, Ph.D.
In her recently published clinical trial, Dr. Solianik suggests that “you shouldn’t try fasting for 48 hours if you haven’t done any form of intermittent fasting before.”
“This is a form of extended fasting and it should be practiced only when you know exactly that you can handle being hungry for a long time,” says Dr. Solianik.
How to lose weight by doing OMAD every other day?
Recently, I got an interesting question from one reader about what I would do if I had to lose over 30 pounds? (I love this type of question.)
Personally, I’ve struggled for many years with my own weight. (So I know exactly what to do.)
Make your health your priority
And if I’d be in a situation today where I need to lose 40, 60, or even 100 pounds, I would start from one thing only.
Making my health my top priority.
At that point, it simply doesn’t matter what you do.
If your health isn’t your number one priority right now, then non of the ninja tricks will actually work.
- If my top priority is work, then I will find any excuse to be busy at work, and compensate for my own health.
- I wouldn’t take time to prep my meals, or spend some time exercising, or simply just down-regulating from stress.
Simply becasue I value work more. (And even if I say I want to lose weight, my behaviors will drive me to what I value the most.)
Start from doing OMAD on weekends
You can do OMAD on weekends and still get the results that you want.
Doing OMAD on weekends is an alternative option for people who are busy during the week, yet still want to start with one meal a day.
(This will allow you to experiment and improve your hunger tolerance.)
Intermittent fasting on weekends will also help you to experiment with hunger without consequences.
If during the week you need to be sharp at work, then OMAD may lower your performance. But on the weekend is different.
Doing OMAD on the weekend will help you see how you handle hunger, and identify your weaknesses aka blind spots. (Everyone has some weaknesses.)
Use food journal
For me, OMAD was like an ice-cold shower. I got emotional, I couldn’t think straight, and all I could think of was food.
It was like a tsunami of different emotions that I felt all at once. I was out of sync. I couldn’t recognize what exactly I feel. So I started to use a journal.
I was writing down exactly what I feel, and how my body reacts to the lack of food at specific times of the day. What are my thoughts, physical sensations, cravings, etc.
I’ve tracked everything to learn as much as I can. Soon I discovered that all those tsunami emotions were just temporary moments.
And the more aware I got of them, the easier they felt to manage.
Make it a little harder
Intermittent fasting during the week and eating on weekends. This is good approach for people who are ok with eating less during the week but who like to enjoy their life during the weekend.
This way is also beneficial because intermittent fasting for 5 days will reduce enough calories to get results.
As you can see, the possibilities are endless. In other words, you don’t need to be perfect or follow some one size fits all program to see the results.
In reality, you can apply those steps to your OMAD practice regardless if you’re doing it every day, or every other day.
So have a go, try it and stay consistent.
Some habits will take more time to master, but remember that this is not a weekend event. It’s a long process.