How Long Does It Take To Get Used To OMAD?


picture of food

If you’re starting with one meal a day (or any intermittent fasting) for the first time you may be wondering how long does it take to get used to OMAD?

As a general rule, It can take up to 5 days to get used to omad. The first couple of days will feel uncomfortable, and you will think about the food a lot. On days 3-5, your body will get used to it as you start switching into ketosis.

However, everyone is different, and for some people, it may take up to 2-3 weeks to fully get comfortable with OMAD. In this article, I will show you a simple trick you can do to speed up the process.

How Long Does It Take To Adjust To OMAD

In general, it can take up to a week to adjust to OMAD. For some people, who are doing intermittent fasting for the very first time it can take longer to adjust. For others, who are already familiar with not eating, it can be less than a week.

I’ve been teaching people how to get in shape for a number of years. And doing one meal a day is no different. It’s just the organized way of caloric restriction.

The beginnings can feel hard, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. And getting used to OMAD means simply getting more comfortable with feeling hungry.

Some people fear hunger. And the odds are that if you’ve never done intermittent fasting, then you don’t know what real hunger feels like.

And that’s ok.

That’s why people panic and get really uncomfortable because it’s something they haven’t done before.

Another reason is the belief that hunger will get worse.

comparison of hunger during the day
Hunger is directly related with levels of hormone ghrelin (source)

They may eat preventively to avoid any discomfort. Or even the slightest tummy rumblings. Because they are afraid that hunger will just get worse, so they will eat just in case.

“I will eat bigger breakfast not to feel hungry later”.

The typical belief is that hunger progresses linearly. And is just getting worse and worse.

If I feel hungry now, then later I will feel more hungry.

But here’s the good news. The hunger, just like any feeling, comes and goes. And it doesn’t really progress in a linear fashion. It peaks at certain times and then it drops.

To get used to OMAD you need to first understand how does hunger feels like and when to expect it. This way it will make much more sense for you and help you prepare.

Related article: How To Do OMAD Without Getting Hungry

4-5 Hours After Your Last Meal

Here you may feel some tummy rumblings, and you start to feel that you want to eat. People who are used to eat small and often may feel “hungry” around this time. But that is not a real hunger yet. Just a tiny discomfort. The good news is that a couple of hours later, this feeling goes away.

20-24 Hours After Your Last Meal

Here is when hunger will start to come back. But it won’t feel the same. It will get much easier. So you may feel more hungry 4-5 hours after your meal than 20 hours later. And after a while, even if you haven’t eaten for longer, you feel less hungry.

Why is it that we peak at hunger feeling in the first few hours, and then it just diminishes?

Because of ghrelin.

Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates hunger signal. But it doesn’t just continue to grow. It goes up and down throughout the day all the time. So you may be even 36-hours without food, and you still won’t feel hungry (source).

Here on this graph, you can see exactly how we think hunger works, and how does it actually work. Just because you may feel a bit hungrier now, it doesn’t mean you will feel more hungry later.

the hunger graph in omad and how long it take
The relationship between hunger and ghrelin levels (source).

That’s why your hunger signals can fluctuate throughout the day. So during OMAD, knowing that hunger is really a temporary episode, it will help you get used to it quicker.

Remember that everyone is different, and some people may experience a slight difference (not too much) in ghrelin response.

Take a look at the second graphic. You can see the correlation between hunger and ghrelin levels. They change constantly during the day. So your ghrelin will dictate how hungry you are during the day.

As you can see, cards are not dealt with equally. Men and women will have different levels of ghrelin. For men, levels of ghrelin will be slightly lower than for women. This means men experience slightly less hunger than women (source).

how long it take to ghrelin stabilize
Source

So keep that in mind.

That’s why two people who are doing the same OMAD diet can have a different experience. One can thrive and feel amazing, where another can feel like they are starving.

But even if women may have more ghrelin, which can lead to feeling more hungry than men, the pattern still remains the same.

It’s dynamic. It doesn’t just spike into infinity. There are obvious peaks and drops. So it means hunger is not a linear progression.

Getting Used To OMAD

Hunger, appetite, cravings, and satiety are all dynamic, multi-factor processes that are constantly changing. In other words, it’s not the end of the world that you feel temporary hunger now.

In other words, hunger is not an emergency. But many people are afraid of feeling hungry.

It will get easier. And the more often you expose yourself to it, you will get used to it.

Getting used to OMAD means you need to put yourself out there and experiment. However, there are several factors that can trigger your response to food.

graph of biopsychosocialmodel
The biopsychosocial model

As much as we are metabolically and biologically similar, we are so much different in any other area of life. On the graph, you can see the bio-psycho-social model. This means represents everything that can influence our food decisions, beliefs, and behaviors.

How To Prepare For OMAD?

You can prepare for OMAD by controlling your environment. There are things in your environment that will influence your hunger, like food that you’ve recently eaten, circadian rhythms, physical activity, media and advertisement, your beliefs, and your social circle, to name a few.

But remember that you can only control your environment to some extend. This means you may start to pay more attention to how you sleep, but you may not be able to influence your work environment.

My best advice is to focus only on the things you are in control of. Don’t worry about anything else. What are the things that you can control?

Here you can see some examples that are just the general ideas. Some are not related but it’s just to give you the overall idea.

what are the things you can change to make omad easier
Draw three circles and write down things that are in and out of your control

Make a list of the things you’re in control of. There are some obvious things you cannot change like your age or hormonal level.

But there are some examples you are fully in control of. If you’re doing grocery shopping, then you can be in charge of what is in your kitchen. So think ahead and don’t buy problematic food that you find yourself eating later.

How To Make OMAD Easier?

You can make OMAD easier with skillful and mindful practice. This includes being present in the moment when you’re eating your meal, stretching out your meal times, being aware of distractions, and record your thoughts and feelings in the food journal.

To make OMAD easier start from self-awareness.

Remember that your hunger signals are strongly driven by physiological and psychological cues that we get from our environment.

This means that everything can influence your hunger feeling. So to make it more clear let’s discuss all of those factors that will help you prepare. Below you can find a list that will influence your hunger levels.

Number #1: Things That You’ve Recently Eaten

This means that the type of food you had for your last meal can predict how hungry you will feel later. The composition of your protein, carbs, and fats will have a huge impact on ghrelin.

Also the amount and volume of the food. How much food, in general, you’ve eaten lately. How much water content was in those foods. How much fiber you eat. And of course, how fast and how slow did you eat.

People who eat slowly tend to have more satiety, and therefore they feel less hungry.

Number #2: Circadian Rhythms

This means if you are used to eating 5 meals a day for a number of years, and now you will make a sudden change, initially, this will affect your hunger levels more.

It will feel foreign and uncomfortable. But that is only temporary.

Also, your sleeping will affect your hunger. If you have interrupted sleep, or if you sleep less than you should, it can increase your cortisol level, raise fasted blood sugar, and lead to feeling more hungry.

Also if you’re traveling a lot, changing the time zones, having jet lag and random rest periods, this will increase your hunger levels.

Your body loves the routine. So the more you can stay within the same “schedule” of your sleep and rest, it will help you manage your omad better.

Number #3: Individual Aspects

What are individual aspects? Everything that is making you unique.

Things like your age. Depending on if you’re an adult, adolescent or elderly will have a impact.

I already mentioned gender in the graph above.

Your body mass index, your lean mass, fat percentage, metabolism, and physical activity. People who exercise with high intensity tend to feel more hungry.

Also, your health in general.

Things like injury and illness, your gastrointestinal health, your microbial environment, medications you take, and any nutrient deficiencies will impact your hunger.

Number #4: Psychological Factors

This will include any influence from the outside environment. Food cues that surround you. Your home and work environment.

If your colleagues at work like to have a box of doughnuts on her desk every day, that can be a problem.

Your emotions and how well you cope with stress. People who cope well with stress have less association with the food. They use food for feeding, not for feeling. They don’t use food as an escape, or as an emotional blanket.

On the other hand, people who have anxiety and depression tend to use food to feel better. And if that food is restricted during omad, this can lead to more stress.

Emotions can scare and confuse us so powerfully that they drive us to shop, eat, drink, starve, gamble, or take drugs in order not to feel them.

Your social circle, social norms, and expectations. If part of your work is social dinners and meetings then you may need to reconsider changing your priorities. In this case, doing omad may not be the best option. But it doesn’t mean you won’t get results.

You still can get results not being on omad. Just keep that in mind.

Another psychological aspect is marketing. Cues we see around us. Media and advertisements, campaigns, images, grocery stores, and reviews. They all have an influence on us.

We may think they don’t. But they do. And if it didn’t work, they wouldn’t do it.

Number #5: Hormone Levels

High levels of androgens and anabolic hormones like testosterone, insulin, growth hormone and IGF-1 will result in high signalling of hunger signal to the central nervous system. 

High cortisol (stress hormone) will also influence the ghrelin levels.

Also, menopause stages, menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and breastfeeding are associated with notable changes in levels of ghrelin.

Take Away

You can start to see results in just a matter of a couple of weeks if you are consistent. Don’t worry about checking the scale every day. Just focus on consistency and sustainability.

Go Further with OMAD

This article is part of the One Meal A Day Diet, which I recommend you read.

In the following pages, I show you everything there is to know about OMAD, benefits, tips, and how to do it properly.

Next: Click here to learn more about how to start omad

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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