How Long Does It Take To Get Used To OMAD?

It’s been a while since I talk about getting used to the OMAD diet and it’s one of the most popular questions I get. To start, I think it’s important to know how I do OMAD, so you can tell if it’s up your alley.

I don’t do OMAD every day (not anymore). Instead, I experiment with eating less and have 1-2 days per week when I fast with one meal.

Sometimes I don’t practice intermittent fasting for over a week. What I‘ve found is that the longer I don’t practice OMAD, the harder it gets to get used to it. (If I do it every day, it becomes much easier.)

photo of me eating one meal a day

My experience with getting used to OMAD

It usually takes me up to 5 days to get used to OMAD. The first couple of days may feel uncomfortable, and I may think about the food a lot.

On days 3-5, my body starts to get used to it, I feel less hungry, and I don’t think about food so much.

However, everyone is different, and for some people, it may take up to 2-3 weeks to fully get comfortable.

For me, getting used to OMAD is more about becoming more aware of how does my body feels or responds during intermittent fasting.

Here are some of the things that I noticed during OMAD.

1. It takes more time in the beginning

In the past, I always eat a lot of unhealthy food, so the first time I started OMAD, it took me a while for my body to adjust to a eating less.

Don’t expect to make the switch overnight. Stomach rumblings are normal. Give yourself time and notice how the body responds to intermittent fasting.

2. I didn’t change my meals

I wasn’t trying to change everything at once. (This would probably make me feel overwhelmed and give up.)

Instead of completely cutting out all of my favorite unhealthy foods, I started start by making small changes.

I changed soda for diet soda. I changed fried fries for oven-based potatoes. I changed chicken nuggets for chicken fajitas.

3. Little better versus perfect

Instead of trying to make my diet 100% perfect, I was constantly on the lookout for healther substitutes. And, instead of changing all things at once, I choose to change only one food from my dish.

Here’s photo of my OMAD diet dish that I eat after my workout.

photo of my meal on OMAD diet

Here I have eggs with tuna, sliced carrot and radish.

Before, I would normally eat eggs with bread and salad. So I switched bread for tuna.

If you love pizza, try making a healthier version at home with whole-wheat crust and low-fat cheese. Or if you can’t live without ice cream, look for brands that offer lighter versions made with real ingredients.

4. Hunger is not an emergency

One thing I learned while getting used to OMAD diet is that hunger is not really an emergency. The hunger, just like any feeling, comes and goes.

And it doesn’t 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.

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 hungery.

4. I didn’t went too far with dieting

I purposefully allowed myself to indulge in my favorite unhealthy foods (occasionally). (Yes, that includes drinking alcohol.)

If you deny yourself all of the foods (and drinks) you love, you’re likely to end up feeling miserable and giving up on your OMAD diet altogether.

5. I stopped stressing about things are out of my control

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

Here’s the graph that helps to illustrate this concept.

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.

6. I look for small wins

I know its hard to stay motivated, especialy when you see no (or very little) results. I learn how to set realistic and practical goals, such as walking every day for 30 minutes or eating more proteins and vegetables each day.

(For me, one is better than nothing.)

Getting used to OMAD based on research

According to the Nature Journal, it can take up to a week to adjust to a new calorie-restriction diet.

“If you’re 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,” states the journal.

According to Gastroenterology Journal, “ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates hunger signals. 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.

Here on this graph, you can see exactly how we think hunger works, and how it actually works. 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
Spiegel, K., Tasali, E., Leproult, R., Scherberg, N., & Van Cauter, E. (2011). Twenty-four-hour profiles of acylated and total ghrelin: relationship with glucose levels and impact of time of day and sleep. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism96(2), 486–493.

That’s why your hunger signals can fluctuate throughout the day. So during OMAD, knowing that hunger is really a temporary episode, 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.

how long it take to ghrelin stabilize
Espelund, Ulrick et al. “Fasting unmasks a strong inverse association between ghrelin and cortisol in serum: studies in obese and normal-weight subjects.” The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism vol. 90,2 (2005): 741-6. doi:10.1210/jc.2004-0604

Here can see the correlation between hunger and ghrelin levels. They constantly change 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.

According to the Clinical Endocrinology Journal, “levels of ghrelin for men can be slightly lower than for women. This means men experience slightly less hunger than women.”

So keep that in mind.

That’s why two people who are doing the same OMAD diet can have different experiences. One can thrive and feel amazing, whereas 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.

The bottom line

I’ve been experimenting with many diets trying to get in shape for a number of years. And doing one meal a day is no different. It’s just an 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.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is a personal trainer and writer at Millennial Hawk. He holds a MSc in Sports and Exercise Science from the University of Central Lancashire. He is an exercise physiologist who enjoys learning about the latest trends in exercise and sports nutrition. Besides his passion for health and fitness, he loves cycling, exploring new hiking trails, and coaching youth soccer teams on weekends.

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