So you’re doing OMAD and you’ve probably seen some real results. Now you’re probably wondering how to stay on track after OMAD. Because let’s be realistic, nobody will want to stay forever on this intense intermittent fasting approach.
OMAD is a tool. Just like a drill that you buy in the BestBuy. You can use it. You can use it for a week, for a month, for 6 months. You can always come back to it. It’s not like a keto diet that once you stop doing it all of a sudden all the weight comes back on.
In fact, every person who managed to lost a lot of weight on OMAD said that now they just eat normally, but less.
That’s what I did. I spend few weeks on OMAD, learned few valuable lessons that I’ve managed to apply to my regular diet. So in this article, I will show you exactly what I’ve learned and how I applied that to my daily eating habits.
#1: Eat Later Than Usual
One thing you’ve probably noticed on OMAD is that the longer you wait to eat your meal, the better it tastes. That’s because of the nasal chemosensory performance stimulation. The longer you fast, it increases your palatability, and your olfactory (smell) senses, so you’re becoming more apparent of them (source).
This means that you will enjoy your meal so much more if you just give it a little bit extra time.
This is one of the most valuable lessons I’ve got from OMAD. Eating later during the day, skipping breakfast, or simply having a late lunch, help me to enjoy my meal so much more.
There are no certain rules on the time you should be eating. I generally try to wait with my meals to around 12 pm. Sometimes sooner than that. And sometimes even later. First thing I the morning I try to get busy right off the gate so I don’t distract myself with food.
#2: Keep It Simple
Simplicity trumps everything. The more simple you keep it, the less stress you will have. After you finish OMAD you may have this anxiety about when and how often should you be eating to maintain weight. And that’s ok.
During your affair with OMAD, it should tune you in to your body signals at a much deeper level. So after doing OMAD for several days or even weeks, you should be quite familiar with your physical hunger. So here’s my tip
Use that as your compass.
Don’t get caught up in calculating when exactly was your last meal. Don’t follow any strict eating schedule. Eat when you are physically hungry. Stop eating when you’re no longer hungry. How simple is that?
This approach will offload so much stress from your mental inbox. And all of a sudden, you don’t think too much about the food anymore. You’re the boss here. OMAD gave you a nice experience of how you feel when you’re really hungry. Use that.
That’s exactly how I do it. I eat when I feel physically hungry. And I stop eating when I’m no longer hungry.
#3: There Is No “Good” or “Bad” Food
I used to have this belief that good food means low calories and bad food means junk food or high carbs. And, of course, bad food is forbidden so I shouldn’t eat it.
After being in the health and fitness profession for several years, reading all the research journals, and trying to get lean as much as possible, you just get pre-programmed this way. So automatically I would choose foods that are low calorie.
OMAD helped me to realize there is no such thing as bad or good foods. Food can be nutritious or not, but it doesn’t have good or bad qualities.
So instead of looking at my food choices, I don’t look at it as good or bad anymore. I choose to look at my food as satisfying or not. If I have a meal that has a bit extra calories, but it will satisfy me, then I’m happy with that.
Because the more satisfying foods I choose, the less hungry I feel throughout the day. For instance, eating dry skinless chicken breast won’t satisfy me. Eating a pork neck, which has more fat than a chicken breast, will satisfy me, and keep me full for longer.
#4: Eating Slowly
This is my main driver to eat less and enjoy my food better. In fact, nine out of ten of my clients lose weight and keep it off purely because they slowed down on their meals.
Of course, in the beginning, they feel puzzled about how is this possible. But the reality is that slow eating aligns with our physiology. Here’s how it works.
For your body to completely register that you are eating, it takes around 15-20 minutes. And if you choose to gobble on your meal in just 5 minutes, your satiety hormones won’t get the proper message (source).
As a result, you will eat until there is no more room left in your belly. Plus, you will feel hungry in the next few hours.
So jus by slowing down on your meals, you can literally reduce your food intake to half, and still feel full. That is much better than using any fitness tracker that tell you when, what or how much food you should eat.
That is also true for the snacks. If you happen to have a night craving for some food, simply slow down. Not only you will satisfy your cravings, but also you will eat less and your food will taste better.
#5: Study Your Emotions
This is by far the most profound lesson I got from OMAD. To keep it simple, I used to regulate my emotions with food. This means I would use food to escape from any emotional storm that happened. Because I didn’t understand my emotions.
If I felt uncomfortable, I would eat. If I felt bored, I would eat. If I felt scared or lonely, I would eat. I wasn’t hungry. I was high on emotions.
This is a massive problem, especially if you’re growing up. Because it messes up with my hunger signals. I was out of sync. I was using food as an emotional blanket. So you can imagine I had a lot of weight problems when I was growing up.
OMAD helped me to discover how does my physical hunger feel. And it took some work to finally get self-aware that I cannot use food as an escape from emotional wounds.
Feelings are normal. It’s ok to feel uncomfortable, sad, angry, or frustrated. And once you do, you better use your social circle to express those emotions. Food is for feeding. It’s not for an emotional hug, a substitute for human contact or love (source).
#6: Exercise Fasted
I love to workout. Not because I like the sweat, but because I love the energy it gives me. Plus it’s a free stress reduction therapy. It literally improves my productivity, my mood, and my sleep. If I feel low, then I do a quick workout and I can be back on the schedule.
So I believe that exercise should be part of your daily routine. Especially if you want to maintain weight after OMAD. It doesn’t have to be anything extreme. A 20-minute walk will do. Or some bodyweight exercise.
To keep your energy up and suppress your appetite a little bit, try to exercise before you have a meal. Of course, it will depend on your schedule. But if you have the convenience to exercise at home, and maybe even work from home, then use your workout in a way that will help you eat later (source).
Don’t think about it as burning calories. Do something that you enjoy. Because then you can be consistent.
#7: Hunger Tolerance
Another big lesson that I got from doing OMAD is my hunger tolerance improved. This was a game-changer. Before I used to freak out on the slightest tummy rumbles. I thought that was hunger. I was dead wrong.
I simply realized that hunger is just a feeling. It is not an emergency. And it doesn’t build up progressively. It can peak at certain times and then it comes back down (source).
The more I’ve practiced with OMAD, the closer I’ve tuned in with my internal cues. In the beginning, was hard, but later on, I was more comfortable with it.
One simple trick that I use to help me stay focused is a self-evaluation test. I call it two crazy questions.
On a scale of 1 to 10 how hungry I really feel?
Is this a hunger that I feel right now, or something else?
For me, this is a reality check. If you’re honest with yourself, you can quickly distinguish the difference. Of course, without doing OMAD in the first place that would be difficult. But once I know exactly how the physical hunger feels this is a walk in the park.
#8: Improved Appetite Awareness
Apart from getting more familiar with my hunger, also my appetite signals started to be more apparent. Some people cannot differentiate between appetite and hunger. Hunger tells you it’s time to eat. Appetite is wanting to eat.
Think of your appetite as an emotional hunger.
The difference between appetite and hunger is that appetite comes suddenly. One minute you may want to eat something, but then you got distracted and your appetite goes away. Hunger is building up gradually. It doesn’t just come out of nowhere.
Also, hunger goes away after your meal. Where appetite can persist. So if you are eating a 2-pound Ben and Jerry ice-cream tub after your dinner, this is not physical hunger.
Another thing to distinguish from appetite is craving. Craving tells you what to eat. Craving is this calling that you have or this itch that has to be scratched. And it’s ok to satisfy your craving. But once the itch goes away, you should stop scratching. This means you can have a piece of chocolate if you crave something sweet, but don’t end up eating the whole chocolate bar or two.
#9: Use Food Journal
Using a food journal helped me a lot. It built my self-awareness about my feelings and thoughts that I had before, during, and after my meal.
Back in the day when I was studying nutrition, they used to teach us to write down calories and grams from each food. This can be important information, especially if someone like to know their numbers.
But those numbers don’t tell you why you feel like eating more today than yesterday. Or why you feel like a glass of wine after every Thursday. Or why you always feel lethargic on Sunday mornings (source).
This type of information you can only get if you track your feelings, thoughts, and emotions together with your meal.
You may discover that situations, thoughts, people, places, or specific foods lead to your food choices. In other words, you are discovering your “blind spots”. You find out about the reasons why you do stuff, not just what you do.
That is a huge lesson. Because once you can identify the monster, you can kill it while it’s little. As Tony Robbins said, don’t wait for the monster until it’s big and will eat the whole city.
#10: Practice Self-Compassion
People beat themselves up when they get off track. And they think that they fail because they binge for a day or two. But the reality is that even if you get off-road for a moment it’s not the end of the world. So give yourself a compassionate hug.
This is something you may have never considered before. There is strong research done about self-compassion.
And it turns out that people who are more compassionate to themselves perform better and rarely “choke” under pressure. They are more resilient and able to bounce back faster. They feel less depressed and less anxious (source).
People who practice self-compassion while dieting loses more weight and keep it off for longer. Self-compassion can decrease emotional eating and self-criticism. Self-compassion helps to regulate feelings, which leads to less stress. This means less impulsive or reactive behavior (source).
They also are better at providing social support, are more satisfied with life, and are psychologically healthier in general (source).
Some studies show that participants lost more weight when they participated in a mindful, self-compassion program (source).
Interestingly, self-compassion largely determines how likely you’re to recover from a “bad day” of eating.
#11: Stay Positive
Negative self-talk, which is the opposite of self-compassion, is part of a process that stimulates the part of the brain called VTA (ventral tegmental area) to release dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that goes to your NA (nucleus accumbens) aka the pleasure center of the brain.
This is how your body creates a habit. Since dopamine leads to habit formation and addiction, this means your brain not only has the potential to create more negative self-talk, but it also can trigger a reward pathway to make you addicted to that negative self-talk.
Are you still wondering why I mention self-compassion is important?
Not only that.
It turns out that our brain is neuroplastic. This means it’s changeable and adaptable. For instance, if you do biceps curls, your muscle will get stronger, change, and adapt. If you do it more intense, it wil adapt even more. They are plastic. They are adaptable.
If you stop doing biceps curls, it will adapt again, by getting smaller and weaker.
The same with your brain.
Neuroplasticity means that our brain can remodel itself by creating new neural connections throughout our life. Sometimes permanently. This means stress and dwelling on negative thoughts can literally cause brain damage (source).
During stressful situations, cortisol released damages the hippocampus. Hippocampus is the part of the brain that helps us learn and form memories. High levels of cortisol damage the neurons. This means you not only cannot learn, but you are easy to forget stuff that you know already.
Also, adrenaline unloads glucose into your bloodstream and inflammatory chemicals start oxidizing brain plaques, which adds to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s (source).
In other words, the more you worry, the more serious problems you have.
Go Further with OMAD
This article is part of the Doing OMAD But Not Losing Weight
In the following pages, I show you all the related aspects necessary to troubleshoot all the reasons why OMAD may not work and what you can do about it.
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