Is OMAD Sustainable? [Easy Checklist]


bon appetite sign

If you’re looking to start one meal a day to get some serious results you must remember that change doesn’t happen overnight. This means, your approach has to be sustainable. That’s why in this article I’m gonna share with you my tricks and answer the question is OMAD sustainable?

OMAD is a sustainable way to lower calorie intake. One meal a day allows you to stay in a caloric deficit. It works by lowering the appetite and helps with staying fuller with less food. However, it doesn’t mean that it needs to be done every single day.

But just like any other diet, to get the results it has to be done over a long time. In this article, I’m gonna share with you the ways how to make OMAD a sustainable practice.

Is One Meal A Day Sustainable?

One meal a day, just like any other form of intermittent fasting, can be a sustainable method to reduce excess weight. It allows you to eat once a day and fast for 23-hours, until your next meal. Therefore, you have to feel comfortable without any food for most of the day.

But there are many things to consider before embarking on the long-term OMAD journey. Because it’s not for everyone.

How To Make OMAD A Sustainable?

In general, to make omad sustainable, you have to start slowly. This means you progress from wherever you are right now and don’t make a sudden, radical change. For instance, if you are having 3-4 meals a day, start by eating one less.

Let me tell you a story.

One day client wanted to lose weight for his high school reunion that was coming up in 8-weeks. He was ready to train 6-days a week. Hitting hard every Bootcamp class.

He was up at 5:00 am. That’s 30-minutes after Jenifer Aniston, and five minutes before The Rock. His diet was skinless chicken breasts with steamed broccoli.

After 8 weeks, he entered his reunion looking like a Ralph Lauren model. But guess what happens after the reunion? He rolled back into the old habits.

He put on all the weight that he lost, plus interest. Why? Because that speed wasn’t sustainable.

Step #1: Start From Where You’re Right Now

To make OMAD sustainable you must first start from where you’re right now. Not from where you wish you were.

If you want to go scuba diving in the Caribbean, but you’ve never swim before, you need to start from where you’re at the moment. This means you cannot put on all diving gear, jump to the water, and expect to be able to swim comfortably.

Nobody does that.

You need to go through some type of scuba diving certification to maximize safety see how does it feel being underwater. Without those the certification, nobody will allow you to dive.

Or imagine you take a 3-year old for the very first time into the gymnastic class and ask her to do backflips, handstands, muscle-ups, spins, splits, etc.

Obviously, you don’t start on day one and say “Hey, Kate. Look I’m doing a handstand. Now go ahead and you do it

Obviously, that’s not gonna happen.

That’s how we work as exercise physiologists and personal trainers with our clients. We see where they are and slowly add more advanced skills.

graph of progress

A then B then C. You don’t do high-intensity interval work if you can’t touch your toes (at least, you shouldn’t). Increase range of motion first, then increase strength, and then add more complex movements.

So we understand that with any skill practice, you need to start where you’re, get comfortable and progress when you’re ready.

But what we do with the new diet?

We’re doing backflips on day one.

Big mistake.

With nutrition, it works exactly the same way. You start from where you are. You don’t want to follow a cookie-cutter ready-made meal plan. Because it won’t be sustainable.

Remember that OMAD is one of the toughest protocols of intermittent fasting. And there are plenty, less aggressive, and evenly effective ways to learn the skills first before you dive into the deep water.

list of skills you learn on omad
The list of skills that you learn doing intermittent fasting

Starting doing OMAD from where you’re right now will be the most beneficial thing you can do for yourself. This will allow you to learn all the skills that will help you maintain a lean body for life, not just for the reunion.

This means, even if you won’t be doing one meal a day forever, those skills will stay with you.

Starting from where you are doesn’t mean you get worse results. It means you condition yourself to be able to sustain. To be able to have the tools to bring you back to the game when you fall off the wagon, especially on one meal a day.

If you are looking for the most comprehensive guide, in the article 18 Steps On How To Do OMAD The Right Way I show you everything you need to know about how to do OMAD.

Step #2: Eat Slowly At Your Dinner Table

People fall off the wagon when they do one meal a day because they feel super uncomfortable with the feeling of hunger.

To make OMAD sustainable the first place I recommend starting is pacing your meals. This means you want to slow down your eating.

This may seem like a trivial thing. But slow eating is the foundation. If you can stretch your meals to the last 15-20 minutes it will make you fuller sooner (source).

picture of satiety growth
Source

Stretching out your meals will send satiety signals to your brain and to your gut.

You will be satisfied with less food. And over time you will get comfortable with hunger and you realize that hunger is not an emergency.

It also distinguishes the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. This means people who use food as a way to feel good, will start to have a clarity of what exactly hunger feels.

Because eating slowly will tune you in to listen to your body signals, reactions, and cues based on what you eat, you will quickly realize that physical hunger is much different than psychological hunger.

picture of two tanks
Difference between psychological hunger and physical hunger

Also, if you are a busy guy or gal, you probably have a lot of “stuff” going on your mind right now. Business, relationships, family, school, finance, etc.

So it’s very common for us to not pay attention to what, when, or how much we ate when we are non-stop distracted. There are studies that show people eat more and eat for longer when they are distracted (source).

Slow eating help you stay mindful and present in the moment.

simple checklist
Eating slowly for one meal a day checklist

So start from practising slow eating first. Don’t worry about the number of meals you have.

Remember, we need to learn the skills first. So start from where you’re right now.

You can use a food journal to help you with that. It will remind you each time when you have a meal to slow down. Here is an example of the checklist and journal you can use.

mindful eating journal

Step #3: Skip One Meal From Your Regular Day

Another step en route to one meal a day is skip a meal. Next level above eating slowly to be able to sustain intermittent fasting you need to know how your body feels when you’re not eating.

So once you are eating slowly on the daily basis, start reducing one meal from your menu.

Remember that this doesn’t have to be complicated.

But it’s essential. It helps you to see what is the best time of the day for you to not eat, and how will your body respond.

For instance, some people may love to skip a meal in the morning. This means they don’t eat breakfast. So the first meal will be around lunchtime.

Others like to eat something first thing in the morning. So they may not eat dinner.

You see there are no rules here. You need to know for yourself what is best for you. I will give you the tools and tell you what needs to be done. But you have to practice.

So practice.

Don’t seek out what is best for results. See what is best for you. If you believe that skipping breakfast is the best for results, but you feel miserable and grumpy all day long, then you not gonna sustain that for long.

There is no right or wrong here. You can use this checklist to help you stay on track.

checklist of skipping a meal
Skip a meal checklist

Make sure you follow what is best for you, not what X guru suggests. Just because Sally is seeing the results from not eating breakfast, doesn’t mean you must follow the same rule.

Explore and see what is more sustainable for you.

Try to skip a different meals. See what works best for you.

This will also develop self-awareness and will get you more comfortable with hunger signals. The more often you can feel the physical hunger, the faster you will get comfortable with it.

Use some type of notepad and journal how you feel. Don’t guess. Measure. You want to make an informative decision based on your body knowledge. It’s almost like research.

Put your scientist hut on and make a decision based on what you know. When you notice that you feel well and comfortable, move on to the next phase.

Step #4: Think Of OMAD As A Game

This means you are looking at it as a learning experiment. Not as something you need to win or lose. There is not good or bad. It’s only moving forward what matters.

When you start to play a game that is new to you, you won’t have this luxury of being the best. Because it takes time.

It takes time to explore the map, gathers weapons, and learn skills. Here is no different. You may feel like those practices that I gave you are not working. But trust me.

I’ve been helping hundreds of people lose weight and be healthy over the last decade, without intermittent fasting.

Why Is OMAD So Hard?

Many times people number one objection for doing one meal a day is that they say, I would do it but why is OMAD so hard?

Omad is so hard for most people because the hunger feeling is very uncomfortable. It put additional stress on the body. And if you’re already dealing with some other stressful situations, then it reaches the point where people reach for food as a way to feel good again.

Like with any dietary changes, you have to take into consideration multiple factors that will determine if this approach can be sustainable.

After years of working with people, helping them to lose weight, it’s become clear that the reason why people struggle to lose weight is not the food.

why omad is so hard to do
How our emotions affect our food choices

The food is not the problem, the problem is the problem

People use food as a copying mechanism to feel better.

I did that for years. I used to binge on cookies, sitting alone in my car (so that nobody could see me) in-between clients. Then I would feel bad about myself.

And the cycle went on and on. It took me years of hard work to break the chain and finally realize that all I was doing is using the food to escape from feelings.

Maybe you can relate?

Why we use food to feel better?

Reason #1: We Live In A Fast Pace Society

This means we are constantly rushing to get things done. And more often or not we forget about proper nutrition until we feel like we starving. So we eat more than usual.

Not only that but we also are non-stop surrounded by distractions that make us even forget that we have actually eaten (source).

Reason #2: We’re Surrounded By People Who Have Similar Habits As We Have.

There are a number of studies that show we are acquiring the habits from people that we surround ourselves with (source).

So if you are living around people who like to use food to feel good, not just to satisfy hunger, then you will likely do similar things.

There is this saying that you’re the reflection of 5 closest people around you.

Reason #3: We Are Stressed More Than Ever Before

We have more pressure and stress than ever. Everyone is dealing with some type of stress. So depending on how well you tolerate this stress, it will manifest in your eating.

That’s why some people who do OMAD can do well, where others cannot cope with it. And a few days later something happens, and they crack under pressure.

Remember that we are wired to feel good.

So typically after a stressful event, people dive into their good old tested habits using food as an emotional blanket.

Reason #4: We All Have Different Backgrounds

This means we come from families where food maybe was a scarcity several decades ago and a habit that has been passed from one generation to another is t clean the plate, don’t waste food, and wait close to the table until everyone else finishes their meal.

This can also mean that many people are raised in families where food was an escape from uncomfortable feelings.

This is my personal experience. In my family, nobody talked about emotions and feelings. It’s like they didn’t exist. I was raised mainly by my mom. My father was working abroad so he wasn’t home most of the time.

Since I was little, I was exposed to the habit of using food as a feel-good moment.

My mom had a big problem with emotional eating. She still has. So she would come back home, turn on the TV, and binge watch for the rest of the day. She would eat food not to satisfy her hunger, but to satisfy her emotions.

And instead of sharing with us her feelings, she would just eat. So for me, that was normal. Eating more than necessary became the regular part of the day. And if I felt some emotions (sadness or happiness) I didn’t know how to express them. I would just eat.

I didn’t know any better. And it took me years of education to escape from this habit.

Take Away

OMAD takes a couple of weeks to start working. Like with any caloric deficit, the most important part is to make it sustainable, and not focus on the end results. Focus on your next meal.

It can take up to a couple of weeks to get more comfortable with omad. As with any dietary changes, the first few days will feel uncomfortable. I recommend making yourself busy with some daily tasks, so your attention doesn’t stay on food.

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 omad benefits

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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