OMAD and Exercise (Everything you need to know)


If you’re planning to experiment with one meal a day, I will walk you through my recommendations on the best way to combine OMAD with exercise, and should you workout while doing OMAD?

In general, you should work out on OMAD because exercise helps to suppress appetite and speed up fat burning. Also lifting weights and doing strength training while on OMAD helps to maintain muscle mass and high energy expenditure.

In addition to seeing the list below, please me mindful that this article is part of the how to do OMAD correctly, which I recommend you read.

OMAD Diet and Working Out

Do you have to exercise on OMAD? You don’t have to exercise on OMAD because eating only one meal a day will put you in the calorie deficit anyway. However, exercise and strength training while doing OMAD can help to boost your energy and increase muscle protein synthesis.

In other words, won’t see significantly better results from extra calories burned with additional exercise. The majority of calories are used for basal metabolic rate, which is the total energy needs to perform basic functions like breathing, digestion, or blood circulation.

This means when you only eat once a day you can literally stay all day in bed and still burn tons of calories, without moving a finger.

daily energy expenditure for physically active and sedentary people
Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30695621/

Physical activity adds up to only 15% more calories burned. As you can see on the chart, majority comes from your metabolism. But it doesn’t mean you don’t shouldn’t exercise while doing OMAD.

Can You Lose Weight By Eating One Meal A Day And Exercise?

In general, you can lose weight by eating one meal a day and exercise because you will create a negative energy balance. Combining OMAD and exercise will cause metabolic adaptations, where the body stops using glucose and switches to using fat for energy.

Can you lose weight on OMAD without exercise? You can lose weight on OMAD without exercise. Weight loss is the effect of metabolic adaptation when the body is switching from using the external source of energy (the last food you eat) to an internal source of energy (stored body fat).

But weight loss isn’t the only benefit from doing OMAD together with working out. Apart from weight loss, there are several other benefits.

#1: Reducing stress

Doing OMAD and exercise can reduce your stress levels. Being in the calorie deficit leads to higher amount of cortisol. Adding exercise can be effective strategy to reduce stress and cortisol levels.

Physical activity is a double edge sword when it comes to stress. It can significantly help you in reducing your stress, but it can also add on top of what you already have.

For instance, high-impact, high-intensity exercise done daily or even multiple times a day can add to your stress bobble. Over time, you will feel tired and exhausted. And it’s just a matter of time when that bubble bursts.

On the other hand, if you’re using exercise with lower intensity, something that is energizing you without too much effort, or high effort but in a relatively short period of time, over time, you will feel better.

And even if you don’t like to “exercise”, you can still find a low-hanging fruit that you like and look forward to doing. The key is to be moving and have fun.

For instance, back in the day, when I was training people in person, I could sense immediately when my clients had a bad day. Their face was tight up, their back felt stiff and they had this anxious look on their face.

They were with me, but their mind was dancing somewhere else.

So before we even did any squats or push-ups, I would take a balloon, tennis ball or big pilates ball and start goofing around. Chasing the ball, runnig after the balloons, taping the knee, taping the shoulder,etc.

We were just having fun. And all it took is a couple of minutes chasing after the balloon to put a smile back on their face. It was amazing to watch. So even if you don’t like any formal exercise, find something fun that you like and enjoy.

#2: Suppressing appetite

Doing OMAD and exercise will lower your hunger and suppress appetite. Studies have shown that low-impact exercise has positively impact on the appetite and cravings.

This is a big reason why you should reconsider doing exercises on OMAD. Studies show that exercise promotes weight control, partly through effects on appetite regulation (source).

This means if you can add just some basic movements, like walking, tai chi, or stretching, this won’t “burn” many calories, but it will help you not to feel that hungry after.

For instance, I’ve reduced the time and intensity of my workouts so I can do them daily. I usually do them in the late morning slash noon. So they help me stay in control till 4 pm when I usually have my meal.

My routine is usually kettlebell swings, goblet squats, overhead presses, and push-ups. I have 3-5 minutes of rest in between. I don’t use that workout to burn calories. I use it to top up my battery for energy and to suppress my appetite.

You don’t have to use weights if you don’t want to. But if you can find something that you can do daily, it will have a massive impact in the long term. Not only you will feel less hungry, but you will get into the habit of being active, too.

#3: Improving sleep quality

Adding a workout to your OMAD will help to sleep better. Physical activity often increases the sympathetic nervous system. After the exercise is done, the body switches off fight or flight mode and kick starts parasympathetic response.

The parasympathetic response releases melatonin and endorphins. Those hormones help you feel good and sleep better. When we rapidly reduce food intake, just like when you do during one meal a day, it will affect your melatonin and cortisol levels.

Adding exercise helps to balance. Low-intensity exercise, like walking or stretching, activates rest and digest response), lowers blood pressure, and can reduce cortisol levels (source).

So with just some regular exercise, you can dramatically not only reduce stress and appetite. It can also help you sleep better. It literally works like therapy.

#4: Gives more energy

Doing OMAD with strength training helps to boost your energy levels. And it doesn’t take long until you realize that you are more focused, more productive, and more efficient when you’re physically active.

For instance, I’ve noticed that if I skip my exercise, immediately my mood change. I become more sensitive to things that normally wouldn’t bother me if I had a workout.

And if I have some type of an issue, it’s amazing how my mentality changes after a workout. Now all of a sudden I can see the problems with the solutions. So something that seems to be overwhelming before now is barely an obstacle.

This improves the quality of my day. And if I can do that for a week, for a month, or a year, that’s a better quality of life.

Apart from the laundry list of health benefits that comes from physical activity, working out on one meal a day will help you stay focused, mentally strong, fights any setbacks that come along the way and lower appetite.

This means after each workout majority of obstacles, problems or worries go away. It’s like therapy. So adding some form of exercise isn’t all about the calories. It’s about your overall health.

workout and omad

When To Workout On OMAD?

The most optimum time to work out on OMAD is in the late morning or early afternoon. If you exercise too early, you may experience a drop in your energy for the rest of the day. If you exercise too late, it can lead to lower performance and may impact your consistency.

That is the sweet spot. Of course, this will totally depend on your work schedule. Because what if you’re all day at work, and the only realistic time to workout is after work? So working out on one meal a day need to be carefully planned.

Should you do workout in the morning on OMAD?

You can do a morning workout on OMAD if you don’t have any other option. However, reduce your intensity to walking, stretching, or weight training with long rest in between. Doing any HIIT or other high-intensity exercise can lead to dropping in energy later on during the day.

This means in the morning you may feel awesome, but as soon as the clock hits that 2 pm, you are ready for a nap. So you drink coffee. And another coffee. That will get you going only until you hit that wall where nothing else you can think of but food.

omad morning workout

So in my realistic opinion reduce the intensity of your exercise. This means, forget about boot camp classes or indoor cycling sessions.

OMAD and HIIT workout can be tough. Initially, you may feel energized and invigorated, but as the day goes by, your energy will go down like a sinking ship (source).

One meal a day can put a lot of physiological and psychological stress on your body. And when you train heavy every day stress goes up. So your goal should be on how to lower your stress, not increase. That’s why OMAD and HIIT workout doesn’t go hand in hand.

Should you do workout in the evening on OMAD?

You can do a workout in the evening on OMAD, however, depending on the intensity, it may lead to poor performance, overeating, and impact your willingness to train in the long term. Also, having a big meal late in the evening can cause sleeping problems.

When you are at work all day, then you train, and then you eat after you exercise, you will feel exhausted. Plus, you may not get the most out of your workout.

omad evening workout

You may get away with this routine for a couple of days or even a couple of weeks. But sooner or later, it will catch up with you. And you will crash. Exercise in the evening when doing one meal a day, in my opinion, isn’t the best idea.

However, you can do it by reducing the intensity to something light like walking or yoga. During all day of not eating your body hold up to a lot of cortisol. Yoga and walking stimulate will your parasympathetic nervous system and help your distress by reducing cortisol levels.

Working Out Twice A Day On OMAD?

Working out twice a day on OMAD won’t bring you any extra benefits but instead can lead to tiredness and breaking down under too much pressure. However, exercises like light walking or stretching can actually enhance the process by suppressing the appetite and cravings.

This means if you’re choosing to exercise twice a day on OMAD, you must carefully decide on what type of exercise you are willing to do. It is much better to stay with low intensity and be more consistent, rather than do high-intensity cardio sessions.

workout twice a day on omad

Any form of high-intensity workouts done two times a day will have a detrimental effect and make you feel progressively worse (source).

What Is The Best Time To Exercise On OMAD?

The best time to exercise on OMAD is between 12 pm and 3 pm because you have enough energy to perform the exercise, and you don’t have to eat late at night. Keeping the exercise intensity low and using workouts as an appetite suppressant will help you stay consistent, without burning out.

If you’re in the position where you manage your own schedule and you can choose your exercise time during the day, then, in my opinion, the afternoon is the king.

omad afternoon workout

If you have one meal a day in the afternoon or early evening, the most difficult time that you will feel hunger is noontime. This is the perfect opportunity to plug in your workout.

It will energize you and push you through the rest of the day until your meal. It will help you not to feel so hungry and clear your head from any anxiety.

Also, because you eat after the meal, it will lead to the most optimum results. So as you can see, it checks all the boxes.

How To Workout On OMAD

One meal a day is good to do strength training because it will keep your energy high and stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

However, because you’re in a caloric deficit, your body can feel weak, so keep the rest between the sets longer and lower the intensity to make sure you don’t overtrain.

Reps per setRest time between sets
3-5 rep range8 to 12 minutes long.
8-12 rep range5 to 10 minutes long.
15+ rep range3 to 8 minutes long.

This may feel like too much of a rest. But when you’re eating only one meal a day and you want to do strength training you need to make a compromise.

Can you build muscle on OMAD? In general, you can build muscle on OMAD, as long as you have enough protein in the diet and do strength training. Proteins in combination with weight lifting stimulate muscle protein synthesis, therefore, can help you to build muscle.

However, be mindful that with lower amount of total calories, it will be hard to reach optimal level of hypertrophy.

Otherwise, if you feel like your workouts will compensate, consider changing the intermittent fasting approach for something more suitable.

16:8 is an intermittent fasting protocol where you don’t eat for a 16-hour window (including sleep), and you eat for 8 hours. So you technically skip a meal. If your strength training is your top priority then this will be a better option than OMAD (source).

Warrior Diet is very similar to 16:8, but instead of having a 16-hour fasting window, here you extend that time to 20-hours. This means your eating window will last 4 hours. So you can squeeze in 2 smaller meals, or one big meal and a snack.

Can I do a HIIT workout on OMAD? You can co HIIT workout on OMAD, as long as it’s short duration. Shorter exercise can induce metabolic adaptations in the muscles and nervous system, without creating too much deficit in energy. This helps to maintain your energy levels.

In other words, don’t go too hard on HIIT because it may bounce back and make you feel lethargic, underfeed and trigger unwanted eating behaviors.

Can I do fasted workout on OMAD? You can do fasted workout on OMAD. Exercise before eating will help you burn extra calories and increase energy expenditure.

OMAD Before or After Workout?

Doing OMAD after a workout will get you better results and help to reduce your appetite. Doing OMAD before a workout isn’t recommended, because your body switches into the parasympathetic mode and keeps the blood in the stomach area to help digest food, which can make you feel lethargic.

omad before or after workout
omad before or after workout

During digestion, our body moves the blood away from the muscles and keeps it around the stomach and intestine area. This is popularly called the rest and digest effect. Exercising during this time pumps the blood away from the stomach back into the muscles and can lead to digestion problems (source).

There is a big difference doing OMAD before or after a workout. For the best results, you want to do OMAD after a workout. Many studies confirm that exercise before your meals leads to better fat oxidation. After you train, your body increases insulin sensitivity and your muscles absorb the majority of the glucose.

They act like a dry sponge that you put in the bowl of water. It absorbs everything. So the majority of the food will immediately be used to refuel and recover. Also, leaving your meal after light exercise will lower your appetite, so you won’t feel that hungry.

Conclusion

Sometimes people think that more intensity means better results. It will lead to more calories burned. Which is true. But if you are already in the caloric deficit, more intensity will bite you in the ass.

Results comes overtime. And if you’re pumping up your cortisol level like a air into the balloon, eventually it will blow up. So instead of adding the stress, reduce. This means less intensity will give you more results.

Light walking, stretching, fun activity, sex, playing games, are all great ways to reduce cortisol. This means your stress level goes down and you are more likely to continue this path.

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 long can you do omad for

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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