I wanted to try one meal a day because I believed that is a great way to lose weight, look and feel better. But staying too long in a caloric deficit can also cause many unwanted side effects. So before doing OMAD I wanted to know will I lose muscle on OMAD?
You won’t lose muscle on OMAD. People are losing muscle mass during the caloric deficit because they don’t eat enough proteins. Adequate protein stimulates muscle protein synthesis, which is essential for building or maintaining muscle mass.
To ensure you keep your muscle mass while doing OMAD you need to have an adequate amount of protein intake and exercise to stimulate muscle hypertrophy.
Does OMAD Make You Lose Muscle?
Muscle loss happens as we age, but you can make sure that you helping your body to stay as strong as possible, for as long as possible.
Any caloric deficit over an extended period of time leads to weight loss. This means that some of the weight will be lost in the form of fat, and some in the form of muscle.
OMAD won’t make you lose muscle as long as you have enough protein on a daily basis. To keep your muscle mass at the optimum level, you need to eat around 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, and train with weights at least 3-4 times per week.
Muscle loss is a natural adaptation process. Our body is literally a plastic and flexible system of systems. This means it will change with the specific stimulation.
For instance, if you do a biceps curl, your muscle will adapt and grow. If you add more resistance, it will keep up with the demand, and adapt again to grow more. If you stop doing biceps curls, it won’t have any more stimulus. So it will adapt again, and gets smaller.
The same with energy intake.
When you eat more food than it’s necessary, your body doesn’t need to use stored energy (body fat). So because the energy is constantly coming in, your body will use that, instead of fat.
But once you eat less, now your body sees there is no more energy coming, so to stay balanced, it will use the internal source (body fat).
That’s how we lose weight.
The same with protein intake.
If your body is used to high-protein, it will preserve the muscle because it’s always getting new proteins from the diet. But once the proteins are no longer coming, it will start to break down the “internal” source of protein (muscle) to supply for the body.
So if you’re doing OMAD and you want to make sure that you won’t lose muscle mass, you need to make sure that you deliver enough proteins and stimulate your muscle to keep up the demand.
This means when you have more proteins in your diet, and you’re physically active, you can sill lose weight and keep your muscle mass high.
Doesn’t matter if you have a one, two or three meals a day. As long as your protein needs are met, you’re not gonna to lose muscle.
This brings us to the conclusion that stories that we tell ourselves can shape our behaviors, beliefs, and world point of view.
Back in the 80s and 90s the stereotypical “bodybuilding” mantra preached that to stay muscular and lean you have to eat small and often, ideally every 2-3 hours. Otherwise, your body goes into “starvation mode” and you lose all the muscle.
Some of the buffed guys would say that they never miss out on their meals. Some even woke up in the middle of the night and have a protein shake.
But research is clear that to maintain, and even to build muscle, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing one meal a day or 5 meals a day (source).
To ensure you won’t lose muscle, simply have a good amount of protein with your meals.
For men, you would need 4 palm-size protein portions per day.
For women, you would need around 3 palm-size protein portions per day.
That means majority of your meal should take up by proteins. If that is too much for you at one meal, you have couple options.
You can designate 2 days in a week where you eat an extra meal that is rich in proteins. For instance, you can do OMAD 5 Days a week. This way you don’t have to eat too much food at once and still stay in a positive protein balance.
You can break down your meals into two and follow “Warrior Diet”. This diet is very similar to OMAD, but instead of eating one meal a day you have a 4-hour eating window. So you can have two smaller meals, both rich in proteins.
And don’t worry. Even if you have two smaller meals a day that are packed with proteins you will lose weight.
Another option is to simply add a protein shake to your meal. To make is simple just wait 45-60 minutes after your meal and have a protein smoothie.
This way you will add extra fast digestive proteins without additional food to chew. Anybody can do it.
Plus, if it comes with a nice flavor it will help you with some cravings for sweets. I like to use something like Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard that is affordable and have a rich chocolate taste.
Can You Gain Muscle On OMAD?
If your goal is to build a good amount of muscle mass, intermittent fasting can help you. However, with one meal a day you won’t see optimal results.
You can gain muscle on OMAD. For optimum hypertrophy, you need to have around 1 gram of protein per 1 pound of body weight. This means the main part of your meal should come from protein.
But 1 gram per pound it’s a lot of protein. That’s why my best advice would be to start by establishing your top priorities.
Do you want to build muscle mass as fast as possible? Or do you want to lose fast as fast as possible?
For muscle mass, you can still use the intermittent fasting approach, like 16:8. This means you fast for 16-hours and you have a eating window for 8 hours.
This approach will help you eat more than enough proteins. You can even have 3 smaller meals, all packed with proteins. Or two main meals and a protein shake.
For fat loss, stick to the one meal a day and just ramp up the proteins.
What Are The Best Protein Sources?
You can get enough proteins from either animal-based foods or from plant-based foods. However, if you’re doing one meal a day, in my opinion is much better to stick to animal-based foods.
Simply because you have more proteins for less food volume. And if you’re looking for protein just from plant-based foods, you will need to eat a huge amount of food, just to meet the bare minimum of requirements.
For instance, you would need to eat a cup of lentils, a cup of chickpeas, and a cup of legumes EVERY DAY just to get enough ratio of amino acids.
That’s can be done. But it’s just not sustainable. Here are some of the best protein sources.
You can easily build muscle on one meal a day as long as you have a good plan. Eating enough protein is the way to go and together with progressive overload, it will help you build and maintain lean body mass.
Go Further with OMAD
This article is part of the 20 OMAD Benefits (Based on new research).
In the following articles, I show you everything there is to know about the most current research on intermittent fasting and the benefits of doing one meal a day.
Learn more: Click here to read the article about is OMAD better than ADF.