How One Meal A Day Impacts Metabolism

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This is a collaborative post.

Striking a balance between health and fitness has become all the more difficult in recent years. The large amount of information available on the Internet, coupled with the emergence of more and more fad diets, has made it challenging for people to navigate this always-changing landscape. 

Nonetheless, over the past years, intermittent fasting (IF) and one-meal-a-day (OMAD) eating regimes have been gaining popularity, and recent research has started to prove the benefits of these diets. But is eating only one meal a day healthy or safe?

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Here is what you need to know about adopting this diet in the long term. 

What Is the One Meal a Day Diet?

There is no doubt that adopting a healthy and balanced diet is one of the key pillars of a healthy lifestyle. But not all diets are created equal. 

According to surveys, intermittent fasting is appreciated by nearly a quarter of American adults as an efficient and inexpensive strategy to lose weight and boost overall fitness levels. IF refers to a dieting regime that restricts feeding to certain times or specific time windows. 

In particular, OMAD is a more extreme type of IF that implies having only one meal a day, which restricts feeding to an hour or so. This type of diet does not specify which meal to have a day or what to eat during that meal, but it has been seen as an efficient way to restrict calories and promote weight loss.

Benefits of OMAD

Although the body of research supporting IF and OMAD is still thin, studies have begun to offer promising results. Some of the benefits highlighted include:

  • Balancing blood sugar levels 
  • Reducing the risk of heart disease
  • Decreasing inflammation
  • Boosting cognitive performance
  • Reducing brain fog
  • Reducing neurodegeneration 
  • Promoting longevity
  • Lowers bad cholesterol and blood pressure 

Eating only one meal a day also restricts calories, which can help with weight loss.

Risks and Downsides of OMAD

Although in the short term, OMAD can lead to significant weight loss (7-11 pounds in 10 weeks), it can also drastically change the metabolism in the long term. 

Some of the risks and downsides of OMAD include:

  • Inhibited immune system due to excessive calorie restriction
  • Slowed thyroid function and metabolism
  • Increase in cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Extreme hunger
  • Impacted relationship with food and eating
  • Higher levels of irritability and mood swings
  • Nausea, dizziness, and low energy
  • Digestive issues
  • Impacted social life and daily routine
  • Nutrient deficiencies

Additionally, OMAD might not be safe for people who are pregnant or have type 2 diabetes. 

Ultimately, if you are looking to improve your body composition and health in the long term, less extreme intermittent fasting options or more balanced diets might be more helpful. 

How To Make Intermittent Fasting More Sustainable in the Long-Term

Although research is yet to clarify whether OMAD is beneficial or detrimental to your health, studies are proving its positive effects. Nonetheless, if you decide to adopt this eating regime, there are some important factors to consider. Let’s start with the ones below. 

Stick to Natural, Unprocessed, and Whole Foods

One of the greatest risks of practicing OMAD is that it can be difficult to consume all the nutrients and calories needed for human health. What’s more, people who are struggling to manage their hunger might fulfill their one meal a day with processed foods like chips, cereals, and fast food. To minimize this risk, some individuals opt to incorporate energy supplements into their daily routine, ensuring they meet their nutritional needs despite the limitations of a single meal.

To avoid the side effects that this eating regime can cause, be sure to stick to a simple and natural diet rich in plant-based foods, whole ingredients, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. 

Boost Your Diet With Supplements

Depending on your diet, you might need to rely on supplements to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients needed for health. For example, if you are following a vegan or vegetarian diet, you will need to integrate B12 vitamins. 

If you are practicing OMAD, you might also need pre-workout supplements that can help you maximize the efficiency of your exercise routine. To stick to intermittent fasting, make sure to check how long a certain pre-workout supplement takes to kick in and head to the gym within an hour of taking it.

Maintain an Active Lifestyle

Keeping active is critical to maintaining a healthy weight and safeguarding the health of the circulatory system. Even if you decide to restrict your calories by adopting OMAD eating regimes, you will need to keep active to lose weight and improve your fitness. 

Bottom Line: Always Work With a Specialized Nutritionist

Although, for some OMAD can be a beneficial eating regime, don’t forget that, when it comes down to designing a diet around your unique needs, the expertise of a nutritionist can prove invaluable!

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