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How to Lose Weight Safely Eating One Meal a Day

Eat one main meal a day and lose weight, but make it a nourishing meal with lean protein, green vegetables, and a moderate serving of carbohydrate.

The Most Natural Way to Eat?

Eating just one meal a day may seem like a crazy concept to you. It might even seem impossible or too hard to keep up. In fact, it’s really not only possible, it’s how humans used to eat. It may not have been by choice, but early humans spent the day gathering and hunting for food, and then had one big meal at night, and they certainly didn’t have a problem with obesity.

You may have heard the term intermittent fasting. This is a way to describe diets that cycle between periods of eating and periods of fasting. Eating one meal a day would be considered a strict form of time-restricted feeding because most of the day is spent fasting with only one window of time spent eating.

How One Meal a Day Helps You Maintain a Healthy Weight

The idea behind eating only one meal a day is to eat less overall. Once the body acclimates to eating once a day, it turns to stored fat for fuel, and eventually, your body is trained to want less food.

“As a fat-burner, your body breaks free from blood-sugar swings and brain-fog, and you can actually become a more efficient mentally and physically,” says Ashley Smith, a nutritional therapy practitioner in Berkeley. “It may take a couple of weeks to effectively flip the switch from ‘sugar burner’ to ‘fat burner,’ but it can be done— particularly when consuming a variety of high-quality fats, whole/nutrient-dense vegetables, and properly sourced meats.”

The secret is to eat a nourishing meal and to eat until you are full. You can choose the time of day you want to eat, although it’s easier to eat at the end of your day. Most people lose weight with this regimen without having to monitor their portion sizes or count calories, but some people still keep track of how much they eat and when. It’s up to you.

Can I Lose Weight Eating One Meal a Day?

Some diets claim that eating as many as six meals a day will rev up your metabolism, and keep yourself from getting hungry. The only problem is that eating constantly throughout the day may have helped led to the obesity epidemic. Eating more meals a day encourages food obsession and overconsumption. It also makes it easier to go over your daily calorie limits. The truth is it that eating six meals a day does not have a big impact on your metabolism. While it may help your body burn 10 or so more calories through the constant process of digestion, this can be offset by how many more calories you will most likely consume. Some experts say not eating for long periods of time will slow your metabolism. It would take three days of fasting to have any noticeable impact on your metabolism. If you eat enough calories in a day, it doesn’t matter how you spread it out.

It seems that the more you eat, the more you want to eat. Everybody has experienced this. When you start eating more often, you feel hungrier more often as well. This leads to food obsession and overconsumption. The opposite affect happens as well. The less you eat, the less you feel like eating. When trying to lose or maintain weight, it’s easier to get a calorie reduction through eating less often. In the end, eating six meals a day makes you want to eat more, and more often than not, that’s exactly what happens.

Not for Everyone

Not everybody will be satisfied with a one meal a day lifestyle. Some people will prefer to spread their nutritional intake throughout the day. Eating 2 to 3 meals a day will still provide many of the same benefits.

Some nutritionists caution against restricting food to only one meal a day and warn that it may foster an unhealthy relationship with food. Some nutritionists claim that restricting meals to once a day can encourage obsessing on food. While this may be true for some, many people who have switched to a one meal a day lifestyle may also notice a significant decrease in hunger and a healthier relationship food. When eating only one meal a day, the body and mind eventually become programmed to think about food less and to only become hungry when you have programmed your body to expect food.

Other experts question the claim that eating one big meal a day helps the body detoxify.

“You do not need to skip meals to detox your body,” says Jennifer Kanikula, a registered dietitian with “Your liver and your kidneys are working 24/7 to naturally ‘detox’ you. Also, this process of eating one meal a day does not eliminate extra water unless you actually are not drinking anything else throughout the day either, which is an awful idea. Water may increase your weight temporarily if you are drinking heaps of it, but does not actually cause weight gain or bulkiness.”

Many dietitians and nutritionists have the misconception that the one meal a day, and other intermittent feeding lifestyles are simply ways to skip meals. During OMAD and other intermittent lifestyles, having fewer meals a day only work to reroute when you have your energy intake. Never on this lifestyle change should you significantly reduce your overall calories for weight loss. While the liver and kidneys are always working to detoxify your system, fasting produces extra benefits because you are not adding in more toxins that may interfere with the process. Drinking plenty of water will also help flush out excess water and toxins from your body.

This way of eating might not be for everyone, but if you feel like your eating plan is making you bloated or bulky, one meal a day might be something worth trying.

Here’s how to do it.

Eat One Meal a Day to Lose Weight

Why It Works
Eat one main meal with lean protein, green vegetables, and a moderate serving of whole-grain or unprocessed carbohydrates.
Lean protein and whole-grain carbs give you fuel without unnecessary fat, while vegetables provide essential fiber for digestion.
Eat as big a meal as you want.
If you’re eating nourishing, healthy food for your one meal, you can eat until you feel completely satisfied.
Eat your meal at your least busiest time of day and at the same time everyday.
When your body expects food at the same time each day it will help to suppress your appetite and curb cravings.
No need to keep track of calories.
The amount you eat will depend on you and vary each day. Consuming plenty of calories ensures that your metabolism will stay high and you’ll still continue to lose weight.
Snack on vegetables and fruit when you’re first starting out.
By choosing vegetables and low-sugar fruit, your body can get fiber and minerals to stay satisfied before or after your meal.
Avoid meal replacement shakes.
Eating a really nutritious meal of whole foods is the best way to get the nutrients you need.
Stick to low-sugar fruits, like apples and citrus, as snacks during the day.
Stick to low-sugar fruits, like apples and citrus, as snacks during the day.

Tips for Starting Out

  • Start by eating three meals a day and work down to two meals, and then one.
  • Make sure you are consuming enough calories or you will be hungry. Too few calories and your metabolism will eventually slow down. You might lose weight, but not efficiently. This will also make maintaining a healthy weight much harder, as you’ll be more prone to gain weight when you eat normally again.
  • Start by eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day and your main meal at night. You can adjust the time of day when you eat your main meal later, if necessary.
  • Avoid processed snacks and foods. They are addicting and they don’t satisfy hunger.
  • Stick to lean proteins, fresh vegetables, low-sugar fruits, and whole grains. It’s okay to treat yourself, but don’t over-do it.
  • Don’t focus on being perfect.
  • Never sacrifice health over perfection. If you feel light-headed at any point, eat!

Don’t Limit Yourself to One Meal a Day if You Are Pregnant or Trying to Get Pregnant.

Snack on raw vegetables during the day while on the one-meal-a-day lifestyle.
Snack on raw vegetables during the day while on the one-meal-a-day lifestyle.

How to Make the OMAD Diet Work for You

  • Eat over the course of a few hours, rather than just one sit-down meal.
  • To curb hunger, drink tea, coffee, and lots of fluids throughout the day, and keep yourself occupied!
  • If you’re an athlete, eat something small before your workout practice, and then have your main meal at night. Everyone can tailor OMAD to their own personal life. Don’t see this as an all-or-nothing, strict plan.
  • The key is always to eat healthy foods that are not processed, and avoid high amounts of sugar and sodium. I generally cook my own meals, and that helps significantly. As with any new habit you want to develop in life, it will take one to three weeks to adapt.
  • While some people may respond well to eating once a day on an ongoing basis, others should only use this approach for one or two days a week.
  • Feeling hungry is normal, but when you do feel hungry, you should eat. Keep vegetables, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, and other healthy snacks handy. Eating one meal a day may not be enough for you!

Benefits of Eating One Meal a Day

  • Increased productivity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss/better weight management
  • Maintain ideal weight
  • Increased mental clarity and awareness
  • Increased energy
  • Better health
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