The duration one can stay on OMAD varies. However, according to research one can do OMAD for a period of 4-21 days with no adverse effects. How long one can stay on OMAD depends on Various factors such as age, gender, stress, and activity level.
Based on personal goals and the weight one wants to lose, you might go for a longer period of 6-12 weeks. For some people, OMAD might go for a period of between 3 and 6 months. There are different approaches to OMAD and it is very important that you choose the right approach that is long-term and sustainable.
What is OMAD?
The OMAD also known as “the one meal a day” diet is a type of intermittent fasting that aims to help one lose weight by forcing your body to burn fat.
Why is OMAD so hard?
OMAD is difficult because it allows a one-hour eating window and restricts 23 hours of the day. This is very difficult for most people who are not used to staying hungry for longer periods of time.
Besides every human feels uncomfortable with being hungry. Any form of Intermittent fasting like OMAD is Psychological stress. Going on long periods of caloric restriction and depriving yourself of the foods you want is stressful.
People have different stressors in life and adding another stress to your system could leave one with a feeling of exhaustion, when it is too much to take it in, people tend to give up.
Lack of positive stimulants such as fun activities, deeper meaning in life, regular sleep, good nutrition, and anything else that stimulates one positively and helps one recover from stress, could lead to an overflow of the stress and push one to give up on OMAD.
The more stressors one has, the more likely one meal a day might be harder for you. Another way to look at it is; that for some people, food might be a way to deal with other stressors as it stimulates feel-good hormones.
If one uses food to numb all the uncomfortable situations in life, once they start on One Meal A Day fasting mode, every other bit of negative feeling that they have tried to suppress comes to light and now one has faced such uncomfortable feelings without the comfort of food.
When most people encounter this situation, they tend to opt out because of the emotional turmoil they might be going through and the only escape is through going back to food and their normal eating methods.
How Long does it take to be used to OMAD?
Generally, It would take up to 5 days to get used to OMAD, the first couple of days would feel uncomfortable as one would think about food, especially for people who use food as comfort which may result in food binge eating.
on the third day however the body will switch to Ketosis a process that happens when your body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to burn for energy; Instead it burns fat and makes things called ketones, which it can use for fuel. In the first couple of days, one would feel like giving up and going back to eating as a way of relieving stress.
Food provides comfort and without it, it can create stress that leads to unwanted side effects, like headaches, insomnia, lethargy, or anxiety. That is why it is important to work on goal setting, this is a proven strategy that can help you focus on what’s important and stay consistent.
Focus on approach goals, behavioral and mastery goals help one to value the process, set up realistic targets, make one more responsible for their actions in case they feel like leaving halfway after having not achieved their goal, works as internal motivation to keep going, help build self-esteem and be flexible to changes as they appear.
In approach goal, it focuses on finding the right fasting method that works for you. This may appear in several ways like skipping a meal that one normally is used to eating, this mode works perfectly for people who are not ready for a full-day fast.
Eat Stop Eat: for people who are busy during the week but want to experiment with fasting on the weekend. Fasting mimicking diets where other days you eat less and other days normally, this is a method that can be used by people who know and are familiar with their hunger signals
Day Fast (ADF): Eat every other day. You fast for 36 hours (including sleep), and you eat for 12-hours.For people who have a lot of weight to lose, but have a busy schedule and cannot fast all week.
Leangains (16:8): You eat only in the 8-hour window and fast for 16-hours (including sleep).For people who are more physically active and like structure in their day.
Warrior Diet: You fast for 20-hours, and you eat a meal or two within a 4-hour window. For people who like structure and routine. They like to eat later on during the day.
Other types of goals include:
Avoidance goals – those goals involve something you don’t want (e.g stop eating cakes, beef, pork, etc Those goals are “push” goals because they push you away from something. Avoidance goals usually start with “Don’t” or “Stop”.
Performance goals – are the goals that are externally validated (e.g. winning a match, being number one). They provide extrinsic motivation, such as grades or winning competitions. The physical outcome after several days of the process end goal, for Example losing chubby checks.
Mastery goals – those types of goals are intrinsic in nature. You’re not motivated by the result, but you have the joy from the activity itself (e.g. woodworking, exercising, fasting, hiking, cooking) Mastery goals focus on skill and the process, rather than winning.
Outcome goals – those goals are driven by the end result (e.g. losing 50 pounds). Having a model physique after losing close to 30 pounds.
Behavior goals – those goals focus on actions, steps, and behaviors that must be taken to reach the outcome (e.g. taking 1000 steps a day or running down the stairs daily or a 20minute daily walk, denying oneself protein-based products, doing sit-ups and press-ups, etc.
How long does it take to work
The end goal of OMAD is to create an extended fasting period that encourages your body to burn fat and teaches us how our body responds to a lack of food. The OMAD diet may also help to reduce appetite, and reduce total energy consumed throughout the day when compared to eating more frequent meals as it focuses on calorie restriction, no matter how you achieve it, ie using whichever method will lead to fat loss. People using this end up taking in fewer overall calories than they are normally used to.
This process helps reduce hyperinsulinemia, control diabetes and improve metabolic syndrome. Depending on the goals of each individual, it is normal for one to continue with the process for 3-6 months, while others can go for fewer days or weeks the end goal is what matters.
Consistency is developed by the first trial. This further leads to improving your hunger tolerance, creating an environment that supports your goals, and being mindful of your thoughts when you do not eat. Organizing your surroundings, mindful eating practices, and having a food journal will help you endure the process.