Martine Etienne-Mesubi, DrPH
Martine is a public health epidemiologist interested in the cross section of health and the determinants of health outcomes.

Martine Etienne-Mesubi, DrPH
Martine is a public health epidemiologist interested in the cross section of health and the determinants of health outcomes.


This page was updated by Luisa Torres, PhD

I’ve been living the intermittent fasting lifestyle for almost two years! I started with 16-hour fasts, then gradually moved to doing OMAD (one meal a day), and for the last 18 months I’ve been eating OMAD and loving it!

What you’ll find in this article:

What is OMADBenefits of OMAD according to research | What to eat as an OMADIs OMAD right for you? | How to get started with OMAD | Electrolyte supplementation with OMADHow to manage hunger during OMADWill I keep doing OMAD long term?  | A recipe to get you started

What is OMAD? 

Most will describe it as eating one meal a day.  It involves packing all of your day’s calories in a single meal that you consume within 1-2 hours.  I fast for 23 hours and eat a full, satisfying dinner within a one-hour timeframe. Some people choose to eat their one meal at dinner time, while others do so at breakfast or lunch.  

Benefits I’ve experienced with practicing an OMAD lifestyle

  • Losing stubborn weight
  • Saving time 
  • Eating what I love
  • Having clearer skin
  • Reducing Bloating
  • Getting better sleep

Losing weight

Although I lost some weight with 16-18 hour fasts, I found that switching to OMAD really helped get rid of that stubborn fat around my waist and back. I was able to stay in ketosis longer because my fasting time was longer. Additionally, I have a sweet tooth and practicing OMAD allowed me to enjoy my sweets within a short window so I didn’t go overboard. Within one year, I went from 225lbs to 145lbs! I dropped a total of 80 pounds by just eating within a set time frame and letting my body fast for the remainder of the time. 

Saving time

I remember spending so much time planning breakfast, lunch and dinner. I spent most of my time in the kitchen. With OMAD, I know what I want to eat, I get in there, make it and I’m done. I no longer spend hours slaving over meals and snacks, or deciding what and when I’m going to eat. I have so much more time to do other things. 

Eating what I love

Since I’m not cooking several meals and planning every second of my day around what I’m going to eat, I can enjoy my favorite meals without guilt. The goal is to enjoy what you love and move on to the next day. The great thing about OMAD is that you can still enjoy what the whole family is eating. You don’t have to make a special “diet” meal for yourself while watching your family enjoy pizza or fries. It is important to note that while you can enjoy what you love, you should be conscious of the foods you take in and avoid processed foods as much as possible. 

Clearer skin

 I have noticed that while I have enjoyed the benefits of losing weight, I have also enjoyed clearer, more supple skin! Intermittent fasting will do this in general. However, during my time practicing OMAD, I notice that my skin is so much clearer. Lesson learned? You don’t need to spend hundreds on skin care products, just try OMAD and experience the difference!

Reduced bloating

I used to wake up feeling super bloated and heavy after a full day of eating. With OMAD, I don’t experience bloating, or indigestion. By the time I wake up in the morning I’ve already been in the fasted state for almost 12 hours and I feel great, ready to take on the day. 

Better sleep

Reduced bloating means better and more rested sleep. I’m more in tune with my circadian rhythm because I’m eating routinely around the same time and that is usually before the sun sets. I aim to eat about 3-4 hours before bedtime so that I’ve already begun digesting my food before I lay down to sleep. 

Benefits of OMAD according to research

Snacking throughout the day has been associated with weight gain, while eating less frequently leads to weight loss. Compared to eating 3 times a day, eating only one meal within a 4-hour period has been shown to lead to weight loss and loss of fat mass . Those who eat 3 times a day typically have a higher BMI compared to those who eat only once.  A small study showed that eating only dinner eliminated the need for insulin in type-2 diabetes patients. This fasting approach also resulted in improved HbA1C, lower body mass index, and reduced waist circumference. 

OMAD turns on autophagy, a disease-preventing process through which your body gets rid of damaged proteins. OMAD also puts your body in fat-burning mode (ketosis) 70 hours every week with 42 of those hours representing heavy ketosis or fat-burning.

How does OMAD keep me full and satisfied for the next 23 hours?

I make sure to include nutrient-dense foods in my diet. I don’t restrict myself but I also don’t eat highly processed foods. Incorporating some of the following into your diet will keep you full until it’s time to eat again:

Ingredients for healthy foods selection on dark stone background. Balanced healthy ingredients of unsaturated fats for the heart and blood vessels.
Foods such as nuts, salmon, avocados, and leafy greens are nutritious and can help you stay full longer.

Dark leafy green vegetables

These include kale and spinach, Swiss chard and collard greens. They are packed with fiber and water, which helps keep you fuller. There is nothing keeping you from having that cheeseburger as your one meal, and you might even add those fries you were craving. But you should also try including a big leafy green salad of mixed kale and spinach topped with your favorite salad dressing as a prelude to your burger. I always have a huge bowl of salad prior to eating my main meal, and it definitely helps to keep me satisfied and full.

Avocados

Avocados are bursting with healthy and beneficial fats that will keep you full until your next meal. You can even add slices of avocado to your leafy green salad. You’ll really be reaping the benefits of satiety at that point!

Salmon

We absolutely love salmon in our house. We have it at least 2-3 times a week. This fish is packed with omega 3-fatty acids and has been shown to increase satiety. Try a a 4-7 oz piece of grilled salmon with your favorite side! My daughter loves it with mac & cheese.                                                       

Eggs

High in protein, you can enjoy eggs at anytime. If you’re making them a part of your one meal, try a vegetable-loaded omelet or add an egg to your burger; that will surely leave you feeling happy and full. 

Legumes

Legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils are packed with fiber and can be very filling. You can add legumes to almost any meal. If you’re doing Mexican, throw in a little more beans in that burrito bowl. If you’re having a gyro, add in a little hummus for the win. 

Nuts

Almonds, macadamia nuts, pistachios, and walnuts are not only a delicious way to start your meal but they are also rich in healthy fats which will keep you full. I always have a serving of roasted almonds or macadamia nuts on hand when I’m ready to start eating. It prepares my body for the food that will be coming while also contributing to my fulness.

Whole Grains

 I’m talking unrefined, unprocessed whole wheat breads, and brown rice, whole oats and rye. These grains definitely work with your body to keep you satisfied. Sometimes, unhealthy processed carbohydrates might be the culprit to the stall in progress that can happen along your weight loss journey. Including more of the unrefined and unprocessed whole grains could help you avoid hunger longer. 

Seeds

Flax, chia, hemp, sesame, and pumpkin seeds can be a great addition to your meals. They are high in healthy fats and protein. You might decide to start your meal with a tall glass of chia seed pudding. Or maybe you throw in some sesame seeds to your beef and broccoli stir-fry. I sometimes add flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds to my yogurt at the end of a meal. 

Skyr

Speaking of yogurt, skyr is my favorite! It used to be Greek until I discovered skyr. This is the easiest way to really fill up while also getting all your nutrients. I usually add some flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate to my yogurt. On the days when I don’t have a really sweet dessert, this really hits the spot. This always leaves me feeling full while also satisfying my sweet tooth!

Berries

A delicious bowl of berries is full of fiber and you can eat as much of these as your heart desires! We also eat loads of berries. They can be added to almost anything, salads, cereal, yogurt, even ice cream! These are definitely a treat that you don’t have to feel guilty about. 

Dark Chocolate

If you know me, you know I love all types of chocolate! However, believe it or not, dark chocolate has a filling property. Yep, you guessed it, it’s high in soluble fiber and healthy fats, so it helps in keeping you full. Imagine that! Chocolate that keeps you full! Ok, don’t go crazy guys, this doesn’t give you license to go crazy on the dark chocolates, but definitely enjoy in moderation!

The common thread that I’ve tried to weave through these food groups is making sure your meal includes healthy fats, protein and FIBER! If you’ve started OMAD or if you’ve started an intermittent fasting schedule you want to make sure your meals have a generous amount of all of the above. Whether you’re eating one meal a day or you have a wider eating window, you want to make sure whatever you eat can keep you full so you can stick to your fasting schedule. This is great advice for any eating plan. Even if you are on a keto regimen, including enough of all of these food categories in your meals will help you stay satiated and keep you from wandering into the snack station.

Is OMAD right for you?

Those most likely to benefit from OMAD are people looking to lose serious amounts of weight, reverse type 2 diabetes and lower their risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Some safety precautions:

Don’t adopt OMAD if you have type-1 diabetes, an eating disorder, or are already underweight. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid OMAD as well. OMAD should not be practiced at all by children under 18 unless under the supervision of a physician.

Stay hydrated while you fast. Drink lots of water and unsweetened tea or coffee. Try to avoid beverages with artificial sweeteners, but it’s not the end of the world if you slip up.

If you start to feel bad, eat! Intermittent fasting is a wonderful health intervention, but don’t take it too far.  Know when to stop.

How to get started with OMAD

It’s best to start with 12-14 hour overnight fasts, which helps eliminate late-night snacking. Once you master the 12-14 hour overnight fast, the most logical and easiest progression is to move to 16-18 hour fasts. Add 1-hour of fasting time every week until you are fasting for 22-23 hours.

As with all intermittent fasting plans, it’s best if you can finish your eating a few hours before going to bed.

Electrolyte supplementation during OMAD

During my fasts, I like to take electrolytes (I take Lyteline, which is calorie and sugar-free), especially on days when I’m feeling cravings or want to break my fast earlier than usual. Electrolytes help keep headaches at bay and also keep you hydrated. I usually put a few drops in my sparkling water in the middle of the day. 

How to manage hunger during OMAD

To keep hunger at bay, I always have a huge bottle of water on my desk. I work from home so it’s easy to just walk into the kitchen and grab a snack. To avoid doing this, I keep all of my drinks on my desk, my bottle of water, sparkling water and black coffee. To switch it up, there are days when I’ll have some herbal tea instead of coffee. 

Will I keep doing OMAD long-term?

I’ve definitely found my sweet spot with OMAD. I am often asked whether I will continue with this lifestyle and initially I stressed out about it, wondering if I went back to eating the way I used to that I would gain all my weight back. Truthfully, I’ve become very comfortable with eating this way. Mainly because I don’t deprive myself of what I want to eat. Are there days when I don’t do OMAD? Sure! During holidays and special occasions, I usually indulge in a longer eating window.

At the end of it I always find myself back to OMAD. It’s where I feel my best and most satisfied. I am currently maintaining my weight which fluctuates between 142-145 and I have never been happier. While I didn’t exercise much to lose the weight it is something that I would like to incorporate in this new year. With a lot less of me for the past 18 months, I’m happier and healthier and most of all I don’t see me going back to the way I used to eat. 

I’m a big advocate for trying this lifestyle because I’ve seen the difference it’s made in my life. Go ahead and give OMAD a try. Here is one of my favorite recipes to get you started!

 

 

An OMAD recipe to get you started: Cauliflower fried rice & Salmon:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of cauliflower rice (you can find this in the frozen section) or you can make this at home.  Just cut up some cauliflower into florets and pulse through a blender/food processor until it looks like rice. Be careful not to pulse it too much, or it becomes mushy.
  • ½ cup frozen peas & carrots
  • ½ cup broccoli
  • ½ cup mushrooms
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup scallions
  • 1 tbs olive or coconut oil
  • Cooking spray
  • About 4 tbs of Coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
  • Salt, pepper, etc to taste

Preparation:

Fry your eggs in oil and set aside. Spray your pan with cooking spray, add your broccoli, mushrooms, peas & carrots. Sauté for about 3-4 minutes then add your cauliflower rice and the coconut aminos. Mix everything up and let cook covered for another 2 minutes. Then add your eggs and cover for another minute. 

For my salmon, I usually season up a 4 oz piece with salt, pepper, paprika, and habaneros (I like it spicy)! Add ½ tbs of honey on both sides, then spray with cooking oil. Pop it in the oven at 425°F for about 7 minutes. You can also make this in the air fryer. You’ll know your fish is ready once it looks golden brown. 

Add scallions on top of your fried cauliflower rice and serve alongside your salmon! 

Doing an OMAD fast? Share your experiences with us on Instagram and Facebook  with the hashtags #SeizeLIFEFast #LIFEfastingapp.

Download the LIFE Fasting Tracker app here.


Martine Etienne-Mesubi, DrPH

I am a public health epidemiologist interested in the cross section of health and the determinants of health outcomes.
In my blog posts I discuss all things public health such as the social determinants of health, infectious and chronic diseases as well as nutrition and weight loss.

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