With so much interest in intermittent fasting for health reasons these days, there’s a buzz about a more extreme version of the eating plan: the OMAD diet.
This is because Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey, confirmed over the last weekend, he’s part of the movement, fasting most of the day and eating only dinner.
OMAD is an acronym for “one meal a day,”. It requires a person to spend up to 23 hours a day fasting, and only eat during a brief time window.
As such, it is also referred to as the 23:1 regimen. The main rule is to eat only one meal a day. That means no snacks, little nibbles or “grazing” every few hours, but you can drink calorie-free beverages such as water, and black coffee or tea at any time.
OMAD is an extreme version of a much less strict version of the intermittent fasting approach- the 16:8 plan – which requires fasting for 16 hours and allows people to eat whatever they want the rest of the day.
With the 16-8 approach having many fans among researchers and dieters, OMAD is believed to be an improvement. But experts are much more wary about it.
Kristin Kirkpatrick, lead dietitian and manager of Wellness Nutrition Services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, has a few patients who’ve been following the ‘One meal a day’ plan for years.
For most people, however, she acknowledges, life getting in the way and old habits can make sustaining the diet very challenging. And so Kirkpatrick says, she would not recommend OMAD in most scenarios.
“Someone with prior eating disorders could spiral back in with this approach; it carries too high of a risk of malnutrition, and the ability to stay on it long term is difficult.” She states
Even before the diet had a buzzy name, OMAD in one form or another was a regimen people had been following.
Todd Becker, a blogger running “Getting Stronger” about thriving on stress, has said that since 2015, he usually ate dinner and often skipped breakfast and lunch.
Venture capitalist, Vinod Khosla, has also come out to say, he fasts until dinner because “food slows him down.”
Other variations exist, but Jennifer Oikarinen, a registered dietitian at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix in Arizona, advocates people to follow these rules:
- Pick a four-hour sector of the day, say noon to 4 p.m. or 2 to 6 p.m., and always eat within one hour of that time to stay consistent from day to day.
- Use one dinner-size plate, about 11 inches in diameter, for your meal.
- To avoid having piles of food, the meal shouldn’t be higher than 3 inches.
Dietitians have always emphasized what OMAD fans should include in their one meal for total health and wellness although no foods are excluded; fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and adequate protein are a must.
The key to OMAD is aiming for at least 800 calories to ensure all the macronutrients you need, such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins, but as she likes to put it, Kirkpatrick notes, it is “next to impossible” to get all micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals.