Is Eating One Meal a Day a Healthy and Safe Way to Lose Weight?
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Can you eat just one meal each day and safely lose weight?
Celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Channing Tatum, Chris Pratt, and Brooke Shields have reportedly tried the One Meal a Day (OMAD) diet, which is similar to intermittent fasting, but a more extreme and restrictive version where the fasting lasts for much longer.
Amanda, a self-described "volume eater," tells The Doctors she was able to go from 400 pounds to 198 pounds in 20 months using the OMAD diet. She explains a uterine cancer diagnosis caused her to get serious about weight loss and she found success with OMAD. She fasts for 22.5 to 23 hours each day.
So what does Amanda's typical OMAD meal consist of? She typically eats 4 to 5 separate plates of food -- around 1700 calories in one meal -- within a 1 hour period, which can include:
- Lean proteins
- Various vegetables
- Snacks, like chips, popcorn, or pretzels, snack mix
- More chicken
- More turkey
- Additional veggies
She believes if someone is already intermittent fasting, they should consider trying OMAD, but warns, it is "pretty extreme... it isn't for everybody." But what do our experts think about this extreme diet?
Celebrity trainer Jorge Cruise contends people have historically eaten this way and he says this diet may extend someone's lifespan.
However, cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn says someone can get the same results with a less extreme diet and he worries about the potential for "lean mass loss" when fasting. "You don't want to lose your muscle," he warns. He also points to a study in 2007, which found that the OMAD diet can lead to higher blood pressure, higher cholesterol, more insulin resistance, and more instances of gallstones. He says studies have also found that people only eating once a day are consistently more angry and hungry. Dr. Kahn says there are benefits to fasting, but takes issue with "fasting and gorging."
But, nephrologist Dr. Jason Fung points to another study that found intermittent fasting can improve cardiovascular health, including blood pressure and cholesterol, and may help to prevent health issues like cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and multiple sclerosis.
Integrative medicine dietician Robin Foroutan tells us that the OMAD diet can be successful for some in small spurts but she questions just how sustainable such an extreme diet will be. She also notes if someone is already stressed and then their food intake is drastically restricted, the body can interpret this as more stress and impact weight loss by affecting thyroid hormone and sex hormones. She says it can be like "hitting the brake for weight loss."
As always, speak with your doctor or health care provider before changing or altering your diet in any way.