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What Is The Trending OMAD (One Meal A Day) Diet And Is It Safe? Nutritionist Explains – NDTV Food

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Several diets keep trending thanks to their reported weight loss benefits. One of them is the OMAD or One Meal A Day diet, which essentially involves eating one filling meal in the day and fasting or minimal eating the rest of the day. The food consumed and the timing of the meal vary based on personal preference. The OMAD diet rose to popularity after several celebrities like Coldplay frontman Chris Martin and singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen revealed they follow such a dietary pattern.

On an episode of the ‘Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend’ podcast last year, Chris Martin shared that he eats just one meal a day and stops eating anything after 4 pm. “I actually don’t have dinner anymore. I stop eating at 4[pm] and I learned that from having lunch with Bruce Springsteen,” he shared. “I was lucky enough to go over there to lunch the day after we played Philadelphia last year. I was on a really strict diet anyway. But I was like ‘Bruce looks even more in shape than me’ and Patti [Springsteen’s wife] said he’s only eating one meal a day. I was like, ‘Well, there we go. That’s my next challenge.'”
Also Read: People Who Eat Balanced Diet Have Better Mental Health Outcomes And Cognitive Function: Latest Research

However, is such a diet safe and healthy? Read on to learn what experts say.

Understanding OMAD Diet

The OMAD diet is considered an extreme approach which revolves around consuming all of our daily calories and nutrients during one single meal each day, explains Certified nutritionist and diet consultant Suhani Jain, Bloomwithin. “There are a couple of ways to follow it. We may eat one meal a day, or choose a short eating window- say an hour- to consume one meal plus limited snacks per day.”

Do Nutritionists Recommend This Diet?

In general, “we don’t recommend following it every day, and rather combine it with a less extreme version of intermittent fasting on a few days of the week depending upon your capacity and environment,” explains nutritionist Suhani Jain.

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What Does Research Say?

A 2007 study published in ‘The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition‘ conducted an 8-week long study in which the subjects (healthy, normal-weight adults) consumed all of the calories needed for weight maintenance in either 3 meals/day or 1 meal/day. The researchers found that when consuming 1 meal/day, subjects had a “significant increase in hunger; a significant modification of body composition, including reductions in fat mass; significant increases in blood pressure and in total, LDL-, and HDL-cholesterol concentrations; and a significant decrease in concentrations of cortisol.”

While there are several studies on the weight loss benefits associated with intermittent fasting, there is little evidence to support that a one-meal-a-day diet can aid weight loss.

Who Must Avoid The OMAD Diet?

Nutritionist Suhani adds that OMAD can be unsafe and must be avoided by some people:

  • This includes pregnant or nursing women, people less than 18 years of age, and those who have an eating disorder or a history of eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia nervosa, malnourished etc.
  • Moreover, diabetics need to steer clear of this diet as it can make it difficult to keep their blood sugar levels low and stable.
  •  It should also be avoided by people encountering gastrointestinal (GI) issues like bloating, upset stomach or some form of food allergies and inflammation. They would be required to have a lot of food at one time which will worsen their GI discomfort.
  •  It will be unsafe for people taking medications that must be consumed with food like- aspirin, certain NSAIDS, steroids etc.

Also Read: Pregnancy Diet: How Fennel Tea May Help Minimize The Symptoms Of Morning Sickness

Shortcomings And Health Risks Associated With The OMAD Diet

Following are the potential health risks as shared by nutritionist Suhani Jain:

  •  It may be difficult and uncomfortable to eat a whole day’s worth of food in one go. With so much in the stomach at once, it is likely that not everything will get digested properly and can cause lots of bloating flatulence and uneasiness for some time.
  • Hunger levels can go out of control in the waiting period and can lead to overeating and cravings for less healthy, comfort foods.
  •  You may also experience fatigue, due to an uneven supply of energy and feel shaky, weak, irritable and have difficulty concentrating.
  • Nutrient deficiencies may occur if this diet is followed inappropriately for longer periods.
  •  The body might start losing muscle mass and overall tone, entering into a state of semi-starvation.
  • It could even negatively impact the genes that help regulate our body clock, sleep-wake cycle and metabolism.

Consultant nutritionist Rupali Datta agrees that “this diet is not healthy as severe calorie restriction has a detrimental effect on the nutrient intake and will lead to malnutrition. Gut health will also be affected.” As for the correct and healthy way to lose weight, nutritionist Rupali Datta explains, “Healthy weight loss should be followed by reducing calorie intake increasing activity, choosing healthy low fat, low sugar food made with fresh ingredients as a lifestyle rather than short term unhealthy choices.”

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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About Jigyasa KakwaniJigyasa finds her solace through writing, a medium she is exploring to make the world more informed and curious with every story published. She is always up for exploring new cuisines, but her heart comes back to the comforting ghar-ka-khana.

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