Many people take one meal a day as a means of practice to lose weight. But is eating one meal a day a safe and effective way to reduce weight? Read further to know about it.
Is Eating One Meal A Day A Safe And Effective Way To Reduce Weight?
The one-meal-per-day diet also referred to as an OMAD is a practice that many individuals swear by to lose weight and also improve their overall health. Usually, people who follow an OMAD diet, or take just one meal a day, restrict their calorie intake to a single meal. This restricting of calorie intake during a single meal or a set of time has got several potential health benefits, including the benefit of reducing weight.
Is Eating One Meal A Day Helpful In Weight Loss?
Eating one meal a day would create a calorie deficit, which would result in weight loss. Some other health benefits of fasting are the potential to reduce risk factors of heart disease, reduction in blood sugar levels, and reduced inflammation.(1)
To lose weight, you should create an energy deficit. This can be done either by increasing the number of calories that you burn or by reducing the calorie intake. No matter how you achieve calorie restriction, it would result in fat loss.
You might reduce weight by simply eating one meal a day, because you will be taking in only fewer overall calories than you usually would when you follow your regular eating pattern.
For an instance, a study in healthy adults has shown that restricting your calorie intake to a 4-hour period in the evening resulted in a significant body fat loss than when eating three separate meals throughout the day.(2)
Research even shows that intermittent fasting, which also includes extended fasting periods, such as eating one meal a day, is likely to reduce weight. However, this does not seem to be more effective than calorie restriction through traditional means, such as reducing your intake of calories at each meal.
On one analysis 66individuals have shown that people who consumed 1-2 meals every day had a yearly reduction in their BMI or Body Mass Index compared to those who consumed 3 meals per day.
The same study even found that an overnight fast of 18 or more hours was linked with a reduction in body weight, compared to shorter fasting windows.(3)
But, these benefits of weight loss are related to intermittent fasting in general, and not only the one-meal-a-day diet.
What Are The Drawbacks To Eating One Meal A Day?
Eating only one meal a day might have side effects that people might require considering, such as an increased level of hunger and problematic metabolic changes.(4)
Although research suggests that fasting and calorie restrictions have multiple health benefits, there is evidence that suggests that restricting excess calories in the diet, which include only consuming one meal a day, might have lots of drawbacks.
For instance, studies have suggested that the extreme restriction of calories might result in an increased level of total and LDL or bad cholesterol and increase the chances of high blood pressure compared to normal eating or other less extreme methods of fasting.(2)
Few studies have also shown that eating one meal a day might increase levels of fasting blood sugar, delay the response of your body to insulin, and also increase levels of Ghrelin or appetite-stimulating hormone, compared to eating 3 meals a day.
This can cause extreme hunger.(5)
Restricting calorie intake to one meal a day might increase your chances of low blood sugar or hypoglycemina, especially in people having type 2 diabetes.(6)
Some other risks of fasting or eating just one meal a day could be physical weakness, fatigue, trouble focusing or experiencing brain fog.
Moreover, eating one meal a day can also cause symptoms like dizziness, nausea, low energy, irritability, and constipation.(7)
One more thing that you need to keep noted is that eating one meal a day is not suitable for many groups of people, which includes those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, older adults, children and teens, and people having eating disorders.
Limiting your intake to one meal a day could also cause disordered eating tendencies, impact a patient’s social life, and be extremely hard for most people to stick with it.
Moreover, if you take one meal a day, you might not intake enough nutrients. You might also suffer from nutrient deficiencies if you do not take enough nutrients. These nutrient deficiencies can affect your health negatively and cause some serious risks.
It is also likely that people eating one meal a day will binge on highly processed, and calorie-dense foods, such as pizza, doughnuts, and ice cream.
One study of 2007 shows that eating one meal a day is associated with an increased level of blood pressure and cholesterol.(8) So, if you are taking one meal a day and eating highly processed foods or foods that have an excess of simple carbohydrates, it would be bad for your health, even if you might reduce some weight.
However, a small study conducted in the year 2017 taking 10 people with type 2 diabetes, has shown that fasting for 18-20 hours a day can result in more controlled levels of blood glucose.(9) But, keep a strict note on the fact that, if you have diabetes, eating one meal a day for the long-term is not just right for you.
So, from the above explanations, we are now aware that eating one meal a day is an effective way to reduce weight. However, there are many drawbacks to eating one meal a day. Still, we can say that it is probably safe for most healthy adults to eat one meal a day if they are looking for reducing weight. But, just because everyone is doing it as a new health trend, it doesn’t mean that it would be good for you. The research is mixed when it comes to if it is safe for everyone to eat one meal a day. So, if you have any medical condition and are trying to reduce weight by taking one meal a day, you should always consult with your doctor
NOTE: It is always essential to consult with your healthcare provider or a dietician before trying the diet plan that consists of eating only one meal a day.