Pros and cons of the OMAD diet

Pros and cons of the OMAD diet


Monday, July 06, 2020

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ANOTHER day on social media; another diet to try. The most recent holy grail diet being peddled by weight loss influencers is the One Meal A Day (OMAD) diet. This intense version of intermittent fasting requires that its subscribers go without food all day, and only eat one large meal within the same one-hour window each day.

But while the instructions might seem simple enough, this diet can potentially do more harm than good if you go about it the wrong way. Medical doctor Dr Alex James shares some key pieces of information to consider before trying the OMAD diet.

You need calories throughout the day

“The OMAD diet is attractive to many people as a get-slim-quick remedy, but it is important to note that you are not only starving your body of excess fat, but important nutrients too,” he said. The doctor pointed out that most adults need between 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day to perform optimally, and it can be a challenge to get all of these from just one meal.

You can still pack on the pounds

“If you starve all day then binge eat a large high-fat, high carb meal in the one-hour period, then you might actually find yourself still gaining weight, even if you only eat one meal per day,” he pointed out. “The only difference is that you will be consuming your day's calories in bulk, which might lead to lethargy immediately after eating.”

Your energy levels may drop

James noted that the most common risk associated with the OMAD diet is hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) throughout the day. “Individuals may feel very weak, and even dizzy, as their blood sugar levels fall, and may find it increasingly difficult to focus,” he said. “Also, prolonged feelings of hunger can be very uncomfortable throughout the day and can lead to acid reflux and gastritis.”

You may lose muscle mass

Although the intention of the OMAD diet is to force the body to use up stored fat for energy and cause weight loss, James warned that dieters may end up losing muscle, too, if their calorie intake is not sufficient. “If you're losing weight rapidly on this diet, it is very likely that the caloric value of that one meal is less than your energy expenditure for the day. Not only will fats be broken down to compensate for this, but other systems may be weakened if they are not properly nourished.”

It can be dangerous to some people

“Denying the body of food for most of the day can be detrimental to children, pregnant and lactating women, the elderly, and patients with conditions such as diabetes,” Dr James cautions. “These groups need to maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day to be healthy.”

It has not been proven to cause sustainable weight loss

“Not much research has gone into this extreme type of intermittent fasting,” Dr James said. “But so far it has been seen where in some cases, people lose a lot of weight rapidly, then return to their normal diets and put on back the same, or even more weight. Prolonged adherence to this diet has also been shown to affect the sleep schedule, metabolism, and in some cases lead to eating disorders and digestive issues.”

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