How to Eat Just One Meal a Day on Keto (OMAD)

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Find out why so many people are eating OMAD on keto!

In the keto community, it’s fairly common to hear people talk about incorporating intermittent fasting (IF) into their way of eating. Combining IF with keto can increase the health benefits of a ketogenic diet, accelerate weight loss, and nudge you off a stubborn plateau when your progress has stalled.

Usually, someone who is using intermittent fasting will abstain from eating for most of the day and restrict their eating to a set window of time. A person who is doing 16:8 IF, for example, fasts for 16 hours and does all of their eating for the day during an 8-hour window of time.

One Meal a Day (OMAD) is a form of IF that narrows your eating window to – you guessed it – just one meal a day.

intermittent fasting eating schedules and tips

You could think of OMAD as 23:1 intermittent fasting, although there’s no set amount of time you need to spend eating that one meal.

Fans of eating OMAD on keto love this approach because it propels their body into a state of ketosis faster than simply eating keto or even traditional IF.

But is OMAD a safe, healthy, and sustainable way of eating?

woman standing on scale

What are the benefits of eating OMAD on keto?

Doctors who prescribe a ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting often use OMAD as a tool to help overcome weight loss plateaus. When a patient is already eating keto but isn’t losing weight, OMAD can help to move the needle on a stubborn scale.

Clinically speaking, eating OMAD on keto may help to reduce blood sugar, control diabetes, and overcome metabolic disease. Although there hasn’t been much research done specifically on OMAD, we do know that extending a fasting window can help to improve these health conditions, so eating OMAD could result in even better outcomes than shorter fasts.

keto and exercise — woman doing high intensity rope exercise

While some people find it difficult to exercise while fasting, research has actually shown that exercising on an empty stomach is safe and effective for weight loss. There’s a prevailing belief that it might work even better for weight loss than “fed exercise,” but this has yet to be proven.

If you’re only eating OMAD, then you’ll have a larger window of time throughout the day when you can reap the added benefits of exercising during your fast.

A person sitting with a bowl of pork rinds

Many people who experience success by eating OMAD on keto find that they also benefit from a firm eating schedule that restricts their snacking. If snacking is your downfall, this way of eating makes it virtually impossible!

You may also discover that it’s nice to spend less time planning, food shopping, meal prepping, and doing the dishes. Imagine only having to clean up the kitchen once per day! Of course, this will only work if everyone else in your household is eating OMAD too. 😉

man holding head at Cheesecake factory

What are the challenges associated with eating OMAD on keto?

While many people thrive when eating one meal a day, this approach is highly individual and it’s not ideal for everyone. Eating large quantities of food after a period of restriction could trigger eating disorders in anyone susceptible to these conditions. If you have a history of an eating disorder or if you think you could be triggered by this cycle of eating, you shouldn’t try OMAD without first discussing it with a trusted health care professional.

Another pitfall of eating OMAD is that it can be challenging to get an entire day’s worth of nutrition in one sitting. This leads to a reduced caloric intake, which is why OMAD is so effective for weight loss… at first. Research has shown that chronic calorie restriction over time can actually lead to a slower resting metabolic rate, making continued weight loss more difficult to achieve and maintain. For this reason, you may want to consider implementing OMAD for limited periods of time only.

prime new york strip steak on the grill

Aside from naturally restricting your caloric intake, eating OMAD can also make it difficult to get all the macronutrients you need. Since protein causes feelings of fullness and satiation, it can be really hard to eat an entire day’s worth of it in one sitting. Depending on your body type and your health goals, you may need to eat 100g of protein or more per day. If the idea of eating that much protein in one sitting seems intimidating to you, then you may struggle with eating OMAD on keto.

Eating OMAD also forces you to consume all of your day’s carbohydrates within a short window of time. While this won’t be a problem for everyone, eating 20 grams of carbs all at once could be enough to knock a person out of ketosis if they’re highly insulin resistant. Some people also report diarrhea, bloating, acid reflux, and other forms of gastrointestinal discomfort after eating their meal.

pill from bottle in hand

Finally, if you need to take prescription medication with food more than once a day, eating OMAD may not be possible for you. You may wish to consult your health care professional in this situation to see if there is another medicine you can take or a different medication schedule to try. But ultimately, there are some people who will not be able to attempt OMAD due to their prescription medications.

What is the best way to eat OMAD on keto?

Some people eat OMAD every day for a set period of time, while others use it on an intermittent schedule over a longer stretch of time.

For example, many folks in the keto community find that eating OMAD a few times a week (on non-consecutive days) is the most effective method for them over the long term. They may start out by eating OMAD every day, but then settle into this intermittent schedule when they’re ready to move into a “maintenance” phase after achieving their health goals.

woman sleeping in bed

Most people eating OMAD find that daytime meals work best for them because eating during the day seems to have the most favorable effect on their sleep/wake cycle. One study suggests that finishing your meal by 4 PM is ideal.

Eating a large meal in the evening can disrupt your circadian rhythm and make it harder for you to fall asleep at night. Animal studies have also shown that eating during the day (rather than at night) promotes the development of a more anti-inflammatory gut microbiome.

carb manager app on iphone

Whether your OMAD is breakfast, lunch, or an early dinner, it’s definitely not a license to eat whatever you want. In fact, since you’re only eating one meal a day, the nutritional profile of your meal is more important than ever!

No matter what time of day you eat, your OMAD should be a scaled-up version of a typical keto meal that you would eat on any other day. Even if you don’t normally track your macros, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on these metrics to ensure you’re consuming everything you need to maintain your health. You can try a macro calculator and tracking app like Carb Manager for help monitoring your meals!

man drinking from water bottle

No matter what your approach to eating OMAD, it’s crucial to stay hydrated throughout the day, especially during your fasting window. It may be a good idea to supplement your diet with electrolytes during this time to prevent headaches and keep you feeling your best until your next meal.

woman shrugging her shoulders

Should you try eating OMAD on keto?

While many people find that they’re drawn to eating OMAD for all of the benefits mentioned above, some also find eating just one meal a day often makes sense for them if they’re already living the keto life.

Once your body is fully fat-adapted, you will feel satiated for longer stretches of time and you may not be hungry at traditional meal times throughout the day. This is a big reason why eating just one nourishing, nutrient-dense meal per day can seem very appealing to so many people eating keto.

doctor holding patient chart

Keep in mind that you should always consult with your health care provider before making any major changes to your diet. Although many people thrive while eating OMAD, others are more susceptible to side effects. Feeling a little hungry or less energetic than usual is to be expected, but you should not feel very unwell, extremely fatigued, dizzy, nauseated, or experience any other severe side effects.

At this point in time, there haven’t been any well-controlled clinical trials examining the safety and effectiveness of eating OMAD, but your health care provider should be able to offer you guidance as to whether this way of eating would be safe for you to try.

No matter where you are on your keto journey or which approach you choose, we’re here to support you along the way!

Up next: We shut down 5 of the most pervasive keto myths!

About the writer:

Jenna has a Bachelor's Degree from Lycoming College and her Master's from Penn State, holding 4 years of writing experience between a variety of publications and HipKeto.

Join The Discussion

Comments 8


    Thank you so much for this! I just did OMAD today. 3 eggs, 3 pieces of bacon, cheese, and an avocado. Posts like these are so helpful, thank you for spreading the good news about keto lifestyle!

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      What a sweet message, CHERI BANKS! Thank you so much and I’m glad you found this helpful! Good luck and Keto-on!

  2. Gail Smith

    Is 2 meals A effective for keto

  3. Charmaine

    What’s best for me to eat as I only eat once a day on keto

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Hi Charmaine! Each individual may be different based on your personal health needs. Prioritizing protein is the most important thing with OMAD. Be sure to consult with your doctor or dietician if looking for specific meal recommendations. Hoping that is helpful! ❤️

  4. Tee

    I just drunk a bulletproof coffee at 2:00, did a turkey blt lettuce wrap and arugula at 4:00, and vegetable soup at 6:00 and that’s it. I tried to make it OMAD but I’m going to much to eat just once. I hope I will still get progress this way.

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Awesome! It sure sounds like you are off to a great start, Tee! ❤️

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