Eating One Meal A Day: A Stupidly Easy Way To Lose Weight? - FitMole
1978

Eating One Meal A Day: A Stupidly Easy Way To Lose Weight?

1978 Comments | Diet

eating one meal a day diet

Few people have yet to experience the glory that is eating one meal a day.

  • No, eating one meal per day won’t make you fat.
  • It won’t make you lose all your muscle.
  • And it won’t screw your metabolism into the ground.

But it does allow you to feast like a fucking king every single night while eating your favorite foods.

And no, this isn’t a scam and there isn’t even any secret “guru” magic behind it.

It’s really just common sense.

But fitness and common sense is a lost art these days.

If you follow it, eating once per day JUST WORKS.

And if  you’ve struggled with more traditional diets that make you eat  3-6 meals per day, then this may be the most stupidly simple way for you to successfully lose weight, ever!

If you’ve dreamed of eating 24 ounce steaks, with a mountain fries and ice cream, EVERY SINGLE night while still losing fat and building muscle then read on.

Eating one meal per day in a nutshell

The basic idea behind eating one meal per day is simple.

Every day, you eat one big ass meal (preferably at night). The basic idea is to get the majority of your calories in a single meal.

And during the day, you don’t eat anything.

However during the day you can eat 1-2 pieces of fruit or some protein after you workout.

This allows you to eat much more, feel fuller, and better adhere to your diet.

Update: For a modified approach to eating one meal per day for people short on time, check out the Quickshot Diet.

Remember, eating one meal a day is NOT magic

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When I first started eating one meal per day, I had this weird belief that eating once per day gave me the power to lose more weight than traditional diets.

While this might seem like the case, nothing could be further from the truth.

It might be nice to believe that eating once per day causes all these different hormones to change in my body that help me to burn “more” body fat. But that’s just not the case.

And insulin levels – everyone always brings up fucking insulin levels.

Don’t worry about your damn insulin levels.

Just focus on creating a calorie deficit – that’s the only way to lose weight and always will be.

Eating once per day just happens to be a great way to create a deficit that many people can actually stick with.

For example, let’s say you need to eat 2000 calories per day to lose weight.

Diet #1 has you eating 3 meals and 2 snacks.

Diet #2 has you eating one meal.

In the end of the day, calories are exactly the same.

You’re just splitting your calories up a lot more in Diet #1.

That’s it. There is no magic. Just simple math.

5 reasons why you should eat one meal per day

I originally came across the idea of eating one meal per day from the Warrior Diet back around 2008.

At that time I was brainwashed by all the “eat 6 meals per day or die” BS and the Warrior Diet was my first foray into intermittent fasting.

I’m not saying it works for everyone, but if you love to feast every single day, have more energy, and potentially be 200x more productive during the day, then maybe this something you should give a shot.

Here are 5 reasons I recommend eating once per day:

Reason #1: Increased energy

How many times have you eaten lunch only to feel super tired 2 hours later? It sucks.

We’re all told lunch is supposed to give us this magic boost of energy, and maybe it does for some people, but I’ve found that most people just fall into a 2pm slump where they eat lunch and their productivity shoots down the drain.

When you fast throughout the entire day, you experience this amazing surge of energy that lasts the entire day.

Reason #2: Never feel deprived when dieting

One of the many reasons people fail at diets is because they don’t get this sense of satisfaction with what they’re eating and how much they’re eating.

When you follow the conventional 6 meals per day model, you have survive on a couple hundred calories every few hours.

At the end of the day, you just never feel satisfied.

You feel like something is missing…

Ironically, eating once per day solves this problem for most people.

The act of fasting throughout the day is a very powerful appetite suppressant, so when you have your massive feast at the end of the day, you practically feel “stuffed” every night.

Reason #3: More time & more productivity

Imagine how much more work you could get done if you didn’t have to worry about eating during the day.

No more worrying about that mid morning snack, no more stopping at subway during lunch, and no more 2pm energy slumps.

All this time you save can now be used to do more productive things that truly matter (like looking at pictures of cats online).

Reason #4: EVERYTHING tastes better

Fast the entire day then eat a grape.

Just one grape.

I guarantee that grape will be the best tasting grape you’ve ever had in your entire fucking life.

Look, I don’t know the scientific reason for why food tastes so much better after a fast, and frankly, I don’t care.

But some of the best meals in my life have been after a long fast.

Reason #5:  Because eating cake every night is awesome

Cake

Cake is good. But not this much cake.

You know what’s awesome? Cake.

You know what’s not awesome? Not eating cake.

Cake makes everything in life better but with traditional dieting, you aren’t allowed to eat cake, which sucks.

Everyone needs more cake in their life (scientifically proven), so why not have a slice…or two, every night.

When you only eat one meal per day, you can afford to have some cake every night since your calorie budget is so much bigger.

Is coffee, water, tea, or diet soda okay during the fast?

Yes, as long as it’s zero calories, it’s fine.

Coffee and tea is actually a great appetite suppressant.

Eat 1-2 pieces of fruit during the day

While it’s totally fine if you can go the full day without eating anything, a lot of people do get hunger pangs no matter how much experience they have with intermittent fasting.

In this case, you can have 1-2 pieces of fruit throughout the day. This shouldn’t add up to any more than 200 calories plus you won’t feel a huge drain in energy compared to eating something high in carbs like a granola bar or a sandwich.

I recommend 2 large apples due to the large fiber and water content to keep you full

Supplement with some whey protein after you workout

If you train hard with weights 3-4 times per week while fasting (and you should) and follow the 1 meal per day diet then you should consume some 100% whey protein powder after working out so you don’t go half the day without any protein in your system.

I’m not really anal about the post workout “window of opportunity,” but it’s best to get some protein in within 2-3 hours after your workout.

Why 100% whey protein? Because it has the most complete amino acid profile which is great for muscle growth and recovery.

As for which protein powder is best? Try Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard.

The one meal per day approach might not work great for muscle building

You can absolutely build quality, lean muscle by eating once per day.

BUT…some people need A LOT of calories to put on muscle and if you’re supposed to eat 4000 calories per day, it’s going to be pretty hard for some to get that in one meal.

So unless you have a huge appetite, I would probably be better off splitting it up into 3-6 meals.

For more info on gaining weight and building muscle, check out these posts:

Eating one meal per day vs. other intermittent fasting protocols

Eating once per day is just one version of intermittent fasting.

And there are dozens of other fasting/feasting protocols out there that play with different fasting and eating windows.

But after looking at all of them, you’ll notice that the majority of them have the same underlying concept – fast for an extended period of time and get the majority of your calories in a small eating window.

Let’s look at some of the other intermittent fasting systems and how they compare to eating once per day.

One meal per day vs. 16/8 Leangains

If you follow Leangains, this means you’ll be fasting for 16 hours per day and eating for the other 8 hours.

During the 8 hour eating window, you’ll typically be eating 2-3 main meals.

There really isn’t a big difference between a Leangains style fast and eating once per day. The main difference is in the eating window and that all boils down to personal preference.

One meal per day vs. Eat Stop Eat

Eating once per day and Eat Stop Eat are not the same thing.

Many people confuse the two since they both involve 24 hour fasts.

Here’s the difference:

Eating once per day – Fast for 24 hours, under eat during the day, and get your entire daily calorie intake in one meal, every day.

Eat Stop Eat – Completely fast for 24 hours 1-2 times per week (no calories at all), eat a “normal sized” meal at the end of the 24 hour fast.

The problem some people might face is defining what “normal sized” means. It’s basically telling you to not eat until you’re stuffed and make sensible food choices.

But if you want to get more technical, your meal after an ESE style fast should be no more than 40% of your daily calorie intake.

Read my Eat Stop Eat review here.

ESE forces you to create a massive calorie deficit on your fasting days while the one meal per day approach simply changes up your meal frequency but you still get the same amount of calories every day.

One meal per day vs. 2 meals per day

Nothing different here besides meal frequency. If you want to eat 2 meals per day, that’s fine, just make sure your overall calories are the same by the end of the day.

Can you mix and match different diet & fasting approaches

Absolutely!

I am all about diet flexibility.

If you want to follow the one meal per day approach one day and do 2-3 meals per day the next, that’s totally fine.

For example, you can structure your diet to look something like this:

  • Monday: 1 meal
  • Tuesday: 2 meals
  • Wednesday: Eat Stop Eat
  • Thursday: 1 meal
  • Friday: 1 meal
  • Saturday: 4 meals
  • Sunday: 1 meal

Remember, a calorie deficit is the most important thing to create when dieting.

So just because you’re following a one meal per day diet doesn’t mean you literally have to eat one meal per day, EVERY SINGLE DAY.

If you want to go out and have brunch on Sunday, then screw it, have 2 meals that day. Don’t be obsessive about this stuff.

The one meal per day FAQ

I’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions from readers about eating one meal per day.

Hopefully this answers all your questions and gets you on the right path.

What kind of foods should you eat?

There isn’t any single food that you should or shouldn’t eat.

If you have specific macro/calorie goals, you still need to hit them. The only difference is you have the luxury of hitting them in a single meal so for those that like to eat a ton of food in one sitting, you’re going to love this way of eating.

But obviously, you need to get a hefty amount of protein, a good amount of carbs, and some fat.

So something like a massive steak, some roasted potatoes, a big ass salad, plus some cookies and ice cream would make for a pretty epic feast.

Recommended reading: “What Are The Best Foods To Eat?” Here’s Your Answer, Now Stop Asking Me

How many calories per day should you eat in my one meal?

I recommend multiplying your bodyweight in pounds by 10-12 to get your daily calorie intake.

Use 10 if you have 50+ pounds to lose or if you’re a woman. Everyone else can start with 12.

This is just an estimate. It’s impossible for any formula to accurately tell you your daily calorie needs.

How many hours should you wait before going to sleep after you have your big meal?

Doesn’t matter. Sleep whenever you want.

What does this do to the metabolism?

Nothing bad. Read this article on metabolism myths for more info.

How long can you eat one meal per day for?

As long as you want. This isn’t a quick fix diet.

Eating once per day is a real, long-term approach to dieting that can work for as long as you want.

Does it matter whether you eat your one meal in the morning or at night?

Nope doesn’t matter at all.

It’s a matter of personal preference. Most people do it at night.

If you eat your one meal for breakfast or lunch, you might feel sluggish and tired the rest of the day since you have so much food in your system.

Could eating one meal per day be bad for you? I keep reading other articles online that say it’s bad for you.

No it’s not.

Most people criticizing eating once per day are just woefully ignorant. Read those articles, and you’ll find it’s just people making assumptions without any real world data.

Can I eat McDonalds for my one meal?

Sure, but I wouldn’t eat fries and Big Macs every night.

Use some common sense here.

You can still eat the foods you love, but you should still be eating mostly whole, nutritious foods for maximize your health and performance.

I love to drink coffee. Can I drink coffee during the fast?

Yup, coffee is a great appetite suppressant to use while fasting.

Can I add milk and sugar to the coffee?

I would stick with zero calorie sweeteners if possible. A splash of milk is fine, but don’t go overboard.

Is eating one meal per day guaranteed to help you lose weight?

Of course not.

It will only work if you put in the work.

I know the majority of you reading this are looking for some magic fat loss hack but eating one meal per day is not that.

You still need to make sensible food choices and you still need to be consistent like any other diet.

Nothing is guaranteed in life.

I tried this diet and it doesn’t work for me? What do I do?

Impossible to say. Maybe you’re eating too many calories. Maybe you’re not tracking your calories correctly.

It’s usually one of those two problems.

Why do you recommend the main meal to be eaten at night?

Whatever you want but try to make it sensibly healthy.

That means something like grilled meat, a carb source like rice/pasta, some veggies, and maybe some ice cream at the end is great.

Obviously food choices vary from person and culture, but use some common sense.

Can you drink alcohol while doing this?

Having one drink per night is fine.

Everything in moderation.

Should you exercise before or after your meal?

Again, doesn’t matter.

It’s all up to you. Find what works best with your schedule and lifestyle.

Do you need to count calories while eating one meal per day?

I personally recommend tracking calories when starting out, only because it gives you an unprecedented level of tracking.

If you’re not losing weight, then you know exactly why and you can adjust calories accordingly.

I never want people to become obsessed with tracking calories, but it does give you a level of precision that you can’t get anywhere else.

But as you become more advanced and can recognize/estimate portion sizes more accurately, then you can back off from the calorie counting.

What if you get hungry when fasting?

Here are some tips:

  • Drink plenty of water, black coffee, and tea.
  • Chew sugarless gum.
  • Stay busy and productive. People eat more out of boredom than anything else.

How much water should you drink?

At a minimum, enough to stay hydrated.

Also, if you’re pissing green, then you prob need to drink more water (and see a doctor).

The “8 glasses per day” recommendation is pretty solid.

I will say that drinking more water can help ward off hunger pangs.

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Have you tried the one meal per day diet? Let me know what you’re experience was in the comments.

Martyn - May 19, 2018

To ignore insulin is to ignore science and physiology. Insulin response is the majority of the battle. OMAD and Keto work because of this, despite potentially massive caloric intake (way over TDEE). Hormones are the key, not a simple CICO model.

Reply
    Keith - May 19, 2018

    not true. you can still gain weight if you overeat on OMAD or keto.

    THese 2 diets just make it harder to overeat.

    Reply
      Martyn - May 19, 2018

      I personally ate over 4000 calories a day on Keto and lost weight each and everyweek. It is straight up “bro science” to ignore hormones, physiology is the bigger player not CICO numbers. I get your position, but the science does not back it. “Overeat” – if you mean eating over your daily TDEE, this is also wrong. This is a good journal article to help you understand the position of insulin as it directly relates to weight gain: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/16/1/21

      You should probably take a look at the recent work done by Dr. Fung out of Toronto, Canada. This will get you started: https://idmprogram.com/evidence-caloric-restriction/

      OMAD is a great way to control insulin response as is Keto, no disagreement there. The part of your argument that is fundementally wrong is the CICO part.

      Keep up the good work, just keep reading.

      Reply
        Pow - May 31, 2018

        Were your working out when you were on a 4000 cal diet? That might answer why you lost weight. Boxers eat like a horse during training but continue to lose weight.

        Reply
missit - May 22, 2018

so, can you eat ONCE A DAY at LUNCH? lets say… at 2 pm, and still have all the benefits?
because i’ve read that the ideal time would be at NIGHT… but it’s kinda hard going to sleep full
i wanna try this but at lunch, 2 pm. is it possible or we need to overeat at night due the hormonal stuff?

Reply
    Keith - May 22, 2018

    timing doesn’t matter and is dependent on the individual. If you like lunch, do lunch.

    Reply
John - May 24, 2018

So would it be alright to eat something small for breakfast like a yogurt and a piece of fruit then go the rest of the day not eating anything till dinner time?

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Nelson Roque - May 25, 2018

I am interested in starting this way of eating as i am rarely hungry until early evening anyways. My question though is hearing people say you gain weight by not eating all day and eating all calories at night… I mean how can you get fat by not eating during the day and keeping to a sensible calorie plan at night? You cant make fat out of nothing can you?

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    Keith - May 25, 2018

    those ppl dumb.

    Reply
      Nelson Roque - May 25, 2018

      Kieth, I am laughing out loud here! Then there are those that say this type of plan messes with metabolism and you burn less and less calories the longer you “starve” yourself by eating only one meal etc. You are a breath of fresh air!

      Reply
        Keith - May 25, 2018

        fitness industry is a cestpool of information and people.

        Reply
M W - May 26, 2018

This diet has changed my life. I work a 8-5 job and rarely have time to eat anyway. Plus meal prep is a pain. And I love eating at night while watching a good TV show on Netflix. So i drink coffee throughout the day and dont have to take a lunch break – i am able to accomplish so much more!. No lunch time distraction! Which means I dont have to take as much work home at night and on the weekends. I generally have a meal around 7 or 8 when I come home from a walk with my dogs. Half the time its take out food but relatively healthy (pita, thai food, etc) i didnt intentionally start this diet. People have been commenting on my weight loss so i asked myself : What changes did I make? I decided to google it – is one meal a day really a good way to lose weight? IT IS!! I have been losing approximately 4 lbs a month without any real effort. It is so simple .. i just works for me. I have never been this happy with a diet plan.

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Jill - May 26, 2018

I’ve tried this before and it really worked great with very fast results, unfortunately I slipped back into snacking and gained weight but after reading this I’m ready to start again thank you for your awesome article

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Eamon Cowman - May 28, 2018

Great artic!e, very helpful.
I have just started eating one meal a day and it is actually more like a snack. Is that a problem?

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Nikki - June 5, 2018

Very true i gained 48 lbs with my twins lost it all went back to 109 when this diet. I love it this diet and its much easier.

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Nikki - June 5, 2018

Btw u made me really laugh out loud

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Deanna - June 6, 2018

I have tried this 3 times (unintentionally), once when I had the flu but was working and could just barely keep food down once a day, and the other two were both right after my two sons were born. I had forgotten how much weight I dropped all three times until I began to research diets. I just have not been having any success with anything else. Do you think we just respond differently to different diets, as our bodies are all so unique to us? I am going to give it an intentional try this time. I hope to see some results. Thanks for all the information.

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    Keith - June 6, 2018

    i mean, you never really tried this diet under normal conditions. Being sick and just having kids changes things. Try it now when you’re hopefully not sick and didn’t just pop out a kid.

    Reply
Nelson - June 6, 2018

I follow the OMAD pretty much every day and love it. However I have been reading that fasting like this elevates cortisol and actually makes you fatter in the long term… any truth to this? I mean you can’t make fat out of nothing right?

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Wendy Fitzwater - June 7, 2018

Hi, About 2 months ago I found your posting (article) and I was like YES thats what I think about BS diets. So I decided to give it a go and OMG… Loving it. I have lost 8 pounds plus…saving a ton of money on not eating out breakfast $5.65 and lunch $9 Monday thru Friday. Thank you for writing what a lot of us have been thinking!!!!

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kathy - June 8, 2018

Hi, We both have started to do this within the past couple weeks and have both seen results! so thank you for this article! I actually read all the comments! I do have a question. I 48yo/F fast through the day …coffee and water I will have a snack bit of protein or an apple if needed to take the hunger pains away some days…By the time I get home 5ish I am hungry and get to the gym 6:30pm -9pm Should I change things up to eat after the work out? what should I do/eat /drink before it then? If I eat first I dont feel well and get tired but 9pm is late for me to have a big dinner right at bedtime. Thank you in adavance!

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    Keith - June 8, 2018

    You read 1900+ comments? Why would you do that? jk

    you can eat what you want after you workout. I recommend some protein. But things dont change much just because you worked out.

    Reply
      Kathy - June 8, 2018

      I did! It took forever LOL but I have learned so much !
      Do you suggest a prework out snacks or shakes? or is it best to fast until after? I see some people do but a lot don’t
      Thanks so much for all your replies and info!

      Reply
        Keith - June 8, 2018

        do you feel low in energy before the workout? If not, then you dont need to eat anything.

        Reply
qwert - June 10, 2018

I weigh 366 so is the calories i should be takin in is 3600?
Is that correct or did i mess up?
Goin give this a run and want to make sure i got the right calculations.
I have lost weight doin this before but then everybody comes down on me with pretty much all the stuff you mentioned above(eating multiple small meals,muscle loss).
Just wanting to make sure the numbers are right.

Reply
    Keith - June 10, 2018

    correct

    Reply
      qwert - June 10, 2018

      thanks
      i just ate at 7 and i still got 1800 calories left and now before i go to bed is it essential that i eat the remaining 1800 cuz im really full.

      at 2 i had 2 pbj sandwhiches if that mattters

      lots of water and coffee as well

      Reply
        qwert - June 10, 2018

        alrighti just re-read the artcle(figure i will read over and over till it all sinks in),,,,,
        diet flexability and non-obsession
        3600 calories is alot so i try to shave some of that off with a lunch im thinking or breakfast and shoot to eat a big dinner

        Thanks Keith

        Reply
Elaine - June 15, 2018

Wow! I’m so glad I came across this article. I have tried every diet out there, and failed all of them miserably. Why? Because no matter how much willpower I have during the day, I am always hungry in the evening. I think the evening is simply my body’s time to eat. I feel so guilty for being hungry at night that I end up binging. But with the OMAD plan I won’t eat during the day (rarely hungry during the day anyway), and then have an amazing guilt free dinner! Currently I weigh 145 lbs (5’2″). I’ll update you on my progress. Thanks !

Reply

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