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Should I try a Vegan OMAD diet?

How To Use Vegan OMAD For Weight Loss?

It was just a few hours past our lunch time and my sister promptly took her phone out and almost like a habit went straight to opening Zomato, one among the many food delivery apps in the region.

"Are you hungry"? I asked, sitting across from her. "Not really, but its time for a snack, isn't it?", she replied.

Like the boom for every industrial growth, the food and restaurant industry has seen quite a boom in the past few years.

We are not only eating out more than ever before, but our frequency of meals has also drastically increased.

As hunters & gatherers, nomads & vagabonds, we would go long periods without eating. There would be periods of drought and we were comfortable with no food for prolonged hours.

Our adrenals would be on overdrive, enabling us to fight for food. This is how our limbic system, or ‘old primitive brain’, was accustomed to.

The chai time pakoda's and late night munching on cookies were never a part of our lifestyle,

The limbic system is the area of the brain that controls our behaviour and emotions. It consists of the hypothalamus, the amygdala, the thalamus, and the hippocampus. It controls behaviours such as feeding, reproducing, raising offspring, and fight-or-flight reactions.

This system has been unable to adjust to our frequent eating patterns, which happened in the aftermath of the industrial revolution.

Checkout: My Intermittent Fasting Results

Frequent eating has also made us less insulin sensitive. Hence, we want to reach out for our next meal or binge eat every time our blood glucose levels drop or we meet with a sugar crash after a sugar-heavy meal.

This has led to widespread obesity & cases of diabetes. On top of this, having animal-based products poses further risks to our bodies, promoting the growth of cancer and metabolic diseases & promotes animal cruelty which reflects poorly on the entire human race.

This is where a plant- based approach is not just a diet but a way of life - philosophy. And this, when combined with OMAD or One Meal A Day Diet, can do wonders for our physical and mental health.

Let’s now look at the definition of OMAD to gain detailed insights into some of these concepts.

What Is OMAD?

OMAD expands to One Meal A Day Diet.

A 22- 23 hour fast is followed by an hour or two of eating in this style of intermittent fasting.

During that hour, you are free to eat whatever you want. There are no restrictions on the quantity or caloric content of the food. There is also little importance given to eating within a certain macro or micro nutrient range. So you could choose to eat any type of food group, and not have to worry about proteins, carbs, fats etc.

Now, unlike a typical 'fasting', OMAD does allow for certain low calorie beverages like coffee, herbal tea's and some fruits and nuts to be eating during the fasting hours.

Through this blog, I intend to describe the pro's and con's of eating this way and let you decide whether it is the right choice for you.

Is OMAD the Same As a Warrior Diet?

Former special forces member Ori Hofmekler created the Warrior Diet, a fasting and eating plan. It requires 20-hour fasts and four-hour daily "feasts,". The original Warrior Diet included both exercise and fasting.

The idea of the warrior diet was to take people back to their ancestral roots. According to Hofmekler, warrior's in the yesteryears would feast one meal per day (often dinner) and stayed in their peak health.

The OMAD Diet is a simple fasting plan. OMAD requires you to fast for more than 22 hours and eat only once daily, taking the Warrior Diet's 20:4 timing to a whole new level. OMAD followers do not promote or demote exercise.

In a sense, both styles of eating promote long periods of fasting.

Why must you choose a vegan diet for OMAD?

We have more than enough research to show that a plant- based approach is the most appropriate for longevity and disease management.

Now if your instantly thinking, "But, What about proteins?" Watch this:

One study compared the nutritional quality of vegan, vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, and omnivorous diets, as well as the prevalence of obesity among those who followed these diets.

They discovered that those who ate an omnivorous diet had the highest obesity rates. Obesity affected 8.4% of the population, while 20.6 percent were overweight. This accounts for nearly 30% of the omnivores in the study.

Vegans had the lowest rates of obesity and overweight, at 10.6% and 1.9%, respectively. This is only 12%, or nearly 20% less than omnivores.

The study also discovered that 8.7% of vegans and vegetarians were underweight. Nearly 67.7% of the omnivores tested were overweight or obese, and none were underweight.

This suggests that people who eat a plant-based diet are most likely to maintain optimal weight.

So if your goal for OMAD is weight loss, a plant- based approach clearly wins over he rest.

Let us now look at the numerous and bewildering benefits of a plant-based diet, particularly for people already dealing with serious health issues.

Reduced Chances Of Obesity

Several studies have found that reducing the amount of fat you eat daily can help you control obesity. A plant-based nutrition plan is naturally low in fat, thus, omiting the need for calorie counting or watching what you eat. As long as you eat whole plant's, you are free to eat to your heart's content.

Besides this, fibre is an important factor in weight control because it improves insulin sensitivity and makes it easier to burn calories quickly. Plants are your only source of fiber, animals do not make any fiber.

Diabetes Management

A plant-based diet may help you prevent or even reverse diabetes. Here are detailed articles I wrote about the same to help you understand better:

As you age, not only do you have to work towards staying in an optimal weight range, but also towards managing chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, hypertension etc.

Your nutritional choices should be 'holistic' in the sense to help you prevent diseases, while also aid in keeping you lean. A plant- based approach is just that.

Multiple studies attest to how a plant-based diet helps increase insulin sensitivity and lowers the chance of causing the onset of this crippling condition.

Additionally, if you already have diabetes, it may help to increase your insulin production and stop the progression of this disease.

If a person is not physically active, excess calorie consumption, particularly coming from fat can lead to weight- gain. Hence, vegans can indeed benefit more from OMAD when it comes to managing or even reversing type-2 diabetes.

Reduced Risk of Heart Diseases

A Harvard study discovered that eating a plant-based and oil-free diet can reduce and even reverse your risk of developing heart disease.

Dairy products and meat are very high in cholesterol. Cholesterol is a wax- like substance that clogs your arteries and veins, leading to reduced blood flow to the heart and eventually a heart attack.

A fiber rich plant- based diet not only is cholesterol free, but also helps clear up clogged arteries and veins.

Why choose OMAD for weight loss?

If you want to lose weight, you must create a calorie deficit. meaning, you eat less than you burn. Caloric restriction, no matter how you do it, will result in fat loss.

OMAD users are more likely to lose weight simply because they consume fewer calories overall than they would during a typical eating pattern.

A study of healthy adults, for example, discovered that restricting calorie intake to a 4-hour window in the evening resulted in significantly greater body fat loss than eating three separate meals throughout the day.

Some animal studies also show that eating three meals per day, VS five meals, resulted in better weight loss. Even when both eating patterns were matched for calories!

It is estimated that reduced eating periods just give your liver and pancreas more time to detox and lesser opportunities for you to cheat. This results in better weight loss over time.

How To Use Vegan OMAD For Weight Loss?

Eating one plant-based meal daily allows you to consume a healthy amount of calories and micro- nutrients. Plants are dense in vitamins and minerals, unlike animals.

Just half a carrot gives you your daily required intake for vitamin A. If you had to get the same amount of this vitamin from Ghee for instance, you would have to consume 1/2 bowl of Ghee! That's enough calories than you need for a day.

Vitamins and minerals coming from plants also contain anti- oxidants and anti- inflammatory agents. Both of these help repair your body faster and delay ageing.

While starting an OMAD plant-based diet right away may work for some people, gradually introducing OMAD is often a better option before committing to it. Aim to go from three meals, to two, to one meal eventually in 3-4 weeks time.

Following a plant- based approach also gives you the option to add extensive diversity to your diet. Think of all the verities of vegetables, fruits, legumes, pulses, grains, nuts and seeds you can add!

Let’s look at a few key ingredients to add to your plate for that one meal:

  • Legumes - Legumes and pulses are a power house of gut friendly nutrients. They must be part of your plate every single day. Aim to switch between different types of daal's and pulses like chickpeas, kidney beans, mung beans etc.

    I personally like making missi paratha's, hummus sandwich, chilla's or even mung daal dosa's instead of the traditional daal/ chawal.
  • Fruits - Fruits are the most nutritionally dense foods. They are hydrating and contain specific enzymes used for repair, protein metabolisation, healthy bowel movement and so much more.

    I personally will break my fast with a big bowl of fruits, topped with nut butters (not juices!) or even include them to my salad. This makes the salad naturally sweet and even crunchy.

  • Nuts & seeds - These are excellent sources of good fats on top of being high in important minerals like zinc, magnesium, manganese & potassium, which are instrumental for healthy nerve functioning, brain & heart health and muscle functioning.

    Fats from nuts involved in everything from reducing inflammation to brain health and boosting the production important hormones.

    Aim to consume 30- 50 grams of nuts or seeds with your one meal.

  • Tofu/ Tempeh - While these are made from soy beans and essentially come under the legumes/ pulses category, I feel they deserve a special mention. Tofu is made from soy beans, just like panner is made from dairy milk, and tempeh is a fermented form of soy beans.

    Both of these provide essential proteins to the body and are fantastic in preventing chronic diseases like cancers. Tofu has been extensively studies to also help manage PMS and menopausal symptoms.

    I insist adding 100 grams of tofu/ tempeh or even 50 grams of soy beans to your meal everyday.

  • Leafy Greens - Another under rated but ignored food group is leafy greens. When was the last time you had something green (besides spinach or that sprinkle of cilantro on your meals). Most of us don't lave any, let alone minimum daily required amount go greens in our diet.

    I suggest adding a minimum of 100 grams of leafy greens to your meals daily. So think of a nice stir fry, adding dill or fenugreek leaves to your paratha, a saag curry or even greens to your rice, like a amaranth leaves pulao.

    My another favourite way to cover the daily requirement is have a leafy green and cruciferous vegetable soup. A leeks or celery and cauliflower soup is one great option.

  • Whole Grains - Did you know that the longest living populations across the globe share one thing in common, their love for whole grains. Grains have shown in multiple studies to help increase longevity and promote a lean waist- to- hip ratio.

    Whether it is the use of millet's in India, whole grain Pasta in Italy, Corn tortilla's in Mexico or Rice in Japan. All cultures have grains as a crucial part of their diet and with reason. Grain's are rich in B vitamins, zinc and a multifold of nutrients.

    Make sure to make them part of your plate too. Roughly 20- 30% of your meal should comprise of whole, unpolished grains.

    To sum up, to create a diverse and interesting variety of meals, it is advised to incorporate different plants into your OMAD diet. The more diversity you include, the better your gut flora. The better your gut flora, the better your health.

    Additionally, be sure to vary the ways in which you prepare food. Avoid using any oil's for cooking. Aim to steam, bake and pressure cook VS grilling, broiling or deep frying. Keep a component of your meal completely raw. For example, maybe a fruit and nuts bowl to break your fast or a raw sprout salad before you eat the cooked part of your meal.

    Pros and Cons of OMAD.

    Many people try the OMAD diet to lose weight or maintain their weight. According to a 2017 study conducted on a sizable Adventist population in the US and Canada, eating 1-2 meals per day can help people lose weight over the course of a year compared to those who eat three meals or more.

    Granted humans are eating way more food than we must, thanks to the magnitude of options available around us.

    Some of the clear perks of the OMAD diet are:

    • Reduced inflammation
    • Faster Fat Loss
    • Neuroprotective qualities
    • Greatly reduced food cravings
    • Increased autophagy
    • Improved Longevity

    Since the OMAD vegan diet involves eating just once in 24 hours, the body gets enough time (through fasting) to enter a state called autophagy.

    In this process, it recycles old and damaged proteins and uses them to repair DNA and even muscle tissues. This condition increases human growth hormone, promoting healing and growth while slowly decreasing inflammation.

    Lipolysis or fat burning gets a chance to switch on as insulin switches off due to long periods of not eating.

    Eating continuously, especially sugar or lean protein, causes a high insulin spike, overtime, this leads to a condition called insulin resistance and weight gain. Only in periods of not eating or during sleep does the body gets a chance to burn fat.

    Since insulin spikes stay relatively low, you get more insulin sensitive over time.

    Since OMAD diets reduce oxidative stress on your arteries, DNA damage from Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs), you start to see signs of healing & repairing.

    As we all know, high blood glucose levels, from multiple meals, can negatively impact our nervous system. That is where the disease ‘diabetic neuropathy’ gets its name from. Therefore, reduced stress (cortisol), inflammation, and stable blood glucose levels can have a neuroprotective impact on your nerves.

    Now that we have gone through the positive effects of OMAD, a few issues can crop up if some factors need to be taken into account.

    The Cons of OMAD

    I am a huge promoter of making lifestyle changes VS having to go on diets. Watch this to understand what I mean:

    Unless OMAD can become a lifestyle change for you, where this is how you decide to eat for the predominant part of your life, I do not suggest you try it.

    We do not realise, but our nutritional choices have a baring on our mental health and how we look at food in general.

    Going on and off an eating style for example, can make us develop positive or negative associations for certain foods. If you are afraid of eating rice, or banana's or nuts etc, because you think carbs or nuts will make you fat, then that is a negative association.

    Besides this, not being able to make something your lifestyle will also mean its not sustainable. While OMAD is sustainable, you should expect the following side- effects for the first few weeks of switching to eating a meal a day:

    • Fatigue
    • Dizziness
    • Faintness
    • Mood swings
    • Low energy levels
    • Low blood sugar/low blood pressure
    • Other ‘flu- like’ symptoms

    Your body will certainly adapt in a few weeks and as long as you eat nutritious food for that one meal, you will be fine, but make sure to set the right expectations.

    If weight loss is your only goal, you will lose weight making sustainable lifestyle changes and eating even three meals a day. But do not force yourself to starve unless you want to make it a lifestyle change. The benefits of OMAD are from a longevity perspective than weight loss alone.

    I also so not suggest athletes, pregnant women or children try OMAD as their nutritional needs are higher.

    Work with an expert while trying to switch to eating once a day. A structured meal plan is of absolute important.

    What Not to Do in OMAD Diet?

    Avoid eating trans fats, processed meats, and refined carbohydrates, especially those found in bakery products.

    Your diet plan may suffer as a result of this. Common snack items like ice cream, candy, and pastries can make you groggy the next day. This is all the more important to stick to since the digestive system shuts off after a prolonged fasting period and takes some time to re-activate.

    This is why hogging unhealthy junk food all at once can be a major source of digestive distress and cause bloating and indigestion.

    Finally, since on OMAD, you have one meal to get all your nutrients from, wasting it on junk food can make it extremely challenging to bridge your nutritional gaps.

    Junk food also has empty calories, meaning, you are not getting enough micro nutrients, leading to cravings and eating more junk food. Since you will be eating only once a day, make sure the food is dense in micro- nutrients, minerals and hydrating.

    What Should Be Your Ideal Meal For Breaking Fast?

    There is a reason breakfast was called the day's most important meal. With the advent of new eating patterns, like intermittent fasting, breakfast started to get a bad name.

    Now note, I am not promoting eating a 'breakfast' specifically, but rather front- loading calories. This simply means, eat more calories in the first half of the day VS the second.

    Our body is better efficient at using the food we eat for fuel VS storing it as body fat in the first half of the day VS the second.

    This is how our internal body clock or ‘circadian rhythm’ dictates. Cortisol levels are higher in the morning to keep us alert and moving throughout the day and keep us active to accomplish our goals.

    This is the catabolic phase, or the window when the body breaks down nutrients and burns off calories to produce energy. The anabolic or the building phase starts after sundown. Hence, it makes more sense to dine like a ‘pauper’ and breakfast like a 'king'.

    Ideally, break your fast earlier on in the day with a cup of fruits first, topped with nuts or seeds. Then proceed to include a raw component to your meal, a bowl of salad is a great idea. Once this is done, proceed to add whole grains and legumes to your hearts content.

    You can also finish the fruits and salad and give your body a thirty minute gap before having the cooked grains and lentil portion.

    Is It Better To Have One Meal For Breakfast Or Dinner?

    According to research, the best way to follow this diet for weight loss is to fast in the evening and overnight before eating in the morning.

    This is because we are metabolically more efficient in the morning, which slows down as the day progresses into the night.

    But I would suggest deciding this based on your lifestyle. If you are someone who work's late hours at night, it would be optimal to have a meal for dinner instead of breakfast, to avoid late night snacking. If you exercise around noon, it would be best to have a re- fuel meal around lunch, post your training session.

    Since it is going to be a lifestyle change, do what best fits your lifestyle.

    What Can You Drink During The Fasting Window?

    Generally speaking, while fasting with time-restricted intermittent eating, you don't eat any food at all and only drink beverages with very few calories, such as water or unsweetened coffee and herbal tea's.

    Antioxidants and polyphenols present in tea & coffee can aid autophagy and enhance the effects of fasting while keeping hunger at bay since these beverages are hunger suppressants.

    Here is a list of my personal favourite beverages to include:

    • Fresh Lime Soda
    • Iced Lemon Tea/ peach Tea
    • Adaptogenic Herbal Tea's
    • Coconut Water
    • Black Coffee
    • Matcha Tea (with a splash of unsweetened soy milk)

    5 Tips To Start With Vegan OMAD.

    Before starting on this new lifestyle change, here are a few more things to consider.

    Make a plan ahead of time.

    Always remember the reason why you started OMAD in the first place. Make sure to write down your goals for this lifestyle change after determining why you are beginning this process.

    The more prepared you are, the easier your journey becomes. Plan your meals ahead of time to avoid hunger pangs and agitation.

    Stick to healthy food choices.

    The fact that a diet is plant-based does not imply that the foods are healthy. For example, a three-scoop vegan ice cream sundae may include fruit and good-for-you dark chocolate, but the ice cream itself is high in unhealthy empty calories.

    Remove unhealthy foods from your home and replace them with wholesome foods such as fruits and whole grains. Make sure to cover the essential food groups as mentioned above.

    Include diversity in your diet.

    Not only does it help you fight the boredom from eating the same food daily, but diversity in your diet is the key to good gut health.

    Give yourself one plant point for every different type of plant you eat per day. Aim to reach 100 plant points in one week. Read this article I wrote to understand this point better:

    Consult a Nutrition Coach.

    Any change in your nutritional habits, which you intend to make a lifestyle must be run by an expert. A deficiency in something as simple as iodine can lead to thyroid disorders. There are numerous macro and micro nutrients like this and eating only once a day puts you at an even higher risk of nutritional deficiencies if not done properly.

    Most of us eat enough proteins or fats, but do not reach our daily fiber and vitamin goal. An expert here will help you make smarter choices.

    Stay informed & read the nutrition label.

    Always read the nutrient labels on your food to ensure you get a balanced diet of healthy foods. These helpful labels may help you succeed with a plant-based diet.

    You might think a particular brand of vegan curds or milk is healthy, but the same could have too much sugars or hidden ingredients. It is best to have the basic understanding of reading nutritional labels to make smart choice.

    If you are working with a nutrition coach though, they will do this for you.

    FAQS

    Can you lose weight by eating once a day?

    Caloric restriction, no matter how you do it, will result in fat loss.

    OMAD diet participants are more likely to lose weight simply because they consume fewer calories overall than they would during a typical eating pattern. The lesser opportunities you have to eat, the lesser opportunities you have to cheat with your meals.

    There have been some animal studies also to show that eating one meal a day VS three, even if the meals are matched for calories, can lead to increased weight loss.

    What are the benefits of Vegan OMAD?

    A plant- based diet is naturally high in micro- nutrients such as minerals and vitamins. If you are only eating one meal a day, you want to make sure that your meal is dense in micro- nutrients. This helps repair, detox and rejuvenate the body.

    Besides this, a plant- based diet is anti- oxidant and anti- inflammatory, protecting you from long- term chronic illnesses.

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    About Roshni Sanghvi

    Roshni Sanghvi is an Indian plant-based sports nutritionist and body transformation specialist. She is the first Indian to represent on a national bodybuilding stage being on a 100% plant-based diet. Roshni is a holistic nutritionist, graduated from the prestigious NutraPhoria college of nutrition in Canada.

    She is also an ACE-certified personal trainer, certified PlantFed gut coach, certified Bodyshred, and Animal flow instructor with a specialisation in disease reversal through food and lifestyle modification.

    Her approach is more focused on helping you in adopting a healthy lifestyle. With her result-oriented holistic methods, she has managed to transform and reverse lifestyle diseases such as PCOS, Thyroid, Diabetes etc for 12k+ clients worldwide.