You can do it, in a healthy and sustainable way, with the simple protocol I’m going to lay out below.
It’s flexible, allows you to still enjoy food and eat large meals. You can still eat out socially, enjoy higher calorie foods, and even treat yourself to dessert.
You can also lose weight very quickly, even while the diet feels almost effortless. If you want to quickly lose body fat in a relatively short period of time (2-4 weeks), without doing a crash diet, then this plan will work well for you.
The best thing about it is that it’s so stupidly simple, you cannot go wrong.
The 1 Meal A Day Diet
I call it the 1 Meal A Day Diet.
It’s a variation of intermittent fasting. Which is a protocol where you extend the period of time you are not eating between the last meal of one day, and the first meal of the next day.
In most intermittent fasting plans, you will not eat for about 16 hours, usually breaking the fast with lunch the following day.
These diets are starting to become very popular, and have been shown to work very well. They are easy to follow and offer a large amount of flexibility.
As an added bonus, fasting actually frees up additional fat oxidation, so you use more fat for energy while increasing insulin sensitivity, meaning you better partition nutrients for energy and usage in the muscles – instead of storing them as fat.
In the 1 Meal A Day plan, you simply wait until dinner for your first and only meal.
This gives you a huge amount of freedom to eat as much as you wish in this 1 meal.
You can eat out, eat socially, without restraint. This is particularly satisfying if you have a large appetite and traditional diets leave you feeling unsatisfied at the end of a meal.
You can hardly go wrong because you will simply not be able to eat enough calories to overeat in one meal, without getting full.
Aren’t You Hungry All Day?
I know what you’re thinking. Won’t I be hungry all day long if I don’t eat anything?
Like any intermittent fasting protocol, there is an adjustment period, where your body is getting used to not eating every couple of hours.
Once this adjustment is over, it is really quite easy.
I’ve done a number of extended fasts, where I don’t eat for multiple days on the trot, and after the first day, it actually becomes much easier. You simply stop feeling hungry.
It’s a great learning experience, to discover that most hunger you feel is simply conditioned because you’re used to eating at that time of day.
If you normally eat breakfast, you will tend to wake up and feel hungry. After not eating breakfast for a few days; you stop being hungry at breakfast time.
The same holds true for meals later in the day. I find it useful to think of breakfast in its literal meaning – ‘breaking the fast’, rather than a meal you eat in the morning before work.
Is It Safe?
Unless you have a pre-existing medical condition, there should be no reason it is unsafe or unhealthy to compress your feeding window.
We do just fine for 12-16 hours of not eating while we’re asleep. Many religions have to fast as part of their yearly celebrations and face no ill effects.
This protocol is essentially what one would do during Ramadan if you were observing.
When we evolved as hunter-gatherers it would be completely normal to alternate between periods of feast and famine.
After a successful hunt, we could stuff ourselves with abundant food. Indeed, we probably had to, as they didn’t have refrigerators in caves.
Then it might be days until another successful hunt, where you could perhaps subsist on a few berries if that.
Human beings are perfectly evolved for extended periods of fasting.
Our hunger signally has mostly been conditioned due to having abundant food, and regimented meal times created alongside the 8-hour work day.
How Do I Do It?
I recommend you ease into the 1 Meal A Day Diet because you will feel hungry if you’re not used to fasting.
Start by just delaying your breakfast a couple of hours. Build up to skipping it all together. Then start delaying lunch, and eventually work up to just eating dinner.
What you will find is that you get hungry around the time you’ve typically been eating in the recent past.
To stave off hunger, ensure you drink plenty of water, and you can also have black coffee or tea. Both of which will suppress hunger. Sparkling water often helps repress hunger too.
When you get to eat just 1 meal a day you don’t need to count or track your calories, but that isn’t a free reign to eat anything you want. At least not every day.
You do still have the same nutritional needs, so you need to focus on meeting those with healthy, whole foods.
Ensure you’re getting enough protein, and all the vitamins and minerals you need, some healthy fats, and you will be well covered.
Does This Work Long Term?
You could do this long term, but most people would fair better with 2-3 meals per day. You can still delay the feeding window and just have late lunch and dinner.
This is what I typically recommend for maintenance. While the 1 Meal A Day Diet is for weight loss.
I’ve been following it for a few weeks and it’s very easy to follow, but depending on your appetite you might not be able to eat enough calories and nutrients to cover your needs with just 1 meal.
In this case, you should use it for 2-4 weeks to lose weight, and then switch back to 2-3 meals per day.