This year we probably didn't have the best summer ever, but there were enough sunny days to get out and enjoy time with friends.
I definitely enjoyed this summer to the fullest and indulged myself quite a bit.
The culmination took place in Finland, on a nearly three-week vacation on wheels,
With a van, we traveled the entire country and treated ourselves to some culinary delights. Wheat, sugar and alcohol? Yes, it was all there!
And the meal frequency? Well, it didn't get out of hand, but it often didn't stop at two meals and snacks were also allowed 🙂
That's why I felt the need to do a little challenge in September. I decided to do OMAD for a whole month. That means "One meal a day". So only one meal per day. With a further limit of 1500 calories maximum.
You can find out what happened to me in this post. If you prefer audio or video, you can also find this post on all podcast platforms and YouTube.
It always takes a little inspiration at the start
The inspiration for this challenge came to me during my vacation on the west coast of Finland. We were sitting in our van late at night in the middle of the forest listening to a podcast about performance and health. That's when the name Dr Amen-Ra came up.
Dr. Amen-Ra is said to have dedicated his life to the study of aging and the influence of food and exercise. He believes that one vegan meal a day of no more than 1500 calories, along with exercise and meditation, is the most important key to a long and healthy life.
Anyone who now imagines an old codger with a full beard and horn-rimmed glasses is completely wrong.
Dr. Amen-Ra is a fully trained and muscular athlete, with a body fat percentage of a professional bodybuilder and is in his prime.
Although he has been following this nutritional concept for more than 15 years, he was able to set a world record in powerlifting at an international competition. With a body weight of just over 80 kg, Amen-Ra lifted an incredible 305 kg.
Seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLAWbwYzStU
If you're wondering what he was doing before those 15 years, I have to tell you that I don't know myself. Of course, his history could have an influence on his successes.
You wonder if a story like this is enough to motivate me to do such a crazy challenge? Well, yes, actually it is. But I've been working on the topic of fasting and autophagy (cell recycling) on a scientific level for quite some time. And when you do that, there's no getting around a man:
Dr. Frank Madeo.
The German-Italian Dr. Madeo is without exaggeration one of the most recognized researchers in the field of nutrition or fasting and its effect on our aging and health.
Dr. Madeo is one of the pioneers and most cited researchers in this field.
He is a big proponent of the "one meal a day" concept.
In his countless articles, Madeo attests to this and many other intermittent, or temporary, fasts as having a revolutionary effect on our health.
From arthritis to asthma, and even various forms of cancer, fasting is said to help. Or even better, prevent it.
The metabolic syndrome, i.e. the diseases caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, should thus be a thing of the past. These include obesity, high blood pressure, and sugar and fat metabolism disorders.
Fasting is supposed to be a preventive protection against diabetes or its precursors, such as insulin resistance. Of course, it should also help if you already suffer from it.
As you've probably guessed, both of these approaches motivated me to start the OMAD Challenge.
Physical performance and a scientifically proven improvement in my health status? Yes! I was on fire for this test!
But wait a minute, what do you mean by revolutionary?
What do you mean by revolutionary effect on our health? You mean it's not revolutionary? Old hat?
Absolutely right! And I'm not saying that because we know that fasting has been used for a few hundred years all over the world, for medical or spiritual reasons, for example.
No! I say this, especially since fasting is the oldest human lifestyle concept in existence. Wondering why? Before I tell you my OMAD experience, here's a brief explanation in comparison to it.
- Our evolutionary imprint and a species-appropriate lifestyle
Let's think back for a moment to the time when we lived not in heated houses but in dark caves. Aside from the everyday dangers of daily life, such as being eaten by a saber-toothed tiger or dying from a minor infection, our ancestors had one major concern. "What do we eat today?"
But not because the refrigerated section provided such a large supply, but because it was very difficult to get food.
"Hunt or gather!" was the motto. Our ancestors often had to go for a long time without food. Especially in the cold seasons, when no berries or tubers could be found. Intermittent fasting, unplanned and random. Metabolic syndrome and diabetes, probably rather foreign words!
- De-Evolution - The Reverse Evolution of a Species
It took 5000 generations for us to lose most of our body hair and really walk upright.
However, we have managed to take a big step backwards in terms of health due to evolutionary and industrial developments.
Burgers, pizza, sodas, a completely unnatural meal frequency and far too little exercise, have slowed down our further evolution.
Even partially reversed!
Yes, we are getting older today than we used to, but we owe that to today's hygiene standards, modern medical care, and safety or protection in everyday life.
And a really important question is: are we aging healthily?
If you compare basic health standards of today, with those of 50 - 70 years ago, then things have unfortunately gone downhill in many areas.
Body mass index, body fat percentage, mental satisfaction, sleep, athletic ability, even testosterone levels in men and libido.
However, we will deal with the effect of fasting at a later point in this blog. In any case, you can look forward to our own series on this topic.
But now to the actual topic!
OMAD experiences of a little eater
I'll start with the most exciting topic right away. The fact that fasting has a positive effect on many cell processes and also on the cardiovascular system can be read and heard in many publications.
But of course, it sounds a little too fairy-tale-like that simple fasting should normalize elevated blood pressure, for example.
But one thing in advance, it coincides with my practical experience in September.
One meal a day, has actually had an impressive effect in my case. Normally, I have a blood pressure of about 135/80, which is already considered slightly elevated. Not dramatic, but not in the ideal range.
In my OMAD month, my blood pressure was mostly 120/80 and lower with regular measurements. So from the point of view of orthodox medicine, ideal.
I have been fasting regularly since 2013. But mostly with a shorter fasting window of about 16 hours. This intensification to one meal per day, has caused a further improvement of this nevertheless very relevant parameter of my health.
I was able to achieve another success with regard to my resting pulse. This is normally around 60 beats per minute.
The lowest value I measured with a pulse oximeter was 42 beats at around 7 o'clock one morning. And that was after I had already been out of the house and had a cup of coffee.
Are these data scientifically representative? No, of course not.
I measured them myself, without comparative data and without supervision of qualified personnel. But for me they have enough significance and show what changes are possible through regular fasting.
- Energy and mood in everyday life
The question how I was energetically in everyday life and how I felt, I heard very often in the course of the month of September.
In short, I felt excellent! I was mentally and physically very strong and resilient. I could give lectures and master mental challenges without any problems. I write a lot of articles for other online platforms and soon noticed changes in my cognitive load capacity here.
In order to keep the ability to concentrate stable before important tasks, not eating is a very practical and helpful measure from my point of view. Physical performance has also been no problem without breakfast and lunch, at least for me.
Of course, this is a very individual subject and has a lot to do with personality, experiences and habits.
That's why I don't recommend anyone to start with OMAD from one day to the next. Simple intermittent fasting from 12/12 to 16/8 is sufficient in the beginning to feel the first changes.
I noticed a less positive change in about the third week of September. Thanks to the renovations and the creeping move to our new apartment, I was naturally a bit more stressed. Moving, job, sports and my son kept me on my toes.
With only one meal a day and this with only 1500 calories, I was clearly more easily irritated and stressed.
This has only shown me personally again that the total load in everyday life plays a huge role. Intensive fasting is out of place in a strenuous phase of life. But that is, as always, to be considered individually. The positive mood certainly sank not only a trace by the stress in everyday life, but probably also by the length of the Challenge. After 3 weeks, such an intensive measure, simply also becomes a bit of a test for our nerves.
As a passionate athlete, my personal interest was naturally focused on the influence of OMAD on my training and athletic performance.
I chose the bench press and squats in the strength area to measure myself and visualize the changes in performance.
My goal was to push my 1.5 times body weight. So 150 kg.
This honor was denied to me in my weight training career. At 145 kg about 8 years ago was the end.
At the start of the Challenge, I was already at 140 kg in a max attempt on the bench press. I was able to generate this value in the last two years through a relatively high time investment in upper body strength.
I have to say it surprised myself that I got to 140 kg without any specific planning.
I have also seen myself as more of a "legs and back guy" from the past. That means I preferred to train deadlifts and squats.
I decided to use the good old strength program "Smolov Junior" by the Russian "Master of Sports" Sergej Smolov. With a similar version, I was already able to increase my front squat to a whopping 200 kg about five years ago.
The first few weeks were fantastic. I was bench pressing three times a week and having a blast. In fact, I looked forward to every workout, even though I had to do them during the day and sober. Furthermore, there was a gap of several hours in between the usual dinner.
The Smolov Junior Plan calls for performing the target exercise four times a week. After feeling so good and very motivated, I increased my training by one more session per week.
Well, that was not a smart idea. At the end of week three, I got such an intense muscular tension in the shoulder area that I had to stop the program. The tension has accompanied me despite massage certainly two weeks. I guess I'll have to save the goal of 150 kg for another try.
I invested considerably less time in the squat. I was far from my old best of 220 kg. I estimated my maximum power at 130-140 kg and so calculated the plan. Athletically, rather a cosmetic task compared to the bench press.
Therefore, here also worth fewer words.
Parallel to the bench press, I also wanted to raise my pull-up performance and increase from 12 strictly performed pull-ups in September to 20. The weight reduction brought about by OMAD was very beneficial to me in this case. I became stronger in the pull-up through regular execution and my strength-to-mass ratio improved continuously.
But due to the tension in my shoulder, I had to pause here as well.
For this, I intensified the running training a bit. This was a great way for me to maintain the overall athletic workload, contribute to fat burning, and improve my endurance.
One-hour runs were not a problem during the OMAD test.
Conclusio in this area is clear. With a calorie deficit and thus also a theoretically low potential of supply and regeneration, it can quickly become too much.
I was clearly over-motivated by the successes of the first two weeks of September.
Of course, you also have to take into account the individual conditions. The almost decades of experience of my body in weight training and the habit of many thousands of repetitions with dumbbells, creates a completely different basis. Therefore, as a beginner, I do not recommend combining a fasting cure that is new to you with a new intensive training program.
Sleep is worsened by (at least excessive) fasting is said.
I could not observe this, but there were probably a handful of reasons why this had not or not yet occurred.
For example, my intensive training program, my everyday load, the observation period being too short, and other factors.
In short, the sleep was great.
- Body composition
Many readers' favorite question at the end 🙂
"How much did you lose?"
Now, losing weight or fat was not the goal of this challenge, which is why I did not measure body composition. I didn't want to put this attempt in the light of "losing weight". It was about general performance and personal experience with OMAD.
I started at about 103.5 kg and hit a low of about 97.5 kg.
So I lost about 6 kg, primarily water and fat. The loss of muscle mass was, in my opinion, limited - due to the intensive training.
But as I said, this is just an observation on the side.
My OMAD conclusion:
OMAD was definitely a great experience. The main learning for me is definitely that I need, much less than I thought, to function well and be efficient.
Making OMAD permanent is dependent on your other day-to-day life.
If this is very stressful or difficult to organize, then I recommend that you find your own system that suits you. Nutrition and fasting is something very individual.
You don't have to fast or OMAD for an entire month straight, nor do you have to torture yourself into anything around your diet.
Take your time and create a healthy and easy to implement habit.
If you're successful, after a few weeks you can shift up a gear and do more.
I will explain the different fasting concepts that exist and their respective benefits in the following blog posts. I will provide you with practical examples and a scientific foundation.
So you can try on yourself until you find something suitable.
I am looking forward to your feedback! Maybe you have already made your own experiences with OMAD. Just write me at email@example.com
You can also find this blog as a podcast on Youtube and all podcast platforms!
Your Performance Optimizer & Biohacker
PS: Here is another interesting tip!
As a high performer, you're interested in increasing your performance, right?
I have designed for "Btonic Performance" various supplements that can help exactly here. The areas of action cover many purposes. From supporting joints or improving cognitive and physical performance, to lowering stress, there's a lot here. If you want to try these high-quality supplements, you can get 20 % off your order right now. Use the code "richard20" on the website. www.btonic-performance.at