How To Build The Perfect OMAD

12 min read

What you’re getting into

  • What boxes you need to tick off on a successful OMAD diet
  • Running through my favourite, pretty much essential, OMAD foods.
  • Beef (With alternatives, don’t get the pitchforks)
  • Fiber
  • Olive Oil
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Himalayan Salt

OMAD means One Meal A Day, and it can be as simple as it sounds. Just keep everything on one plate, and that’s your eating wrapped up for the day. Toss in some greens, some form of protein, generous amounts of fat, and you’re set to go. In this fashion, it’s going to be really challenging to end the day in surplus. Which is a great thing if you’re looking to drop a few pounds. Does OMAD need to be complicated?

It may well need to be.

Putting all your eggs on one plate can raise the steaks in the diet game, because you’re now counting on getting enough nutrition in one meal that offers up enough energy to get you through to the next day. If it doesn’t, it’s simply not going to be sustainable. A diet that only lasts a couple of weeks is effectively useless, because then there’s nothing in place to retain whatever weight you’ve dropped down to. 

Despite all of that, OMAD has a lot of benefits riding with it. During my ultimate guide to fasting, I picked it as my favourite fasting protocol. To give you the short end of that 30-minute read, sticking with one meal makes for a sustainable and regular diet, while promoting significant levels of ketosis and autophagy. So it’s worth going through the trouble of making sure you’re on top of your nutritional knowhow. 

I’ve been using this diet over the past 8 weeks, and it’s been insanely successful. I’ve managed to get to my lowest weight since my first year in the gym, and more importantly, it’s given me raised levels of mental energy that’s stopped me from losing the plot over the lockdown. 

At least so far anyway. If you’re looking to raise your game, I can lay down a few ideas for getting OMAD on point. Follow the guidelines, and I can almost guarantee that your solitary meals will hit the sweet spot of giving you enough energy, while turning the body into a fat-burning machine.

Here’s a checklist for having a stab at building the optimal standalone meal.

1. Full-Fat Beef – Ticking Off Your Protein And Fat Requirements

The biggest principle in OMAD is making sure that each calorie counts. Processed foods just won’t cut it in this situation. And I’ll even throw good old protein shakes on the naughty list. Processed foods are depleted sources of nutrition, with poor micronutrient profiles that won’t give much more than getting you closer to your macro targets. What’s more, there’s good cause to think that these foods will ruin attempts at appetite control.

This is why the IIFYM diet is a shoddy excuse if you’re looking for peak performance and sustained weight loss. You can hit the requirements for precious protein, but still fall short in ensuring that you don’t get rundown over the course of a weight loss programme. 

In that vein, red meat makes the perfect protein source, as long as it’s allowed. This can be beef, pork, venison, but no so much chicken. White meat might not be processed, but it’s still not much more than a mix of protein and water. Red meat on the other hand is loaded with bio friendly sources of iron, selenium, zinc, and B vitamins, particularly B12. 

Beef Casserole From My Protein Cookbook

On a decidedly more important note, red meat is fat friendly. Meaning it has a lot. If you don’t get on good terms with fat loaded foods and start picking the plump variety , your keto diet will just turn out into a typical high protein meal that’s low everything else. Which will not boost ketones, and will likely make you feel bloated and fatigued for the rest of the day. 

That’s not a slight against protein, as it’s a necessary cog in a functioning diet. It just can’t come at the cost of your fat ratios, which should be around 60-70% of total calories. Besides that, consuming excessive protein can be extremely tough on digestion, since it has such a high thermic expenditure.

Looking at the options of the ruminants at hand, I tend to side with beef. It’s relatively cheap, although opting for grass-fed can start to stretch the wallet. Pork isn’t going to be as good, as their digestive systems are more similar to ours. And by that, I mean you’re probably picking up some of the foods that they’ve been raised on. Most of the time, it’s lots of soybean and corn.

Red meat also has an ideal blend of saturated and monounsaturated fats. Both have their own merits, and balancing them out in an even 1:1 ratio will get the best out of a fat-powered diet. Excessive levels of saturated fat may be great for hormones, but it can get you sluggish and tired. Grass-fed beef has 55% saturates and 34% monounsaturates. Add a decent plant oil which is higher in oleic acid, and you’ll pretty much arrive at the 1:1 target.

Alternatives To Red Meat

Salmon, eggs, cheese.

2. Fiber – Boost Your Portion Sizes And Satiety

Now there’s emerging theories around fiber, creating a question of whether it’s even necessary. This is part of what the carnivore diet is based on, where all you eat is animal meat. No salad to round off the plate and add some colour to the profile.

The reasoning here is that the gut consumes butyrate for its energy needs. BHB (the big ketone) happens to provide just that. Fiber itself isn’t as uniformly healthy as advertising can bring you to assume, as it can irritate the gut lining and is definitely a problem for those with the unhealthy variety of gut flora. So it’s not something you can just add liberally without any downsides.

The truth is likely somewhere in the middle, where the dose is the culprit that’s causing you to spend too much time on the throne. Having a sensible amount of green vegetables on your plate will give plenty of micronutrients, while promoting satiety by slowing down the digestive process. Besides, there’s something dispiriting in having a tiny plate waiting in front of you. With fiber, you can pile on some volume without adding an extreme amount of calories. Just don’t forget to count them.

Alternatives To Green Veg

Psyllium Husk, Inulin Powder

3. Olive Oil – Healthy Fats And Polyphenols

If you’re looking to get the best out of fasting and keto, meat alone is probably not going to be enough to tally up the fat sources. Technically you could just load up on bacon and fit that inside a modified ketogenic diet, which is 25-30% protein and 65-70% fat.  But that’s not going to do much for getting the full range of nutrition packaged in one meal. 

Adding in olive oil will be a pain-free way of hitting fat targets, while loading up on high amounts of oleic acid and polyphenols. Oleic acid stimulates fatty acid uptake and beta-oxidation, and a good percentage of it is burnt off in the digestive process.

Extra virgin olive oil in particular contains great levels of polyphenols, which protects it from oxidative damage during the cooking process, essentially giving it a high smoke point. With olive oil, you have a superfood that can be added liberally in a ketogenic diet, but you should probably go up a few price points and pick the darker bottles to get the best quality.

Besides, it tastes great without ever becoming overpowering, meaning you can easily add it to smoothies for when you’re running out of time and space to get the calories in. 

Just be careful when making replacements here, as a good number of plant oils are highly processed and contain extra linoleic acid, which is polyunsaturated omega-6 fat. These are man-made, promote insulin secretion, and are generally bad for heart health. 

A few examples of fats to avoid are standard vegetable oils and sunflower oil. One of the most important aspects of healthy keto, is maintaining a healthy ratio between Omega 6 to 3. Getting it down to 1:1 might be practically impossible, but when you look at the usual western standards of 16:1. That’s a huge indication of how inflammatory modern diets are becoming.

Alternatives To Olive Oil

Avocado Oil, Macadamia Oil 

4. Full-Fat Greek Yogurt & Eggs For Sauce – Calcium, Choline, Satiety

There is a chance of going over the carb quota by adding greek yogurt, but in moderation it can be pretty ketogenic. Brands that contain live cultures have a strain of bacteria that breaks some of the sugars into lactic acid. All the while, it’s a great source for calcium and protein. Yogurt has been shown to decrease appetite, which can blunt any potential post-meal hunger rebound. It makes the perfect base for a sauce, or a smoothie to wrap up your meal. 

Eggs can also make up some of the sauce, and contain choline, a special ingredient in brain structure that’s vital for maintaining optimal cognition across a diet. Just make sure that you never throw away the yolk. That’s where most of the nutrition is going to come from, including vitamins B6, B12, folic acid, and calcium. It’s a good idea to cook it softly, in order to avoid oxidising some of the omega 3’s contained in the yolk.

Alternatives To Yogurt

Cottage Cheese, Mature Cheddar

Alternatives To Eggs

Coconut Oil, Macadamia Nuts

5. Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

Quite likely, the biggest risk you’re going to run into while on a keto fasting regime, is going to be dehydration. Drinking a gallon of water won’t accomplish anything if you don’t also load back up on lost electrolytes, sodium being the biggest of them. So that solitary meal is going to be the ideal place to replenish on electrolytes that you’ve inevitably lost over the last 24 hours. Himalayan Pink Sea Salt has a great all-round profile, providing much more than pure sodium. There are trace amounts of potassium, magnesium, iodine, and much more. 

You’ll likely want to put more than a sprinkle of this over your meal, especially if you’ve been exercising and drinking caffeine. Both deplete minerals, and will take around 5 grams to adequately resupply. Having low sodium levels is just as dangerous, if not more, than going too high. Too little tends to lower blood volume, while raising the heart rate and upregulate the adrenals, potentially leading to burnout.

Normal table salt is excessively refined, and won’t contain as many minerals. And it may still be necessary to supplement with zinc, iodine and magnesium on top of pouring salt over your food.

Alternatives To Himalayan Salt

Lo Salt, Redmond Real Salt

The Takeaway – Make Each Calorie Count

This meal blueprint is practically the setup that’s carried me through the past couple of months of intense dieting, and it’s rarely failed to pick me back up when my legs have failed me. It’s a complete profile that ensures that every calorie counts, making the next fast much easier to go through.

That being said, it’s important to be flexible, and that’s been one thing that Covid hasn’t really tested. Right now, I can coast through the exact same schedule each day without being forced to miss a meal time or forget meal prep. So it’s worth having a plan B for when you have to wait a little longer to get a full meal in. That’s where keto smoothies come in, and I’ll be covering that in one of my next posts.

Hey, I’m Sama, a natural bodybuilder who’s bought into the perks of keto and intermittent fasting. Why? When combined, the boosting effect on mental energy is unrivalled on any other diet. And the fat loss isn’t bad either. 

I’ve got a ton of recipes, guides and insights covering both diets, and you check them all out on my blog.

View My Keto Recipes

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