“You only eat one meal per day?”
It’s a bit awkward trying to explain to strangers and even friends that I generally eat one meal per day. Nobody understands how I could do this. They think that I’m on some crash diet. I do it because I want to get as jacked as possible with the least amount of effort.
I wasn’t always this weird. I used to eat many meals per day. Then I got into intermittent fasting. Now I have one daily feast and I’m in the best shape of my life at 30 years old. How’s it possible to only eat one meal a day and still get jacked? Keep on reading…
“YOU ORDERED TWO PLATES! YOU ARE A FRAUD YOU JERK!!!!”
This is a real thing that has been said to me.
I technically have one feast per day. People will argue with me. I try to follow the 20/4 eating concept of fasting for 20 hours and then eating for four hours. I picked this up from the Warrior Diet book (more on this later in here). I originally got into intermittent fasting with the 16 hour fast. At some point, I figured it would be easy to eat once a day.
I’m not into extremes. I’m not some weirdo who’s going to rant and rave about conspiracy theories on social media. I eat once a day because it works. When I first heard about people who ate once a day I figured that they were delusional. I eventually ended up at one meal per day almost by accident since I love to travel and party.
How do you eat once a day?
Simplified summary: You stay busy when you wake up while you sip on coffee and carbonated water. You then go train. After your workout. You have a huge feast until you’re full and then you’re done eating for the day.
This is moments before starting my evening feast in Bangkok, Thailand. It was easy to feast there because a Pad Thai dinner would go for $2. Scroll through my Instagram if you’re in the mood for topless photos around the world.
Why would you want to eat once per day?
I read every single article and book (okay, not literally) on meal timing and protein consumption because I wanted to get this stuff figured out. I got hooked on the idea of intermittent fasting when I saw the results online. I then failed at fasting so I doubled down to find a way to make it work for me. I found the idea of eating once per day and it stuck with me.
Why would you want to not eat all day?
Let me get the following out-of-the-way:
- Meal prep sucks.
- Counting calories sucks.
- Weighing your food is beyond boring.
- Stressing about getting enough protein in can feel like a chore.
If you’re into this stuff, good for you. I can’t do it. I want to make money. I want to live life and be a productive member of society. I can’t let dieting consume my life. I want to do what’s the easiest. You can judge me for this, but I don’t get paid to be a professional bodybuilder. I can’t base my entire life around my meals and eating every 2 hours. It’s so much easier to eat once a day.
There are many health benefits associated to fasting.
I don’t just do intermittent fasting for the narcissistic reasons (looking good topless). There are many health benefits that I’m not smart enough to explain in a blog post. Fasting boosts growth hormone levels. Read up on this here at Diet Doctor, check out this article, and 10 evidence-based health benefits of intermittent fasting. There are many other studies, but I don’t want to give you an information overload here.
Harvard Health Publishing puts it best on why fasting works for health reasons:
“Between meals, as long as we don’t snack, our insulin levels will go down and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar, to be used as energy. We lose weight if we let our insulin levels go down. The entire idea of IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat.”
Let your body burn the fat during the day while you actually do productive shit. How’s that for a win? You get to focus on doing whatever you want to do (be good at your job, travel, train, etc.) while your body burns the fat off your gut. This certainly beats doing an hour of cardio on the treadmill.
You feel much better when you’re not always stuffed.
Food does give you energy, but you don’t need to feel stuffed the entire day. I would force myself to stuff protein into my system. I would then feel stuffed the entire day. I would be sluggish and I didn’t want to do anything. I hated it. Now I wake up and get to work (after scrolling through social media). I’ll drink a coffee and start writing. I then go train around noon (usually weights with a BJJ class). I feel amazing the entire time. I eventually start to get hungry and it’s time for my evening feast.
I want to feel good while getting jacked. I don’t want to deprive myself or to force myself to eat. Eating once per day helps me feel great the entire day.
Jacked physique with less effort.
For some reason, it’s really trendy to brag about how hard you work and how dedicated you are. That’s cool. I’m all about results though. I’m all about the casual fitness lifestyle. I want to get the best possible results with the least amount of effort.
I don’t want to do any of the following:
- Count calories.
- Eat every 2 hours.
- Walk around with Tupperware containers.
Do you know what I love about fasting? I get to eat whatever I want, look jacked, and not feel guilty. The trade-off is that I have to wait to eat my meal.
You can be more flexible.
I feel less guilty about chugging a bag of Goldfish crackers when I only eat one meal. I love flexibility. I love pizza. I enjoy drinking. I don’t want to be strict about everything because life’s too short to count calories.
I know that you’re not supposed to say this on a fitness blog, but, I REALLY LOVE TO DRINK AND HAVE FUN!
How can you eat one meal per day?
“I get too cranky when I’m hungry. I just couldn’t fast.”
I hear this a lot from people who are on the fence about trying fasting. I totally get it. I first heard about this concept of eating once a day when I read an interesting eBook about the Warrior Diet.
What’s the Warrior Diet?
According to Ori Hofmekler (who wrote the guide, “The Warrior Diet”):
“The gist of the Warrior Diet is to eat a meal only once a day, preferably at night, and without any restriction of calories or macronutrient content. It involves retraining the body (and the mind). If you do it for a few weeks, I maintain that your hunger will diminish during the day. And, when you eat at night, you’ll know exactly what to eat and how much to eat. Your body may, in fact, tell you to eat a considerable amount—no matter, listen to it. During the day, you’ll likely want to nibble on things. This is okay, as long as your snack consist of fresh vegetables, fruits, and little protein if desired, and doesn’t include carbohydrates like breads or grains.”
I fell in love with the idea. The Dasko Diet style of fasting is a bit different for the following reasons:
- I don’t snack during the fasting period.
- The feast isn’t always 4 hours. My feast is often only a few hours. I then return to normal life.
- The feast can be at any time.
- I throw in 24 hour fasts when I get too wild on the weekends.
The art of learning how not to eat is pretty simple. You don’t eat. You literally do nothing. You don’t have to worry about missing a meal.
However, I get that fasting isn’t that easy.
Let’s look at how to fast safely so that you don’t feel like snapping a few hours in…
Start by skipping breakfast.
The first step is to not eat as soon as you wake up. If you want to give this fasting thing a try, I suggest that you start by delaying your first meal. Wake up, drink some water, drink a coffee, and move on with your day. Don’t think about food. Don’t wait in line to order a breakfast sandwhich. Just start your day.
Try to delay your meal by a few hours. You don’t have to be all extreme about it. You can wait a few hours to eat. You can try to wait until noon-ish. The goal is to slowly ease into this stuff. The first few attempts at fasting until the evening will be a disaster. Don’t worry. It’s going to get easier by day 4. After a week it’s going to be simple. After a month, you won’t even think about breakfast or lunch.
If you get hungry or feel faint, then eat. It’s that simple. Try to fast the next day.
Stop bragging about how little you sleep. Get some rest. Put your phone down and go to sleep. Since you’re not eating breakfast, you don’t have to wake up early to cook. You can sleep in a little longer. It’s important that you wake up feeling refreshed every morning.
Sleep also helps with your appetite. This article on Healthline cites some interesting studies about the importance of sleep on your eating habits:
“Poor sleep habits can increase the body’s energy needs. At night, movement and need for calories is reduced. But when you are sleep-deprived, your brain will release chemicals to signal hunger. This can lead to eating more, exercising less, and gaining weight.”
Stop with the passive aggressive brags about how little you sleep and find a way to get more rest in.
We often eat or do stupid shit in general (yes, I’m looking at you) because we’re bored. I’m not here to be your life coach. I’m just giving you a reality check. You have to get busy so that you’re not thinking about scarfing down a pizza.
How do you keep busy when trying not to eat?
- Scroll through social media.
- Focus at your job.
- Cook your dinner.
- Drink more water.
Black coffee/espresso shots are all you need in the morning to get going. I start to get more motivated as that second cup hits. Once the caffeine is in my system, I’m ready to go. Coffee also suppresses your appetite and gives you energy so that you’re not useless in the morning.
When you’re feeling hungry, try to drink a cold glass of water. Wait a few minutes and see how you feel. I live off carbonated water and regular water. Your body needs water. You need to be hydrated.
Another reminder to stay busy. Try to do something productive with this time. Okay, you get the point.
How will you get jacked by eating once a day?
Being jacked isn’t about putting on 20lbs of muscle and not being able to fit through the door. Being jacked is about getting stronger and looking your best. I used to chase size. Now I chase strength and muscles. I want to have abs and to have defined muscles.
Fasting will get you jacked because you go into a caloric deficit by reducing your calories. The assumption is that you’re still lifting weights and training. This training mixed with the reduction of calories will give you that lean and ripped look. This is the goal here. If you want to get super huge, then you may not like fasting. If you want to look ridiculously ripped with your shirt off, then you’re going to love fasting.
The boost in growth hormone and testosterone (check out this study) that you get from fasting will also help you look and feel more jacked. These topics deserve more detail and will covered in a different post.
There’s likely one last thing on your mind when it comes to fasting and figuring out how to not eat…
What about starvation mode?
“Your body will go into starvation mode if you don’t eat breakfast.”
I’ve received this criticism from friends who are just offended by my fasting.
NEWSFLASH: YOUR MUSCLES WON’T FALL OFF JUST BECAUSE YOU MISSED ONE MEAL
I won’t even pretend like I fully understand the science behind all of this stuff. I research everything and then apply it to my own life to see what works best. I’m interested in finding the imperfect plan than I’m going to follow as opposed to some perfect plan that I’ll never follow.
What did the experts have to say about starvation mode?
Dr. Jason Fung wrote the following at Diet Doctor:
“When people say that you ‘must’ eat breakfast to have energy for the day, they are completely wrong. Your body has already given you a big shot of the good stuff and fueled you up for the day ahead. You don’t need to stuff your face full of sugary cereals and toast with jam to have energy. This is also the reason why hunger is lowest first thing in the morning (8 am) even though you have not eaten for 12 hours or so.”
Dr. Sara Solomon wrote the following:
“No, your metabolism will not slow down and you will not enter into starvation mode if you fast. It is ludicrous to equate starvation to skipping breakfast, not eating for 20 hours or even 2 days! According to a 1987 study by Nair KS, et al, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the earliest evidence of a lowered metabolic rate in response to fasting occurs after 60 hours (with an 8% drop in resting metabolic rate).”
Martin Berkhan wrote this on starvation mode:
“Efficient adaptation to famine was important for survival during rough times in our evolution. Lowering metabolic rate during starvation allowed us to live longer, increasing the possibility that we might come across something to eat. Starvation literally means starvation. It doesn’t mean skipping a meal not eating for 24 hours. Or not eating for three days even. The belief that meal skipping or short-term fasting causes “starvation mode” is so completely ridiculous and absurd that it makes me want to jump out the window.”
You’re not going to starve and your muscles won’t fall off because you missed a meal. I panicked when I first started fasting because I thought that I was going to lose all of my muscles and that my hard work would be last. That’s not what happens.
I’m thinking about eating once a day… BUT! Let’s look at the most common questions.
I’ve shared everything that I know about how to fast safely and why one meal a day will get you jacked. Let’s go over a few quick questions…
Should I tell my family and friends about eating once per day?
No. Try this on your own. Don’t be annoying. Don’t give unsolicited advice.
How long is the feast?
I feast for about 2 hours until I’m full. I would suggest that you start with the 8-hour window.
What about my job?
The goal is to make this work. You must factor in your work schedule when you set your eating hours.
I get hungry in the morning and can’t do this.
Okay, that’s not a question. If you can’t do this, then don’t do it. I don’t care.
Should you count calories?
I personally don’t count calories. I roughly know what my body needs. I would suggest that you try downloading some sort of app just to get a rough estimation of how many calories you need vs how many calories you can put down during this feast.
What should I eat?
Good food. Flexibility doesn’t mean that you should eat like a slob. I stick to salmon, chicken, and steak for my protein. I usually begin the feast with almonds and a protein bar. I enjoy my fruits too (blueberries and raspberries). I try to eat real food.
What about cheat days?
Start off with a high-protein meal. Then proceed to your cheat meal. Try to do one cheat meal instead of a 20 hour cheat day feast.
The Warrior Diet vs Intermittent fasting. Which is better?
The 16/8 window of intermittent fasting is easier and more realistic. Eating once per day is a bit difficult. The good news is that you can do the Warrior Diet like 5 days a week and then try regular intermittent fasting on the weekends. You can play around with fasting until you find what works best for you.
Give the Dasko Diet a try. Eat once a day and see how you feel. You may just find yourself with the best physique of your life while you get to enjoy food again.