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OMAD and Keto: Can You Combine the Two?

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  Published on September 2nd, 2022
  Reading time: 5 minutes
  Last modified September 9th, 2022
OMAD on keto

Eating one meal a day (OMAD) seems like an extreme approach for weight loss, but research supports its benefits on your metabolism and health markers. In fact, if you’re already on a ketogenic diet, you can do OMAD and keto together to take your results to the next level. 

This article explains OMAD in the context of a keto diet, including its benefits and potential downsides. That way, you can decide if it’s the best approach for you. 

What Is OMAD?

OMAD, short for one meal a day, is a type of intermittent fasting where you limit your food intake to a single meal per day. For example, this might mean eating all your calories at around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. You’d fast for the remainder of the day and then break it at the same time the following day. 

Unlike other intermittent fasting and dieting strategies, OMAD doesn’t require you to count calories or track your macros. However, since you’re on a keto diet, you still need to pay attention to your carbohydrate intake so you’ll remain in ketosis—which is the whole point of doing keto to begin with. 

Can You Do OMAD and Keto at the Same Time?

It’s totally possible to do OMAD on the keto diet, although it’s easier for those who are already keto-adapted or fat-adapted. Reaching a fat-adapted state takes time (weeks to months) and this means that your body has transitioned effectively from burning carbs to burning fat for fuel. [1] [2] It’s actually easier to do OMAD while in ketosis, since your body will be used to being in a fasted state and you won’t feel as hungry between meals.

OMAD is a kind of intermittent fasting

Because of this, it’s a good idea to try OMAD only after you’ve consistently followed the keto diet for weeks or months, and you’re physically and mentally ready to experiment with new strategies. Or you can start with a shorter fast, such as skipping breakfast or the 16:8 protocol, before getting into OMAD, which is longer. 

Newbies on keto can sometimes feel very excited to reap the results of a low-carb lifestyle, causing them to restrict too much—which makes the idea of OMAD enticing. So, although OMAD is generally safe, it may cause some people, especially those new to keto and fasting, to experience low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) and symptoms like dizziness, shaking, irritability, and nervousness. [3]

The Benefits of OMAD on Keto

Large steak for keto OMAD meal

We can appreciate the benefits of OMAD from an intermittent fasting standpoint, on top of the fact that it’s a huge time saver when it comes to cooking meals at home.

Let’s discuss more of the advantages of doing OMAD on keto.

Helps you save time in the kitchen

Meal prepping to ensure you have keto-friendly foods all week can take up a big chunk of your time. This is especially true for those who are on a clean keto diet and have food sensitivities or intolerances (dairy, food additives like MSG, etc.) since they need to be extra careful with ingredients. 

Experienced keto dieters may find the idea of cycling OMAD with their usual eating pattern great for their schedule. As a bonus, it saves money on grocery shopping. 

Puts you back into ketosis quickly 

You’ve probably heard of the term “speed keto,” a technique that’s supposed to induce ketosis in a short period. Doing OMAD can help you enter ketosis within a 24-hour period, instead of the usual 72 hours or even longer for some people. [4]

Combining a form of fasting like OMAD and keto can be particularly useful if you’re trying to get back on track after a cheat day or high-carb refeed day (as part of a cyclical keto approach). 

Weight loss due to a calorie deficit

While not all calories are equal—because some foods are low-quality sources of calories—you’re still likely to gain weight being in a calorie surplus all the time. This is why intermittent fasting strategies, such as OMAD, favor weight loss. It’s difficult to consume more than your daily calorie needs in one sitting, which can help lower the number of calories you typically consume per day. 

A recent study also showed that consuming one meal per day instead of three meals in healthy subjects resulted in reduced fat mass and increased fatty acid oxidation during exercise. What’s interesting is that these subjects’ strength and aerobic capacity weren’t negatively affected. [5]

Improves blood sugar control and cholesterol 

With over 130 million adults in the US living with diabetes or prediabetes, lifestyle changes have become more important. [6] If you’re using keto to bring your blood sugar to normal levels and reduce the need for medication, you might want to consider OMAD down the road. But, of course, speak with your healthcare provider first. 

A systematic review and meta analysis also found that intermittent fasting and energy-restricted diets improve total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. [7]

Potential Drawbacks of OMAD

When you’re doing OMAD for the first time, you may experience digestive issues such as feeling uncomfortably full, followed by diarrhea. This is not surprising, considering the high amount of dietary fat and protein in a singe keto meal. (It’s also a reason some people, after trying OMAD, would rather go back to eating smaller meals instead of just one large meal.) 

Another disadvantage is the possibility of consuming excess carbs during your eating window. Excess carbs can come from having multiple servings of keto-friendly plant and dairy foods, such as nuts, cheese, dark chocolate, berries, and salad greens. 

Here’s a helpful tip: Make meat and seafood the bulk of your OMAD meal. This will increase your satiety without pushing you over your carb limit. 

Is OMAD Plus Keto Worth a Try?

A one meal a day or OMAD approach is an advanced intermittent fasting method that promotes weight loss, saves time in the kitchen, speeds up ketosis, and helps you maintain healthy blood glucose and cholesterol levels. It’s great when applied to a low-carb eating plan like keto to boost your results. 

However, it also helps to be aware that OMAD doesn’t work for everyone. The best way to find out is to try it yourself and observe its effects on your body. Have you done OMAD while on keto before? Share your experience below. 

Tiffany is a health writer and registered nurse who believes in low-carb nutrition, exercise, and living simply. She has carefully followed the ketogenic diet (mostly clean keto) since 2019, which helped her lose 44 pounds, heal PCOS, and gain more energy. She hopes to educate and inspire others through her content here at Ketogenic.com and on her personal blog Ketogenic Buddies.



Stephen Phinney, M. D. (2022, February 28). Keto-adaptation. Virta Health. Retrieved August 30, 2022, from https://www.virtahealth.com/blog/keto-adapted 


Ma, S., & Suzuki, K. (2019). Keto-Adaptation and Endurance Exercise Capacity, Fatigue Recovery, and Exercise-Induced Muscle and Organ Damage Prevention: A Narrative Review. Sports (Basel, Switzerland), 7(2), 40. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports7020040


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, March 25). Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved August 30, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/low-blood-sugar.html


Harvey, C., Schofield, G. M., & Williden, M. (2018). The use of nutritional supplements to induce ketosis and reduce symptoms associated with keto-induction: a narrative review. PeerJ, 6, e4488. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4488


Meessen, E. C., Andresen, H., van Barneveld, T., van Riel, A., Johansen, E. I., Kolnes, A. J., Kemper, E. M., Olde Damink, S. W., Schaap, F. G., Romijn, J. A., Jensen, J., & Soeters, M. R. (2022). Differential effects of one meal per day in the evening on Metabolic Health and physical performance in lean individuals. Frontiers in Physiology, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2021.771944 


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, January 22). National DPP Customer Service Center. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved August 30, 2022, from https://nationaldppcsc.cdc.gov/s/article/CDC-2022-National-Diabetes-Statistics-Report 


Meng, H., Zhu, L., Kord-Varkaneh, H., O Santos, H., Tinsley, G. M., & Fu, P. (2020). Effects of intermittent fasting and energy-restricted diets on lipid profile: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition, 77, 110801. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2020.110801 

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