Making OMAD easy - Insulin and Ghrelin.
The idea of only eating one meal a day can be frightened. Thoughts like I will be hungry all the time and I can´t do that can hinder us from enjoying and achieving OMAD April successfully.
Today I want to provide you with some info and tips around your hormones to make OMAD easy and enjoyable for you.
If you have not fasted before, you might want to start slowly to first focus on getting used to fasting. You can fast for 12 hours and increase the number of hours carefully up to 24.
There is no need to rush. You do not have to make it an OMAD April, you can do an OMAD May or June or July or August. The positive outcome of fasting will be much more enjoyable for you if you also enjoy the fasting itself. Start once you feel ready.
Hormones are playing an essential role in our lives. You can´t see them but they are defining and influencing basically everything you do.
There are two hormones we want to have a closer look at to learn how OMAD can be achieved easily: Insulin and Ghrelin.
Most of you know Insulin from people with diabetes but it plays a role in everyone's daily life and is an important and essential hormone.
Ghrelin is the so-called hunger hormone e.g. that can increase your appetite and make you want to eat.
To make OMAD easy, you want to keep both hormones -Insulin and Ghrelin- on a low level. But how to do that?
Your body uses insulin to keep the level of blood glucose in tight ranges. Low glucose levels are to be avoided as much as high glucose levels. Insulin comes into action after your blood glucose levels rose and it will remove the glucose from the blood. To avoid glucose levels falling too low the liver can produce new glucose to keep the level steady and in balance. Another option of the body is to tell you: Go find me something to eat.
If you follow your body's advice and eat something that raises your glucose levels, insulin will come again and take the glucose out of your blood and transport it into your cells. The higher the glucose levels, the higher the insulin. It´s an endless circle.
After every meal, your insulin levels will rise even though we can´t really measure insulin itself. But we can measure the blood glucose. Seeing it dropping again after its rise is seeing insulin in action. Don´t forget: The higher the glucose levels go - the higher the insulin output. See Wearing a CGM
To keep your insulin on a steady and balanced low level, you should prefer food that does not raise your glucose levels. That means: Lower the carb intake and focus on e.g. fatty meats for a solid fat and protein intake. With this,
you do not trigger high insulin levels and
avoid blood glucose levels going too low and with this:
you help the body to keep your blood glucose levels stable.
Stable blood glucose levels prevent us from getting signals from our panicking bodies that the blood glucose levels are falling too low and so, we can comfortably fast for 24 hours as the body is not jelling at us to eat something.
Firstly: Ghrelin stands for Growth Hormone Release Inducing. If you make a quick Google search, you might find information that fasting increases Ghrelin which means that you are more hungry. Uff - and now? Didn´t we want to keep it low?
Yes, and don´t worry - despite what you might read, it is fact that the Ghrelin levels do not rise and rise endlessly if you´re not eating. Actually, they go back down to baseline levels on their own whether you are eating or not.
That means: If you do not eat, you are as not-hungry as you would be after a meal. As Jason Fung states: Hunger comes in waves and the waves actually get smaller the longer you fast (this includes OMAD). Otherwise, it would be hard to fast at all and especially for a longer time.
In addition, the more you get used to fasting and having a certain eating window, your body adjusts and does not rise your Ghrelin level to a point that is really affecting you. In the beginning, you might feel the desire or a small hunger at your usual eating times, but a glass of water or bouillon will help you overcome it easily.
Once you are used to OMAD, you are ready to eat after 23 to 24 hours as you would be for your meals on a 3-meals a day schedule.
You can help to keep your Ghrelin low by training your fasting muscle and overcome your hunger waves step by step by using some of the tips I collected here: 5 tips for intermittent fasting
Ghrelin can also be influenced by your sleep. Having a bad night, can affect the next day completely and increase your cravings for food. Make sure to make every night as relaxing as possible. Some tips are:
Eat early and make sure to have a couple of hours between your meal and your sleep
Avoid blue lights before bedtime (no mobile or television before bedtime, or use a blue-light blocker)
Keep your bedroom dark and invest in window blinds to keep street- or sunlight out of the room
Keep your bedroom quiet to allow your body and mind to relax
Keep your bedroom cool and make sure to not overheat during your sleep
Keep yourself hydrated to not get thirsty and with this a headache
Keep a consistent bedtime and make sure to sleep enough. E.g.: I need between 8 and 9 hours of sleep
Another important aspect we should look at is the ability of your body to produce and use ketones. Depending on what you eat during your eating window, you will spend a lot of hours each day in ketosis. Your body is now able to use fat and ketones for fuel. This also decreases your hunger beautifully and dramatically as you are eating all the time.
Read more here (German): Was is Ketose
👉If you are in doubt or have a medical condition, please contact your doctor and discuss your fasting plans with them before starting.