I Spent 1 Month Eating 1 Meal A Day


January 2017, I had just moved into a new home, and while still enjoying also the good vibes of a new work environment, I felt overly motivated to try something new, much different than simply cutting out refined foods as we saw in the previous article.

The idea was to counter one of the most effective and basic strategies you will hear when visiting a nutritionist:

Eat every three hours.

The reasons for eating like that are really effective and include:

1) More controlled energy levels due to the constant sugar distribution and adequate nutrition during all times of the day.

2) Less hunger pangs and monstrous desire to eat junk food, also due to controlled sugar.

3) Greater chance of absorbing the nutrients of everything we eat and consequently better digestion.

4) Decreased muscle catabolism (damage and possible loss of lean mass).

5) You eat less, in a more controlled way and accelerate your metabolism.

And all these possibilities are evidence supported by several different studies, and yes! I have also experienced these effects.

However, when eating frequently, I encountered some controversies:

1) I was very hungry.

2) I was eating much more.
3) If I could, I would eat every hour, every second.

This is how I came to the brilliant (or stupid) idea of trying something that goes straight towards the opposite:

Eating not every 1-3 hours small meals, but every 20-24 hours one big meal, once a day. But why would someone do that? Why would I "torture" myself like that?


Well, first of all, I do not really feel constant hunger, and I believe my instinct is still very similar to that of our ancestors. Men and women who a few hundred years ago did not have access to food all the time and could even spend 2-3 days without a complete meal.

They were human beings like you and me, with the difference, they had no access to whey, nor multivitamins, much less to gluten or lactose free products. BCAA? No way.

And even by living like that, they strove, survived, and were able to leave behind lots of grandchildren! So here I am, not only to remind you of their old habits, but also to keep our voracious appetite alive (well, at least, MY voracious appetite):

The weird and wild ability to attack and devour food as a Transformer.

Indeed, I do not chew 20 times each bite, I don't eat healthy all the time, I do not feel guilty about not doing so, and I do love enjoying large amounts of food. Believe me or not, 90% of the time I manage even to respect the idea of ​​stop eating before feeling full. The main difference though, might be that my "feeling good, that's enough" feeling is just a little bit different than yours.

When eating every three hours, I feel limited, because in order for me to eat only my recommended calorie intake, I need to eat smaller meals than I would like to eat naturally.

And as much as new habits are created through practice, this habit of eating like a titan and finding pleasure in times of fasting does me good and I do not regard it as torture.

So based on that, I felt compelled to test it, check what would be the negative impacts of doing so and if by any chance, I would find something positive in this whole mess:

Pros of Eating 1 Meal a Day

1) It's Good For Your Pocket. At Least In São Paulo It Is. There are several restaurant options that serve real food for a cover charge of less than 25 reais (7-8 dollars). By eating all for day at once, it would be the same of spending 2-3 dollars only for each meal do the day, with the difference that the quality can be far superior to daily special at your favorite fast food.

2) It Allows the Feeling of Eating Like a King Every Day. No moderation, big meals every day.


3) Earn 3-5 Hours per Week. You do not have to cook every meal, you do not actually have to cook at all if you can get some place to enjoy food for an affordable price. Even if you need to cook, you will only be concerned with one meal prep.

4) It's A Simple Way To Lose Weight. Eating quality food (rich in nutrients, unprocessed and industrialized) makes it harder to eat everything you would eat if you were eating every 3 hours. Many will naturally eat less calories day after day, which could lead to consistent and healthy weight loss. A study published in 2010 in the International Journal of Obesity points out that the practice promotes greater loss of fat tissue, better cognition, better metabolism of sugars, greater longevity. Everything could be achieved through this kind of intermittent fasting. Be attentive though to "could".

5) It's Not Madness. 20-23 hours of fasting is more common than your might think. Hinduism, Judaism, Islamism, Catholicism and Buddhism, are just some of the religious cultural movements that promote the practice and its benefits.

6) Start Sleeping Better. Since my biggest meal was lunch, I did not sleep on a full stomach and reached deep sleep with greater ease.


7) Less Fluid Retention and Lighter Body. Although I felt bloated sometimes, a few hours after eating, I spent a good part of each day feeling leaner than usual. This, however, may not have been due to many hours without eating, but also due to eating more protein and fats; macronutrients that tend to cause less fluid retention per gram ingested.

Cons of Eating 1 Meal a Day

1) You Might Get Sleepy. It wasn't usual, but from the 30 days, at least in four of them, I felt sleepy in the afternoon. When we eat, glucose increases, insulin is the hormone that is responsible for regulating it and removing the excess from our blood stream. This change in insulin and sudden sugar spike and crash might cause this effect after a huge meal.

2) There Will Be Days That You Will Feel Still Hungry. Even eating really well, there were three of the 30 days when I felt a violent desire to eat beyond one meal a day. And it was not the desire to eat broccoli, but rather eating all the sugary stuff like a real Little Pony.

3) If You Are Very Active, It Can Be Difficult Reaching Your Recommended Daily Caloric Intake. Eating only unrefined, unprocessed , non industrialized food it might very difficult, but still possible if you eat fewer carbohydrates and more fat and protein, which then, tend to have more energy per gram. If you need more carbohydrate for heavy physical activities though, or if you are an athlete, it can be an absurd challenge. We are talking about at least 6 lbs of food like potatoes, veggies, salads in a single meal, plus the protein and fat you also need for performance.


4) You Might Run Out Of Time To Enjoy Food. In my situation, I have been eating at lunch. One hour break was being too little to handle so much food, and besides that, I had to deal with two other factors: my friends really curious about it, asking way too many questions; and the discomfort of being the last one to finish lunch, after long and weird moments of people staring at you, wondering how much you still would be eating.

Myths That Have Been Debunked 

1) I Did Not Lose Muscle Mass. Although many hours without eating can cause muscle tissue loss; fasting tends to increase our insulin sensitivity, and it also promotes increased HGH and IGF-1 production and release, hormones which are strongly related to rapid muscle growth. I don't feel like I gained muscle mass, but definitely I did not lose performance or definition due to not eating frequently as well.

2) I Did Not Feel Sluggish. On the contrary, not only did I feel even more energetic in the morning, but I also kept the energy levels high by the evening. (Consider though, that it has been a while since I got used to eating smaller by night time, mostly protein.)

3) There Was No Change In Body Weight. Since I was tracking everything I ate, there was no change in my body weight. This is good for proving that intermittent fasting by itself is not synonym to weight loss.

Possible Health Complications When Eating 1 Meal a Day

1) Increased Stiffness of the Heart Muscular Tissue. Just as there are positive studies to the practice that leads to intermittent fasting, there are studies like one published in the Journal of Cardiac Failure that presents some possible opposite effects. It is worth noting, however, that the studies were done using rats and not humans. Considering that we are all unique, favorable to different diets, with different Fitness levels and interests are just some of the variants that could completely alter the risk of suffering or not with cardiac muscle tissue stiffness.

2) Low Blood Sugar Levels. This could lead to a voracious appetite for sweets and processed foods, leading to a real roller coaster, involving sugar spikes and dramatic sugar drops. When hungry, by instinct, we will never vote for a broccoli feast, our bodies are trained to naturally opt for food which is high in calories and taste, but not necessarily in nutrients.

3) Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes. Assuming that you really mess it up, start indulging too frequently, you may end up ingesting more calories than you should, gaining weight and increasing the risks of causing hormonal disorders. This imbalance can lead to the development of Type 2 Diabetes, a disease in which we can either become resistant to insulin or stop producing enough to take care of too much sugar in the blood stream.

4) Plus A Trunk Full Of Other Undesired Stuff. Poor focus, poor performance, poor sleep, poor digestion, high blood pressure from overeating, risk of  developing gastritis caused by hours of stress depriving yourself from eating, diabetes, dehydration, malnutrition, etc.

CONCLUSION

I did it, I loved it and I will continue to eat one meal a day until I feel I had enough of it. It might be extreme for many, but it is being really convenient for me. For those interested in fasting,  benefits can be achieved with much simpler protocols (see here).

Now, regarding to all possible risks involved in doing so, I feel like they are not more or less than the risks involved in any other diet, in fact, the benefits so far, personally, have been more noticeable than anything else.

When I feel hungry in the morning, I will eat. And on the nights when I feel like eating something totally out of the way, I will also do so.

I will continue to control my caloric intake, aiming to eat mostly unprocessed, unrefined and non industrialized foods, exercising daily and enjoying the benefits of intermittent fasting.

After this whole month, something that I was able to notice again is that our outcomes are not specifically a consequence of fasting; eating or not eating more or less carbs, protein or fat; exercising or not on an empty stomach; using or not using supplements, etc. They are rather the result of all these variants multiplied infinitely by another brilliant and unique variant... YOU.

So once again, I invite you to invest in experimenting and developing self-knowledge, so that you really learn what works better for you. Seeking the help of professionals, such as doctors, nutritionists and physical educators, is still a very smart decision, as they can also guide us on every step.

Keep Strong. And Think Before You Invite Me To Lunch.