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How I Lost Weight Eating One Meal A Day: I lost 30lbs over 5 months eating 1 meal in the evening. This is my account of how I lost a significant amount of weight when I adopted the idea of eating one main meal a day.
I’ve written this for those who have heard about eating one meal a day and want to seek out the experience of someone doing it. Be advised: The effectiveness of diets vary from person to person and I cannot guarantee that taking this approach will work for you.
The idea of adopting a one meal a day diet first came to me when I read an article about an American General, Stanley McChrystal. The article was about his capability as a leader, not about dieting or weight loss, but as an aside it was mentioned that he ate only one meal a day. Judging by the pictures I saw, the man looks in great shape and clearly manages to find enough energy to go running every day AND command the day to day operations of the military in a war zone. At the time I read it I was busy eating six small meals a day, going to the gym and running almost every day.
It was good for a while and I made some progress but it wasn’t sustainable for me with everything else that was going on in my life.
I had a full time career and when I wasn’t working I was looking after the children while my wife worked. For a long time I suspected that it was possible to lose weight eating a normal balanced(ish) diet. The sorts of things an army officer, like the General, might get served up in the mess tent.
But I’m also talking about the good stuff (IN MODERATION!!), like cake, chocolate, sweets, candies, pastries and other things that normal people eat – what would life be like without these delights?
Build up fitness and exercise regimes slowly and deliberately to get the most enjoyment and benefit. Which is good news because¬† if you want to lose more than 30 lbs, you don’t have to embarrass yourself by getting dressed head to foot in lycra and pounding the pavement to the amusement of the jackasses who yell out insults as you go by. By all means aim to get fit and put on a little muscle, but don’t feel compelled to try to make two major changes to your lifestyle at the same time.
My life is based around being at home with the children – cooking, cleaning , doing housework and building a home based business.
I’m 43 years old and I have the full time responsibility for looking after our four young children. Nor do I want to pay the ridiculous price tags for the pills, potions and superfoods currently being touted as the answer to everyone’s problems. Comfort or convenience eating is mostly eradicated by the simple fact that I try to eat just once a day, so the proximity of the fridge isn’t a problem. It was also important to me (for reasons I’ll explain elsewhere) that nobody knew I was on a diet, so it needed to appear to everyone else that nothing had changed. The basic plan is that on weekdays I’ll eat just one main meal everyday around 5pm with my family.
The point is that I want to feel satisfied that I’ve had a good meal and not feel hungry during the rest of the evening. Such is the beauty of this diet, fasting during the day means my stomach feels fuller quicker at meal times and stops me over eating. I often try not to eat during the day at all, but if I feel weak or very hungry I’ll eat something that has about 100 to 150 calories. This is not about starving myself this is about controlling when I eat so that I can be assured of creating a moderate caloric deficit every day.
One of the reasons this works for me, as I’ve already mentioned (but it bears repeating), is I drink tea with full fat milk and sugar throughout the day which tends to keep me going. On Saturday I’ll eat two meals, lunch and dinner but I pretty much eat what I want and when I want. On Sunday I have 2 meals, lunch and dinner, but I’m strict about how much I eat and I use the day to prepare me to get back on the diet on Monday.
I made a conscious decison not to take on any additional exercise other than walking once or twice a day with the dogs.
Taking on exercise as part of your diet may seem like a good idea, but my own experience is that exercise hampers my efforts.
From time to time I do some body-weight exercises mainly for fun or for the challenge but it’s not central to creating weight loss.
I believe that most diets will work if you develop the right mindset, and most will fail if you don’t.
When you have a lot of weight to lose it can be hard to buy into the idea that you’ll need to stick to a diet for months.
Get it into your head that if you repeatedly do the same thing day after day and stick to the plan, the occasional failures will be absorbed by the successes and you’ll reach your goal. I don’t weigh myself often because I know that scale weight can vary wildly on any given day. My failure to lose weight has bothered me for years and eventually I came to associate it with failures in other areas of my life. Getting control of my weight has made a huge difference to the way I feel and the way I think, so naturally it’s had a positive impact with other aspects of my life. The same motivation also got me back on the diet after I fell off the wagon a couple of times.
As time has gone by I’ve been able to replace many of the negative motivators with positive ones.
I mention this because the process has to be meaningful to you or you won’t get emotionally invested in it. I also want the freedom to pig out for a week or two (like at Christmas) knowing that I’ll be able to take the weight off again. One problem with the weight loss industry is that there seems to be a counter argument for almost everything.
You can read conflicting arguments both of which seem very credible and you become paralyzed by confusion and uncertainty. Optimal diets have their place, but that’s largley with athletes who need peak physical performance for competition. If I were to tweak what I’m doing just a little bit I could get faster results, but it might not benefit me to do so.
Fortunately, because the early stages of my diet were largely trial and error I got a chance to experience the quick way and the slow way. Mixing the two approaches helped me (albeit unwittingly) to keep my interest and helped me to accommodate whatever was going on in my life at the time. It needs to be simple because as a work at home parent with full time responsibility for the childcare, my life is already complicated enough. Eating one (roughly) balanced meal at the same time every day is about as simple as it can get. During the weekdays my wife is at work and the children are at school, so it’s easy to skip lunch.

I can see myself adapting this diet to keep me at my desired body weight after I’ve got to my target weight and or body composition. I’ll move to eating two meals a day (with the inclusion of a light lunch or breakfast) and revert to one meal whenever I want to drop a pound or two. I found I was able to make up for it by making slight alterations to the quantities of food I ate.
I also found that putting in two good days at the start of the week where I ate a small meal in the evening, would allow me to be less stringent for the rest of the week.
There’s no weighing, no obsessing, no superfoods, no supplements, nothing to add in and no meticulous decision making.
If you’re prone to this you might be better off eating two meals a day and transitioning gradually to one meal. The last thing you want having waited all day to eat, is to sit at a table with your family and referee fights and arguments between the kids. In these circumstances sometimes it’s better to eat after your children have finished. On Monday morning you’ll still be bloated from the free and easy eating on Saturday and the two meals you at on Sunday.
This is one of the reasons I didn’t bother to weigh myself, I just stuck to the eating plan. It seems to be universally accepted that eating breakfast is a must and I’m not going to dispute that.
I’m open to the idea that eating first thing in the day boosts the metabolism and helps in the fat burning process, but I choose not to. It stands to reason that if your one meal a day contains more calories than you need then you’re going to get fatter not thinner. The opinions stated here are my own, I am not medically trained nor am I a qualified nutritionist. Wishing you were thinner and spending hours reading up on it won’t do a thing for you.
Taking action and finding a way to eat to a moderate calorie deficit is your best bet, whether it’s something like this or through a structured program like weight watchers. I had to look up MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) but I can imagine it’s not high-end cuisine! Anyways on the one meal a day diet: I used to do that in High School along with running every day and dropped from 203 lbs to about 158 to get in shape for AROTC (although I was really skinny runner type, and after a couple months of PT was up to about 170 from putting on muscle). Though if you work out in the morning it is a good idea to eat something very small, so that your metabolism kicks in and you can actually burn more fat and so you don’t feel light-headed throughout the day (personally I get a little light-headed from hard workouts), but very small is the key. Thanks so much for leaving such a great comment – I look forward to hearing how you get on!! Around mid july, i can’t exactly remember how but someway i stumbled upon your article about eating one meal a day.
Just one thing, what does it mean when you wake up still really full from the night before?
For example,last night I had salad, oven cooked fresh salmon with soy and ginger, brown rice (a lot) and broccoli and 3 glasses of red wine.
If I get hungry during the day, I eat some natural almonds or a spoon full of yoghurt or have some coffee and that seems to work. I am 74 kilos and need to get down to 57 by end June 2014.I hope this is possible with this diet. Elizabeth, no worries on waking up full, be thankful, it means you’ll have no trouble making it to dinner. Hi Krystal, I have just read you comment on eating once a day and I’m truly inspired to try it.
I’ve made some changes to this post to reflect that this is my experience of this diet and emphasize that I am not recommending it. I started doing this myself when about 8 weeks ago I was in a panic since I injured my foot and couldn’t do my hour a day walking. It’s a little something just to take the edge off the hunger and keep at bay any issues with low blood sugar.
I hope it continues to work well for you, and thanks for taking the time to leave a message. Now that I’m eating only one main meal and 2 snacks (a boiled egg, or chopped veggies or an apple) I realize that inspite of thoroughly enjoying a large meal, I eat a lot less in the day than I did before. But I want you to know that I fell off the wagon A LOT to begin with and had quite a few false starts. Hi Tony, I just popped across to your site to leave a comment but was unable to do so (as I don’t have any of the profiles it requires). I have long suspected that starvation mode (in the context of dieting) was a myth and I also suspected that the metabolism thing was just rubbish too. I exercise and eat pretty good but I don’t always, feel like I really eat what I want. Basically, on the farm I get up at 7:00 am and do all the hot sweaty work like hand harvesting food, hand weeding, moving dirt (with a shovel), construction, etc. We took these photos yesterday, and it was really special because the black dress that I am wearing was one that I wore in our engagement photos back in 2001! As I told you before, neither of us wanted to do this second Whole 30 to lose more weight – we had both already lost SO much in the first 7 months, and we were both totally happy with our weight when we started (which is a miracle!). Suffice it to say, I am SO glad that we did a second Whole 30, and I would love to do another one in the future.
I just came across your blog, and you’ve spurred my husband and I to get into the whole 30 diet!
Many of the figures and amounts on this infographic will likely leave you surprised, as well as more conscious about what you eat going forward. I started Ultimate Paleo Guide to help people get healthy through simple paleo principles and great paleo recipes. If you decide to do something similar it’s my hope that you can benefit from my experience. I spent more time researching the best way to lose weight than I invested in actually doing something about it.
I called it the sub-optimal diet because it involves eating things that traditional diet wisdom says you shouldn’t eat.
The staples – bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy, and all the rest.
Ordinary, regular food served up in decent portions that fills your belly and keeps you feeling satisfied for hours afterwards.
Even if you can get past the ridicule or at least the fear of it, you’re going to encounter other problems like injury and lack of motivation.
My own experience has taught me to master the mindset of the diet first and then progress to the strenuous¬† exercise in the final stages of a diet (if that’s what you want to do). Superfoods are super but they are also expensive and they are not the miraculous missing link in a successful diet.

The tea is made with whole milk and one sugar and typically I’ll drink about six cups a day. Meals based around meat, chicken, fish, rice, potatoes, pasta, bread, vegetables, fruit, milk, cream, cheese, eggs – and usually followed by something sweet.
This is my day off, some people call it a cheat day, but I don’t consider it cheating as it will be part of the lifestyle I adopt after the weightloss phase is complete. The results you want to see won’t be evident for a long time so you need to get invested in the process as much as the outcome. Understand that the real result is not what the scale says but whether you stuck to your eating plan. The prospect of always being within 5 or 6 pounds of my ideal weight instead of 35 or 36 pounds is exciting. Instead of getting on with doing something positive you end up in a perpetual state of inaction and unable to commit.
I’ve put in a few extremely strict weeks as well as some slightly more flexible and relaxed weeks and it seems to work well.
All they see is me sitting at the dinner table in the evening eating what they eat, enjoying my food and feeling full and happy afterwards. At the weekend I eat lunch with the family and on Saturday I’ll eat whatever I please (within reason).
It was important to me to keep my diet a secret, hut you might want to tell people (it might be easier!!).
Children are children and sometimes they’ll misbehave requiring you to interject frequently.
Even if you get in two good days at the start of the week it won’t be reflected in your weight until later on in the week. It relies on the fact that you’re not going to absolutely pig out every day on junk food and use it as an excuse to binge. You must do your own research and you should consult a medical professional before embarking on a diet.
I could have done it quicker but the price for the quick result was more than I was willing to pay. Lots of people start this diet and then seem to abandon it – not so many follow through with it. It takes time to get used to this diet, so if it you’re finding it tough, rather than give up, try transitioning from 2 meals a day. I just reasoned that most of what we see regarding diet and weight loss is either wrong or designed to get us to part with our money. Having the discipline to keep going and make the progress you have made is well worth celebrating. And exercise seems to make me hungry, I am going to start this one whole meal a day, mashed potatoes, pasta salad and yes something sweet but small. I have tried the Whole 30 and managed well for a couple of weeks, but I did find the lack of flexibility really hard. I’m on day 13 and have quite a bit of weight to lose, am so inspired by your experience.
When he's not eating 80% paleo, he's challenging himself to do the impossible and build other IMPOSSIBLE companies.
I do feel bad about that, because when people take the time to reach out, it’s a bit of a slap in the face to get ignored.
I needed it to be something I could sustain over a long period of time and something I could adapt to a permanent lifestyle when I lost the weight. There’s a tempation to drag the evening meal out for an hour or two but resist it and set an end time after which you will not eat. It’s perhaps not the healthiest of motivations but it was effective to get me started.
Secondly, with all the food around it’s tough not to take a bite, which leads to another and another etc. If you get to the end of your meal without really tasting and savoring it, you might not feel inclined to go through it all again tomorrow.
As I continue my own fat loss journey I may well decide to experiment to discover for myself whether the conventional fat loss wisdom holds true. It’s only a diet, it’s not worth risking your life or your safety over a few calories! I have about the same amount of weight to lose, and am committed to Whole30-ing until it’s off. I’ve been struggling to lose weight in a healthy way since I recovered from an eating disorder a few years ago.
For me that time is 6pm which gives me an hour to eat and limits my opportunity to damage my diet.
It pays to have a rough idea of how many calories your food has but if you start to micro manage your food intake it starts to get tedious and adds an extra pressure. Just because the diet revolves around one meal, doesn’t mean we should be limited to eating just once a day.
I was begining to think maybe i would never loose weight but then i read this wonderful article and realized may be i should give it a try… Eating one meal a day.
I do have a mid morning snack (boiled egg or celery or apple) and mid afternoon snack (like the mid morning one) then eat my meal after 5 sometime.
In fact I’d go as far as to say that changing my mind-set has been more rewarding than the weight loss because of the positive impact on other areas of my life. It will help loads of readers who are struggling to eat healthy and shed the pounds and give this a try. This food infrastructure that exists in the country means that anyone can get pretty much anything they want at any time, which is not always a good thing.
But if I’d been driving, operating machinery or cooking at a hot stove the outcome could have been disastrous.
At first I was worried that it would hurt the weight loss, but not at all- I continue to lose steadily. I’m going to keep going and hopefully will have an inspiring before and after set to share.
For example, dairy makes up a huge portion of the average American diet, which is clearly not very healthy. More people are realizing this every day, which is why ways of eating such as the paleo diet are gaining in popularity.

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