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One Meal a Day/Warrior Diet (Zero/Low Carb)?

by (20)
Updated about 20 hours ago
Created December 28, 2011 at 4:25 AM

Does anyone have any experience with this type of diet? I met an old guy at this gym and he was in amazing shape. He was playing basketball and keeping up with me (I'm 21) like it was nothing. He said his secret was eating one meal a day and he swore by it... also I saw a video of Herschel Walker saying he only eats one meal per day as well and he is in UNBELIEVABLE shape at 49 years old. Let me know what you guys think!

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18671 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

I don't see why this is so unbelievable. I know of plenty of people who literally mean this. How many questions here are tagged IF, for example? One meal a day is the most popular form of IF on the net.

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71 · July 10, 2013 at 10:32 PM

the metabolism crashing if you eat less meals per day has been proven to be a myth. I can't provide specific references but google or check on here. There are many threads about it:)

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71 · July 10, 2013 at 10:20 PM

I totally agree with the schedule advice Bill posted above.

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14877 · June 21, 2012 at 2:46 PM

That is wrong. Greg Plitt eats one SOLID meal a day. He eats 80grams of dextrose with protein post workout, which is often 2x a day. He also eats several protein shakes throughout the day. What he means by the low-no diet is going to bed on an empty tank- i.e. burning the carbs throughout the day. Don't peddle misinformation. Join his site or go to one of his talks and talk to him personally. He explains everything.

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702 · December 29, 2011 at 12:30 AM

True, but since I like to eat big. I eat PSMF as a one meal a day protocol. It turns into a only protein day for meal as one epic sized meal. I do mix this kind of eating with other fasting protocols.

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5132 · December 28, 2011 at 10:46 PM

we should take away from the man in the street, not to take him literally or even seriously. Especially those from another generation when lamenting the younger generation. It's the same as: "When I was your age, I went to skool full time, worked at a warehouse 40 hours, worked out 5 days a week, taught Sunday skool, volunteered at a soup kitchen to help combat hunger and indigence, was the president of my kickass fraternity, and graduated summa cum laude." It's Summa Apocrypha, better known as bullsheeting. Hold their feet to the fire and they'll confess that they indeed eat 3 meals per day.

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5132 · December 28, 2011 at 10:37 PM

Ambi, the salient point here is that ur doing Paleo and tracking your daily macro and micronutrients (w/minerals to boot) whereas the old guy in the gym is not. By every indication, he's a man in the street not conversant w/metabolism nor nutrition nor for that matter even the concept of calories. I deal with these folks everyday whom, wizened they may be, say "I only eat one meal a day and look how spry & uppity I am". What they really mean is:"I eat one large meal and 2 small meals and some snacking in between. But compared to the average obese American, I eat far less." That's the message

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18671 · December 28, 2011 at 9:40 PM

Also, how does one meal a day equal zero calories every other day?

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18671 · December 28, 2011 at 9:40 PM

Are you talking about Herschel Walker or the old guy in the gym? I'm saying why should you doubt someone in the gym you meet who tells you they eat one meal a day? It's totally plausible.

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18671 · December 28, 2011 at 9:35 PM

It's true that just being in ketosis is not the same as being keto-adapted. But it is simply wrong to say that keto-adaptation requires ZC. Many people become keto-adapted with up to 50g/day.

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17103 · December 28, 2011 at 9:29 PM

Yeah well, smoking is the high social event at work, at least with the guys I work. They take a smoke break every hour or so. I don't smoke, so I don't join'em. I bring lunch, and I don't join'em for that either. I guess I'm anti-social. But, shit, I'll outlive'em all. :)

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17103 · December 28, 2011 at 9:27 PM

Yup, IF will do that. It's weird that we should be less hungry when we eat, and more hungry when we don't, but real life doesn't work that way. :) One thing, if you notice a feeling of anxiety or a rapid heart beat, it's time to eat something as that's cortisol doing it's neoglucogenesis dance, which can be harmful if overdone.

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17103 · December 28, 2011 at 9:26 PM

It's absolutely possible that this dude eats only one meal a day. When I IF, I do 2 meals a day, but sometimes I've had 0 and 1 meal/day too. Doesn't mean he doesn't do that, but we don't actually know. Maybe he does protein shakes and doesn't consider them as meals. My objection was seeing a -1 to a perfectly reasonable answer when we don't have full data one way or another.

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6709 · December 28, 2011 at 9:15 PM

rtd-51 is a meal in itself, so he actually eats multiple times a day, not once

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5132 · December 28, 2011 at 6:58 PM

Not a 240 lb. ex athlete now training for gladitorial combat doing 1500 push ups and sit ups day and night. Try carrying that much weight and being that active and eating zero calories every other day. Does that add up? Metabolism talks, bullsheet walks.

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6709 · December 28, 2011 at 6:49 PM

Some people are in ketosis at just under 100 grams of carbs a day. That doesn't mean that your brain has switched over to 70% ketone use, and your muscles have switched over to 99% FFA use, which is what your goal should be if your going to eat 1X/day and the only way to get there is to 0 carb it for a little while.

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18671 · December 28, 2011 at 6:49 PM

It's incorrect to equate PSMF with one meal a day. A PSMF is very low fat, very low carb, very low cal. You essentially eat your protein needs and nothing else. You can eat one meal a day without it being a PSMF, and you can do a PSMF eating throughout the day.

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18671 · December 28, 2011 at 6:47 PM

I would speculate that at any given time these days, hundreds, if not thousands of people are experimenting with one-meal-a-day, modulo cream in coffee, and possibly pre-workout BCAAs. It's that popular.

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605 · December 28, 2011 at 6:11 PM

I eat less than than one meal per day, meaning on some days I don't eat at all. I've been doing this for ~12 weeks now and I've lost 32 lbs (225 to 193). Once I get to my desired bodyfat % I'll probably have to start eating every day in order to maintain my weight/build muscle. I'm 150 lbs lean according to a BodPod test, so I should be at 165-170 lbs in 2-3 more months. Eating once a day (or less) is not an exaggeration.

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605 · December 28, 2011 at 6:10 PM

I eat less than than one meal per day, meaning on some days I don't eat at all. I've been doing this for ~12 weeks now and I've lost 32 lbs (225 to 193). Once I get to my desired bodyfat % I'll probably have to start eating every day in order to maintain my weight/build muscle. I'm 150lbs lean according to a BodPod test, so I should be at 165-170 lean in 2-3 more months. Eating once a day (or less) is not an exaggeration.

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5132 · December 28, 2011 at 5:01 PM

Dang right, my money is on this grandpa not walking his talk. As for Herschel Walker, if anyone worked out like that - 1500 pushups and sit ups daily, you'd look like him no matter what you ate. I don't really believe him eating salad and eathing nothing for days. The biggest bullsheeters I've met are atheletes and their hangerson.

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6087 · December 28, 2011 at 3:23 PM

I upvoted you accordingly

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6087 · December 28, 2011 at 3:23 PM

^real useful answer

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17103 · December 28, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Why the downvote? Namby is right, we don't know for sure. I'm gonna upvote this answer and undo this terrible injustice. So there :-P

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17103 · December 28, 2011 at 3:17 PM

That's awesome. Hope you introduced him to Paleo food. Imagine what he could do if he ate grassfed meats and kale!

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18671 · December 28, 2011 at 3:05 PM

By the way, you don't have to be eating no carbs to be ketogenic. Most people are ketogenic below about 30g/day, some even up to 50.

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18671 · December 28, 2011 at 3:03 PM

I would agree that it is much easier for me to eat one meal a day when I've been eating Zero Carb.

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4875 · December 28, 2011 at 6:19 AM

That might be a bit drawn out, but I agree there is a process to developing the metabolic flexibility to fast on a daily basis. The problem I have when trying to do this is the ability to eat a full day's macros after a 24 hour fast. This is an awesome approach for a couple days to really lean out, but do I want to eat < 2k cal on a regular basis? Not really.

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10255 · December 28, 2011 at 5:49 AM

what do you base this schedule on?

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6709 · December 28, 2011 at 4:55 AM

how old was the 'old guy'?

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13 Answers

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6709 · December 28, 2011 at 5:08 AM

I think that if they are eating one meal per day, and 0 carb, that their bodies are FULLY adjusted to ketosis and fat burning and their metabolism has adjusted as well. IMO this is extreme from a traditional 3/4 meals a day routine. However, its not that extreme for someone who is adjusted to Ketosis on a 3/4 meal per day routine as your macro #s are different. Since its ALL ABOUT protein/fat ratio and total amounts.

Id say if you want to try this there is an order to be followed: SAD -> Paleo -> LC Paleo -> VLC Paleo -> No Carb Paleo(Ketogenic) -> 3 week adjustment period -> IF w 3 meals -> IF w 2 meals -> IF w 1 meal (Intermittent fasting with 1 meal/24hrs) <--If you want to do 1 meal no carb IMO I wouldn't recommend it.

Also, don't believe everything you read or hear. Many of the 'I eat 1X a day' people use Meal Replacement Shakes and/or 50+ gram protein shakes multiple times a day. Someone who eats solid food 1 time per day but drinks 150 grams of protein a day is really 'eating' FOUR meals per day.

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71 · July 10, 2013 at 10:20 PM

I totally agree with the schedule advice Bill posted above.

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18671 · December 28, 2011 at 9:35 PM

It's true that just being in ketosis is not the same as being keto-adapted. But it is simply wrong to say that keto-adaptation requires ZC. Many people become keto-adapted with up to 50g/day.

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3
6709 · December 28, 2011 at 6:49 PM

Some people are in ketosis at just under 100 grams of carbs a day. That doesn't mean that your brain has switched over to 70% ketone use, and your muscles have switched over to 99% FFA use, which is what your goal should be if your going to eat 1X/day and the only way to get there is to 0 carb it for a little while.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1
18671 · December 28, 2011 at 3:05 PM

By the way, you don't have to be eating no carbs to be ketogenic. Most people are ketogenic below about 30g/day, some even up to 50.

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18671 · December 28, 2011 at 3:03 PM

I would agree that it is much easier for me to eat one meal a day when I've been eating Zero Carb.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810
4875 · December 28, 2011 at 6:19 AM

That might be a bit drawn out, but I agree there is a process to developing the metabolic flexibility to fast on a daily basis. The problem I have when trying to do this is the ability to eat a full day's macros after a 24 hour fast. This is an awesome approach for a couple days to really lean out, but do I want to eat < 2k cal on a regular basis? Not really.

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10255 · December 28, 2011 at 5:49 AM

what do you base this schedule on?

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5132 · December 28, 2011 at 5:49 AM

You're probably takig him literally. I know a ton of people who say they eat one meal a day. What they really mean is they eat very little breakfast or lunch and then eat one large meal for dinner. That's usually what they mean. They may snack on yams, eat cereals with milk, or yesterday's leftovers for breakfast -- to them, that's not really a meal, since it wasn't really prepared Or lunch may be a protein shake or even an egg salad sancwich, an apple, and a box of Johnnie crackers.

When we say we're eating a meal, we mean sitting down and eating a prepared meal with appetizers and main course, and dessert. At least, that's what most people mean. Don't take it literally unless these guys are counting calories, tracking macronutrients and checking their micronutrients and minerals like some people do around here.

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18671 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

I don't see why this is so unbelievable. I know of plenty of people who literally mean this. How many questions here are tagged IF, for example? One meal a day is the most popular form of IF on the net.

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5132 · December 28, 2011 at 10:46 PM

we should take away from the man in the street, not to take him literally or even seriously. Especially those from another generation when lamenting the younger generation. It's the same as: "When I was your age, I went to skool full time, worked at a warehouse 40 hours, worked out 5 days a week, taught Sunday skool, volunteered at a soup kitchen to help combat hunger and indigence, was the president of my kickass fraternity, and graduated summa cum laude." It's Summa Apocrypha, better known as bullsheeting. Hold their feet to the fire and they'll confess that they indeed eat 3 meals per day.

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8
5132 · December 28, 2011 at 10:37 PM

Ambi, the salient point here is that ur doing Paleo and tracking your daily macro and micronutrients (w/minerals to boot) whereas the old guy in the gym is not. By every indication, he's a man in the street not conversant w/metabolism nor nutrition nor for that matter even the concept of calories. I deal with these folks everyday whom, wizened they may be, say "I only eat one meal a day and look how spry & uppity I am". What they really mean is:"I eat one large meal and 2 small meals and some snacking in between. But compared to the average obese American, I eat far less." That's the message

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18671 · December 28, 2011 at 9:40 PM

Also, how does one meal a day equal zero calories every other day?

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1
18671 · December 28, 2011 at 9:40 PM

Are you talking about Herschel Walker or the old guy in the gym? I'm saying why should you doubt someone in the gym you meet who tells you they eat one meal a day? It's totally plausible.

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17103 · December 28, 2011 at 9:26 PM

It's absolutely possible that this dude eats only one meal a day. When I IF, I do 2 meals a day, but sometimes I've had 0 and 1 meal/day too. Doesn't mean he doesn't do that, but we don't actually know. Maybe he does protein shakes and doesn't consider them as meals. My objection was seeing a -1 to a perfectly reasonable answer when we don't have full data one way or another.

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5132 · December 28, 2011 at 6:58 PM

Not a 240 lb. ex athlete now training for gladitorial combat doing 1500 push ups and sit ups day and night. Try carrying that much weight and being that active and eating zero calories every other day. Does that add up? Metabolism talks, bullsheet walks.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1
18671 · December 28, 2011 at 6:47 PM

I would speculate that at any given time these days, hundreds, if not thousands of people are experimenting with one-meal-a-day, modulo cream in coffee, and possibly pre-workout BCAAs. It's that popular.

324bf94d3d6f9322d6e4dba4becfaab1
605 · December 28, 2011 at 6:11 PM

I eat less than than one meal per day, meaning on some days I don't eat at all. I've been doing this for ~12 weeks now and I've lost 32 lbs (225 to 193). Once I get to my desired bodyfat % I'll probably have to start eating every day in order to maintain my weight/build muscle. I'm 150 lbs lean according to a BodPod test, so I should be at 165-170 lbs in 2-3 more months. Eating once a day (or less) is not an exaggeration.

324bf94d3d6f9322d6e4dba4becfaab1
605 · December 28, 2011 at 6:10 PM

I eat less than than one meal per day, meaning on some days I don't eat at all. I've been doing this for ~12 weeks now and I've lost 32 lbs (225 to 193). Once I get to my desired bodyfat % I'll probably have to start eating every day in order to maintain my weight/build muscle. I'm 150lbs lean according to a BodPod test, so I should be at 165-170 lean in 2-3 more months. Eating once a day (or less) is not an exaggeration.

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8
5132 · December 28, 2011 at 5:01 PM

Dang right, my money is on this grandpa not walking his talk. As for Herschel Walker, if anyone worked out like that - 1500 pushups and sit ups daily, you'd look like him no matter what you ate. I don't really believe him eating salad and eathing nothing for days. The biggest bullsheeters I've met are atheletes and their hangerson.

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17103 · December 28, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Why the downvote? Namby is right, we don't know for sure. I'm gonna upvote this answer and undo this terrible injustice. So there :-P

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170 · December 28, 2011 at 2:47 PM

I have been eating one meal a day for a couple of weeks, except Xmas with family. I started LC and then paleo with dairy and then without dairy. My carbs now are around 50g/day. I accidentally missed meals after going LC, and decided to try IF. I first skipped breakfast, then ate 2/day with a late lunch. Now I eat in a 3 to 5 hour window in the evening. I only take in water or green tea while fasting. I do this because I feel great when I do. I am still overweight by more than 50 pounds, but I'm not motivated by weight loss. Rather, I like how I feel. On the few days when I did eat a breakfast, I felt less well. I suspect this is easier to do when you are older. I am 48. I also exercise vigorously only about once a week. The surprising thing is that I'm not hungry, even after 18 to 20 hours.

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17103 · December 28, 2011 at 9:27 PM

Yup, IF will do that. It's weird that we should be less hungry when we eat, and more hungry when we don't, but real life doesn't work that way. :) One thing, if you notice a feeling of anxiety or a rapid heart beat, it's time to eat something as that's cortisol doing it's neoglucogenesis dance, which can be harmful if overdone.

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683 · December 28, 2011 at 6:45 AM

From the Ironman article linked above:

LT: You mean actual food, right? I???m sure you take in meal replacements. . . . GP: Yes, I???m sponsored by Met-Rx; I really like their products. Being a sponsored athlete, I have a plethora of them on hand. I drink their RTD-51 protein shakes. I use the Amped RTD for energy before every single workout. I also use their glutamine and NO2 pills, their fat burners and stuff.

So he drinks Amped RTD every morning too, besides the one meal a day. I don't see how he couldn't: the guy goes non-stop all day, strength training in the mornings, career during the day, cardio at night.

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6709 · December 28, 2011 at 9:15 PM

rtd-51 is a meal in itself, so he actually eats multiple times a day, not once

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20 · May 10, 2012 at 10:53 PM

I am 43 and I have a sit down job. You must weigh in ALL factors before taking off on someone's personal diet. It is PERSONAL. Ok enough. I eat one large complex carb & legume meal at night. I wakeup and have veggie and protein shake then hit the gym. I then don't eat anything for the rest of the day except very small snacks like a small pinch of seeds or a sip of protein and veggies. Because I work on the computer all day I find if I don't have food during the day I don't fall asleep at my desk. By the time I eat my huge meal at night I have the digestive fire roaring. This is much what our genetics are designed for. Work hard morning through til night fat n' happy and sleep. It's so much fun. Once you understand the hunger pains are really your body craving carbs/sugar it is easier. It seems uncomfortable to do this every day but it's worth it. Basically it is like going from carb to fat burning every day. I mean if you believe in God then you must believe that he designed our bodies to be very efficient right? I just can't buy that I have to eat morning, day and night 3 course meals. What would happen to grocery stores, restaurants and all of the other businesses built on stuffing us morning, day and night? What if we could thrive with just 1 large meal a day with very light snacking morning and day? Now if you have an active work profession like construction you could not do this. However many people sit at desks. You have to tailor diet to your own personal lifestyle and genetics. I use beef, whey and egg white isolates. I balance these with fresh blended spinach and spring mix (digests more easily than other high cellulose greens). I typically wake up with a ph of 5-6. I then shoot for ph 7. ph balance is key. Also I don't use any grains, sugar and limited fruit. This allows me to bounce between keto and carb very easily. Bottom line is you really need to study to become your own health expert.

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10 · March 20, 2012 at 5:24 AM

Yes is works! I'm on it now, but probably not for or in spite of any reason people seem to offer. Yes, humans did evolve to eat sporadically, but we also evolved to die young. So what conclusions can be made.... None, and you know what? That's just fine. We need to be ok when answers are not readily available. If we aren't, people will just makeup sensible sounding explanations like "fuel" and "metabolic rates". These are so grossly deceptive that they do a huge disservice to people actually trying to lose weight or get in shape.

The truth is we don't really study diet....or at least not anything like how we study pharma. There is no money in it, and the field is already full of quacks and personal trainers that will say whatever they have to so that you don't ask if they have a degree in anything other than fitness magazines. They are well intentioned, but not informative. Diet studies are particularly hard to do because they are so intrusive if done correctly. Study participants have to stay in the experimenters facilities for months in order to exclude the possibility that they deviate from the study protocol. Because of this, most studies are done epidemiologically, meaning through surveys. Respondents to surveys have dreadfully different experiences than average people, potentially throwing out anything useful in the data.

Again, I don't know why it's worked for me. I can tell you my own personal experience, one you might not share. I started doing a 1 meal a day plan 5 days a week. At first it was hard, I'd get hungry and cranky, but after a few days, all that went away. I find that it is difficult (though not impossible) to eat more calories in one meal than I otherwise would have in 3. I have lost weight, I work longer hours (no lunch break), and am losing weight at a steady pace. If I wanted to lose some more quickly, I could eat diet food for my one meal. But I don't, at least not yet.

Moral of my story is that 6 meals, 3 meals, 1 meal....doesn't matter as long as you are reducing your caloric input. Yes there are some other factors such as metabolism, but on the whole, they represent such a small fraction of the variance in diets (1-2%), that making that your guiding principal is arguing over crumbs. If you are diabetic, or have immune problems, check with your doctor before trying anything. Otherwise try it, you may like it.

Please no more nonsense science. If studies are published by reputable journals, make sure you convey their significance rather than speaking in themes. And stop pretending that you know something that you don't. I want you all to remember that there REALLY are people out there that work hard in real science to find out certain truths who will always be shouted down by the ignorant and the self invested.

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6087 · December 28, 2011 at 3:31 PM

I have tried this. I literally only ate between 5pm and 7pm every day for about two weeks.

The only change I noticed was a slightly bloated feeling in the mornings.

It's worth noting that I was transitioning away from 2 meals a day.

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702 · December 28, 2011 at 6:03 AM

Yes, I have tried this before. It is just another type of fasting protocol. Here is a link to a fitness model/bodybuilder who also does the one meal a day thing.

http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/site/greg-plitt/

This kind of eating can also have different names such as ESE (Eat Stop Eat) or PSMF (Protein Sparing Modified Fast). I might do this only one day a week though. I usually do two meals a day as per Leain Gains protocol.

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14877 · June 21, 2012 at 2:46 PM

That is wrong. Greg Plitt eats one SOLID meal a day. He eats 80grams of dextrose with protein post workout, which is often 2x a day. He also eats several protein shakes throughout the day. What he means by the low-no diet is going to bed on an empty tank- i.e. burning the carbs throughout the day. Don't peddle misinformation. Join his site or go to one of his talks and talk to him personally. He explains everything.

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702 · December 29, 2011 at 12:30 AM

True, but since I like to eat big. I eat PSMF as a one meal a day protocol. It turns into a only protein day for meal as one epic sized meal. I do mix this kind of eating with other fasting protocols.

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18671 · December 28, 2011 at 6:49 PM

It's incorrect to equate PSMF with one meal a day. A PSMF is very low fat, very low carb, very low cal. You essentially eat your protein needs and nothing else. You can eat one meal a day without it being a PSMF, and you can do a PSMF eating throughout the day.

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0 · July 10, 2013 at 7:13 PM

I used to fast alot and always felt great now that i am on the 1 meal deal i feel hungry but feel good about it i drink water all day long and at 6-8 pm have a lean meal i got alot of ideals from the notes above thanks.

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3432 · December 07, 2012 at 2:08 PM

I asked Tait Fletcher how he pushes through CrossFit while staying Bulletproof. He said he only eats one meal a day and supplements with the fat-filled coffee the rest of the time.

That guy's about as jacked as a person can get, so I'm gunna give it a shot...

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143 · May 10, 2012 at 11:44 PM

Not sure I could ever do that. Wouldn't it be bad for your metabolism to starve yourself all day and then eat between 5-7pm?

I also have hypoglycemia & hypothyroidism and am supposed to eat 5-6 times a day. I find I'm ALWAYS hungry, except if I'm in ketosis, then I'm less hungry but still hungry often. Sigh

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71 · July 10, 2013 at 10:32 PM

the metabolism crashing if you eat less meals per day has been proven to be a myth. I can't provide specific references but google or check on here. There are many threads about it:)

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11254 · December 28, 2011 at 9:12 PM

I've tried this a few times. Wonderful not to have to carry lunch. Eating enough food at once was a bit of a problem. The other problem is that humans are social creatures, and they usually like to socialize right about when I would want to be eating.
A few carbs don't necessarily hurt your chances either. Sleeping for eight hours is a fast itself and can put you back in ketosis by morning.

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17103 · December 28, 2011 at 9:29 PM

Yeah well, smoking is the high social event at work, at least with the guys I work. They take a smoke break every hour or so. I don't smoke, so I don't join'em. I bring lunch, and I don't join'em for that either. I guess I'm anti-social. But, shit, I'll outlive'em all. :)

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20353 · December 28, 2011 at 6:44 AM

I have never done this. However many do...

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6087 · December 28, 2011 at 3:23 PM

I upvoted you accordingly

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6087 · December 28, 2011 at 3:23 PM

^real useful answer

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