The Two Meals A Day Diet: Benefits Of Cutting Out One Standard Meal

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The majority of traditional weight loss diets provide specific guidelines about either what you can and cannot eat or when you can and cannot eat.

For example, with the vegan diet, you can eat any plant-based foods but cannot eat any animal-based foods. With the keto diet, you can eat fat essentially at liberty but can consume very few grams of carbohydrates per day.

With various intermittent fasting protocols, there are designated fasting windows and designated eating windows, which dictate the timing of your food intake.

The two meals a day diet is unique in that it doesn’t dictate what you can or cannot eat or when you can or cannot eat. The only rule is that you eat only twice per day, no snacks, and no other meals.

Is the two meals a day diet good for weight loss? Are there benefits of eating only twice a day?In this article, we will discuss what the two meals a day diet entails and tips for following the two meals a day diet plan.

We will cover: 

  • What Is the Two Meals a Day Diet?
  • How to Follow the Two Meals a Day Diet
  • What Can You Eat On the Two Meals a Day Diet?
  • 5 Tips for the Two Meals a Day Diet

Let’s get started!

A person smiling while holding up a cut piece of steak, ready to eat.

What Is the Two Meals a Day Diet?

As can likely be surmised, the two meals a day diet involves consuming two meals a day. 

However, since the two meals a day diet is intended to be a form of intermittent fasting for weight loss, it’s important to note that these shouldn’t be massive binge-like meals. Instead, you should have normally-sized, portion-controlled meals that are well-balanced and aligned with your total daily calorie targets.

In other words, you wouldn’t want to follow the two meals a day diet plan and go overboard with each meal such that you end up not creating the caloric deficit you need to lose weight.

If you’re currently eating 1800 calories a day in three meals—averaging 600 calories per meal—and want to drop to eating twice a day—you’d want to essentially drop a full meal’s worth of calories rather than reshuffling your 1800 calories into two 900-calorie meals.

Then, you’d only be eating 1200 calories per day and creating a relative deficit of 600 calories versus your prior diet. This, of course, only pertains to cases where you are doing the two meals a day diet for weight loss.

A notebook that says calorie counting 1 apple - 130.

If you’re shifting to eating twice a day for other health reasons or other practical reasons, this caloric reduction may not be necessary or even ideal.

Additionally, in order to optimize the success of the two meals a day diet for weight loss, rather than just blindly scrapping one of your meals, it is best to do a little bit of “calorie math“ and consider your actual caloric needs to make sure that you are going to be hitting optimal calorie targets for weight loss.

This will help ensure that you are eating enough calories when you drop down to eating only twice per day, particularly in cases where you are downshifting from a diet that includes three meals and multiple snacks. 

Moreover, your current diet may be well above your caloric needs, such that you are actually gaining weight. Therefore, just dropping one meal might still not be enough to have a caloric deficit for weight loss.

For example, imagine a woman with a total daily energy expenditure of 2800 calories.

A person on her phone holding a bottle of juice, looking up the calories.

If she wants to lose weight, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends creating a caloric deficit of no more than 3,500-7,000 calories per week. Because it takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose one pound of body fat, this rate would yield 1-2 pounds of fat loss per week. 

This works out to 500-1000 calories per day.

Let’s say she only wants to manipulate her diet because she’s already working out 45 minutes per day and has a fairly active job. 

So, if she wants to generate a 1,000-calorie deficit, she would want to consume 1,800 calories daily.

With an eating pattern that involves eating two meals a day, this would work out to an average of 900 calories per meal.

Because you are restricting your eating only twice a day, the two meals a day diet can be a good way to control your caloric intake to facilitate weight loss.

Check out our TDEE Daily Calorie Calculator to estimate your personal daily caloric needs.

A person noting down the calories in the dairy products he has next to him.

How to Follow the Two Meals a Day Diet

Like many other iterations of intermittent fasting diets, the two meals a day diet does not place specific rules or guidelines on when you need to eat or which meals your two meals should be.

Some people eating only twice a day have breakfast and lunch but no dinner; others go with lunch and dinner by prolonging the overnight fast and skipping breakfast, while others opt to spread their two meals as evenly apart over their waking hours as possible, going with a breakfast and dinner route.

Note that each of these meal terms may also be used quite loosely both in regards to when they are consumed and what foods are eaten.

For example, if you are following the two meals a day diet and want to frontload your day with your eating so that you are having your first meal around breakfast time and your second meal around lunchtime and skipping dinner altogether, your “breakfast meal“ might be composed of foods that are not normally considered “breakfast foods.“

Instead of eggs, cereal, oatmeal, or toast, you might have lentils, quinoa, and a melange of vegetables.

Two poached eggs and salad on a plate.

What Can You Eat On the Two Meals a Day Diet?

Ultimately, what you eat and when you eat on the two meals a day diet is entirely up to you.

However, whenever you take on an intermittent fasting-type diet, such as the one meal a day diet (OMAD) or even the two meals a day diet, it’s especially important to make your meals count.

In other words, the fewer meals you eat per day, the more important it is to prioritize the nutritional quality of your meals.

Essentially, you need to meet all of your nutritional needs through fewer food choices, so you can’t afford to fill up on empty calories.

In addition to choosing nutrient-dense foods, you also want to select foods that will be particularly filling and provide lasting satiety since there will be quite a number of hours between each meal.

5 Tips for the Two Meals a Day Diet

Here are some tips for following the two meals a day diet for weight loss:

A sing that says low glycemic index with food surrounding it, such as vegetables, fruits, cheese, and nuts.

#1: Know Your Caloric Needs

If you are adopting the two meals a day diet pattern for weight loss, it’s important that you know your caloric needs so that you can properly calculate the number of calories you should be eating in order to lose weight.

If you’re not sure how many calories you need to eat per day, consider using an online BMR calculator and then adding in your physical activity or exercise, or use this online calculator that takes into account activity level. 

Aim for a daily caloric deficit of no more than 500 to 1000 calories, which should be generated through a combination of diet and exercise.

#2: Eat Low Glycemic Foods

Make sure that you are making smart decisions about the carbohydrates that you are eating, choosing low glycemic foods like whole grains, raw vegetables, legumes, and low-sugar fruits.

The problem with consuming many high-glycemic foods is that rapid and high spikes in your blood sugar destabilize your energy levels. When the pancreas responds by secreting a lot of insulin, your blood sugar can end up dropping too low, in a process termed reactive hypoglycemia, leaving you feeling fatigued and hungry all over again.

This will make it difficult to wait a long time for your second meal of the day and to have a prolonged overnight fast.

The word fiber surrounded by fiber-rich foods like seeds, veggies and fruits.

#3: Fill Up On Fiber, Protein, and Healthy Fats

Fiber, proteins, and healthy fats take longer to digest and will help keep you fuller for longer. These nutrients also help slow down the release of glucose into your bloodstream.

#4: Drink Plenty Of Water

Staying well hydrated will help prevent cravings that might be mistaken for hunger when you are actually just thirsty. If you eat only twice a day with many hours in between each meal, consider adding electrolytes to your water to help maintain proper electrolyte balance.

#5: Play Around With Meal Timing

Try different patterns of scheduling your meals to see what works best in terms of optimizing your energy levels and keeping hunger at bay when only eating two meals a day.

If this diet looks as though it might work for you and your health goals, why not give it a try? Or have you been considering the one meal a day diet? For more information on the OMAD diet, check out our guide: OMAD Diet Explained: The Right Way To Eat Only One Meal A Day.

A bottle of lemon water.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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