The Day-Off Diet

Dr. Oz's winning plan for weight loss: a diet with built-in breaks. It's a delicious way to drop 10 pounds, 20 pounds, or more.

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The Day-Off Diet, created exclusively for The Good Life readers and viewers of The Dr. Oz Show, is a weight-loss plan that works in the real world. Why? Because it has built-in breaks — specifically, a day off each week. The formula is simple: For six days you'll follow an eating plan outlined here; we'll show you how to build the perfect meals and snacks to stay satisfied while you slim down. One day a week (you pick the day), you'll relax and eat the foods you love. It's a part-time plan with full-time results. Losing 10 pounds or more in a month is totally possible. (Some women lost seven pounds the first week!) And you can stay on it until you reach your personal weight-loss goal, whether that's 20 pounds, 50 pounds, or more.

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On your day off, the idea isn't to binge or undo all your hard work from the previous week; it's to retrain your brain. Experts say weight-loss plans often fail because they promote black-and-white thinking about food choices: You're either carefully policing every morsel that passes through your lips or you're out of control. You're either sipping green juice or you're reaching fora third slice of pizza. The Dr. Oz plan teaches you to enjoy some of your favorite foods in moderation, says Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. "When you see a cookie, for example, you don't have to think, I haven't had those in months; why not eat 10? Instead, you can say to yourself, I'll have one on Thursday."

That day off each week will also ease your transition from weight loss to weight maintenance when you get to your goal. Diets that restrict you too much make it harder to readjust. The second you reach for off-limits foods, the pounds come back. Our plan is a saner, and tastier, way to eat and live.

Dr. Oz Explains the Day-Off Diet

My plan is designed to make weight loss easier because the foods you'll be eating give your body what it needs, when it needs it, starting with the right a.m. meal. Breakfast is high in protein to fuel your body and help prevent cravings all day.

Now for carbs: They're allowed! The key is reaching for complex carbs instead of simple ones, since simple carbs are exactly what they sound like — simple for your body to store as fat. With white pasta and baked treats, for example, the body doesn't have to work hard to get the glucose into the bloodstream. It takes your body longer to figure out what to do with complex carbs, such as whole grains. That's a weight-loss secret weapon, because they get digested more slowly.

Why unlimited nonstarchy veggies? We're teaching you a new auto-response to hunger pangs. Instead of hitting the vending machine, you'll reach for fresh, flavorful vegetables. Ready to go?

6 Days a Week, Eat Like This

3 meals each day: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner serve up protein, unlimited nonstarchy veggies, and two servings of complex carbohydrates per day (a serving is ½ cup grains or legumes, or a slice of bread). You'll also have healthy fats — about 2 Tbsp oil (olive, grape seed, or canola) daily — and a serving of fruit at breakfast.

2 snacks each day: The snacks on this plan (such as olives, nuts, and avocado) all feature MUFAs, or monounsaturated fatty acids. They star on your snack list, because research shows that they help you stay full between meals. Chips and candy? You're hungry again before you know it.

You decide when to eat your two MUFA snacks per day, but don't skip these healthy fats. They help keep you full so you won't be tempted to reach into the chip bowl, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, a Cleveland Clinic dietitian. Dig in!

  • 1 oz nuts. Nutritionists recommend almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts.
  • ¼ cup seeds, such as sunflower or pumpkin.
  • 10 jumbo olives. We love mixing them with sliced radishes, lemon juice and salt, but any items on the unlimited veggie list can turn olives into a "salad snack."
  • ¼ avocado. Feel free to get creative and mash it up with lime and salt, then scoop with red bell pepper slices.
  • 2 Tbsp nut butter — try cashew, peanut, or almond butter. Celery sticks and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon make this MUFA even more satisfying.

1 Day a Week, Take a Break: How to Pick Your DDO (Diet Day Off)

Choose the one day per week when you need more flexibility to eat off the plan. Decide on your DDO in advance, says Michael Crupain, MD, a preventive medicine physician and chief of the medical unit at The Dr. Oz Show. Then, when the day comes, relax a little without undoing all of your hard work.

Do splurge smart, knowing this isn't the last time you'll indulge.

Don't overdo it. It's fine to have a strip of bacon at breakfast, a slice of pizza for lunch, and a glass of wine with dinner. But portion size matters, even on your DDO.

Your Veggie List

Meet your new BFFs: veggies that hunger-proof your diet and add nutrients without spiking blood sugar. You can eat them in any amount or anytime you need an add-on to one of our meals or snacks to stay full. Just avoid high-fat cooking preps so calories stay low.

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Daikon radish
  • Eggplant
  • Greens (kale, spinach, etc.)
  • Hearts of palm
  • Mushrooms
  • Leeks
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Snow peas
  • Sprouts/bean sprouts
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Water chestnuts
  • Zucchini

This story originally appeared in the January/February 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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