What is the Day-Off Diet?

The Day-Off Diet might be the best option for anyone who's tried and failed to stick to a strict diet in the past. The "day off", coined for the dieting world by weight loss expert Dr. Oz in 2016, refers to taking a cheat day during each week, where you're free to indulge on whatever treats you're craving, before going back to your healthy eating habits the next day (via Dr. Oz). This style of dieting can be especially helpful during the holidays, around celebrations, or if you love going out to eat at restaurants, since Dr. Oz recommends timing your day off around special occasions. 

The specific Day-Off Diet created by Dr. Oz includes meal plans and habits like starting every day with a glass of lemon water. The rules for meals during the dieting days are relatively simple: Protein is heavily featured, as are vegetables, and carbohydrates primarily in the form of whole food starches like sweet potatoes. Snacks include nuts and seeds as well as fruit. And the day off is your chance to eat whatever you've been craving, from cake to pizza, though going overboard isn't recommended: Stick to single servings and take small, slow bites to savor each meal.

Why does the Day-Off Diet work?

Taking a day off, or a cheat day, once a week from any diet doesn't just help you control your cravings during the other six days, it may even help keep your metabolism up. One reason may be that as you restrict calories, your body lowers its production of leptin, a hormone required to balance your body's energy and signal fullness. Overfeeding, also known as taking a day off or cheat day on your diet, may help boost leptin, according to one study done in 2000. And a 2018 study showed that in a group of obese men, those who took breaks from dieting actually lost more weight — and kept weight off — better than those who were put on a strict meal plan. 

From a psychological standpoint, having a day off to look forward to may help you stick to your diet the rest of the week, though if this style of eating makes you more stressed about 'good' or 'bad' foods, it might not be the diet for you (via Greatist). 

Bottom line: If you eat a healthy diet throughout the week, with a focus on vegetables, clean sources of protein, and healthy fats, adding a day off or even simply a meal off once a week may be the ticket to finally sticking with a healthier way of eating on a more permanent basis.