What Is the Dr. Oz 21-Day Diet?

dr. oz diet

Verywell / Debbie Burkhoff

At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

What Is the Dr. Oz 21-Day Diet?

Celebrity physician Dr. Mehmet Oz created the Dr. Oz 21-Day Weight-Loss Breakthrough Diet, a three-week diet plan intended to "jump-start" weight loss followed by a balanced, low-calorie diet for long-term weight management. The diet recommends eating plant proteins, non-starchy vegetables, and healthy fats to promote weight loss.

Like most weight loss diets, initial weight loss will be water weight and people who resume their previous way of eating after the 21-day plan will quickly regain the weight that was lost.

What Experts Say

"Dr. Oz’s diet emphasizes nutrient-dense plant-based foods. However, the diet is quite restrictive, limiting meat, dairy, and grains, as well as eliminating any sugar or processed foods. While OK for a short-term 'jump-start,' it is unnecessarily strict for lifelong eating."
Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH

The 7-Day Diet Plan

There is some flexibility in the meals you prepare on the diet. This is a sample week; your choices might be different depending on your needs and tastes.


What You Can Eat

On the 21-Day Diet, it's recommended you cut out sugar, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods and get most of your calories from nutrient-dense vegetables and plant-based proteins.

Vegetables

The 21-Day Diet allows unlimited non-starchy vegetables for lunch, dinner, and snacks. The list of 42 permitted veggies does include a few root vegetables (beets and turnips).

Plant-Based Proteins

The diet suggests three servings of these proteins per day:

Healthy Fats

On this diet, Dr. Oz recommends eating half an avocado every day (he suggests it for breakfast). He also says a total of 2 tablespoons of olive oil to be eaten at lunch and/or dinner.

Fruit, Nuts, and Nut Butters

This diet limits fruit to two servings a day. Dr. Oz also suggests adding 1 ounce of nuts or 1 tablespoon of nut butter to one of those fruit servings as a snack.

Whole Grains

The diet allows for just one serving of whole grains per day. The meal plan suggests a slice of Ezekiel bread at breakfast time.

Oolong Tea

Dr. Oz's diet asks that you swap your morning coffee for a cup of oolong tea and have a second cup mid-afternoon. Dr. Oz wants people on the 21-Day Diet to have two cups of this tea every day because he says it will boost metabolism and "increase mental alertness."

Animal Protein and Dairy Products

These are permitted, but no more than two times per week. A serving of meat, poultry, fish, or eggs can replace a plant-based protein serving.

  • Eggs
  • Poultry
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Fish
  • Tofu

What You Cannot Eat

The 21-Day Diet eliminates several foods and food groups.

Vegetables

Some vegetables, especially starchy ones, are not on the permitted foods list, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, or popular picks like carrots and green beans.

Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

As for sugar and artificial sweeteners, the diet calls for cutting them out entirely.

  • Candy
  • Cake
  • Cookies
  • Added sugars in coffee or tea
  • Soda

Processed Foods

All processed foods are off-limits.

  • Granola bars
  • Chips
  • Frozen meals
  • Canned soups
  • Jarred pasta sauce

Other Fats

Only the above approved "healthy" fats are allowed. Other sources of fats are not.

  • Butter
  • Most oils
  • Fried foods

How to Prepare the Dr. Oz 21-Day Diet & Tips

The 21-Day Diet requires three meals and two snacks per day (composed of specific foods), along with lots of water and two daily cups of oolong tea. Dr. Oz says skipping the snacks to cut calories could backfire: "With snacks built into the diet, there is less temptation to cheat."

Dr. Oz's website provides a printable plan that outlines the diet's do's, don'ts, and timing, as well as answers to frequently asked questions.

If you're considering the 21-Day Diet, be aware that medical experts determined that roughly half of the tips Dr. Oz shared on his TV programs had no solid research to support them—and that medically established research contradicted the advice provided on his programs.

Sample Shopping List

Dr. Oz's 21-Day Diet includes non-starchy vegetables, lean protein, legumes, fruit, whole grains, and healthy fats. The following shopping list includes suggestions for getting started on this eating plan. Note that this is not a definitive shopping list and you may find other foods that work better for you.

  • Vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, cucumber, eggplant, mushrooms, bell peppers)
  • Lean protein (tofu, tempeh, salmon, canned tuna)
  • Legumes (lentils, chickpeas, black beans)
  • Fruit (avocado, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, grapefruit)
  • Nuts and nut butter (walnuts, almonds, cashews)
  • Whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, rolled oats)
  • Olive oil
  • Oolong tea

Pros of the Dr. Oz 21-Day Diet

Thanks to these aspects of the diet, it is reasonably nutritious and it could help you lose weight. However, there are some drawbacks. Review the pros and cons to inform your decision about whether the Dr. Oz 21-Day Diet is right for you.

  • May support weight loss: The 21-Day Diet encourages nutrient-rich, plant-based whole foods low in calories which can support healthy weight loss.
  • Emphasizes healthy fats: The diet emphasizes unsaturated fats, which may provide benefits for heart health.
  • Nutritious ingredients: This diet emphasizes plant-based whole foods that are nutrient-rich but low-calorie and focuses on unsaturated fats that may offer heart-healthy benefits.
  • Satisfying: With three meals and two snacks per day, people on the Dr. Oz 21-Day Diet have lots of opportunities to curb hunger (although portion sizes are small, there are no limits on helpings of non-starchy vegetables).
  • No counting: There is no need to count calories or carbs with this diet. Just stick with the suggested foods and portion sizes.
  • No supplements: This diet does not require any supplements or even any special ingredients, except for oolong tea.

Cons of the Dr. Oz 21-Day Diet

There are no known health risks associated with the Dr. Oz 21-Day Diet, since cutting out unhealthy processed foods and refined sugars can support overall health and help reduce the risk for obesity and chronic diseases. But there are some drawbacks to consider,

  • May cause nutrient deficiencies: Strictly limiting whole grains, starchy vegetables, animal protein, and dairy can make it difficult to meet essential nutrient needs, which may impact overall health. Vitamins and minerals like calcium and B-vitamins are important for bone and cellular health.
  • Restrictive: This diet cuts out all processed foods and added sugar and sharply limits whole grains and animal proteins, including dairy. Many people find this level of restriction to be difficult to stick with.
  • Time-consuming: No convenience foods are allowed on the 21-Day Diet, which means you might spend a lot of time planning and preparing compliant meals.
  • Short-term only: The 21-Day Diet is designed to last for three weeks, which means that it's not a long-term solution for continued weight loss or weight management.
  • Lack of flexibility: There isn't much flexibility in this diet, which is perhaps why it's only meant to last 21 days. Those following this plan need to stick to the approved list of foods and the accompanying number of servings and portion sizes.

Is the Dr. Oz 21-Day Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

The Dr. Oz 21-Day Diet uses some traditional strategies to promote weight loss, but it has a few twists to distinguish it from other diets and federal guidelines.

For optimum health and nutrition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests a daily diet that's a balanced combination of grains, protein, fruits, vegetables, and dairy. The 21-Day Diet restricts dairy and animal protein while limiting grains to one serving a day versus the USDA's recommendation of 5 to 9 servings per day (one slice of bread or 1 cup of cereal is 1 serving).

The diet does not suggest a daily calorie intake and does not include calorie counting (but it's mostly made up of low-calorie foods). The USDA doesn't focus on this number either, indicating that it can vary a lot based on age, sex, weight, and activity level. If you're interested in determining your own calorie guidelines, you can use this calculator.

The Dr. Oz 21-Day Diet can support a healthy lifestyle by emphasizing whole foods, healthy fats, and plant-based protein. However, the restrictive nature of this diet limits nutritious food groups like dairy, animal protein, and grains. Therefore, the 21-Day Diet does not closely adhere to USDA dietary guidelines and is not recommended as a balanced diet plan for the long term.

A Word From Verywell

Dr. Oz's diet tips can be helpful, but it's important to remember that TV weight loss advice is not personalized. The 21-Day Diet and other suggestions may work for some viewers, but may not be the healthiest suggestion for you.

If the weight loss advice you see on TV contradicts the personalized advice you’ve received from your own healthcare team, be cautious. Ask your doctor about the specific benefits, potential harms, and real cost or inconvenience of the 21-Day Diet before you decide to try it.

Remember, following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you and many diets out there simply don’t work, especially long-term. While we do not endorse fad diet trends or unsustainable weight loss methods, we present the facts so you can make an informed decision that works best for your nutritional needs, genetic blueprint, budget, and goals.

If your goal is weight loss, remember that losing weight isn’t necessarily the same as being your healthiest self, and there are many other ways to pursue health. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors also play a major role in your overall health. The best diet is always the one that is balanced and fits your lifestyle.

9 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  5. Martínez Steele E, Baraldi LG, Louzada ML da C, Moubarac J-C, Mozaffarian D, Monteiro CA. Ultra-processed foods and added sugars in the US diet: Evidence from a nationally representative cross-sectional studyBMJ Open. 2016;6(3):e009892. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009892

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By Malia Frey
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.