Dr. John Day
Dr. Day is a cardiologist specializing in heart rhythm abnormalities at St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. He graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School and completed his residency and fellowships in cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology at Stanford University. He is the former president of the Heart Rhythm Society and the Utah chapter of the American College of Cardiology.
13 Simple Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work
Authored by Kate Clemens with Dr. John Day
As Dr. Day revealed in his book, The Longevity Plan, he has struggled to maintain a healthy weight since high school. Indeed, 84% of all Americans report that they have tried to lose weight. Below are our 13 simple weight loss tips that actually work for us and our patients.
1. Diets Don’t Work, Lifestyles Do
You go on a diet and then you go off the diet–Diets were never meant to be long-term solutions.
The goal is to find a way of eating that you can maintain for the rest of your life. So the next time you commit to “eating healthy,” ask yourself can I eat like this for the rest of my life? If the answer is “no,” then you’re doomed to fail. You need a lifestyle or way of eating that you can easily maintain until you turn 100.
2. Faithfully Follow Dr. Day’s 3 Rules to Eating
As there is so much confusion as to what is healthy eating, Dr. Day’s approach is to give his patients 3 simple rules to follow. And if you can just follow these 3 easy rules to eating, then you are 90% of the way there to healthy eating.
First, minimize or avoid any added sugars. We do not need these! Real whole fruits are naturally occurring sugars, these do not count.
Second, minimize or avoid processed foods. If it comes from a box, can, package, fast food window, etc. it is processed. You do not need these “foods.” The more natural you eat the better.
Third, eat as many non-starchy vegetables as you can. The more variety in the color of your vegetables the better.
3. Find What Works for You
There is no one perfect diet for everyone. Just because “keto” worked for your friend doesn’t mean it will work for you.
For example, everyone says exercising first thing in the morning is best as it will help you to eat healthy all day long. Dr. Day found that exercising in the morning just made him hungry all day long. So for Dr. Day, he can control his eating by exercising late in the afternoon or after dinner.
You are so wonderfully individual. While there are certainly a lot of health “guidelines” out there, these guidelines may or may not help you. Have fun, experiment, and be true to yourself. Remember the ONLY person you should ever compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday.
4. Crash Diets Crash Your Metabolism
Have you ever wondered what happens to the “biggest losers” on reality TV shows? When the cameras stop rolling, do their incredible transformations stick? Not usually. Researchers have found, in fact, that these contestants’ crash diets send their metabolism into a tailspin, making long-term weight maintenance nearly impossible.
In most cases, the weight comes right back and, even six years later, their metabolism is slower than it was before they
started filming. This is what scientists call “metabolic adaptation” and is something you definitely want to avoid.
No matter where you are in all facets of your life, getting to where you want to be is not supposed to happen overnight. After all, you probably put the weight on at a pace of 1 to 2 pounds a year. Do not be afraid of achieving your goals slowly and mindfully, just be sure you are moving forward! We are aiming for progress, not perfection.
5. Have a Daily Plan
We do not plan to fail, we fail to plan. This is a well-known quote for a good reason.
Set yourself up for success! Figure out 5-minute ‘planning window’ either each Sunday or the night before to sketch out what your food week or food day will look like.
For example, as Dr. Day is surrounded by unlimited free treats at every nurse station or the doctor’s dining lounge in the hospital, he has to plan out a daily “healthy treat.” Without a prepared “healthy treat” in his laptop bag, he’ll feel deprived and devour the unhealthy ones at his hospital.
Prioritize self-care as much as you prioritize work. Believe me, it will make you that much more efficient!
6. Schedule at least a 12-Hour Daily Fast
A daily 12-hour fast is an easy health habit if you simply use the hours you sleep. For instance, if you finish eating dinner at 7 pm then don’t eat anything more until your 7 am breakfast. Intermittent fasting is very beneficial for our health. It aids in weight management, boosts mitochondrial health, reduces inflammation, and enhances the body’s natural detoxification process.
Dr. Day reports that just last week he met with an atrial fibrillation patient who started daily 14-hour fasts with her husband 5 months ago. She shared that without any changes in her food choices, she was able to lose 12 pounds and her husband lost 17 pounds from intermittent fasting. The best part was that just this 12-pound weight loss from daily 14-hour fasts was enough to put her atrial fibrillation into remission and get off her flecainide!
7. Dairy is Personal Decision
There is no scientific proof that your bones will be brittle if you don’t eat your 3 daily servings of dairy. In fact, cultures with the lowest risk of fractures eat little to no dairy at all.
The goal is to find what works for you as dairy’s effects on people vary greatly. You shouldn’t feel like you have to eliminate dairy from your diet if you can tolerate it well and enjoy it. On the other hand, dairy is not essential to our diet.
For instance, while one of milk’s claim to fame is its calcium content, 1 cup of cooked spinach provides almost the exact same
amount of calcium as 1 cup of milk. If you do choose dairy, opt for sources as natural as possible with no added sugar and ideally fermented.
Dr. Day’s decision to eliminate almost all dairy came from his dairy-induced high LDL, acid reflux, and eosinophilic esophagitis. In carefully tracking his calcium intake from eating massive quantities of broccoli, kale, lettuces, etc. he easily achieved his daily recommended allowance of calcium from plant-based sources.
8. Keep Your Meat Wild
As with dairy, meat is also a personal decision. If you do choose to eat meat, make it wild. Since wild animals feed on natural vegetation, their meat contains more omega-3 fatty acids and less saturated fat than grain-fed, factory-farmed animals. They are considered a source of “lean meat” which means they are low in fat, high in protein, and have a low-calorie content ratio.
And when it comes to fish, wild-caught is also best. In general, wild-caught fish is healthier, leaner, and less polluted. And it is for this reason that Dr. Day periodically enjoys wild-caught Alaskan salmon.
Indeed research shows that a mostly plant-based diet with wild meat can be incredibly healthy. For example, the Tsimane people living in the Bolivian rainforests don’t get cardiovascular disease and don’t get atrial fibrillation likely in part from their wild meat and vegetable diet. To learn more about the Tsimane people, please check out this article from Dr. Day.
9. The More Fiber the Better
Fiber is a key nutrient that keeps our blood sugar stable and our appetite in control by regulating the way our body processes sugar. It is unique as it cannot be broken down into sugar molecules for digestion like other carbohydrates can.
Instead, fiber remains undigested as it passes through our digestive tract. And it is for this reason that science tells us that the more fiber you consume the lighter you’ll probably be. In the past century, the amount of fiber we eat has decreased by about 90%! In fact, most Americans are only getting about 15g of fiber per day when Dr. Day argues the goal should be somewhere near 100 grams daily. To learn more about how fiber can help you to maintain a healthy weight, please check out this article from Dr. Day.
10. Be Accountable for Your Food Choices
Whether you are a numbers person like Dr. Day or take a mindful approach with no counting like Kate, you need some way of keeping yourself honest! This may mean resorting to a tracking app such as Lose It!, a trainer at the gym, learning to become a mindful eater, or finding another way to hold yourself accountable. To learn more about Kate’s approach to mindful eating, follow this link.
As the mindful eating approach hasn’t worked so well for Dr. Day, his approach is to “gamify” his “food stats” using various charts and apps. For him, it is all about maintaining a daily high score with his food choices.
11. Eat the Right Carbs
Carbohydrates are vital for many functions in our body, but it is important to make sure we are smart when selecting our carbs. Don’t believe for a minute the reports you may see on the internet that all carbs are bad. After all there is a big difference between a slice of white bread and raw broccoli.
Low glycemic index, complex carbohydrates, like most vegetables and berries, will give your body a slow release of energy and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Indeed, all of the healthiest and longest-lived groups of people around the world have thrived on eating the right carbs.
While many of Dr. Day’s patients have reported that poor food choices have triggered an atrial fibrillation attack, Dr. Day is fond of saying that he has yet to see a patient go into atrial fibrillation from eating too much broccoli.
Still not sure what carbs are best? Here is a document Kate has prepared with some excellent carbohydrate options.
12. Use Breathing Techniques to Help with Stress Eating
In modern-day society, we tend to get stuck in fight or flight mode (sympathetic state). This leads to unnecessary stress and also takes away from our digestive power.
A free tool we have 24/7 to slide back into rest and digest mode is our breath. Check out this document from Kate to learn how to use this powerful tool to your advantage. Be sure to always aim to eat when you are in a parasympathetic state! (rest and digest mode).
13. Relationships May Be More Important than Food Choices
In The Longevity Plan, Dr. Day shares the following: “Confucius once said, we should “not, even for the space of a single meal, act contrary to virtue.” When I learned this I was devastated. I figured it was impossible. I might eat lots of veggies, fruits, and legumes. I might never again have another Diet Coke. But what if my friends were to invite me out to pizza? What if I wanted to share an ice cream sundae with my daughter? Would that be acting contrary to virtue?
Perhaps it is this “virtue” that explains why some studies have shown that loneliness is a bigger risk factor for cardiovascular disease and a shortened life than obesity.
I’ve since come to believe, isn’t just what we eat. It’s how we eat. It’s who we eat it with. It’s our relationship with where our
food comes from. It’s the decisions we make about how to prepare it. It’s our determination to honor the energy it gives us in positive ways.”
If your goal is to maintain a healthy weight, don’t take our word for it but rather work with your physician to help decide what approach would be best for you.
To see one of the cardiologists or EP’s in our practice, please call my team at 801-266-3418 (sorry telemedicine visits outside of the state of Utah are no longer possible due to government regulations). Also, if you liked the photo attached to this article, it is a picture I took last week during our fall break trip to Miami Beach.
Disclaimer Policy: This website is intended to give general information and does not provide medical advice. This website does not create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Dr. John Day. If you have a medical problem, immediately contact your healthcare provider. Information on this website is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Dr. John Day is not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your medical decisions.