In basic terms, the 17-Day Diet is a carbohydrate cycling diet whereby you adjust your intake of carbohydrates in accordance with whatever phase of the diet you are in. This diet, by a San Diego physician Dr. Mike Moreno recently became one of the world’s first diets to go viral. With 17 minutes of daily exercise and four different 17-day meal plan cycles, the 17-Day Diet promises dramatic weight loss results for life. At certain times, you will follow a very low carbohydrate diet, while at others you can enjoy your favorite foods, often those forbidden in other diet plans. According to Dr. Moreno, this has the effect of confusing your metabolism and enhancing the rate at which you are able to lose weight. It also can help to reduce the frustration and boredom that is generally associated with long-term dieting, and help you see results fast. The 17-Day Diet includes four cycles: Accelerate, Activate, Achieve, and Arrive. During all of the four phases of the 17-Day Diet, there is an emphasis on healthy eating and the avoidance of sugar and all processed foods.
With the diet, each cycle is 17 days as this is said to be the length of time it takes for the body to adjust to your new eating habits and lower weight. The first cycle is like a typical low-calorie, low fat, low carb diet. During the second seventeen-day cycle, i.e. days 18-34, you “calorie cycle.” Essentially, you sometimes eat high calorie meals and sometimes low ones. You are trying to trick the body into burning the energy of a high calorie meal when you drop to the low calorie ones. As long as you keep repeating the pattern of changing the eating routines, your metabolism will remain high, according to Moreno. In 17 days, the plan claims, you can lose as much as 12 pounds under this diet.
Proponents say that the diet allows for sustainable weight loss; i.e. you don’t regain the weight. And because you calorie cycle, you can enjoy some foods, e.g. alcohol, and carbohydrates, that are normally forbidden with other diets. The plan is broken down into 4 simple parts:
Accelerate (days 1-17): In this initial phase, you dramatically reduce your intake of carbohydrates to promote fat burning, cleansing and rapid weight loss. Every day, you can eat unlimited fish, chicken and other lean meat, and no starch vegetables, green tea, and drink about 64 oz of water for an average of about 1,200 calories.
Activate (days 18-34): This 17-Day Diet phase involves carbohydrate cycling, which has the purpose of resetting your metabolism to stimulate fat burning and prevent plateaus. Two servings of whole grains are added to bring the total to 1,500 calories per day.
Achieve (days 35-51): You reintroduce some previously restricted foods, such as more fruits and grains, and learn how to develop healthy eating habits. While the amount of meat you can eat is no longer unlimited, you are allowed 100-calorie snacks and an optional serving of alcohol.
Arrive (days 52 onwards): The final phase allows you to maintain your goal weight by eating a healthy diet during the week and indulging in your favorite foods on the weekends.
During all of the four phases of the 17-Day Diet, there is an emphasis on healthy eating and the avoidance of sugar and all processed foods. Dr. Moreno also provides recipes for each of the four stages, and workouts designed for every stage.
After being featured on The Doctors and Dr. Phil TV shows, the 17-Day Diet rapidly took off. Here are a few of the benefits.
- Monotony: It does not get monotonous. The plan itself is 68 days long, but it is broken up into four parts, 17 days apiece. “Since it divides weight loss into little chunks, each cycle seems doable,” says nutritionist Laurie Slayton, who runs the diet website foodtrainers.net.
- Fast Results: “You get good results in the first phase especially,” adds Slayton. During the first 17 days, dieters can lose up to 15 pounds by eating a restrictive diet of 1,200 calories a day. Seeing results occur so fast, helps make some maintain their serious motivation to stick with it.
- Long-Term Emphasis: The first 17 days are the most extreme, but the second cycle introduces more calories and the chance to shed another 5 pounds and the last two cycles are designed to integrate healthier overall eating habits into your long-term lifestyle. Swapping out mayo for mustard, and sugars for nectar and spices, are some of the basic principles for keeping off the weight.
- Balance: Unlike the Atkins diet, Moreno’s plan does not completely cut out one major source of nutrition. Fruits, veggies, protein-rich meats and healthy carbohydrates are all part of the constantly shifting meal plan so your body is never completely deprived of one thing. Overall, it is considered fairly safe as opposed to more high-risk deprivation diets and cleanses.
Moreno claims that shifting your meal plan every 17 days is a way to keep your metabolism in high gear, but the science behind calorie cycling is questionable at best, according to nutritionists. “There is no scientific evidence to support the efficacy of calorie cycling or its effect on metabolism,” says Mary Hartley, RD, MPH, the director of nutrition at Calorie Count. It is argued that there is no harm in calorie cycling temporarily or indefinitely and the process happens naturally for most people, who do not eat or burn the same number of calories every day. One hard-and-fast rule of the diet—no starchy carbs or fruit after 2 P.M. is found to be questionable by dieticians. There is no proof that after certain times of day your body lessens its ability to digest carbohydrates.
Challenging First Stage: The first 17 days are the hardest. No carbs and 1,200 per day – you’ll see weight loss, but you may also find the hunger difficult to handle.
Extra Cost: Dieters are encouraged to buy specific branded snacks like the breakfast cookie. This can rack up your grocery bills unnecessarily.
The 17-Day Diet is one of the hottest new diets today. It has worked for many, though the science of “calorie cycling” has come under criticism. For proponents, the four stages break dieting into manageable time periods. Weight loss can be rapid, and the reintegration of your favorite foods can help keep the weight off.