I first read about the 17-Day Diet at the start of the year. It was promoted as a way to lose weight put on over the holidays. Now that swimsuit season is just around the corner, it has hit the promotional circuit again.
Dr. Mike Moreno's best selling weight loss book appears to be a mix of tried and true weight loss principles and modern day myths packaged in a creative way. The 17-day diet program consists of four cycles that are each 17 days in length. The four cycles supposedly help you achieve weight loss by confusing your metabolism. While there is a little scientific truth to this philosophy, not to the extent it is highlighted as a program cornerstone. Adding variety to your workouts and your eating plans can prevent or bust plateaus. Although following this diets specific 17-day cycle provides no magical metabolism confusion secrets, there may be some aspects about this weight control approach that could help some people move toward success.
During the first 17-day cycle, estimated intake is about 1,200 calories. For many people this will be a reduction of calories, which naturally encourages weight loss. For smaller woman this will be the low end of a recommended calorie range. For larger women and men, however, it will likely be below the typical minimum calorie recommendation and may limit nutritional adequacy or the ability to lose weight. This cycle promotes high protein, limited carbohydrates and regular exercise but I don't find any magical digestive health improvement secrets. There are concerns regarding the low carbohydrate approach and it is important to note that fluid loss is a large factor in the scale moving during this stage instead of fat storage loss. This may also be why positive change on the scale does not translate to changes in how clothes fit.
The claims about the second 17-day cycle are that your metabolism will be reset by increasing fat burning through calorie cycling every few days. During this cycle, healthy carbohydrates in the form of whole grains are incorporated which is beneficial for energy as well as including key nutrients. The estimated daily calorie intake is said to average 1,500 overall, which will be appropriate for many women but still at the low end for many men. While there is no scientific evidence that supports the efficacy of calorie cycling, it can be very effective for some body types, but it may not be as effective for others.
During the third 17-day cycle, the focus shifts to establishing healthy eating habits and focusing slightly less on a specific diet plan. The meals are more balanced in proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains as well as fitting in other treats too. There is a distinctive shift from low carbohydrate toward whole, unprocessed foods. These are great principles that we would encourage from the very beginning of any healthy eating approach toward weight management. Many packaged foods are highly processed, high in calories, sodium and added sugars, and low in nutrients. Brown rice, whole-wheat bread, low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, frozen vegetables, and fresh fruits and vegetables on the other hand are all healthy, nutrient rich choices for meals and snacks at any calorie range and eating plan.
The final 17-day cycle focuses on continuing cycles 1, 2 and 3 except on weekends when you can splurge and eat as you like. A return to cycle 2 is encouraged when an increase in weight of more than five pounds is experienced. While many of us battle with making good choices to survive the weekends, having free range to do as you please can most certainly undo the work of the previous five days. This pattern will also most likely result in a continual need for returning to cycle 2 and a life of dieting. Why not have planned tips that help you stay on track with your healthy living lifestyle during the weekends as you do during the week to keep your success going instead.
The Bottom Line
The 17-Day Diet outlines four eating cycles to promote weight loss. Some parts of the program are too low in calories for some and low in fiber for most. Both low carbohydrate and low fat programs that are also low in calories have been shown to successfully assist with weight loss. However, both eating styles may not affect overall health in the same way. The author of the diet does not recommend the program for those with Type I diabetes, teens, or those that are pregnant or breastfeeding.
If we weigh the claims of the 17-Day Diet against tips to spot fad diets how would this plan measure up? Well, this plan doesn't claim you don't have to diet or that you can eat whatever you want whenever you want while still losing weight, so that is encouraging. It also doesn't lead you to believe you will never have to diet again because it builds the dieting process into the plan. It doesn't promote the use of potions or pills that must be included to find success beyond including a multivitamin-mineral supplement during the first several cycles. It does suggest faster weight loss results in the initial cycles than the recommended 1-2 pounds per week and there is caution that the plan is not right for some people. The book is written by a medical doctor with claims that the program was designed to improve different body systems and will help you fight off fat for the rest of your life. These are wide sweeping claims with little scientific proof even though there are convincing testimonials as well as before and after pictures. On a scale of one to twelve with one representing the most healthful eating approach and twelve representing a total fad diet, the 17-Day Diet seems to rate about a six or seven.
Diets tend to be things that people do for a while until they lose a few pounds before going back to their old eating and activity habits, which usually results in returning to their previous weight. Healthy lifestyles are learned choices, strategies, and approaches that are incorporated 95% of the time. To be most successful they must stem from an internal commitment to health, which includes regular activity and maintaining a healthy weight. The 17-Day Diet and the structure it provides may be an introduction to making change for some people. However, if long-term success is desired, a more comprehensive approach will be necessary. Success can come from small, sustainable steps that help you win the battle of mind over body because there is no magic pill, no secret technique or approach only time, hard work and persistence that will get you where you want to be and keep you there.
How would you rate what you have heard about the 17-Day Diet? Why do you think diet plans like this are so enticing?