17 Day Diet: Diet Review (cont.)

He suggests weighing in weekly and when the needle goes up five pounds, return to cycle 2 until you get your weight back to normal.

The 17 Day Diet: How It Works

Dieters clean up their diets, getting rid of fast foods, sweets, refined grains, and more in cycle one. This phase is designed to "improve digestive health, help clear sugar from blood to boost fat-burning and discourage fat storage," Moreno says.

Cycle 2 "causes calorie confusion, resets your metabolism by increasing and decreasing calorie intake to stimulate fat burning and prevent plateaus," Moreno writes in The 17 Day Diet.

Cycle 3 has a liberalized meal plan that reintroduces healthy foods in proper portions along with one alcoholic drink per day. Expect weight loss to slow down unless you forgo alcohol and/or increase aerobic exercise.

Assuming you achieve your weight loss goal by the end of cycle 3, you can progress to cycle 4 or maintenance. If not, return to cycle two and three until you arrive at your goal weight.

Strategic cheating is the bonus in the final phase, where you can enjoy your favorite foods, within reason, on weekends. Dieters are allowed up to three favorite meals during the weekends.

Throughout the plan, dieters are encouraged to use portion control, eat breakfast, lots of salads, make healthy substitutes (mustard instead of mayo, for example), get in touch with their hunger cues, drink at least 64 ounces of water daily, and eat slowly.

No fruit after 2 p.m. is a red-flag tip that Moreno explains is because "it is harder to burn off these calories and they might get stored as fat." Diet and nutrition experts say what matters is the total number of calories consumed, not the time of day or type of food.

The 17 Day Diet: What Dietitians Say

Experts give thumbs-up for the food choices, overall message of clean eating, avoiding unhealthy carbs, enjoying foods that you love, and regular exercise. But thumbs-down on the weight loss theory and restriction of healthy foods like fruits and low-fat dairy.

"If you can get beyond the gimmicky title and past the weight loss theories, which are very loosely based on science, it is a good plan resembling what most people try to do on their own," Nodvin says.

American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Keri Gans, MS, RD agrees. "There is no evidence that you can fool your metabolism by calorie-shifting but the low-calorie plans featuring healthy foods are a good approach to weight loss," she says.

Gans cautions that the weight loss is not because of metabolism confusion but primarily due to cutting calories, and that the initial water weight loss may be short-lived and not sustainable once you bring carbs back into your diet.

Anyone who exercises strenuously may require more snacks and calories, Gans says.

The 17 Day Diet: Food for Thought

Despite the plan's title, you will not lose weight quickly and keep it off after being on this plan for only 17 days.

Alternating between cycle 1 and cycle 2 might prevent boredom, but it really is just a strategy to cut calories and give you staying power to stick with the plan.

Although the evidence is lacking to substantiate Moreno's weight loss theory of metabolic adjustment to burn fat, the principles of the diet are the foundation of all good diet plans: Cut calories; eat healthy foods; limit sugars, alcohol, and refined starches; and get regular exercise. That's solid advice that will lead to successful weight control.

Eat fruit whenever you want and add a once-daily multivitamin mineral to fill in nutritional gaps and the 17 Day Diet could be your answer to long-term weight control.

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.


Michael Moreno, MD, author, 17 Day Diet; family physician, Kaiser Permanente, San Diego.

Keri Gans, MS, RD, dietitian in private practice in New York; spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association.

Melissa Nodvin, MS, RD, chief wellness officer, Health-Ally.

Moreno, M. The 17 Day Diet: A Doctor's Plan Designed for Rapid Weight Loss Results, 2010.

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Last Editorial Review: 12/31/2010 1:48:12 PM