17 Day Diet: Diet Review

By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
WebMD Expert Review

If diets that promote the same approach day in and day out bore you, The 17 Day Diet may be for you.

The 17 Day Diet is actually three cycles, each lasting 17 days, plus a fourth long-term maintenance cycle. Whether you are looking to lose 10 or 100 pounds, this plan can help you lose weight quickly, avoid the dreaded plateaus, and revamp your metabolism, says author Michael Moreno, MD.

"Everyone wants fast results and the calorie confusion of this plan burns fat, achieves weight loss results, and helps dieters avoid boredom," says Moreno, a family medicine doctor at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego.

The 17 Day Diet: What It Is

Cycle 1, called "Accelerate," strips your diet down to the bare bones of approximately 1,200 calories per day. It promises weight loss of 10-15 pounds, most of which is water weight.

"This phase cleanses, hydrates, removes unhealthy carbs, improves unhealthy eating habits, and stimulates fat metabolism," Moreno says.

In cycle 2 (called "Activate,") the food plan is alternated with a slightly higher-calorie activate plan. Moreno says the zig-zag between cycles keeps the metabolism guessing, helps prevent boredom, and continues to stimulate fat burning to yield about a 5-6 pound weight loss.

Cycle 3, called "Achieve," is the stabilization period that allows healthier foods with a slower rate of weight loss of about 2-3 pounds, Moreno says.

Cycle 4 -- the final phase, called "Arrive" -- is when you arrive at your goal weight. In cycle 4, follow meal plans from one of the earlier cycles during the week with controlled splurges on weekends to maintain your new weight.

Exercise at least 17 minutes a day during the first two cycles -- primarily walking because of the limited calorie intake. In the later cycles, ramp up exercise to 150-300 minutes per week for continued weight loss.

The book, which is only available online, contains recipes and tips for eating out and handling your diet during the holidays.

The 17 Day Diet: What You Can Eat

The 17 Day Diet promotes a diet of clean eating, devoid of sugar, processed foods, fried foods, and other unhealthy foods.

Cycle 1 allows an unlimited amount of nonstarchy vegetables and lean protein (including 2 eggs per day, if you have normal cholesterol level), along with limited amounts of fruits, probiotics (such as yogurt), and a little bit of "friendly" fat, such as olive oil or flaxseed oil.

Registered dietitian Melissa Nodvin, MS, RD estimates this plan to be about 1,200 calories per day, or the minimum recommended calorie level.

Here is a sample day's plan from Cycle 1:

  • Unlimited lean protein

  • Unlimited nonstarchy vegetables

  • 2 low-sugar fruits

  • 2 probiotics (low-fat yogurt)

  • 1-2 servings of friendly fats

  • Green tea

  • 64 ounces of water

Cycle 2 is the same as cycle one except it reduces the fat to one serving and adds two servings of healthy carbs, pushing the calories to about 1,500 daily, Nodvin says.

Healthy starches such as legumes, brown rice, bulgar, couscous, corn, squash, and sweet potatoes are just a few of the options to choose from.

During this phase, you alternate lower-calorie days with slightly higher-calorie days.

Cycle 3 allows for the addition of more healthy food choices to help you achieve good lifetime eating habits. Food lists are expanded to include more healthy fruits, proteins, fats, and starches. The meal plan is basically the same as Cycle Two, except protein is restricted to portions equal to the size of a sponge and an added option for one serving of alcohol and 100-calorie snacks.

Cycle 4 assumes you have met your goal weight. If you were lucky enough to lose all your weight in 51 days, this phase is about maintaining the new you. During the week, follow the guidance from cycle 1,2, or 3 and when the weekend rolls around, let loose.

Moreno allows 1-2 favorite meals, and 1-2 alcoholic drinks daily on the weekends, but cautions dieters not to binge; he calls it strategic cheating. "If you only splurge a little, it will keep your weight in check and make it easier to get back on track on Monday," Moreno says.