By Mike Moreno, MD
Simon & Schuster's Free Press (2011)
Reviewed by Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD, CSSD
The 17 Day Diet is based on the idea of metabolic confusion, also known as calorie shifting or, as the author calls, it "body confusion." This means altering the way you eat every few days or weeks to keep your metabolism guessing what is next and never settling in to a state of homeostasis. Claims include fast results and the expectation to lose up to 10 to 15 pounds in the first 17 days.
Synopsis of the Diet Plan
The 17 Day Diet focuses on clean eating, which means no sugar, no processed food and no fried food. It provides sample meal plans and recipes for each cycle of the diet, while promoting the intake of green tea to boost one’s metabolism.
Cycle 1, called "Accelerate," provides approximately 1,200 calories per day. The focus of cycle 1 is to promote rapid weight loss by improving digestive health. It helps clear sugar from blood to boost fat burning and discourage fat storage. Carbohydrates are restricted after 2 p.m. Expected weight loss during this cycle is up to 10 to 15 pounds.
Cycle 2, called "Activate," resets your metabolism through a strategy that involves increasing and decreasing your caloric consumption. This technique is used to stimulate fat burning while preventing plateaus. This stage also helps prevent boredom. Again, carbs are restricted after 2 p.m.
Keep alternating between Cycles 1 and 2 until you reach your goal weight.
Cycle 3, called "Achieve," aims to develop good eating habits through the re-introduction of additional foods, such as one alcoholic beverage per day. Expect slower weight loss during this cycle, unless you don't drink alcohol and increase your cardio. Carbs after 2 p.m. are okay unless you would like to accelerate weight loss.
Cycle 4, called "Arrive," gets you to your goal weight. This cycle allows you to eat your favorite foods on weekends. Follow meal plans from cycles 1 to 3 between Monday and Friday lunch. On weekends have your favorite foods moderately.
Nutritional Pros and Cons
- Fast results for the "gotta-have-it-now" diet society.
- Prevents boredom by alternating between cycles.
- It is fairly balanced and promotes healthy eating. It uses all food groups from fruits/vegetables, meats, fats and dairy.
- The science behind his theories is not strong. There is no evidence you can "confuse your metabolism" to prevent plateaus by increasing and decreasing calories and changing the foods you eat.
- No fruit after 2 p.m. Do I need to say more?
- Even though the diet tells you about eating the foods you love, there is no generalized low-calorie limit for everyone. The calorie level of Cycle 1 might be too low for an active person. The program is not individualized and it restricts several foods.
- Breakfast includes his packaged foods, which can be costly. It is interesting that the diet promotes non-processed food, however, it is selling you cookies for breakfast.
- Instead of mindfully eating food, you are restricting it. Participants never learn how to mindfully eat the food they love. This diet program allows you to eat what you love, but not Monday through Friday. Perfect setup for a weekend binge!
This is another diet that will add more confusion to the already confused, fat and malnourished country. Restrictive meal plans, no fruit after 2 p.m., demonizing food and the low calorie levels of this diet are a perfect combination for a good binge. Chocolate chip cookie lovers are at risk.
Of course, you will lose weight by lowering your caloric intake and restricting food; however, you will be left with few options. This diet does not quite teach participants how to incorporate all food groups at all times, thus it may not be a long-term lifestyle approach.
Aside from breakfast, what I like about this diet is that it does not promote processed foods. It is a system to help clean up people's diets. People can eat fruit when they want, they just need to remember portion control.