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Is the 17-Day Diet for You?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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?

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I agree with you on diets like this are just for the now not for a lifetime. You need to know that it is a lifestyle change not just till you lose your weight and your done. I have done this a couple of times and I know I'm done with that part of it. Thanks for sharing. Report
This is a way of learning how to eat--in steps-- like a normal (healthy) human being. It (like every single other way of eating) will only only keep the weight off IF YOU FOLLOW it. Even if you start on a spark people type plan, and the cookies/cakes/ice creams, etc start calling your name on a daily basis, you're gonna regain, and end up back where you started. And if you regain (on ANY plan), it's not the fault of the plan, but of the person who made bad choices.

It can be adapted to fit vegetarian, halal, and a few others. It also detoxes the sugars and I'm sure a lot of other bad things from your body during the first cycle. As far as cycles go, it's very easy to mark on a calendar Cycle 1 day 1-17, the Cycle 2 day 1-17, etc. Takes all of about 1-2 minutes to do that to let you know exactly what day you're on.

If you aren't happy about the percentage of certain nutritional numbers in the cycles, you could add in/adjust something to fix it. And let's face it--how many people truly get the prescribed number or percentage of every single nutrient that you're supposed to get anyway--on ANY eating plan--diet or not?

If you get hungry, eat something you're allowed. There is no limit to the lean meat and veggies, so there is absolutely no excuse for feeling hunger on this. If you are, it's your own fault. And you don't have to count calories! (I only do on my free days--so as to not go over 1500-1800 calories). I keep mine lower than I recommend a bit later here), because I'm not able to exercise other than a bit of walking, and I don't do that much.

You CAN live on this for the rest of your life. And, you will probably live longer (and healthier) with lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol, etc.

The weekends (or whichever two days of the week you choose) are considered free days, in which he says to eat IN MODERATION (and NEVER to the point of feeling past "full") a few of the things you'd like to have that aren't permitted any other time. For example: if you'd like a full meal not on the plan (like macaroni salad and baked beans, and a burger)--about 1/2 c. serving of the sides, a burger, and a few slices of tomato. Or if you stick to what you've been doing, and just add in a serving of mashed potatoes or fries, or mac and cheese. Or a decent size slice of cake for dessert. Whatever sounds good, as long as you don't go over like 1800-2000 (or 2300-2500 for a male) you will be fine. Yes, you will go up a bit in weight, which will come off very quickly once you are back on track. And you will also detox that sugar, etc right back out of your system when you return to the plan.

What IS helpful on this eating plan is that it gives you really fast results initially. It gives you incentive to buckle down and eat right. Cycle 1 is like between 10-17 lbs, cycle 2 is 5-6 lbs, cycle 3 is 3-5 lbs. Cycle 4 is maintenance. So you cycle through the first 3 until you reach goal weight.

Water (and green tea) are pushed for good reasons.

I can speak about this plan, because I am doing it, and having great results. I am also thoroughly enjoying it for several reasons. I am losing at a great pace. I am fitting into old clothes. Your imagination is the limitation on the number of different menus you could create. Most days I just have what I'm in the mood for. Finding low-no carb recipes online is so easy. My body is feeling SO much better. I can bend over so much easier--and cross my legs again! And being able to choose whatever free days I want is great. It can be different every week if you like or need.

One poster said (in a nutshell) that you have to do this plan, lose all the weight, then maintain it for several years before it could be called a lifestyle change. You don't have to ever have learned a foreign language to know it's foreign--and you don't have to be on this forever to know that it is a healthy lifestyle change (IF YOU FOLLOW it)...for the rest of your life--just like any other healthy eating plan.

I don't understand knocking something you haven't tried--and this plan is definitely worth trying. I didn't even have to buy the book, as I found all the information I needed online in a few spots to bring it all together. So all this took was determination to start, and some of my time. After a few days, you won't have to battle the cravings nearly as much. So it gets easier as you go!

Is there anywhere to find the basics of this plan on line rather than buying the book? Report
I don't watch TV so I basically never hear about the latest thing that Dr Phil is pushing. I wasn't sure where this was coming from but my girlfriend has been pestering me to go on this diet with her. She's always about this or that latest diet, and doesn't seem to get the SparkPeople philosophy about making LIVESTYLE changes, not just "dieting".
I know several people following this book and most everyone seems to like it. My mom and her husband have been following it for around 2 1/2 months now. She's lost 33 lbs. He's lost more but I'm not sure how much. The funny thing is he was a very stubborn, very anti-healthy eating person who is used to the home-cooked country-style meals, but he absolutely loves this diet plan and follows it to a "T". My mom cheats on the weekends with alcohol but she said she's never gained back a pound since starting. She hasn't been exercising really either but does have a physical job.

My boyfriend's aunt just recently started it. She is battling type II diabetes and her blood sugar levels were off the charts. Doctors were telling her she could easily just slip into a coma at any time. She was taking pills and insulin shots. After her first week of the diet though, her blood sugar levels were at a normal range. She's off the shots now, and I think they're talking about taking her off the pill too. She's lost 10 lbs so far, and I think she's only been following it for a couple weeks or so.

My boyfriend's mom doesn't care for the diet though. She's been doing it for a month or a little longer. She's lost 6-7 lbs but was hoping to lose more so she's been a little discouraged. I keep telling her it just takes time and patience but with everyone around her losing more in a shorter amount of time, she's not too happy.

Haven't tried it myself yet, but I might give it a go. Report
I can see how this might work for some people, but I think for the majority, it's not really a good way to go. Opting for a healthier lifestyle is a better choice. Report
I like the SparkPeople way. Learn to eat right and move right for your body, don't try to follow someone else's plan if it doesn't fit. Report
Not another diet plan and book, etc. Why? Because all the other ones didn't "stick". And that will happen with this one, also. Cracks me up, really. You will lose weight on any diet out there, as long as you are on it. Once you quit doing whatever it is, no matter how much you loved the plan and how much you lost, or your husband lost, the fat comes back to grab you. If a billionaire like Oprah can't hire people to feed her manually so she keeps weight off, how long do you think you will do? Eat less, move more. Same old, same old. Not trendy or celeb annointed. Report
I don't think this is that much of a "food diet" like what you see in Atkins, or Dukan, or even the cabbage diet. As I read through the stages, I think this is more of a plan that will TEACH you to eat better, but in steps- as it detoxes/preps your body from an unhealthy state into a healthier one. It seems like each stage either works on the physical aspect of weaning you off the carby stuff... then teaching you how to add them back in as you learn how to eat a more balanced way. And in the final phase- it seems to allow you to have "mistakes" as well as giving you a plan on how to make up for those days... and how to tweak the foods to match what you need.

I wouldn't be doing this "diet plan" only because I've pretty much DONE it. It's been a long road to learn what to eat, what not to eat, etc- but it's worth it!!!

For those of you who are knocking it just because of that first phase, or because it's a "diet plan".... DON'T!!! It actually sounds pretty solid to me! Report
This sounds a lot like the Dukan Diet. As they say all diets have some merit. If this becomes a lifestyle then, yes it can work. Otherwise it'll become history just like the others. Report
I don't think diets work. Doesn't sound like a lifestyle change to me. And it doesn't sound like anything that hasn't been said before by other diet doctors. I don't care if Dr. Phil is promoting it on his show - Dr. Phil has written his OWN weight-loss book! I am sure some people are getting benefit from it, but I'd rather not bother, thanks. Report
I'm actually on day 9 and I don't think from what I have read that weekends are a freebee to eat whatever. If you follow the daily meals listed there are NO day in the first cycle that allow to eat whatever and deviate from the list. Things I like about this diet is the heavy veggie part, what I don't like is the limited protein choices for the first 17 days. I have noticed changes, but I don't see that this is a cure all diet. I need to just cut back on my snacking of sweets and that I would be fine. I guess what I'm getting to is that I'm doing this as a way to keep myself on track, which I haven't been doing,and also to cut back on carbs. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a change:) Report
From the looks of the comments on here, those who are willing to try something like this are mostly finding it to be a great help. Those who made up their minds against anything like it are knocking it as fast as they can.

The place I saw talking about it was The Doctors TV, which is with MDs. So I didn't figure it was a bad thing like many on here assume without looking into it. My problem is that I cannot eat much of the foods in different diet plans, and that is why I don't bother to try them. Report
I think it got a lot of press because Dr. Phil is pedalling it on his show.
Sure, he has two groups on there losing, but if I could afford a personal trainer
and a personal chef, I could lose a lot faster also.
He set these people up with both, so yes, they may lose fast, but what happens
when the support people go away????????????? Report
I like this diet plan would like to learn more.

alyciaD Report
This is the first I've heard of this diet but it sounds like so many other diet books out there.

I'll go back to my mantra: "everything in moderation". Your body need the proper amount of fat, protein and carbohydrates to function properly. If you think this diet will help you to moderate your eating habits - go for it!

This diet doesn't sound good, too much protein. I'll stick with I'm doing; it's healthier Report
Yes, it does sound interesting. I am thinking I could just be sensible with my eating habits and exercise on a regular basis. SP and WW helps to keep me honest and accountable. Report
I have used this plan and have lost weight. I did not limit myself to the 1200 calories a day that you are talking about. You can eat as much lean protein and veggies that you want. I was not ever hungry and is very easy to stay on plan when dining out. It is very similar to the American Heart Association DASH plan. My son has also used this plan and has lost weight. I believe it gives you the push to get you started on the sensible whole foods lifestyle. I would recommend this plan to everyone. Report
I'd lose count of the days after awhile....Too much to keep with already.. Report
I am using this PLAN and it works for me. It is a very good plan for someone who is limited on strenuous exercise. It is also great for diabetics. It is also good for celiacs and carb sensitive folks. There are many things in this PLAN that SP failed to talk about. Just because it doesn't measure up to SP measures, doesn't mean it isn't good and won't work. Different strokes for different folks!!! My MD recommended it to me!!! Report
Haven't read the book, don't watch Dr. Phil... but have heard of it. I know someone in the first week of it.... will see. It's always hard for me to "diet", because, A) I don't eat meat and most diets are chicken chicken chicken, and B) I'm a massage therapist and let me tell you, I get hungry after every 2-3 hours of massage! I usually bring PBJ's, greek yogurts, nuts, and fruit to snack on between clients. I also get lunch sometimes at the deli near work - veggie sandwiches, egg salad, or veggie quiche, usually. I'm not okay cutting out large food groups! Report
I wouldn't be able to keep up with my exercise routine without passing out if I only ate 1200 calories a day. Even for a short period of time, I would not feel very good. May once just to see if it will kick up my weight loss. Report
I rate this diet a positive 10 all the way!! I have been on the 17 Day Diet or as I call it eating the healthy lifestyle way since Feb and have lost 25lbs. I'm currently on cycle 3, my second time around and would recommend people check it out for themselves. Have I eaten things not on the plan, yes I have. I spent many weekends away at my daughters bowling tournaments, including 5 days at Nationals and I still lost 25lbs in 3 months!!
Don't know where the 1200 calorie intake comes from because you don't count calories on any of the 17 day cycles, you don't even count points, it's not one of those diets that you starve yourself to lose weight either, if you're hungry you eat no matter how many calories you have consumed that day.
I have learned alot just by reading the book. Do you know what foods you should not eat withing 8hrs of bed and why? Did you know that some yogurts out there can do more harm to someone trying to lose weight? Do you know how to read your hunger meter? These are just some of the things I learned just by reading the book. Next time you give money to someone to tell you how many points you can eat a day or to someone who pushes diet pills, think twice because the only money I spent was the cost of the book. Several of my friends are also losing weight without all those extra expenses. I recommend buying the book(or library) even if you chose to not fallow the plan cause you will learn quite a bit that will help you become a better you... Good Luck to everyone with your weight loss journey Report
I haven't bothered to read it. Report
I am totally against eating 1200 calories a day unless my doctor wants me to before a surgery or something. Eating like this for 17 days could make me really sick! I need more calories than that to stay healthy. Report
As someone else wrote this is a lifestyle PLAN not a diet. The word "diet" just happens to sell books. I've only been on it a week and have to tell you that the initial 17 days are more like a detox plan. He says to only eat chicken or turkey (unlimited amounts) the first 17 days, I assume, because beef and pork have added hormones and antibiotics. You can have fish. You can eat UNLIMITED vegetables and two servings of fruit, along with probiotics like yogurt. I completely lost my cravings for sweets and bread after the first 3 days. Vegetables are starting to taste delicious without extra fat or salt. I was never a fruit eater, but I am really starting to appreciate the natural sweetness of fruit, especially frozen seedless grapes! He doesn't tell you to count calories so I don't know where the author of this article came up with 1200 calories. I have a hard time eating even 1000 calories though, because fresh fruits and vegetables are so filling! He pushes fiber and low fat, not low carb. Also, it's the 4 hour diet that says you can splurge and eat whatever you want on weekends not this one. I have to admit that I am looking forward to the next 17 day cycle though, when I can add legumes or whole grains every OTHER day and add beef, pork or lamb. I think it's a plan that I can live with and believe me I have tried them all! Report
I read the book and it seems quite doable and is not much different that what I eat daily ... just more probiotics than I have eaten before. Report
I have tried this diet, I thought it will be a start of changing my diet. Well, I did not lost that much weight (3lbs) which I thought I can loss more according to the diet. I was disppointed. I contutinued to phase 2, lost 1 lb/week. I can just eat healthy and lose my 1lb a week. I score this diet 10. Report
I heard about this diet on Dr. Phil.......kinda interesting. Report
Hmmm yea... Report
Diets like this will always be a hit, because it's someone else telling us what to do to lose weight- and when our willpower fails, we can blame the diet and no responsibility falls on us. Making sensible, healthy choices without a manual of how to eat is just too daunting for most people. Report
@CRTORRETTA start calling it a "true lifestyle change" when you've lost all your weight, and maintained it for several years on this diet. Report
Actually, although the title says 17 day DIET, this is a true lifestyle change. My husband and I have been on this diet for a little over 17 days and have already seen wonderful results. My husband has lost 20 pounds and I've lost 3. I have only 5 more to reach my goal weight however and this has helped me move away from my plateau!!! We are on day 2 of the 2nd phase and he is loving life although he is a huge meat and potato eater. We've even cheated a little on the weekends already but NEVER after 2 pm and NEVER more than 1 meal. He says in the book that a little bit of a cheat is good for you, and NOT to cheat ALL weekend. It's common sense but put as he has put it has made for dramatic results not only in weight but also in my husband's attitude. He's actually willing to stay on this lifestyle change to encourage more weight loss but also a much more healthy lifestyle! I would recommend anyone else to try it! Like me if you only have a few pounds to lose you may want to start at phase 2, but make sure to clean out your pantry first!!! :D GOOD LUCK ALL! Report
As you can tell by the title it's another diet. And we all know it's about a lifestyle change. Diets don't work and I think this one won't either. Can u live on it for the rest of your life? Report
Sounds interesting. Report