Saturday, 26 March 2011

The 17 Day Diet is the newest magic weight loss program to hit the bookstands. Promising to be the easiest way to lose weight I examine and reveal the truth about the diet and whether it lives up to its claims.

The Dr Phil Show announced The 17 Day Diet, a weight loss program created by Dr. Mike Moreno, a family practice physician in California, who penned the book initially as a plan to help people avoid holiday weight gain.  The diet claims that you can lose weight fast and up to 12lbs in 17 days, a claim many have attested to.

What Is The 17 Day Diet?

It's a diet based on the idea of metabolic confusion, also known as calorie shifting or cycled eating. What this means is changing the way you eat every few days or weeks, the aim of which is to constantly keep your metabolism guessing at what is next so that it never settles into a state of homeostasis. All of this is supposed to increase weight loss.

However, according to Mary Hartley, RD, MPH, the director of nutrition at Calorie Count "There is no scientific evidence to support the efficacy of calorie cycling or its effect on metabolism. On The 17 Day Diet, you'll adjust what you eat every 17 days, changing the combination of healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates that you eat. The diet also focuses on clean eating, which means no sugar, processed foods or fried foods.

Nevertheless, Rebecca Scritchfield RA,MD, LD of Diets In Review tells us "What really works with weight management is behavior change." And she's right. That's also the reason why people who bounce around from one fad diet to the next, commonly known as yo-yo dieters, never really achieve their weight loss goal, or if they do, it doesn't stay off for long because they're treating the symptom not the problem.

If you've ever watched the Biggest Loser, you know that it's not just about the hours put in at the gym or how carefully you count calories, but instead it's about digging deep into the issues and reasons behind why you have gained weight, as well as making a commitment to learn how to live a healthy lifestyle for life, not just a few days, weeks or months.

How The 17 Day Diet Works

The diet is broken in to four cycles, each with a different way to help you ultimately lose weight.
The first cycle is called "Accelerate" and promotes quick weight loss via cleansing and removing fat stores. During this cycle you will eliminate all refined carbohydrates and processed foods, and consume unlimited lean meat, no-starch vegetables, plain fat-free yogurts, low-sugar fruits, green tea, water and a little oil for days 1 to 17. This part of the diet is very restricted and may be difficult to complete.

The second cycle, "Activate," is supposed to reset your metabolism by calorie cycling. This means that from Day 18 to 34 the daily intake of calories cycles and recycles from low to high. The aim of this cycling and recyling is to trick the metabolism so that it does not slow down. In this cycle there is also the reintroduction of carbohydrates in the form of two servings of whole grains so as to raise the average calorie intake to 1500 a day.

The third cycle of The 17 Day Diet, "Achieve," aims to help you develop proper eating habits and re-learn how to eat carbs. Therefore between Days 35 - 51 you consume foods similar to those in the "Activate" phase except for the fact that the lean meat is no longer unlimited and you can enjoy more grains and fruit along with a serving of alcohol if you desire and a 100-calorie snack.

A 2009 study from the University of South Carolina found that people who maintain healthy weights don't eat low carb diets. Scritchfield wrote about the study at and said "Low-carb diets are seriously lacking in complex carbohydrates that are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, which aid in digestion and help people get and stay full.

Finally, the fourth cycle, "Arrive," uses a combination of the preceding cycles and allows you to splurge on the weekends.

This is considered a "Bad idea," according to Hartley. When one is allowed to indulge, even if it is a small amount it can give you a taste for more and easily destroy all the hard work you put in during the week.

The Truth About The 17 Day Diet

While cycled eating might help you reach a short-term weight loss goal, as with other fad-like diets, if you don't stick with it for the long term you run the risk of gaining back the weight you worked so hard to lose.
To achieve permanent, long term weight loss you need to consume a variety of healthy foods and incorporate exercise into your plan. Consumption of healthy carbs like sweet potatoes, brown rice, wholegrain pasta, lean proteins and healthy fats like avocados and olive oil are all essentials to a healthy weight loss program.

The 17 Day Diet does give advice about changing your eating habits and refraining from consuming refined and processed foods. However, because the weight loss is achieved through cycling many people have found it difficult to maintain the cycles, particularly the first cycle . On an article entitled "The Pros and Cons of the 17 Day Diet" you will see comments like;

"i've been on the diet for two days now. Amazing how much I crave carbs!"
"day 10 and have lost weight. But we're sick to death of chicken"
"I never want to eat tuna, salmon, chicken or turkey again in my life"

Exercise is an important aspect of any weight loss program and whilst the 17 Day Diet promotes exercise, it only advises to exercise 17 minutes a day. That is not enough time; you need to exercise a minimum of 30 minutes a day to keep your metabolism at a fat burning speed.

If you only have a few pounds to lose before going on holiday or want to drop a dress size in three weeks then the 17 Day Diet is a good choice, but if you have a number of pounds to lose, say over 20lbs then you would be best advised to follow a healthy weight loss program that is effective at losing weight at a steady pace and will enable you to keep the weight off permanently.

Hartley M,RD,MPH - "How dieting and age affect your metabolism,"
Koskie Brandi, Is the 17 Day Diet the New Fad Diet on the Block?