Fad diets are so pervasive in today’s culture. The extensive variety of such diets can make it hard to distinguish the sound ones from the crash and burn ones.
Although many fad diets are baseless and borderline dangerous, there are a few that hold merit. One such being the Mediterranean diet.
So how does the newly emerged 17 Day Diet compare to other quick fixes? Discover whether it is safe, healthy, and worth it to persevere to day 17 of this diet.
The 17 Day Diet
Developed by Dr. Mike Moreno in 2010, the 17 Day Diet is a popular weight loss program. It touts that followers of this diet can lose 10-12 pounds in 17 days by changing food combinations and caloric intake each 17-day cycle. Dr. Moreno believes changing one's diet this often keeps metabolism in a state of confusion and avoids weight plateaus to speed up weight loss.
Two phrases that do not generally go hand in hand are building healthy habits and losing weight rapidly. Yet, that is exactly what this diet purports to do. How?
The 17 Day Diet is divided into four cycles, in which the first three cycles last 17 days while the 'Arrive' cycle is intended to last forever. The diet introduces new nutritional strategies and food options throughout each cycle.
The diet does not provide specific caloric guidelines. However, it progressively increases a person's calorie intake by introducing more calorie-dense food choices each cycle.
17 Day Diet Cycle
Again, the 17 Day Diet is divided into four cycles:
Cycle #1 - Accelerate
This first phase is intended to spur 10-12 pounds of weight loss in the first 17 days. This might be achieved by increasing protein intake, improving digestion, reducing refined sugar intake, and "detoxing". Followers are allowed to eat unlimited protein and vegetable options from the specific Accelerate foods list.
This sounds eerily similar to Atkins, South Beach, Keto, and the list goes on…
In addition, fruit is acceptable until 2:00 p.m. However, most other carbohydrates (even nutritious ones like potatoes and squash) are omitted from this phase. Serving sizes of some foods vary and others low sugar fruits and probiotic foods are limited to two portions per day.
Additional guidelines include:
• Remove skin from poultry
• Avoid sugar and alcohol
• Consume two probiotic foods daily
• Eat slowly and chew completely
• Drink 8, eight-ounce glasses of water per day
• Exercise for at least 17 minutes a day
Cycle #2 - Activate
The second phase of the diet cycle alternates between lower and higher calorie days every other day for 17 days. While based on the premise of alternate-day fasting, even lower calorie days provide more energy than traditional alternate-day fasting diets.
On lower calorie days, one eats the same as the first, Accelerate phase cycle. On higher calorie days, one can add two servings of naturally starchy carbs like legumes, whole grains, tubers, and root vegetables.
This Activate phase adds new food options, but the rules of phase one still apply, meaning no carbs after 2:00 p.m. And although evidence is lacking, this cycle phase claims to help reset metabolism.
Cycle #3 - Achieve
The third phase of the cycle is very similar to the third phase. However, followers are allowed to eat a wider variety of carb sources like breads, pastas, cereals, and fresh fruits and vegetables. One glass of alcohol is also permitted per day and the alternate-day fasting is not required.
However, carbs still are not permissible after 2:00 p.m. It is also recommended to increase aerobic exercise from 17 minutes to 47-60 minutes to account for the additional calories.
Cycle #4 - Arrive
Whereas the other phases last 17 days, this cycle is intended to last forever.
In this stage, followers can choose any of the meal plans from the other three phases. They are also supposed to follow it from Monday breakfast to Friday lunch.
The diet then encourages enjoying more indulgent meals in moderation from Friday dinner through Sunday dinner. Yet, eating no more than one to two of your favorite meals over the weekend and no carbs after 2:00 p.m. is advised.
One to two alcoholic beverages are permitted on the weekends. But the diet recommends exercising intensely for an hour on Saturday and Sunday to account for the extra weekend calories.
17 Day Diet Recipes
Rather than recipes, the 17 Day Diet encourages specific foods during each cycle phase. Foods to eat during each cycle include:
• Fish: canned light tuna in water, catfish, flounder, salmon, sole, tilapia
• Poultry: chicken and turkey breast, eggs (only twice per week), egg whites, lean ground turkey
• Non-starchy veggies: Bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, leafy greens, leeks, mushrooms, okra, onions, tomatoes
• Lower sugar fruits: apples, berries, grapefruit, oranges, pears, plums, prickly pear, prunes, red grapes
• Probiotic foods: kimchi, kefir, sugar-free and low-fat Greek yogurt, low-fat acidophilus milk, miso, tempeh
• Oils: olive and flaxseed oils
• Condiments: herbs and spices, fat-free salad dressings, fat-free sour cream, light soy sauce, low-carb ketchup, low-sugar marinara sauce, pepper, salt, Stevia/Truvia, vinegar
In addition to the Accelerate food options, the following are permissible. However, grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables can only be consumed on Activate days, and a serving equals 1/2 cup cooked.
• Shellfish: clams, crabs, mussels, oysters, scallops, shrimp
• Lean beef: flank, eye of the round, lean ground beef, round tip, top loin, top round, top sirloin
• Lean pork: boneless loin roast, center or top loin chops, sirloin chops
• Lean lamb and veal: cutlets, shanks, sirloin roast
• Legumes: black beans, black-eyed peas, butter beans, chickpeas, great northern beans, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, navy beans, peas, pinto beans, soybeans, split peas
• Starchy vegetables: corn, potato, sweet potato, taro, winter squash, yams
• Grains: amaranth, basmati rice, barley, brown rice, bulgur, couscous, cream of wheat, grits, millet, oats (plain)
In addition to the foods in the accelerate and activate phases, the following are allowed.
• Meats: Canadian bacon, cornish hen, lunch meat, reduced-fat turkey bacon, quail pheasant, sausage
• Breads: cracked wheat, fiber-enriched, gluten-free, multigrain, oat bran, pita, pumpernickel, rye, whole wheat
• High Fiber cereals: all bran, all bran extra, all bran buds, fiber one, gluten-free, low sugar granola
• Pasta and noodles: high fiber, gluten-free, udon, vegetable-based, whole wheat
• Fruits and vegetables: all fresh fruit and vegetables
• Low-calorie dairy: brie, camembert, edam, feta, fontina, goat, limburger, low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat ricotta, part-skim mozzarella; almond milk, low-fat milk, sugar-free rice milk, soy milk
• Condiments and oils: canola, light mayonnaise, mayo, reduced-fat salad dressings, walnut
• Other fat options: avocado, raw nuts and seeds, reduced-calorie margarine, trans fat-free margarine
• Optional snacks: frozen fruit bars, fudgesicle, granola bar, light microwave popcorn, skinny cow ice cream, sugar-free pudding cups
• Alcohol: 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, 1.5 ounces of hard liquor
This fourth cycle permits all of the above options from the first three cycles in addition to three of your favorite meals from Friday dinner to Sunday dinner. Also allowed are the options to:
• Drink one to two alcoholic drinks per weekend
• Swap main meals for broth-based soups
• Substitute one fruit serving for 3/4 cup of unsweetened fruit juice or 1 cup of vegetable juice
The 17 Day Diet Takeaway
Honestly, the 17 Day Diet is a little different than any other low-carb diet. The reason it might work for some is that it limits calories and carbs. It may purport that it can induce 10-12 pounds of rapid weight loss in 17 days, but much of that is water weight, not fat.
In addition, the diet does not encourage a supportive mindset around food and exercise since it promotes more exercise to burn off additional calories. This is a major risk factor for eating disorders, so proceed with caution if disordered eating is part of your history.
However, the diet as a whole encourages the building of a few beneficial eating habits. For one, it encourages plenty of fruits, vegetables, high fiber foods, lean proteins, and some healthy fats.
The diet also incorporates some light fasting, which is beneficial for metabolic health. It also emphasizes reducing refined sugars, reducing the risk of many chronic diseases. It is also fairly vegetarian-friendly and can cater to different cuisines.
On the other hand, it is basically a convoluted form of other diets that already exist. Following the Mediterranean diet will feel much less restrictive and exert the exact same benefits. But if strict guidelines help, then this is not the worst diet one could choose.
Raman R. 17 Day Diet Review: Does It Work for Weight Loss? Healthline. Updated December 11, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-day-diet#other-benefits.