Mike Moreno created the 17-day diet. A family medicine doctor from San Diego, Moreno believes that the secret the key to losing weight is changing the calorie count every 17 days for four cycles. By doing so, you’ll keep your metabolism in a constant fat-burning state. And that’s what you want in order to lose weight.
The diet in a nutshell
The short summary of the 17-day diet is this: you eat lots of lean protein, probiotics, good fats, and antioxidant-rich foods. You may not consume processed foods, salty foods, fried foods, and sugar. In the first cycle, you need to reduce the number of starchy vegetables, and as the diet progresses, you can eat a 100-calorie snack or a cheat meal. Because of the way the metabolism works, you can consume fruits only before 2 pm.
The diet is highly restrictive at first, with a daily limit of 1,200 calories. You can pick your own recipes, or follow some recipes that come with the book. During the 17-day diet, you need to exercise for 17 minutes each and every day.
And despite the high amount of lean protein you need to source from meats, you can alter the diet to fit your vegetarian and vegan lifestyle.
In the end, whether you speed up your metabolism or not, the main benefit of the 17-day diet is that you get a framework of a diet and exercise plan that will help you shed some pounds. Even at the most restrictive phase, the diet provides enough calories for a balanced diet.
How does it work?
As mentioned, the 17-day diet is separated into four cycles. All cycles last for 17 days, and the goal is to prevent boredom from consuming the same ingredients over and over again. Every stage has its own name. You lose the most pounds in the first cycle, but the three other cycles are there to help you prevent any yo-yo effects.
You can build your own meals according to the allowed foods. If you purchase the book, you’ll also get tips on how to follow the diet on the road, when you eat in restaurants.
The first cycle is the accelerate cycle, which promotes rapid weight loss. The goal here is to improve your digestive health and clear sugar from your system. You can follow the first cycle for 17 days, or until you reach your desired weight. If you lose enough weight in the first 10 days, you can move on to cycle 4. If not, you go to cycle 2.
The second cycle resets your metabolism through a carefully designed strategy to increase and decrease your calorie consumption. In the second cycle, you alternate between cycle 1 (activate) and cycle 3 (achieve).
Speaking of the third cycle, this is where you need to develop good eating habits through re-introduction of certain foods. During the third cycle, you can consume foods that were banned in the first two cycles. If you have more weight you want to lose, you can go back to cycle 1. If not, you can continue with cycle 3 for 17 days.
The fourth cycle lasts as long as you want. During cycle 4, you keep your weight where you want it to be. You can enjoy favourite foods on weekends, but you need to follow the guidelines throughout the week.
Is it easy to follow?
The 17-day diet is relatively easy to follow since it’s convenient. You get a tailored meal plan for holidays and busy work schedules. However, the idea is to spend a lot of time preparing food and shopping for food. Yes, it can get time-consuming.
But the good news is that there are a lot of available recipes you can copy. When you go out, there are tips and tricks for staying on the diet while eating at a restaurant. As for alcohol, you can drink one glass per day in the last two cycles.
The best part is that the meals are designed in a way that dispels hunger. You are never full or stuffed, but you’re not hungry.
The cycles explained
This is the hard part, and this is where you’ll make it or break it. Each cycle has its own set of ingredients, foods to avoid, and foods to consume. Let’s break it down.
Foods to avoid at all times include sugar (all types, including fructose, sucrose, glucose, and corn syrup), soda, honey, saturated fats, salty foods, trans fats, high-fat condiments, and high-sugar condiments. The only time you can consume these foods is during “free meals” on cycle 4 weekends.
Mike Moreno suggests that you have a 1-day transition between each cycle. This way, you can reduce blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cholesterol levels, and much more.
The first cycle is the most important, and it’s the one where you’ll lose the most pounds. All of the foods in cycle 1 are designed to burn fat, and lots of it: lean protein (no limits); choose between fish (salmon, tilapia, tuna, catfish), poultry, red snapper, ceviche.
- Up to 2 eggs per day, but no more than 4 yolks per week if you have high cholesterol. You can eat egg whites without restriction.
- Vegetables: artichoke, bell pepper, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, celery, cucumber, cauliflower, eggplant, green beans, garlic, leafy greens, kale, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, scallions, spinach, tomatoes. There is no limit on how many vegetables you may consume.
- Low sugar fruit, limited to 2 servings per day. One serving is one piece of fresh fruit or 1 cup of chopped fruit. Don’t eat fruit after 2 pm. The fruit you can eat includes apples, berries, oranges, peaches, grapefruit, pears, plums, prunes, and red grapes.
- Probiotic foods limited to 2 servings per day: yoghurt, kefir, Yakult, low-sodium broth.
- Friendly fats, 1-2 tablespoons daily, including olive oil and flaxseed oil.
- Condiments, low-fat broth, vegetable cooking spray, low-carb ketchup, mustard, fat-free salad dressings, lite soy sauce, Tabasco sauce, vinegar, fat-free sour cream, fat-free cheese, herbs, spices.
- In addition to foods to avoid, during cycle 1 you should avoid all red meat, pork, dark poultry, poultry skin, all grains (rice, wheat, corn, and oatmeal), legumes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, starchy vegetables in general, shellfish, fruit juice, and high-sugar fruit.
During the second phase, you can alternate between days from cycle 1 and days from cycle 3. Foods you can eat during cycle 2 include:
- Protein limited to the size of an average kitchen sponge. Lean cuts of meat, top sirloin steak, the eye of round, beef round tip, shellfish, lean ground beef, pork tenderloin, pork top or centre loin chops, lamb shank, veal cutlet.
- Probiotic foods: during cycle 2, you can have full-fat yoghurt instead of low-fat yoghurt.
- For fruit, in addition to those listed in cycle 1, you can consume pomegranate and barberries.
- Natural starches are limited to 2 servings per day, and they include whole grains (brown rice, barley, bulgur, oat bran, quinoa, oatmeal), legumes (black beans, butter beans, pinto beans, soy beans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas), and starchy vegetables like winter squash, potato, corn, and sweet potato. You cannot consume natural starches after 2 pm.
- During cycle 2, avoid fatty meat, poultry, processed meats, bigger fish (mackerel, albacore tuna, and swordfish), processed starches (pasta, bread, cereals), high-sugar fruits, alcohol, and fruit juice.
Called achieve, the third cycle is where you can start adding foods to your diet. During cycle 3, you can eat everything from cycles 1 and 2, and plus some more. Here are the additional foods you can consume:
- Protein: additional poultry, low-fat turkey bacon, sausage, Canadian bacon. You should, however, remove the skin from chicken and turkey and trim any fat on meat.
- Natural starches, limited to 2 servings per day. You can now add bread, cracked wheat, gluten-free whole wheat pita bread, high-fibre cereals, gluten-free and vegetable-based pasta, low-carb tortillas, whole wheat.
- There is no limit as to how many vegetables you eat, as long as they are on the list: broccoli, chillies, cilantro, fennel, grape leaves, kelp, edible seaweeds, radishes, summer squash, Swiss chard, zucchini.
- Fruit, limited to 2 servings per day and on the list: apricots, banana, cherries, figs, kiwi fruit, guava, mango, papaya, pineapple, tangerine, pomegranate, and other fresh fruit.
- Probiotics: you can start consuming low-calorie cheeses (cheddar, feta, goat, brie, part-skim mozzarella), and low-fat or skim milk
- Friendly fats now include avocado, canola oil, light mayonnaise, nuts and seeds, low-fat salad dressings
- Foods to avoid during cycle 3 include fatty meat, fatty poultry, processed meats, high processed starches, fruit juice
During the last cycle, you can eat any food from the first three cycles for Monday breakfast through Friday lunch. From Friday dinner to Sunday dinner, you can eat your favourite foods as long as it’s in moderation. However, you cannot consume more than 3 favourite meals over the weekend. Make sure to eat slowly and enjoy the food. During cycle 4, you can also consume 1 glass of alcohol during the weekend.