Is The 17 Day Diet the New Fad Diet on the Block?

By Brandi Koskie - DietsInReview.com

It's entirely possible that everyone in the U.S. has heard about The 17 Day Diet by now, a new weight loss book announced this week on Dr. Phil's show and then on The Doctors. Dr. Mike Moreno, a family practice physician in California, penned the book initially as a plan to help people avoid holiday weight gain. However, if one wanted, there's no reason you couldn't follow its principles all year round.

As soon as news broke about this new plan, search engines were being abused as hundreds of thousands of people began searching for what appears to be the newest magic bullet. If we didn't believe it before, we believe it now, that our society just wants the fast, easy, quick-fix solution for their weight problems.

"I'm always worried when I see a new book with 'diet' in it," says Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, LD of Elite Nutrition.

So what exactly is The 17 Day Diet? It's 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, constantly keeping your metabolism guessing at what is next and never settling in to a state of homeostasis. All of this is to increase weight loss.

"There is no scientific evidence to support the efficacy of calorie cycling or its effect on metabolism., says Mary Hartley, RD, MPH, the director of nutrition at Calorie Count. "There is no harm in calorie cycling temporarily or indefinitely and the process happens naturally for most people, who don't eat or burn the same number of calories every day. But I am not in favor of focusing on any process that takes you away from attending to the lifestyle changes that you need to make and practice for permanent weight control."

With The 17 Day Diet, you'll adjust how you eat every 17 days, changing the combination of healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates that you eat. Also, the diet focuses on clean eating, which means no sugar, processed foods or fried foods.

However, Scritchfield tells us "What really works with weight management is behavior change." And she's right. That's why people who bounce around from one fad diet to the next, commonly known as yo-yo dieters, never really seem to reach their goal, or if they do, it doesn't stay off, because they're treating the symptom not the problem. "Scientific research has shown that short term plans don't work," she says.

If you've ever watched Biggest Loser, you know that it's not just about the hours put in at the gym or how carefully they count their calories, it's about digging deep into the issues and reasons behind their weight, as well as making a commitment to living a healthy lifestyle for life, not just a few days, weeks or months. "People go on a diet and they end up regaining the weight they lost, sometimes more," says Scritchfield.

The diet is broken in to four cycles, each with a different way to help you ultimately lose weight. The first is called "accelerate" and promotes fast weight loss via cleansing and removing fat stores. "I'm always concerned when people use the word 'cleanse.' Our body naturally cleanses itself," says Scritchfield.

The second cycle, "activate," is supposed to reset your metabolism. The metabolism, a favored health buzz word, is the amount of energy, or calories, that your body must have to maintain itself. Everyone's trying to reset it, boost it and change it, and Hartley tells us what is true and what is a bit of stretch in that idea.

"A few specific foods and beverages have been shown to boost metabolism in research studies. They are hot red pepper (capsaicin), grapefruit, green tea, coffee and other caffeinated foods, and even water. But keep in mind that the increased metabolism these foods provide is too small to really be meaningful," Hartley says in the article "How You Can Control Your Metabolism" at DietsInReview.com. "Newer understanding of the hormones that regulate feeding and appetite control show that 'lifestyle factors,' such as exercise and sleep, influence metabolism above and beyond the actual number of calories they may save or burn. These include (but aren't limited to) weight training to build muscle, exercising aerobically for 30 minutes or more on most days, sleeping for eight hours at night, and eating regular, well-spaced meals."

The third cycle of The 17 Day Diet, "achieve," aims to help you develop proper eating habits and re-learn how to eat carbs. It's important to remember that restricting any one food group is never healthy, as your body needs all of those nutrients, albeit the right kind, in proper moderation and balance.

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 DietsInReview.com 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. It has been well documented that diets low in whole grain, fiber, fruit and vegetables, and high in calories, are associated with an increased risk of overweight or obesity and poor overall health, and these findings point out some of the limitations to eliminating carbs, especially those with potential health benefits."

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

"Bad idea," says Hartley. "Wild weekends can reverse the progress you make during the week. Ultimately, you'll feel like you are working hard but not getting anywhere. For example, if you created a 3500 calorie deficit by dieting and exercising Monday through Friday, you could easily undo it by eating and drinking 1750 extra calories for two days. Also, note that successful dieters change their mindsets so they want to eat healthy most of the time." Which goes back to what she and Scritchfield said earlier about behavior and lifestyle changes.

While cycled eating might help you reach a short-term goal, as with other fad-like diets, if you don't stick with it for the long term you risk gaining back the weight you worked so hard to lose.

"Weight loss can be achieved by getting a variety of healthy food and exercise," explains Scritchfield. "We need healthy carbs like sweet potatoes and brown rice, lean meats and healthy fats like avocados and olive oil." Not to mention regular exercise, which The 17 Day Diet advises that you follow their 17-minute exercise video each day of the week.

Click here to watch the 17 Day Diet video review, or you can see the full 17 Day Diet review at DietsInReview.com.

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