A Healthier U

Trendy Diet Book Review: ‘The 17-Day Diet’ by Mike Moreno, M.D.

This popular diet book published in 2011 is based around the idea of calorie shifting, or as the author calls it, “body confusion.” Altering your eating routine every few days and weeks is supposed to improve your metabolism by never letting it settle into a state of homeostasis. Diet claims include losing weight quickly (10-15 pounds within the first 17 days), which sounds appealing, but how much of this plan is hype and how much is scientifically sound? How reasonable and sustainable is this plan? Let’s take a closer look:

“The 17-Day Diet” is based on clean eating (no added sugar, no processed food and no fried food), and encourages drinking green tea to boost metabolism. There are four cycles to this diet plan, including:

  • Accelerate: Calories are limited to 1,200/day and carbohydrates are restricted after 2 p.m.
  • Activate: This step supposedly resets your metabolism through a strategy that increases and decreases calorie consumption each day. Carbohydrates are still restricted after 2 p.m.
    • Keep cycling between these first two cycles until you reach your goal weight
  • Achieve: Slow re-introduction of additional foods are now allowed, like the addition of one alcoholic beverage per day. Carbohydrates after 2 p.m. are OK (unless you’d like to continue or accelerate weight loss)
  • Arrive: This final phase allows you to indulge in some of your favorite foods on weekends, while following meal plans from cycles 1-3 Mondays-Fridays.

Nutritional pros include:

  • You will most likely lose weight quickly due to calorie restriction.
  • It is fairly balanced and promotes some foods from all major food groups.
  • Alternating cycles may help alleviate diet boredom.

Nutritional cons include:

  • No scientific support that you can “confuse” your metabolism to prevent diet plateaus by calorie-shifting (increasing and decreasing the amount of calories eaten each day).
  • No scientific evidence to support the no-carbs-after-2p.m.-rule.
  • The diet is not individualized — 1,200 calories/day may be too low for some active individuals and it also restricts some foods.
  • Ironically, this diet restricts processed/pre-packed foods yet at the same time the author promotes buying and eating his own pre-packaged breakfast food items. This can also increase cost.
  • Participants don’t learn how to mindfully eat their favorite foods, but instead learn to restrict. While this method may work OK for some individuals, it is also a perfect set-up for binge-eating on weekends.

The bottom line is while this diet plan encourages choosing healthful, whole foods, it is also calorie-restrictive and demonizes some foods as “bad.” The low calorie plan is likely not sustainable for most individuals’ long-term lifestyles.

A more moderate approach to diet includes eating foods you truly enjoy (like fruit after 2 p.m. and the occasional chocolate chip cookie) and being mindful of the portion sizes. If you’d like more information about healthful eating tips and resources contact PEAK Health and Fitness to schedule an appointment with one of our nutrition experts. health.utah.edu/peak.



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For more expert health news and information, visit healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed.