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The 17 Day Diet Explained – The Complete Guide

Learn about Dr. Mike Moreno’s popular weight loss program, the 17 Day Diet with our complete guide.

The 17 Day Diet is a weight loss program designed for people to rapidly lose weight and body fat. Additionally, the diet teaches individuals how to maintain the weight loss. The 17 Day Diet was created by Dr. Mike Moreno, a family doctor out of San Diego, California. The entire weight loss program is detailed in Moreno’s book “17 Day Diet” and is based on the premise of confusing your metabolism through a low calorie diet that cycles carbohydrates. Within the first year of the book’s release, Moreno sold over 1 million copies due to his multiple television appearances on shows like “Dr. Phil”. Currently, the diet program is in the process of creating workbooks, menus, books in Spanish and more.


Dr. Mike Moreno first created a weight loss program for his patients to lose weight, especially through the holidays. However, in late 2010, Dr. Mike appeared on an episode of “Dr. Phil” and received a huge endorsement from the popular TV doctor. The appearance generated a large following and propelled “The 17 Day Diet” into the mainstream media. By the spring of 2011, there was a second release of the book which catapulted sales over the one million mark. The weight loss program experienced a huge following online as well.


The 17 Day Diet is designed to change up your food consumption every 17 days to confuse and trick your metabolism. Our bodies can get used to a specific diet, which hinders some dieters from reaching their desired goals. The 17 Day Diet aims to bust through any plateaus and prevent dieters from gaining the weight back.

The diet is broken down into 4 cycles with the first three cycles designed to last 17 days each. The 4th cycle (phase) is designed to be the maintenance phase where you will maintain all of the weight you have lost.


This phase is the most radical change in one’s diet. Individuals will cut down to roughly 1,200 calories, dramatically reduce carbs, and lower fat intake. Dr. Moreno’s book claims that individuals will lose 10 to 15 pounds on average during this cycle.

This phase is designed to burn fat, lose weight, and eliminate unhealthy eating. 64 ounces of water is required and dieters may eat as much lean meats as they want. Starchy vegetables and foods high in fat are not allowed. Two pieces of low sugar fruit and green tea is also allowed each day.


The second cycle of 17 days (days 18 through 34) will cycle the amount of calories dieters may have. Dieters can increase the amount of carbs consumed by adding two servings of whole grain foods. This carb cycling is designed to trick the metabolism and alleviate any boredom with dieters. The Activate cycle will help dieters continue to lose weight on average of 5 to 6 pounds because it continues to stimulate fat metabolism.


The third cycle of 17 days (days 35 – 51) focuses on achieving healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime. Dieters will no longer be allowed to eat unlimited amounts of lean protein. Previously restricted foods are slowly reintroduced into the diet including more fruit.

This cycle still prevents dieters from eating processed foods but is designed to teach dieters how transition from a low carb diet to a diet that’s more balanced. Dr. Moreno claims that individuals still lose 2 to 3 pounds on average during this cycle.


From Day 52 onward, dieters are instructed to cycle between the first three phases throughout the week and have a controlled splurge of food on the weekends. This phase is meant to last the rest of a dieter’s life. However, if individuals gain 5 pounds or more, then they are instructed to go back to phase 2. Also, if dieters have not reached their goal weight before reaching phase 4, then they should return to one of the first three phases until they reach their goal weight.



Dr. Moreno has teamed up with BistroMD to provide weekly menus and meal plans for those that follow The 17 Day Diet. Unlike other diets, Moreno and BistroMD will make the meals and ship them to you already portioned out and according the diet’s guidelines. The foods are made from fresh and healthy ingredients and the menus are customizable. However, if you prefer not to go with the pre-made meal plans, then you can choose to create your own menus from foods that are allowed in the diet.

Sample Foods Allowed in The 17 Day Diet


  • Salmon
  • Sole
  • Flounder
  • Catfish
  • Tilapia
  • Tuna (in water)


  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Ground turkey, lean
  • Eggs (2 eggs = 1 serving)
  • Egg whites (4 egg whites = 1 serving)


  • Artichoke and Artichoke hearts
  • Asparagus
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Green beans
  • Green, leafy vegetables
  • Kale
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes


  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums

Probiotic Foods

  • Yogurt
  • Low-fat acidophilus
  • Acidophilus milk: (1 cup = 1 serving)

Healthy Fats

  • Olive oil
  • Flaxseed oil

The 17 Day Diet allows dieters to use seasonings and condiments in moderation. There are also suggestions of alternative foods for vegetarians like: tofu, lentils, legumes, vegetarian cheese, vegan rice, and almond or soy milk.


The 17 Day Diet touches on physical activity and recommended times of exercise through each cycle.

  • Cycle 1: 17 minutes of exercise per day
  • Cycle 2: 17 minutes of exercise per day
  • Cycle 3: 40 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 to 5 times a week
  • Cycle 4: Add at least an hour of exercise on the weekends in addition to a consistent weekly exercise program.

At the very least, dieters should be walking for the recommended amount of exercise time. However, weight training is suggested to help build lean muscle and tone your body. The 17 Day Diet has an exercise DVD that costs $12 to $15 dollars extra and provides three 17 minute workouts to help individuals continue burning fat and improving their metabolism. These exercises are easy to do and can be performed by individuals of all fitness levels#.


  • Focuses on natural foods and eliminates processed foods.
  • A solid structure for dieters of all levels to follow.
  • Simple exercise plan in addition to the diet.
  • Customizable food menus through BistroMD, which meet the diet’s guidelines. At an additional cost.
  • The level of strictness fluctuates to keep people from getting bored.
  • You can include the foods that you enjoy as long as they meet the requirements.
  • Encourages foods high in fiber.
  • Encourages healthy carbs and healthy fat.
  • Lose weight quickly.
  • Teaches dieters how to develop healthy eating habits.
  • Takes long-term weight loss and maintenance into consideration.


  • All of the shifting in calories and carbs can be overwhelming and confusing to beginners.
  • The low calories in phase 1 can be at a starvation level for some dieters.
  • This diet has conflicting reports over being suitable for diabetics.
  • Calories may be too low for individuals who exercise vigorously on a regular basis.
  • Some individuals may experience poor eating habits due to the irregular eating patterns.
  • Does not take into consideration psychological factors involved with weight loss and lifestyle changes.
  • Not enough scientific evidence supporting carb cycling and its effects on the metabolism, the body, and losing weight.
  • Splurging on the weekends during phase 4 can be detrimental to the progress made during the week. It can also lead to bad eating habits and an overconsumption of unhealthy foods and/or overeating.
  • The 17 day cycles and 4 phases, do an inadequate job at providing a long-term plan for those dieters who have a lot of weight to lose.
  • 17 minutes of exercise per day, during the first two cycles, is not enough time per week according to some health and fitness professionals.
  • The initial weight loss is water weight and might not be sustainable for the long term.
  • Does not meet some of the general recommendations for vitamin and mineral intake.
  • 64 ounces of water per day is not enough water during the last two cycles when dieters are exercising more.
  • The diet can get expensive with the book, workbook, cookbook, exercise DVD, BistroMD prepared meals, and other related products.