The diet is in 4 Cycles--1-3 are in 17 day increments: 1. Accelerate; 2. Activate; 3. Achieve; and 4. Arrive. I am currently 10 days into the 1st (Accelerate) cycle. This cycle promotes rapid weight loss by improving digestive health. It's purpose is to clear sugar from the blood to boost fat burning, and to discourage fat storage. I'm going to be honest; this first cycle isn't a walk in the park, but it isn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be either. Besides, I figure you can do just about anything for 17 days. The diet is high in lean proteins; no carbs, and no sugar. Since I love carbs, that has been the hardest part for me. Normally I get really weak and light-headed with no carbs but I haven't had that problem with this diet and I think its because you can have unlimited lean protein and what are called "cleansing" vegetables. If you get weak from lack of carbs, you can eat more lean protein to curb your hunger. But I have to say that I am looking forward to Cycle 2 where I can start to add in healthy carbs :-)
As I said, Cycle 1consists of plenty of lean protein and cleansing vegetables.
Lean proteins consist of fish such as salmon (canned or fresh), sole, flounder, catfish, tilapia or canned light tuna in water. Lean poultry consists of chicken breasts, turkey breasts, ground turkey, eggs (2 eggs =1 serving) and egg whites (4 whites = 1 serving).
Cleansing vegetables are artichokes, artichoke hearts, asparagus, bell peppers, green, orange red and yellow; broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, and cauliflower.
Fruits: Some fruits have more sugar than others so for this part of the diet you have to stick to the following:
Berries, apples, oranges and grapefruits, all of which are lower in sugar. The most important thing to remember about fruits is to only have two of the approved fruits per day, and eat them BEFORE 2 PM. The diet's creator, Dr. Moreno says that fruit is still a carb, and that if you eat them before 2 pm your body will burn them off quicker and easier through your daily activities.
Probiotics (good intestinal bacteria) is also important in this diet, and some foods that contain probiotics are yogurt, kefir, miso, and tempeh. I don't like any of these foods, so get my probiotics from daily nutritional supplements instead, and the diet approves this if you don't like them or are lactose intolerant. I also take a daily multi-vitamin as encouraged.
Fluids: Green tea and water. The diet includes green tea with each meal because of its thermogenesis qualities. Unless your doctor advises against it you need to drink eight 8oz glasses of water per day.
These are the basic food items on this cycle of the diet, and you can pretty much design your own meal plans as long as these things are adhered to.
The diet starts my morning with 8 oz. of hot water with lemon, to get the digestive juices flowing. To me, this was pretty unpleasant so I adapted it to use my lemon in a cup a green tea, which is a diet requirement anyway. Dr. Moreno is not a big fan of artificial sweeteners, but he does allow Truvia, in small amounts. I personally like Splenda, so that is what I have been using in my tea. Coffee is not allowed on this cycle.
Breakfast: I like to keep things pretty simple so I tend to eat the same things pretty often because it's just easier that way. For breakfast, I usually saute peppers and onions (I get the frozen ones) in a little PAM and then I make an omelet with one egg and two egg whites and add them to it, and I have a piece of fruit with my breakfast and a cup of coffee. Coffee is not allowed on this cycle, but I can do without a lot of things, but I can't do without my coffee! I know me, and it's much easier for me to stay on a diet if I don't feel totally deprived of everything, so I decided that coffee is going to remain as part of my plan and I just have to deal with the implications. Other breakfast options are plain low fat yogurt mixed with berries or other allowed fruit; or a Kefir smoothie.
Lunch : For lunch I usually have a salad with protein, usually chicken breast. You can use plenty of fresh veggies in your salad. Although the diet says to use 1 tablespoon of olive oil with 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar as a dressing, I don't care for the bland flavor so I use fat-free Italian dressing. I'm not suggesting that everyone should make these changes, but they work for me. With my salad I have a cup of green tea with lemon. Another lunch option is a turkey burger. I make them from extra lean ground turkey and they are delicious. I make them with plenty of spices such as fresh onion, garlic powder, onion and herb powder, dijon mustard, lite soy sauce, rosemary, and a little seasoned salt. If I am having a turkey burger I add a side garden salad with this meal. Each pack of ground turkey makes about four burgers so I make them and have them for lunch or dinner. Another lunch option is a big bowl of Chicken-Vegetable soup and a cup of green tea. I will give you the soup recipe; I made it for the first time today and it is delicious. You can have it for either lunch or dinner.
Dinner : For me dinner is usually grilled or baked chicken breast or fish and a vegetable from the list, along with a cup of green tea. I believe you can have two tablespoons of olive oil per day, but I don't really like that to season most vegetables. Once again, I stray from the diet and use about a teaspoon of Smart Balance margarine to season my vegetables. Get creative with your spices on this diet, it really helps bring out the flavors in what can otherwise be bland food, but be sure to go easy on the salt.
Exercise : The diet recommends 17 minutes (or more) of exercise (preferably cardio) per day in this first cycle.
Chicken-Vegetable Soup Recipe
4 baked chicken breasts, diced into small chunks
1 ½ cups cabbage, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 cup okra, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
2 large celery stalks with leaves, chopped
1 15-oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 14-oz can of fat-free chicken broth
1 ½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Place all ingredients, except chicken, in a large pan and simmer for one hour or until vegetables are soft. Add in chicken and heat thoroughly. Enjoy this soup for lunch or dinner. Makes 4 servings.
Now that is the book's recipe, but I tweaked it a little--I could tell it was going to be bland as-is. I used half of a fresh small cabbage and one large onion, and I used frozen vegetables; a half bag of Italian vegetables and a half bag of vegetable gumbo vegetables. I used two cans of fat-free chicken broth (equals 28 oz) and a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, and I increased my chicken to 6 breasts. I seasoned with lite soy sauce, Italian seasoning, basil, bay leaves, fresh garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder and seasoned salt. This tuned out delicious and with my additions it made a double batch so I can freeze some for later.
As long as you keep in mind the foods you need to eat, and when you should eat them, and exercise, it really is a pretty easy diet to follow. But I really would suggest getting the book at www.the17daydiet.com because it does have a lot of additional helpful information that I didn't get into here.
Sorry for the extra long post, but I needed to go over the basics with you. I plan to post on a daily basis; if I find a recipe that I really like or find something that really seems to work for me I will be glad to share it with you. And I'm looking forward to any thoughts, comments or advice that you have--feel free to post it here.
Happy dieting! ~Denise