DrPhil.com Exclusive

17 Minutes with Dr. Mike Moreno

by Nicole D. Sconiers


With the New Year underway, millions of Americans have resolved to shimmy back into their skinny jeans in 2011. The treadmills and elliptical machines are filled with sweating gym goers who hope to drop the pounds by summer. But you can be bikini-ready long before the temperatures climb, says Dr. Mike Moreno. In just 17 days, he says you can transform your body.

Dr. Mike - as he is known by his patients in San Diego where he practices family medicine - is creator of the 17 Day Diet, a program comprised of four Cycles that help boost metabolism and fight fat storage. Oh great. Another diet, you may be thinking. The variety of potions and powders already in stores that promise to help you tone up and slim down can be daunting, but the physician says his program is unlike any on the market. The 17 Day Diet is suitable for everyone " from carbo-philes to vegans. Even those who can't forego a glass of vino or slice of pizza can still lose weight. "It's not about deprivation," says Dr. Mike, but enjoying food in moderation.


So how exactly can you lose up to 12 pounds within the first 17 days, as the book states, and is such rapid weight loss healthy? In an exclusive interview with DrPhil.com, Dr. Mike sheds light on the science behind his program and explains how dieters can have their cake and eat it too!

How did you come up with the 17 Day Diet, and how is it different from other weight loss programs?

Dr. Mike Moreno: Over the years that I've practiced, it seems like I've heard every reason why diets fail, and I've heard every excuse as to why people can't comply, coupled with seeing the diets that have come over the last 10, 15 years. None of them have really encompassed everything in terms of the potential to be sustainable, doable and easy [as the 17 Day Diet does], which is what we all want. That, put together with the science behind metabolism and physiology and the way the body works, morphed into this concept.

Speaking of science, explain "body confusion" and what role it plays in the 17 Day Diet?

Dr. Mike: A while back there was a diet called an alternate day fasting diet, which would give your body calories by eating one day, followed by a day of fasting. This concept created this body confusion, or metabolic confusion, that caused the body to burn more fat and sugars. So you feed the body, and then you fast, which stimulates the metabolism.


The Activate Cycle of the 17 Day Diet plays on body confusion, whereby you're mimicking alternate day fasting; however, you're doing it in a healthy way. So you're using higher calorie intake followed by a lower calorie intake, and that whole process stimulates the body to lose weight.

How does each Cycle work?

Dr. Mike: Cycle 1 is our Accelerate Cycle. The purpose is primarily to give people what they want, which is quick results in a healthy way. This is typically the cleansing portion of the diet as well. You're going to clear those excess sugars, those bad carbs, and you're going to eat a lot of good carbs " fruits and vegetables and berries. The Accelerate Cycle is that first 17 days, which is going to promote rapid weight loss.


The second Cycle,  the Activate Cycle, is where the whole body confusion, or metabolic confusion, takes place. The key here is this is how you prevent plateauing. Other diets try to sustain a cleansing, and you can't. The body needs other nutrients. The body needs some carbs. As soon as you stop the cleanse, you plateau, and you gain the weight back. So this is just another healthy way of reintroducing more foods. You start having lean meats and chicken. You're going to have some grains and oatmeal in this Cycle. So the second Cycle is continued weight loss without plateauing, but in a healthy way, and continuing to challenge the metabolism to shift from the storage of fat and increase the burning of fat.

"It's just a healthy way to go through life. I like to call this the dietary algorithm of life."
" Dr. Mike Moreno

Thirdly, the Achieve Cycle is when you start to get back to normalcy. There are a lot of diets that deprive you. I'm not about deprivation. Life's too short. Some people say, 'You can't have carbs, you can't have potatoes, you can't have rice, you can't have a lot of these starches.' Well, you can have them, but you have to have them a certain way, you have to have them in certain quantities, and you have to have them at key, critical times in your day. So, the third Cycle is really about getting back to good eating habits. I think that's really critical. People are going to go, 'Wait a minute. You're going to be giving me potatoes and rice, and I'm going to be losing weight?' And my answer is going to be, 'Yes, you are.'


The fourth Cycle is even better. It's a more enhanced version of the third Cycle, because now you can enjoy a lot of these things. The weekends, typically, is where a lot of people go out to eat, they're going to parties. The strategy with many diets is that most people blow it on the weekends. Well, this diet allows you to let that leash go a little bit on the weekends. This is where you're going to get to do these things " go out and have a beer, or go out and have pizza, or go out and have a steak and a potato. From six o'clock on a Friday evening to six o'clock on a Sunday evening, that's a 48-hour time frame for people to enjoy the things that they enjoy, within moderation.

What happens if you have one too many glasses of Riesling or slices of pizza?

Dr. Mike: You can enjoy these things, and you can enjoy your life, and then when you go back on Sunday or Monday, you can really go back to wherever you want to go in the Cycles 1, 2 or 3. If you really want to focus on losing a little bit more weight rapidly because you have a wedding in two weeks, hit that Accelerate Cycle. If you want to shed a few pounds, but it's not too critical, just go to the Activate Cycle. It's just a healthy way to go through life. I like to call this the dietary algorithm of life.

Can vegetarians get in on the fun?

Dr. Mike: This is absolutely appropriate for everybody, of all ages, of every walk of life. Vegetarians are included in that. The whole issue is a lot of people say, 'Well, how are you going to get protein?' One thing I think is extremely helpful is eggs. There are a number of protein supplements, drinks, powders, nuts, cheeses. Some people eat tofu and dairy products. You can get really creative. There are some algae that are sources of protein.


Even if you're a strict vegan, and you don't eat fish, you don't eat chicken, you don't eat eggs, you don't drink milk - you don't eat any of that stuff -  there are still a lot of options. There are so many ways you can get protein nowadays, without supplements. If you really want to be extreme, you can hit the supplements, but I don't even think people need to go in that direction.

Why are probiotics necessary on the 17 Day Diet, and what role do they play in weight loss?

Dr. Mike: Probiotics have been around for awhile, and there's been more recent research done on them in terms of weight loss. There are hundreds of trillions of bacteria in the gut " good and bad. What a lot of studies have shown is there are effects that these bacteria have on not only the control of the good and bad bugs in the gut, but they help promote metabolism. Probiotics " from Greek yogurt and kefir, and things like that " help improve metabolism and the process of breaking down sugars and fats, and they have an effect on fullness and satiety. Those are the key things in terms of weight reduction and dieting.

What prevents that feeling of boredom many feel while dieting?
Dr. Mike: What keeps you from getting bored is the four Cycles and the excitement of all the different fun foods, learning to cook and becoming creative. There are tons of recipes. I think it's an opportunity for people to really expand their taste. We all get in this rut, and we eat the same things. The 17 Day Diet is different. You can eat five different breakfasts every week. There's so much diversity, and so many different options here, that it's really remarkable. You discover things you never thought you'd like.

Any final words about why people should try the 17 Day Diet?


Dr. Mike: There are so many people in this country who have the ability to live long healthy lives, and they don't, because they get caught up in this world of obesity that we're all experiencing. We can't control the real estate market, we can't control the war in the Middle East, we can't control the stock market, but we can control the health that we're given. If we would just get together and do something that's going to be successful for us, in one year, this country can be a completely different country. All we hear now is, ‘The United States is obese,' and quite honestly, they're right. I think it's just a great way, a fun way, an easy way, a sustainable way, for the rest of your life, to embark upon having better health.


Nicole D. Sconiers is an L.A.-based writer who recently received her M.F.A. from Antioch University Los Angeles. She is a backslidden vegan who enjoys international travel, skydiving and beating her friends in Scrabble.

Related Resource 


The 17 Day Diet
by Dr. Mike Moreno