It sounds too good to be true: a diet that allows you to easily shed a significant amount of weight in a short period of time. But that’s exactly what San Diego physician Dr. Mike Moreno claims that his 17 day diet can do. Dr. Moreno also asserts that his diet is easily accessible and can produce results for almost anyone. Bolstered by hype from bloggers and websites, the 17 day diet has quickly become a worldwide sensation. But can the diet live up to the hype? Here’s how the 17 day diet works.

How it works
The 17 day diet operates across three separate cycles, each lasting 17 days, followed a fourth long-term cycle. This strategy seeks to allay the monotony felt during traditional long-term diets, while also stimulating your metabolism by switching to a different cycle just before your body realizes it’s on a diet and begins to slow its metabolism. In addition, the diet also has a number of other, more quirky rules, such as no carbs or fruit after 2 p.m. With four different 17-day meal plans, coupled with 17 minutes of daily exercise, the diet promises dramatic results that will last a lifetime.

Cycle 1
The first of three 17-day cycles is known as the “accelerate” cycle. During this period, dieters seek to speed up their metabolism by reducing their calorie intake to a mere 1,200 calories per day. Dr. Moreno promises weight loss of up to 15 pounds during this initial period, although most of this is attributed to water weight. As part of their daily 1,200 calorie diet, dieters may consume an unlimited amount of non-starchy vegetables and lean protein, in addition to a limited amount of probiotics, fruit and a small amount of friendly fats like those found in olive oil.

Cycle 2
The second cycle, also known as “activate,” is closely modeled on the first phase, except that fat intake is reduced slightly, while adding two servings of healthy carbs — increasing your overall daily calorie intake to roughly 1,500 calories. This switch serves to prevent the body from getting accustomed to your new diet and reaching dieters plateau. During this phase, dieters should see an added weight loss of up to six pounds.

Cycle 3
The third cycle, dubbed the “achieve” cycle, is designed to help stabilize your body after the significant weight loss experienced during the first two phases. An expanded list of food choices are available during this cycle to transition you into a more stable and long-term diet. A broader range of healthy fruits, proteins, starches and fats are allowed, along with an optional serving of alcohol and a low-calorie snack.

Cycle 4
Once you’ve reached your target weight, it’s time to enter the “arrival” stage of the 17 day diet. This phase requires individuals to adhere to the diets laid out in cycles one, two and three during the weekdays, followed by relaxed rules on the weekends. For these two days, dieters can indulge in one or two of their favorite meals per day, along with up to two alcoholic beverages.