The diet consists of four consecutive cycles , each lasting for-- you guessed it!-- 17 days. Now I didn't buy the book so I'm not 100% positive I am following the rules correctly, but I get the main gist of what you are supposed to do. The first cycle basically limits your diet to lean meats, fruits, veggies, yogurt, and cottage cheese. You can eat as much of these food items as you want as there is no calorie-counting involved. The cycles then get less limiting as you go, slowly adding back in healthy carbs, low calorie snacks, meats with a higher fat content, and limited amounts of alcohol. By the time you get to cycle 4, you should be able to have 2 or 3 "cheat" meals where you have whatever you want. Since you're eating healthy the rest of the week, it shouldn't cause weight gain. However, if you do feel like you are starting to gain some weight back, or if you get to cycle 4 but want to lose more weight before you start maintaining, you can choose to go back to cycle 1, 2, or 3. Each cycle may seem tough for someone with no will power (like me), but Dr. Mike's argument is that anyone can do anything for 17 days.
I am currently somewhere in Cycle 3 (I kind of stopped counting, oops), and from my perspective in order to succeed in this diet, variety is key. In the first cycle you are pretty much limited to lean meat, fruits and veggies, so if you eat green beans every day you'll probably go insane. My strategy was to shop every four days or so, and only shop for the upcoming four days. That way I can buy just one of four different types of fruit, veggies, etc. Sometimes I get lazy and end up eating the same foods three days in a row, but for the most part I've been pretty good about mixing it up. It really helps in the beginning when you are getting used to eating so little.
The point of this diet is to change your eating habits, so the challenge becomes finding a way to transition from feeling like you are dieting to deciding that this is just the way you eat now. I'm still in the "diet" part, so I'm not really sure how I'll react when I get to that point. What I do know is no one can diet forever, so it will become crucial that my mental state becomes one of "this is how I eat now, I live a healthy lifestyle" rather than "I am eating this way because I am on a diet and trying to lose weight." If anyone has suggestions (other than therapy, too expensive), let me know!
In terms of results, if you can actually stick with this diet, it works (once again, whether it sticks is not something I can attest to yet). Now even I cheat a little-- I have allowed dairy products like low-fat string cheese and skim milk in my coffee/chai from the beginning because I couldn't live without a little dairy-- but sticking to the general outline of this diet will lead to results. It also obviously helps to work out along with the diet and you will see results much faster. The point is, like all diets, yes sometimes it sucks, but any serious weight loss is not going to be a walk through the park. So if that's what you're expecting, this is not the diet for you. As for me, I plan to see it through!