17 Day Diet: Weight Loss Plan from Dr. Michael Moreno's Book

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You're going to be focused on losing pounds and inches. Some days, you might get a little discouraged if the scale doesn't move down fast enough, even though this diet does help prevent plateaus. But there's absolutely nothing to be discouraged about. There are other wonderful things happening inside your body that won't be reflected on the scale, like your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol decreasing.

Okay, I realize that right now you might not care about these things. You just want to slip into that sexy black number hanging in your closet ... you know, the one that used to fit years ago.

But it's important to understand that your weight and health are not separate issues. Being overweight is a symptom of being unhealthy. Focus on your weight and your health will improve—instantly. Consider what the results of various research studies say about the rather immediate effects of healthy nutrition on the body:

After 15 minutes: After the first morning of eating a healthy breakfast , your stomach's satiety signals have registered in your brain, and you feel full. The body's internal chemistry is at its most active first thing in the morning, so your breakfast is then used to the maximum. If you eliminated processed foods (white bread, sugary cereals) for whole grains and lean proteins like egg whites, along with fresh fruit, you should feel energetic and mentally alert after just one meal.

After 3 hours: Your artery linings are able to expand sufficiently to increase blood flow to the body's tissues and organs.

After 6 hours: The HDL (happy cholesterol) in your blood perks up and starts scouring LDL (lousy cholesterol) from the blood. You can think of LDLs as delivery trucks, depositing cholesterol in blood vessels, and HDLs as garbage trucks, taking them back to the liver where they're broken down.

After 12 hours: Your body finally has an opportunity to burn the fat it has stored for energy because you've eliminated sugar. When you're eating a lot of sugar, your body is so busy processing the sugar that it doesn't have time to do its other job, which is to help the body burn fat. So guess what? The fat ends up hanging around.

After 16 hours: You get a restful night's sleep.

After 24 hours: You're 1 to 2 pounds lighter, because your body has begun to flush excess water and toxins from your system.

After 3 days: Once your body senses it's losing weight, its blood-related numbers (cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar) start traveling in a healthy direction.

After 1 week: Your cholesterol levels can drop significantly. Blood levels of important disease-fighting antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E are higher. Your bowels are in better working order, and you should be at least 5 pounds lighter.

After 2 weeks: You'll experience healthy drops in blood pressure if you've been diagnosed with hypertension. Expect to have lost up to 10 pounds by now.

After 1 month: Nobody has to filter out chunks of fast food from your blood anymore. By now, blood levels of LDL cholesterol can fall by nearly 30 percent—a drop similar to that seen with some cholesterol-lowering drugs.

After 6 weeks: You've lost so much weight you can't buy new, smaller clothes fast enough. Yes, you should have lost quite a bit of weight (20 pounds is not unusual), and your blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels will be substantially improved.

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