If you are looking to lose weight fast and have the discipline to stick with a tough diet for 21 days, the 3-Week Diet fills your need. It provides a rigorous workout schedule, exacting meal plan, and tips on how to keep with it.
Brian Flatt created the 3-Week Diet through observation of his clients. His goal was to create a diet plan that worked for everyone. His opinion is that this is the diet to end all diets. It’s an amalgamation of low-fat, low-carb, calorie-counting, fasting, and raw foods diet.
You will lose weight on this diet if you follow it exactly.
The 3-Week Diet In Review
When I read about the diet, I found most of the nutritional information to be outdated, disproven, or just plain wrong. He got a few things right, but not much. There is also very little information on how to transition back to a normal life.
Then, I read the diet plan and the workout plan. Despite the imaginary nutritional information he created, he actually got the exercises spot on!
He reviewed “over 500 medical studies, dozens of diet books and reviewing hundreds of diet systems, programs, gadgets, pills and potions” (direct quote from the book).
To put that into perspective, as a nutritionist, I read 500 medical and nutritional studies per month. There are over 20,000,000 (that’s 20 million) diet books on the market, and a total of $10,000,000,000 (that’s billion with a B) supplements, gadgets, and pills on the market per year.
He didn't use much information. There isn't even a reference to medical classes or anatomy. His background is like taking a first aid course and calling yourself a doctor.
Rapid Weight Loss
His plan works for people with no health problems, despite being overweight. This is good for a segment of people who are young enough to endure the rapid weight loss and rigorous schedule.
But I am concerned for the population that has diabetes or heart disease, who suffer injury, or who have been sedentary so long that the sudden shock of the 3-Week Diet will cause more problems than weight loss can cure. It’s equivalent to the weekend warrior heart attack.
Diabetics and people with any kind of heart or cardiovascular disease especially need to use caution. This diet system is too much of a shock and too lacking on proper nutrition to keep these people healthy.
How We Get Fat?
Flatt clings to the decades disproven calorie-in/calorie-out theory of weight loss. He even goes so far to say that carbs have no impact on weight gain. He does get it right by saying that we don’t get fat by eating fats. (A calorie is a measure of heat that is produced when a substance is burned by fire.)
In the past decade, it has become standard in the medical and nutritional field to not mention calories, simply because they don’t exist in the body. Carbohydrates and sugars do, and have over 10,000 studies to prove excess sugars, especially from processed foods, directly influence obesity, hormonal disruption, diabetes, ADHD/hyperactivity, and mental function.
He then goes on to talk about how we need to burn more calories, but never talks about the process of how that is done, just that we need to follow his system. Again, you can’t talk about how to burn calories because calories don’t exist.
Later in the book, he confuses the matter more by free exchanging calorie for sugar. He also has no understanding of the sugar-insulin cycles and the relationship of hormones for hunger, obesity, or energy.
Nutritionally, he tries to narrow what we need into less than 30 vitamins and minerals. Currently, we stand at over 100,000 nutrients that the body uses for health. In a healthy person, we can produce non-essential fats, protein, and phytonutrients from what we eat. But, if there is disease in a person, this ability is greatly reduced and over 80,000 nutrients are suddenly essential for health.
I also have great concerns over his reliance on whey protein. It’s not used in the medical setting because of a lack of bio-available proteins, contamination by anti-biotic and growth hormone residue, and the industry is riddled with recalls and product cancellations. There is a nice link to purchase his preferred brand of supplement, making me concerned that he uses it for profit, not health reasons.
Many other supplements are required. The whey protein, omega-oils, and many other vitamins are required for this diet. In Flatt’s opinion, if you aren't willing to do it all, and use his preferred brands, you will fail.
He actually does get it right when he recommends adding healthy fats to the diet. However, this recommendation conflicts with the restricted calorie diet later on.
The Undisputed Rules
There are 4 rules to not get fat. As a nutritionist for more than a decade, I can say this is the first time I've ever seen them. They have no basis in medicine or nutrition. They may be his rules, but they are not the rules the body follows.
This is used frequently in the 3-Week Diet System. Fasting is good for the body, but it requires at least 48 hours for the body to switch metabolic pathways. This diet recommends less than 24 hours. This is enough time to make a person really famished and uncaring of the plan, but not enough to trigger healing.
The timing is also suspect. He recommends starting in the afternoon and run into the next afternoon. No expert recommends this. It’s much easier on the body to follow natural cycles of fasting from morning until night, or for one total day.
It’s obvious Flatt is an exercise trainer, and I suspect a very good one too. His information on exercise is spot on and good for most people. He gets a bit weird talking about receptor activity and getting fat, most of which is wrong, but otherwise it’s good information.
3-Week Diet Meal Plan
This is the low-carb diet meets low-fat diet. In order to follow the low-calorie diet restrictions, fats are reduced. Since you reduce your carbs and your fat, your pickings are slim for food. It’s one of the main reasons why the whey protein makes such a starring role: it’s just about the only thing you can eat in quantity.
If this diet went on any longer, I would be scared for nutritional deficiencies. Out of the over 5,000 types of fruits and vegetables available, the 3-Week Diet, Week 1 limits you to 17.
He limits drinks to water. This is a good thing, since most people don’t drink enough water to meet normal needs.
The recommended first meal is lunch, with the last meal being just before bed. This flies in the face of all the studies on eating habits. We require breakfast to lose weight. Skipping it slows our metabolism.
The rest of the plan is a complex mix of calculating out different calories, supplements, and fasting habits. This isn't for the faint of heart.
At the start of the second week, you fast for 24 hours. Supposedly, this is for a detox purpose, but it’s not long enough to actually start the body into any other metabolic pathway other than carbohydrate metabolism. In the end, you are just going to be hungry.
Then, comes the really hard part. This diet wants you to get 80% of your calories from fat, and still keep under about 1200 calories. This means nearly 900 calories come from a source that does not fill you up. Only about 300 calories will come from any food source.
To put that in perspective, a dinner of 3oz of steak, 1 cup of broccoli, and a medium baked potato is 300 calories. That would be your total daily allotment in 1 small dinner. Additional recommendations call for using nuts (50-70 calories per oz), avocado (50 calories per cup), and cream cheese (100 calories per tbsn) as additions. As you can see, it would difficult to include them in the 300 calorie allotment.
The diet wants you to have 3-4 meals. I don’t know how it’s possible, unless you are eating nothing but bitter vegetables smothered in butter.
The final phase of the diet depends on a series of complex calculations to know how many supposed calories you spend at different activities and then totaling them up. It takes nearly 5 pages of the book to just explain the process. Now, I have advanced science degrees (yes, plural), with several years of calculus. I still couldn't follow the process:)
3-Week Diet Workout Plan
Here is where the 3-week diet shines. Despite not getting the nutrition background right, these exercises are top notch. He’s also absolutely right saying consistency is the key. This diet has exercises for every single day. It even highlights a warm-up period, necessary to avoid injury.
The book has diagrams of proper positioning and technique for each of the exercises and written descriptions. They even describe the correct ending positions and what to look for in muscle fatigue. I think this is vital information and he does a good job at describing it.
The plan is intense. You really need to give it your all, just like the diet calls for. There are many reps and cycles in each of the exercises. When you start to build the muscles up, the exercises become easier.
To start it all off, he talks about the easiest, most effective, and universal exercise (plus it’s free): walking. Walking is essential to the diet and overall health. It’s great to see a diet that uses this as such a integral part of the whole.
Our big concern is pre-existing injuries. This diet supposes you are healthy and injury free, despite being overweight. If you have an injury that prevents you from doing some of the exercises, it may be difficult for you to get the full experience.
3-Week Diet Motivation Plan
Motivation is key to losing weight and keeping it off. This diet has help for motivation.
Keeping a journal is the #1 way to lose weight and keep it off. It helps greatly to know what you have eaten and when you ate it. There is a section in the system dedicated to keeping a journal. Flatt even relates journaling to the rest of your life. He’s right in saying this is a total life experiencing.
There are also several smaller ideas to use. Some of them, like eating out and using seasonings are universal. They are very helpful suggestions. Others, like sleeping less and zero-calorie mouth entertainment (gum), are not so practical.
The basic message is to just keep pushing through. It is tough to lose weight and keep on a good track. The little blurb about Dr. Roy Baumeister, sums it up nicely: will power fatigues the rest of the body. It takes work to keep it up. But, we shouldn't give up because it’s hard.
Can You Lose 10 Pounds in 3-Weeks on This Diet Plan?
Yes, if you follow the meal plan, the exercise plan, and keep it up for 3 weeks, I firmly believe you can lose 10 pound. I think you could follow the 3 week diet plan to lose 15 pounds.
The biggest thing to remember about this diet is that it’s temporary and it doesn't teach you much about living your life day-to-day.
If you go back to eating a poor diet filled with junk, you will put the weight back on. Then, you diet again. This yo-yo effect is known to increase your risk of heart disease 200%. And unfortunately, it’s the stance that the 3-week diet takes.
Don’t take the ‘science’ presented in the 3-week diet to heart either. As we showed, it doesn't follow any of the proven facts about nutrition or physiology.
While the 3 week diet system is a good kick start to exercising healthy, it’s not recommended you follow it for the long-term. After getting started, follow a healthy diet and you won’t ever need to lose weight again.