Three Day Diet

It's as easy as one, two, three – but does it work?

Full Name: Three Day Diet; variations too numerous to list

Origin: Though often linked to a diet developed during the 1980s at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, the actual origin of the three day diet is unclear. Spokespersons at the Cleveland Clinic deny any connection to it or to any of its many variations.

Description: The three day diet is just what its name implies: a diet plan to be followed for three days. Practitioners then eat normally (but healthfully) for the remaining four days of the week, returning to the prescribed meal plan at the beginning of the next week. Some variations allow dieters to take five or even six days off between rotations of the three day plan, but most people find a weekly schedule easier to follow. Although the meal plan itself is extremely restrictive (few if any substitutions are allowed), the four days of "free" eating soften the blow for most people.

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Likes: Black coffee and tea, water, toast, lean meats, fruits and vegetables

Dislikes: large portions, most dairy (dieters are allowed a small portion of vanilla ice cream each day), snacks and caloric beverages

Looking For: Yo-yo dieters who will enjoy compensating for three days of near starvation with four days of bingeing

Works Well With: Willpower

Full Detailed Review

At first glance, a three day diet plan might seem like a dieter's dream — you spend more time off the diet than on it. To most health professionals, however, this is precisely the problem. The main concern with the three day diet is that the days off in between the dieting provide the opportunity for dieters to return to their bad eating habits or, worse, binge to make up for the extreme deprivation of the meal plan. Doctors and dieticians are also concerned that the meal plan itself is extremely low calorie, which may be dangerous to some dieters. Another commonly voiced objection is that the plan takes no account of exercise.

Despite this, however, the three day diet "fad" has not only had staying power but has also spawned a number of spin-off diets. The three day cardiac diet is supposed to help patients lose weight quickly so they can undergo necessary heart surgery. The three day chemical diet, or three day chemical breakdown diet, supposedly rectifies chemical imbalances in the body. And the three day detox diet claims to rid the body of toxins, cleanse the liver and purify the body in general. Funnily enough, the meal plans for these diets all look suspiciously similar, both to each other and to the original three day diet.

The bottom line on this one seems to be that it's best left alone. Look for a diet plan that focuses on long-term lifestyle changes, balanced meals and regular exercise.