The 21-Day Wonder Diet Plan

full healthy breakfast
An overflowing bowl of muesli. (Image: Olha_Afanasieva/iStock/Getty Images)

You can lose as much as 22 pounds in three weeks by following the 21-Day Wonder diet, claim the plan's developers at "Australian Women's Weekly." More than 100,000 women -- including two of the Women's Weekly staff members -- have supposedly lost weight successfully on the diet, though the program may not be a healthy one for you, particularly if you're very physically active or have a chronic medical condition. Ask your doctor for advice before starting.

Basic Guidelines

The 21-Day Wonder diet consists of 21 detailed breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack menus. Each day's meals adhere to the Australian dietary guidelines and supply around 1,000 calories and 20 or fewer grams of total fat. All of the menus and daily nutrition facts are included in the "21-Day Wonder Diet" book, along with weekly shopping lists, a fill-in diet diary to record your progress and sample diet diaries from women who succeeded on the plan. "Australian Women's Weekly" also publishes the "21-Day Diet Planner," a collection of recipes that can be substituted for those included in the original plan.

Sample Daily Menu

A typical day on the 21-Day Wonder diet might begin with a breakfast of homemade bran and dried fruit muesli mixed with a sliced pear, nonfat fruit-flavored yogurt and nonfat milk. Lunch could be an egg-salad sandwich on rye bread made with low-fat ricotta and cottage cheese and chopped fresh chives. A pizza made from a whole-wheat pita topped with tomato paste, thinly sliced ham, tomatoes, onions, leafy greens and ricotta cheese could serve as dinner. You're allowed two snacks each day. These could be a raw vegetable like carrots, fresh whole fruit or low-fat crackers topped with a slice of tomato.

Possible Advantages

Following the plan allows dieters to control their intake in a healthy, balanced manner without having to do the menu development or count calories and fat grams themselves. All the recipes were repeatedly tested by the "Australian Women's Weekly" staff and emphasize nutrient-dense foods like whole grains, fresh produce, lean protein and low- or nonfat dairy, not diet products or supplements. Most require less than 30 minutes of preparation time. The plan recommends dieters work with a partner, a practice that the American Psychological Association says promotes weight-loss success. Each menu in the book is designed to serve two people.

Potential Disadvantages

The 1,000 daily calories supplied on the diet falls below the minimum 1,200 calories recommended for the average healthy woman. Men, who should have 1,800 calories daily, should not follow the plan. While moderate exercise is recommended -- 30 minutes of brisk walking each day, for instance -- no more specific instructions are given. Many dieters may need more than this to become and stay physically active and to maintain weight loss long term. Americans may find the menus difficult to follow: all the recipe instructions use the metric system, not standard American units like cups and tablespoons, and include ingredients, such as rocket greens, that aren't as common in the United States.

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