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The Promise

This isn't a 4-day crash diet. It's actually a month-long program that you tackle in 4-day bursts. And you can do anything for only 4 days at a time, right?

Before you start dieting with the 4-Day Diet by Ian Smith, MD, there's a little up-front work. You keep a food diary and record your exercise and your mood for 10 days before you even start the diet.

You also do a little self-evaluation, trying to figure out why you're overweight, why you've had problems losing weight, and what your challenges are.

Once you set a weight-loss goal, you start the actual diet. The diet is made up of seven phases that each last 4 days. Each phase has a different focus with lots of food choices, so you shouldn't get bored.

The seven phases go like this:

  1. Induction: This first phase is about getting rid of toxins by eating mostly fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes.
  2. Transition: You start reintroducing foods without overdoing it.
  3. Protein Stretch: You’ll load up on protein, such as lean meats, fish, and eggs.
  4. Smooth: This is where you can "cheat" a little. You can add some pizza, pasta, burgers, or hot dogs. Just don't pig out.
  5. Push: This is a hard part. You’ll need all your mental energy to get through these 4 days of limited calories and at least an hour of cardio a day.
  6. Pace: You keep a steady exercise and balanced diet going.
  7. Vigorous: This one is the strictest part -- 4 days of mostly vegetables and fruit, plus lots of cardio.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

Food choices vary between stages, but Smith keeps things simple with a list of foods and portions you can eat each day. Eat until you are satisfied but not stuffed.

The 4 Day Diet doesn’t say much about alcohol, other than it’s a temptation and you should practice the 80-20 rule. That means that if 80% of what you eat and drink is healthy and on the plan, and the remaining 20% is off the plan, you will still succeed in losing weight.

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