The military diet requires people to follow a low calorie diet for 3 days and then return to regular eating for 4 days. Across the first 3 days, daily calorie intake is restricted to 1,400, 1,200, and 1,100 calories.
The diet is high in protein and low in fat, carbohydrates, and calories. It also includes specific food combinations to try to boost metabolism and burn fat. Despite its name, this diet does not relate to how people in the military eat.
In this article, we take a look at whether this diet works, its potential risks and benefits, and what to eat to follow the plan.
Low-calorie diets are those that recommend consuming between
It is impossible to predict how much weight an individual will lose on a restrictive 1-week diet as everyone is different.
However, people often experience rapid weight gain after stopping a short-term diet unless they have put a plan in place to maintain the weight loss.
Below is an example meal plan for day 1 of the military diet. People can drink water throughout the day, as well as 1–2 cups of black coffee or tea.
|Breakfast||half a grapefruit|
one slice of toast
2 tablespoons (tbsp) of peanut butter, ideally a salt-free and sugar-free brand
|Lunch||half a cup of tuna|
one slice of toast
|Dinner||3 ounces of any meat|
1 cup of green beans
half a banana
one small apple
1 cup of vanilla ice cream
A meal plan for days 2 and 3 of the military diet can be found here. Vegetarian meal plans are also available to follow.
The following list contains recommended items of food that people are encouraged to buy for the first 3 days of a week on the military diet:
Following a 3-day military diet plan can cause several potential problems. Some of the issues below relate specifically to the suggested meal plans.
Limited nutrient intake
The poor variety on the diet days means that people will struggle to eat enough fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients are essential for good health, energy production, detoxification, and efficient metabolism.
High in added salt, sugar, and saturated fat
Between the saltine crackers, peanut butter, bread, hot dogs, and cheese, the diet is quite high in processed foods that contain salt.
People should check nutrition labels to make sure that they are not eating more sodium than the recommended
The hot dogs that the diet recommends eating consist of processed meat. They contain high levels of saturated fat and sodium.
Each day’s meal plan also includes vanilla ice cream, which can be high in added sugar. People could substitute the ice cream for 300 calories of healthy fruit, vegetables, or whole grains, which the plan currently lacks.
A diet that emphasizes high-calorie, dense foods may not feel very satisfying because portion sizes must remain small to keep meals within the daily calorie budget. This approach may not be sustainable.
Calories too low to exercise?
Eating enough calories on the 4 days off will allow people to exercise more easily. However, proponents of the diet recommend sticking to fewer than 1,500 calories on these days too.
Following a VLCD can prevent people from exercising at all.
The military diet suggests that people who dislike or cannot eat grapefruit swap it for a glass of water with baking soda in it to continue to promote an alkaline environment.
It is true that foods can change pH from acid to alkaline. However, this
The high-protein aspect of the diet will make urine more acidic. As a result, it may not be suitable for someone experiencing kidney disease or gout.
In the short term, the military diet may be beneficial for weight loss.
It is easy to follow because it includes limited foods with simple measurements and cooking methods.
The plan provides the calorie targets for each food and suggests substitutions for people with food intolerances and other dietary considerations.
The diet focuses on protein, which increases the feeling of fullness, maintains muscle mass, and provides energy for day-to-day activities. It is important to maintain muscle tissue as it contributes directly to a person’s metabolism.
In the participants who were both following the diet and exercising, body weight, waist circumference, and body fat percentage all decreased.
Due to the military diet’s recommended daily calorie intake of 1,000 to 1,400 calories on the first 3 days, it is not possible to classify it as either a VLCD or an ADF program. Research on VLCD and ADF regimens only looks at diets providing fewer than 800 calories per day.
Although calorie intake on the military diet is too high to count as fasting, the approach of eating normally on the 4 days off mimics the practice of intermittent fasting. Therefore, people may achieve better long-term results by following this diet rather than a low-calorie diet.
Further research is necessary to confirm any specific benefits of the military diet.
Below are some commonly asked questions about the military diet.
How much weight can a person lose on a 3-day military diet?
A website providing information about the military diet suggests that people could lose up to 10 pounds (lbs) in 1 week and as many as 30 lbs in 1 month if they continue to follow the diet.
However, there is no research to support this claim. Also, losing 10lbs in a week is not considered healthy weight loss. A more reasonable rate of weight loss is 1-2 lbs a week.
Can a person do the military diet for 7 days?
No. The military diet, also known as the 3-day diet, is supposed to be followed for 3 days. For the remaining 4 days of the week, a person should resume the recommended daily calorie intake.
How do you lose weight on the 3-day military diet?
Proponents of the military diet claim that eating a calorie-restricted diet for 3 days of the week will kick-start a person’s metabolism and make them lose weight quickly.
The military diet involves restricting calorie consumption for 3 days and then eating a regular diet for the next 4 days. To optimize their weight loss, people may wish to try reducing calories on the 4 rest days too.
Following the military diet may be effective and harmless in the short term, but long-term adherence has associated risks. These include regaining the lost weight afterward, especially if people are reducing their calorie intake on all days of the week.
The diet is very limited in choice and includes some foods that are high in saturated fat, salt, and sugar. It also promotes eating unhealthy processed meats and underemphasizes vegetable consumption.
Adopting healthy eating habits every day is a more sustainable approach to losing weight and maintaining weight loss.