All You Need to Know About the Military Diet

The military diet is a fad diet that has become popular on social media. It has nothing to do with the military, but it is said to help you lose weight quickly—up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in a week.

It is said to get your metabolism going by getting you to eat less for 3 days. This is done by following a set, low-calorie menu, and then you eat normally for a while. You don’t have to take any supplements or pay any fees or subscriptions.

Even though the diet may help you lose weight quickly in the short term, it is very strict, and the results aren’t likely to last. Plus, crash diets like this one may change the way you feel about food because they are so strict.

This article tells you everything you need to know about the military diet, including a meal plan, possible side effects, and whether or not it helps you lose weight.

How does the military diet work?

The military diet, also called the 3-day diet, is a short-term, fast-weight-loss plan that claims to help you lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in a week.

The diet plan calls for a low-calorie meal plan for 3 days, followed by 4 days off. Dieters are told to repeat the weekly cycle for up to a month or until they reach their goal weight, whichever comes first.

The military diet is a type of intermittent fasting because it cuts calories on and off. Intermittent fasting diets involve alternating between times when you eat less and times when you eat as much as you want.

Even though you’re supposed to be able to eat whatever you want on your days off, the diet encourages people to stick to a less strict but still set meal plan on those days to keep losing weight.

Describe how the military diet works:

The 3-day military diet is done in two parts over the course of a week.

For the first three days of the diet, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all set, and there are no snacks in between.

During this phase, you eat about 1,100–1,400 calories per day, which makes it a low-calorie diet. A low-calorie diet is one that gives you between 800 and 1,200 calories per day.

Importantly, this kind of calorie restriction is far below what the 2020–2025 United States Dietary Guidelines say adults should eat, which starts at a minimum of 2,200–2,400 calories for men and 1,600–1,800 calories for women ages 18–60.

For your safety and to make sure you get enough nutrients, you shouldn’t try to cut calories as much as the military diet suggests unless a doctor tells you to or watches you.

For the other 4 days of the week, the military diet just tells people to eat a healthy diet.

Yet, as was already said, it does offer a 1,500-calorie meal plan that is less strict for those who want to keep losing weight for the rest of the week.

The meal plan for the military diet:

Here’s a brief review of what a week on this diet looks like.

The meal plan for 3 days

The 3-day meal plan for the military diet includes only 16 foods, which are meant to be split between breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Here are some examples of breakfast foods:

  • toast or saltines
  • peanut butter on grapefruit, apples, or bananas
  • hard-boiled eggs or cheddar cheese
  • Some options for lunch include:
  • toast or saltines
  • Tuna in a can, hard-boiled eggs, or cottage cheese are all good.

Some options for dinner include:

any kind of meat, hot dogs without a bun, or canned tuna green beans, carrots, or broccoli apples or bananas

vanilla-flavored ice cream

As you can see, the first three days of the diet don’t have much variety.

Also, the amounts of these 16 foods that you should eat each day slowly go down as time goes on. On the first day, you take in about 1,400 calories, and on the last day, you take in about 1,100 calories.

As far as drinks go, the diet recommends water or herbal teas. But the menu says you can have two cups of caffeinated coffee or tea per day. It also says to stay away from creamers and sweeteners.

The last four days:

In theory, there are no other rules for the last four days of the diet than to eat healthily.

But people who want to lose weight even faster can choose from a menu with 1,500 calories that is less strict.

For example, snacks are allowed on these days, but you should try to limit how much you eat.

Again, keep in mind that eating 1,500 calories a day is still a calorie limit that may not meet everyone’s energy needs. This is especially true if you have an active lifestyle, which means you use more energy and need more calories.

More foods that are allowed and those that aren’t:

Those who can’t eat certain foods can make substitutions during the 3-day phase of the military diet, as long as the portions match the calorie count.

Aside from foods that may cause allergic reactions, like peanut butter, substitutions include alternatives for people who want a gluten-free, lactose-free, vegetarian, or vegan version of the diet.

But the diet does say not to use oranges instead of grapefruits. Instead, it says to drink a glass of water with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, which is said to help your body become more alkaline and reduce body fat.

But research shows that even though some foods add to the amount of acid in your body, your kidneys can get rid of the extra acid through urine. So, what you eat doesn’t have much of an effect on how acidic or alkaline your body is.

Also, animal-based protein foods, like those allowed on the diet, tend to increase the amount of acid in your body. This makes this recommendation a bit confusing.

Also, there is no evidence that baking soda can help reduce body fat.

Lastly, people who support the military diet say that to keep from gaining weight, you should avoid drinking drinks with added sugar. But there isn’t a clear picture of how these drinks affect body weight.

Is there proof that the military diet works:

There are no studies on the military diet at the moment. Still, most people who want to lose weight need to cut back on calories.

But there are other things that can affect weight loss, like treatment for health problems that already exist and whether or not you take certain medications. These things can make it harder for some people to lose weight. But this diet doesn’t take these things into account.

Some evidence shows that a calorie deficit is more important than the quality of the diet, and vice versa. However, research shows that both are important for successful weight loss.

So, it’s best to eat a healthy diet that helps you lose weight slowly and steadily and doesn’t put too many limits on you. This is the opposite of what the military diet and many other fad diets say you should do.

Most of the time, you can lose weight in a healthy way by slowly cutting back on calories and getting more active, while still getting enough nutrients.

In fact, there is evidence that moderate and continuous calorie restriction works just as well for weight loss as extreme energy restriction on and off, like 3 days on, 4 days off. This means that you don’t have to starve yourself to lose weight.

Also, no one way of eating is better than others or works for everyone. In fact, successful ways to lose weight should be made to fit the needs of each person.

But the military diet doesn’t do that because it tries to be a meal plan that works for everyone.

Also, people who support the military diet say that certain food combinations in the meal plan speed up your metabolism and help you burn fat, but these claims aren’t true.

The only part of this diet that may help speed up your metabolism is the advice to drink coffee and tea, which contain caffeine. Caffeine has been shown to help people lose weight and fat.

Is the military diet healthy and safe?

The military diet is not well-rounded. Repeating the cycle more than once could cause health problems, like not getting enough nutrients.

Also, research shows that drastically cutting calories, even for a short time like the military diet, may cause or worsen unhealthy eating habits, bad relationships with food, or disordered eating.

Also, eating processed foods like hot dogs, crackers, and ice cream on a regular basis may cause metabolic problems, which can make you more likely to get a long-term illness. Instead, a healthy way to eat is to eat mostly whole foods and only a small amount of processed foods.

Some people may find it easy to stick to this diet because you only have to do it for a short time. However, people often say they feel hungry on this diet because it has so few calories.

Still, the military diet doesn’t lead to good, long-term changes in habits. That means that any weight you lose will come back quickly once you go back to the way you usually eat.

Research shows that setting realistic weight loss goals and focusing on long-term lifestyle changes instead of short-term fad diets is key to losing weight, keeping it off, and not gaining it back (1Trusted Source).

Can 10 pounds really be lost in a week?

Proponents of the military diet say that it can help you lose 10 pounds in just one week. But because each person is different, the diet won’t work the same way for everyone.

Plus, most of the weight you lose will be water. That’s because when you cut calories too much, your body’s glycogen stores, which are its energy reserve, go down.

When you eat enough calories, it’s easy to gain water because your body stores 3 grammes of water for every gramme of glycogen. So, when your glycogen stores run out, so does the water that was stored with it.

So, this change in water balance is what makes a person lose weight. Just as easily, you could gain back any weight you lost once you go back to your normal eating habits and your glycogen stores get filled up again.

If you want to lose weight, remember that there are two parts to weight management: losing weight and keeping it off.

Best practises say that you should aim to lose no more than 1–2 pounds (0.5–1 kg) per week so that you only lose fat and not fluid or muscle mass.

According to research, a good diet is one that is safe, healthy, has enough nutrients, and can be kept up for a long time. You can do that by eating less food with added sugars and less food that has been highly processed and by eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products.

In the end, the military diet is an unhealthy and dangerous way to lose weight quickly.

Most of the weight you’d lose, though, would be water weight, so you’re likely to gain it back quickly once you go back to eating the way you usually do.

If you want results that last, don’t try fad diets like the military diet, which can hurt your health. Instead, focus on making healthy, long-term changes to your diet.

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