Everything You Should Know About the Military Diet

The military diet is a trendy eating plan that has nothing to do with the military and is instead widely advertised on social media as a way to lose weight quickly up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in a week.

It encourages 3 days of calorie restriction, which is accomplished by adhering to a predetermined, low-calorie menu, followed by a period of unrestricted feeding, all without requiring you to take any supplements or pay any fees or subscriptions, and it claims to jump-start your metabolism.

Although the diet may cause quick, temporary weight loss, it is extremely restrictive, and long-term sustainability of the results is unlikely. Furthermore, because of their restrictive nature, crash diets like this one may have an impact on your relationship with food.

Furthermore, because of their restrictive nature, crash diets like this one may have an impact on your relationship with food. The military diet is covered in-depth in this article, along with a meal plan, potential risks, and whether it works to help people lose weight.

What exactly is the military diet?

The military diet, also known as the 3-day diet, is a brief, quick-weight-loss diet that promises to help you lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in one week.

The diet plan consists of three days of calorie-restricted eating followed by four days off. The weekly cycle should be repeated until the dieter reaches their desired weight, which could take up to a month.

The military diet is a type of intermittent fasting because it involves intermittent calorie restriction. Alternating between calorie-restricted and unrestricted feeding times characterizes intermittent fasting diets.

But even though it’s claimed that you can eat whatever you want on your days off, the diet encourages people to stick to a more flexible but still fixed meal plan on those days in order to continue losing weight.

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The military diet is a low-calorie weight loss plan that promises to help you lose a lot of weight in just one week.

How effective is the military diet?

The 3-day military diet is divided into two phases that last seven days.

For the first three days of the diet, a predetermined menu is provided for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without any in-between-meal snacks.

The total daily caloric intake during this phase is approximately 1,100-1,400, which qualifies as a low calorie diet, which is defined as a dietary pattern that provides 800-1,200 calories per day.

Importantly, this type of calorie restriction is significantly below the minimum 2,200-2,400 calories for men and 1,600-1,800 calories for women between the ages of 18 and 60 recommended by the 2020–2025 United States Dietary Guidelines.

You shouldn’t follow the military diet’s level of calorie restriction without a doctor’s advice or supervision to ensure your safety and adequate nutrient intake.

The military diet only recommends that people eat a well-balanced diet on the other four days of the week.

However, as previously stated, it does offer a less restrictive 1,500-calorie meal plan for those who wish to continue losing weight for the remainder of the week.

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The first three days of the military diet include a set meal plan and strict calorie restriction. The remaining four days have fewer constraints.

Meal plan for the military diet

Here’s a quick rundown of what a week on this diet entails.

3 days meal plan

The military diet’s 3-day meal plan includes a small number of foods 16 in total that are intended to be divided between breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Breakfast foods include the following:

  • Saltine crackers or toast
  • puffed rice
  • Apples, grapefruit, or bananas
  • hard-boiled eggs or shredded cheddar cheese

Lunch options include the following:

  • bread or saltine crackers
  • Cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and canned tuna

Dinner possibilities include:

  • any type of meat, no bun hot dogs, or canned tuna
  • broccoli, carrots, or green beans
  • bananas or apples
  • ice cream in the flavor of vanilla

As you can see, the first three days of the diet are lacking in variety.

Furthermore, day by day, the recommended serving sizes for these 16 foods gradually decrease. On the first day, you consume roughly 1,400 calories total; on the last day, 1,100 calories total are consumed.

In terms of permitted beverages, the diet recommends water or herbal teas. However, the menu advises against using creamers and sweeteners and permits caffeinated coffee or tea only twice daily.

The following 4 days

Apart from following a healthy eating pattern, there are no rules for the remaining 4 days of the diet.

A less restrictive 1,500-calorie menu is available for those who want to lose weight even faster.

Snacks, for example, are allowed on these days, but you’re advised to eat in moderation.

Once more, bear in mind that eating 1,500 calories a day still constitutes a calorie restriction that may not satisfy everyone’s energy requirements. This is especially true if you live an active lifestyle, which results in increased energy expenditure and, consequently, higher calorie requirements.

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The diet is more lenient the remaining 4 days than the first 3 days, which have a predetermined menu. For the next four days, you’re still encouraged to eat healthy or follow the diet’s suggested low-calorie menu.

Additional “allowed” and “forbidden” meals

The 3-day phase of the military diet allows substitutions for people who must adhere to dietary restrictions, provided that the portions and calorie count are in balance.

As an alternative to swapping potentially allergenic foods, like peanut butter, substitutions can also be made for people following a gluten-free, lactose-free, vegetarian, or vegan diet.

Nonetheless, the diet emphasizes the importance of not substituting orange for grapefruit. It suggests substituting a glass of water with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda instead, which is said to help alkalinize your body and reduce body fat.

While some foods do increase the amount of acid in your body, research indicates that your kidneys can remove the extra acid through urine. As a result, your dietary choices have little effect on the acidity or alkalinity levels in your body.

Furthermore, animal-based protein foods, such as those allowed in the diet, tend to increase your body’s acidic load, making this recommendation somewhat contradictory.

Furthermore, there is no evidence that baking soda can be used to reduce body fat.

Finally, supporters of the military diet advise against drinking artificially sweetened beverages in order to avoid weight gain. However, the evidence on the effects of these drinks on body weight is mixed.

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The military diet provides numerous food substitutions to accommodate various dietary restrictions. However, there is no evidence that grapefruit should be substituted for baking soda.

Is the military diet supported by research?

There are no studies on the military diet at the moment. Nonetheless, a calorie deficit is usually required to lose weight.

The complexity of some people’s weight loss journeys is added by additional variables that may affect weight loss, including the treatment of coexisting medical conditions and whether you take specific medications. However, these factors are not taken into account in this diet.

While some evidence favors a calorie deficit over a healthy diet, and vice versa, research demonstrates that both factors must be present for weight loss to be successful.

As a result, it is recommended to follow a healthy diet that promotes slow and steady weight loss without imposing severe restrictions. This is the polar opposite of what the military diet and other fad diets advocate.

The general rule for achieving sustainable weight loss is to gradually reduce your caloric intake, increase your physical activity level, and keep your nutrient intake adequate.

In fact, research indicates that moderate, ongoing calorie restriction is just as effective for weight loss as intermittent, extreme energy restrictions, such as 3 days on, 4 days off, proving that starvation is not necessary to lose weight.

Additionally, no one eating style is better than others or suitable for everyone. In actuality, effective weight-loss plans ought to be customized to fit the needs of every individual.

However, the military diet falls short of this requirement because it tries to provide a one-size-fits-all meal plan.

The military diet’s supporters also assert that the meal plan’s specific food combinations will speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight, but there is no basis for these assertions.

The only element of this diet that has been shown to support body weight and fat loss is the intake of caffeine, which is advised in the form of coffee and tea.

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The military diet is low in calories and can help you lose weight. However, that weight loss is unlikely to be sustainable, and you may be deficient in nutrients. According to research, balanced diets without strict restrictions are more effective at helping people lose weight.

How sustainable and safe is the military diet?

The military diet is unhealthy. Repeating the cycle several times may result in health problems such as nutrient deficiencies.

Furthermore, research suggests that drastic calorie reductions, even for short periods of time, such as the military diet, may create or worsen unhealthy eating patterns, poor food relationships, or disordered eating.

Furthermore, eating processed foods like hot dogs, crackers, and ice cream frequently may result in metabolic problems that raise your risk of developing chronic diseases. Instead, a healthy diet should consist primarily of whole, minimally processed foods.

Even though the diet’s low calorie intake causes frequent reports of hunger, it may be relatively simple for some people to sustain because it only requires you to stick to it for a short period of time.

Nonetheless, the military diet does not promote long-term positive habit changes. That means that any weight you lose will come back quickly once you resume your regular eating habits.

According to research, in order to successfully lose weight, maintain weight loss, and avoid gaining it back, it’s important to set reasonable weight loss goals and focus on long-term lifestyle changes as opposed to quick fixes like fad diets.

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Safety concerns could arise if you adhere to the military diet. Additionally, it is not long-term sustainable, and since you are not actually changing your lifestyle, you will most likely quickly put the weight back on once you resume your regular eating schedule.

Is it possible to lose 10 pounds in one week?

Because supporters of the military diet assert that you can lose 10 pounds in just one week, the diet has gained popularity. However, because everyone is different, the diet will not have the same effect on everyone.

Furthermore, the majority of your weight loss will be due to water loss. This is because severe calorie restriction causes a decrease in the body’s glycogen stores, which are your body’s energy reserve.

As long as you consume enough calories, fluid retention is simple because 3 grams of water are stored for every gram of glycogen. As a result, when your glycogen reserves are exhausted, so is the associated stored water.

Therefore, a decrease in weight results from this change in the water balance. You could easily regain any lost weight once you return to your normal eating pattern and replenish your glycogen stores.

If you want to lose weight, keep in mind that there are two stages to weight management: losing weight and keeping it off.

Best practices recommend aiming for a weekly weight loss rate of 1-2 pounds (0.5-1 kg) to ensure fat loss rather than fluid or muscle mass loss.

According to research, a suitable diet is one that is secure, nutritious, and long-lasting. You can do this by consuming fewer foods with added sugar and foods that are highly processed while consuming more fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products.

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While the military diet can help you lose 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in a week, it is not for everyone. Additionally, the majority of this weight would be water rather than fat, which you’d regain once you resume your normal eating habits.

Conclusion

The military diet promises quick weight loss but is unbalanced and unsafe.

However, because the majority of the weight you’d lose would be water weight, once you resume your regular eating schedule, you’d probably gain the weight back quickly.