The Military Diet, sometimes called the 3 Day Diet, is a quick way to lose weight. Proponents claim that you can lose 10 pounds in only three days. The actual connection between this diet and any branch of the military is a bit sketchy, but hey, who doesn’t want to look like a Marine recruiting poster?
The military diet is a very low calorie plan. Too low, in the eyes of the government, in fact. Over the course of three days, you will eat about 2,800 calories. Safe dieting guidelines typically suggest eating at least 1,200 calories a day, so this plan falls short. This is definitely not an eating plan for the long term.
This is also a very prescriptive diet. You are told to eat very specific foods in very specific quantities. Some people believe that these specific food combinations trigger chemical reactions in our bodies that help with weight loss. There is no science to support that hypothesis, though.
For day one, you get to eat a whopping 870 calories. For breakfast you get coffee or tea (unsweetened or sweetened with zero-calorie sweetener), half of a grapefruit (people taking blood pressure medication: beware!), and a slice of toast with peanut butter (1 tbsp). Boom! 220 calories or so, and your day has begun.
For lunch you get half a cup of tuna (or alternative low-fat protein less than 100 calories), another slice of toast (but no peanut butter this time) and coffee or tea again. This sumptuous meal weighs in at about 180 calories.
Brace yourself, because for dinner you are allowed 470 calories! These calories come from your choice of lean meat (as long as it’s under 100 calories), a cup of green beans, a cup of carrots, a cup of vanilla ice cream (finally something I can get behind!), an apple and the coffee or tea that we’ve seen all day. Congratulations, you’ve made it through day one. Day two should be easier.
The second day of the military diet balloons our intake to 1,150 calories! For breakfast you get one egg (any style, just watch the preparation to avoid any added fat), a slice of dry toast, a banana and that wonderful cup of coffee or tea. Nearly 50 calories more than yesterday’s breakfast. Feeling full?
For lunch you will eat a cup of low-fat cottage cheese, five saltines and a cup of coffee. Surprisingly, this is nearly 100 calories more than day one’s lunch, so you should really celebrate that cottage cheese!
Dinner features to hot dogs (do the military still love their hot dogs?), a half cup of carrots, a cup of broccoli, a banana, a half cup of vanilla ice cream (thank you!) and coffee or tea. This meal is a massive 150 calorie jump over yesterday’s dinner intake. Better let out your belt.
Day three is the hardest, with only 860 calories all day. The end is in sight though, so stay strong! For breakfast you get five crackers, a slice of cheddar cheese, a small apple (who buys small apples?) and a cup of coffee or tea. Tough? Yes, but just wait for lunch.
For lunch you will eat one hard boiled egg (which actually requires more calories to digest than it delivers), a slice of dry toast and coffee or tea. Take your time eating this meal. It claims to deliver 160 calories, but it won’t feel like it.
For dinner you get another cup of tuna or equivalent lean protean, a cup of carrots, a cup of cauliflower, a cup of melon, and a blessed half cup of vanilla ice cream. Plus, of course, your coffee or tea. This is about the same calorie load as day one’s dinner, but by now you are biting your fingernails for nourishment, so who’s counting calories?
If your will power (or your diet buddy) will support you through this three day diet, you will lose weight. The military diet is so low calories; there is no doubt that pounds will be shed. Staying on the military diet for more than three days is not safe. After the rigors of following this diet, the next most difficult task will be keeping the weight off. That is the central flaw in the military diet (beyond the unsafe calorie restriction, that is), you have not learned any new skills for long-term healthy eating. You will probably snap back to your old eating habits and the weight will come back.
The military diet might work in some situation where you need to lose weight quickly for a special event. For most of us, though, there are many healthier options. Check out the Diet Picker at PickMyDiet to find the best diets for you and your lifestyle. The military diet is unlikely to be the best one for you.