Military diet-approved foods aren't what you'd typically think of as "diet" fare, including hot dogs, toast, ice cream, and canned tuna, says registered dietitian Brooke Alpert. See the full breakdown of the diet meals below. These same meals are prescribed for everyone observing the diet and are carefully planned out so you don't overindulge or stray off the diet (since you can only eat the foods recommended below), says Alpert.
Here’s the hard truth—the Military Diet is the quintessential definition of a “fad diet,” and it’s an eating plan that I would not recommend or advise anyone to follow. Not only does it provide inadequate nutrients, but the diet’s food choices and food group servings do not follow the guidelines that research suggests to maintain health and prevent disease.
If you’ve been looking for a new diet to try — or just scrolling through healthy recipes on Pinterest — you’ve probably come across the “Military Diet." It’s a new fad diet that promises to help you lose 10 pounds in about a week, even more if you’re lucky, and was supposedly named after a technique the military uses to help recruits shed pounds. But what’s the real deal on this diet? Does it work as well as its proponents claim — and can you really eat ice cream every day that you're on it? We took a closer look at the meal plan. Check it out.
Nuts. It’s very easy to eat until the nuts are gone, regardless of how full you are. A tip: According to science, salted nuts are harder to stop eating than unsalted nuts. Salted nuts tempt you to more overeating. Good to know. Another tip: Avoid bringing the entire bag to the couch, preferably choose a small bowl instead. I often eat all the nuts in front of me, whether I’m hungry or not.
The remaining calories in the keto diet come from protein — about 1 gram (g) per kilogram of body weight, so a 140-pound woman would need about 64 g of protein total. As for carbs: “Every body is different, but most people maintain ketosis with between 20 and 50 g of net carbs per day,” says Mattinson. Total carbohydrates minus fiber equals net carbs, she explains.
Think about this idea: lose weight while eating ice cream, hot dogs, and cheese. Appealing, isn't it? It's difficult not to be enticed by the Military Diet. In exchange for three days of a hypo-caloric diet, dieters can expect a 10-pound weight loss. But is the Military Diet all it's cracked up to be? We're tackling the truth behind this diet to determine whether or not it's actually safe and effective.
While 1,200 may be the right number for some, it can be super restrictive for others, says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Try basing your meals and snacks off this plan and double up on veggies at any opportunity — more fruit at snack time works too! You can also add an extra ounce or two of protein at all meals if you find yourself feeling hungry. The combo of fiber from produce and lean protein makes this an adaptable strategy that’ll help you lose weight safely — one meal (and snack) at a time!
On the face of it, skipping meals seems like a path to losing weight — if you don’t eat as much, you’ll drop fat. But in practise, it doesn’t work out like that. A 2015 study from Ohio State University found that skipping meals messes up your metabolism and your hormones (specifically insulin), which results in an increased likelihood of abdominal weight gain. Researchers recommended eating several small meals throughout the day as opposed to one or two big ones.

While the diet as a whole may not be as varied as your regular diet, it does include enough rich and nutritious foods that it should meet your body’s basic needs. The diet only lasts three days, which means you’ll soon be able to eat a greater variety of foods that will fill in the gaps you’ve missed while dieting. If you were to keep following the diet, repeating the 3-day cycle over and over, you’d run into serious nutritional deficiencies.
“This is a great way of eating that I highly recommend to many clients, and I even model in my own life,” says Elizabeth Shaw, RDN, who is in private practice in San Diego and is the co-author of Fertility Foods Cookbook. “Since the premise of the diet is designed to help people who have high blood pressure, low-sodium foods are recommended. But considering that most Americans exceed their daily sodium levels anyway, it’s not surprising that dietitians recommend this style of eating for treating many different conditions, such as heart disease and obesity.”
This entertaining video follows the experience of 3 couples who attempt the Military Diet, competing to see which couple would lose the most weight. The couples had varied experiences, but typically the men lost more weight than the women. In terms of enthusiasm, most couples were happy with the results, but didn’t enjoy themselves while actually on the diet. One of the couples even talked about getting grouchy and snappy while on the diet! Watch the whole video to find out who the winners were, and how much weight they lost.
Boredom is dangerous and so easily leads to weight gain. While free time gets perceived as relaxing, it actually makes me feel anxious, which can lead to bad eating habits. My busiest days are the ones when I tend to focus less on my food and more on what I need to get done. That's why I always try to fill my schedule with things that make me feel productive—so I don’t find myself rummaging through the pantry for a lack of something to do.
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