Very low calorie diets provide 200–800 calories per day, maintaining protein intake but limiting calories from both fat and carbohydrates. They subject the body to starvation and produce an average loss of 1.5–2.5 kg (3.3–5.5 lb) per week. "2-4-6-8", a popular diet of this variety, follows a four-day cycle in which only 200 calories are consumed the first day, 400 the second day, 600 the third day, 800 the fourth day, and then totally fasting, after which the cycle repeats. These diets are not recommended for general use as they are associated with adverse side effects such as loss of lean muscle mass, increased risks of gout, and electrolyte imbalances. People attempting these diets must be monitored closely by a physician to prevent complications.[1]
The classic ketogenic diet is not a balanced diet and only contains tiny portions of fresh fruit and vegetables, fortified cereals and calcium-rich foods. In particular, the B vitamins, calcium and vitamin D must be artificially supplemented. This is achieved by taking two sugar-free supplements designed for the patient's age: a multivitamin with minerals and calcium with vitamin D.[3] A typical day of food for a child on a 4:1 ratio, 1,500 kcal (6,300 kJ) ketogenic diet comprises:[27]
The website LiveItBeautiful.com states, “The military diet plan is designed to help you lose weight in just three days, which can affect some people adversely…. [S]ide effects or health conditions you can experience with the military diet plan include: dehydration, headaches, weakness, irritability, fatigue, muscle loss, and irregular menstruation.”
Thanks to the hormone estrogen, the female body likes to hold on to fat, too. A study in Obesity Reviews shows that women store fat more efficiently than men in an effort to prepare the body for pregnancy. But while it seems like women may have drawn the short-end of the stick, the stereotypical pear-shape is actually considered healthier than boasting a beer gut, because belly fat is a red flag when it comes to your health. “Visceral fat is associated with increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome,” says Harris-Pincus.
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Women who wake up and go to bed at the same time each day have lower levels of body fat, according to a study of more than 300 women from Brigham Young University in Utah. Chaotic sleep habits cause your internal clock to go haywire, which in turn causes your body to secrete fat-storing hormones like cortisol. The sweet spot? Try not to stray an hour from your usual sleep pattern, the study authors say. More than a 90-minute difference in sleep and wake times were linked to more body fat. (Tossing and turning? Check out these 100 tips to sleep better every night.)
First reported in 2003, the idea of using a form of the Atkins diet to treat epilepsy came about after parents and patients discovered that the induction phase of the Atkins diet controlled seizures. The ketogenic diet team at Johns Hopkins Hospital modified the Atkins diet by removing the aim of achieving weight loss, extending the induction phase indefinitely, and specifically encouraging fat consumption. Compared with the ketogenic diet, the modified Atkins diet (MAD) places no limit on calories or protein, and the lower overall ketogenic ratio (approximately 1:1) does not need to be consistently maintained by all meals of the day. The MAD does not begin with a fast or with a stay in hospital and requires less dietitian support than the ketogenic diet. Carbohydrates are initially limited to 10 g per day in children or 20 g per day in adults, and are increased to 20–30 g per day after a month or so, depending on the effect on seizure control or tolerance of the restrictions. Like the ketogenic diet, the MAD requires vitamin and mineral supplements and children are carefully and periodically monitored at outpatient clinics.[47]

The military diet is an increasingly popular fad diet for fast weight loss—and if you adhere to it, you likely will lose some weight quickly. Supporters of the military diet claim you’ll take off “up to 10 pounds” in seven days. By contrast, most nutritionists recommend a maximum weight loss of 10 pounds over the course of a month. Yup—the military diet is essentially a crash diet.
Because the Military Diet discourages substitutions, some may be led to believe that specific food choices have a “magical” effect to enhance weight loss. The truth is, there’s nothing special or unique about the combination of these foods over the three-day period. In fact, choosing different foods with similar macronutrient profiles would provide the exact results.
Try a diet in which you consume 2200 calories (men) or 2000 calories (women) per day. This should cause a deficit sufficient for you to lose one or two pounds per week, depending on your activity level. Some women may require lower daily calorie intake, such as 1800 or 1500 a day. Start by limiting yourself to a 2000 calorie limit per day, and lower the limit if you do not see progress.
There is a substantial market for products which claim to make weight loss easier, quicker, cheaper, more reliable, or less painful. These include books, DVDs, CDs, cremes, lotions, pills, rings and earrings, body wraps, body belts and other materials, fitness centers, clinics, personal coaches, weight loss groups, and food products and supplements.[23]
Instagram user @healthyhappydays_ was happy with her results, though. "I found it easy to stick to as it's only three days," she told us. "You know you're going to see results if you [are] 100% committed to it... If you're feeling bloated, especially after a big weekend or event, it's a good diet to do to get back to shape in a short space of time. That's the reason why I did it after being indulgent over [the holidays]." Because she typically sticks to a vegetarian or vegan diet, she substituted out two veggie sausages instead of the hot dogs and the meat.

The Military Diet is a strict, short-term plan that requires drastically reducing your caloric intake. The restrictions work over a three-day period, and then you take four days off from the diet. Some users participate in the Military Diet on an occasional basis, while others might do three days on and four days off for a month at a time. In fact, the Military Diet website touts that people who follow the plan for 30 days could “lose up to 30 lbs,” though registered dietitians strongly advise against doing so. (More on that later.)
Even though the diet does provide foods from serval food groups, registered dietitian Toby Amidor R.D. says it's not enough for complete daily nutrition—especially since high-calorie, low-nutrient foods like hot dogs and vanilla ice cream are part of the limited menu. "Due to the lack of adequate amounts of whole grains, vegetables, dairy, and protein, you won't be able to meet your complete nutrient needs over these three days," she explains.
Ilana Muhlstein, M.S., R.D.N., is the co-creator of Beachbody’s 2B Mindset program. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition and dietetics from the University of Maryland, sits on the executive leadership team for the American Heart Association, and leads the Bruin Health Improvement Program at UCLA. Ilana acts as a nutrition consultant for several companies, including Beachbody and Whole Foods Market. At home, she is a wife and mother of two.
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