What if someone told you that you could lose 10 pounds a week…while eating ice cream? Sounds too good to be true, right? That’s the alluring sell behind the Military Diet, a strict eating regimen that’s been sweeping the Internet over the past few months. The rules: Follow a rigid meal plan for three days, then do four days of maintenance and watch as the pounds “melt away” by the end of the week.
When you're headed to the market, make sure to focus on the usual healthy fare, since you'll need at least a week's worth of food. But for the planned meals specifically, here's what you'll need to add to your 3-day military diet shopping list: 1 grapefruit, 4 slices of whole-wheat toast, 3 eggs, 2 cups of coffee, 11/2 cups tuna, 2 tbs peanut butter, 3 oz meat, 1 cup green beans, 2 bananas, 2 small apples, 2 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream, 1 cup cottage cheese, 10 saltine crackers, 2 hotdogs, 1 cup broccoli, 1/2 cup carrots, and 1 slice cheddar cheese. Chances are, you have a lot of this already in your kitchen.
Limiting your daily intake of fruits and vegetables, means you're likely not getting the amount of fiber, antioxidant vitamins A and C, potassium, and phytonutrients you need on a daily basis, she says. Since the diet also includes limited dairy, you'll likely be low on vitamin D, calcium, and potassium too—nutrients that most Americans are already lacking, says Amidor. Since the diet is super low-carb, you're not getting enough whole grains, either—which are a great source of B vitamins and fiber, she says. (See: Why Healthy Carbs Belong In Your Diet.)
Children who discontinue the diet after achieving seizure freedom have about a 20% risk of seizures returning. The length of time until recurrence is highly variable but averages two years. This risk of recurrence compares with 10% for resective surgery (where part of the brain is removed) and 30–50% for anticonvulsant therapy. Of those that have a recurrence, just over half can regain freedom from seizures either with anticonvulsants or by returning to the ketogenic diet. Recurrence is more likely if, despite seizure freedom, an electroencephalogram (EEG) shows epileptiform spikes, which indicate epileptic activity in the brain but are below the level that will cause a seizure. Recurrence is also likely if an MRI scan shows focal abnormalities (for example, as in children with tuberous sclerosis). Such children may remain on the diet longer than average, and it has been suggested that children with tuberous sclerosis who achieve seizure freedom could remain on the ketogenic diet indefinitely.
However, there’s little documentation that this internet-based diet originated in the U.S. military, or if it even has ties to it. There are plenty of established diet plans that promise quick weight loss—like the HMR diet—but is the Military Diet one of them? And is it actually a healthy or safe eating plan to follow? I took a hard look at the Military Diet to find out whether this seemingly faddish diet is really worth your time.
“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.”
The nerve impulse is characterised by a great influx of sodium ions through channels in the neuron's cell membrane followed by an efflux of potassium ions through other channels. The neuron is unable to fire again for a short time (known as the refractory period), which is mediated by another potassium channel. The flow through these ion channels is governed by a "gate" which is opened by either a voltage change or a chemical messenger known as a ligand (such as a neurotransmitter). These channels are another target for anticonvulsant drugs.
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When you’re eating the foods that get you there (more on that in a minute), your body can enter a state of ketosis in one to three days, she adds. During the diet, the majority of calories you consume come from fat, with a little protein and very little carbohydrates. Ketosis also happens if you eat a very low-calorie diet — think doctor-supervised, only when medically recommended diets of 600 to 800 total calories.
Slow down, we're not saying you have diabetes. But insulin resistance is "the beginning of your body not dealing well with sugar and carbohydrates," says Melina Jampolis, M.D., author of The Doctor On Demand Diet.. Basically, when you have insulin resistance, it means the body's cells have noticed an increase in sugar in the blood and ratchet up the amount of insulin to transport it to cells that process it for energy. A vicious cycle gets started, you create more insulin—too much of it, in fact—and your cells become resistant to it, leading to more free-floating sugar in your blood stream that eventually gets converted to fat and is usually stored in your belly. Unless you reverse the insulin resistance, your body will keep going round and round, and diabetes could develop. The key, says Jampolis, is to lose fat and build muscle. "Exercise, especially strength training, can improve your body's response to insulin even if you don't lose an ounce," Jampolis explains. Try lifting weights two to three times a week—these moves are great fat-blasters.
Before starting, ask yourself what is really realistic for you, Mattinson suggests. Then get your doctor’s okay. You may also work with a local registered dietitian nutritionist to limit potential nutrient deficiencies and talk about vitamin supplementation, as you won’t be eating whole grains, dairy, or fruit, and will eliminate many veggies. “A diet that eliminates entire food groups is a red flag to me. This isn’t something to take lightly or dive into headfirst with no medical supervision,” she says.
As a self-described “nutrition nerd,” I couldn’t help but analyze the first three days of menus provided using my nutrient analysis software. You’ll see the daily totals at the bottom of each day, and while I can’t describe the intake as “good”, “ideal” or “healthy,” the data was slightly better than I expected. (Or perhaps, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this very odd combination of foods!)
The best diet for losing weight is Weight Watchers, according to the experts who rated the diets below for U.S. News. Volumetrics came in second, and Jenny Craig and the vegan diet were third on this overall weight loss ranking list, which takes into account short-term and long-term weight loss scores. Some other diets performed as well or better in our rankings for enabling fast weight loss, but long-term weight loss is more important for your health.