The military diet is a variation of the ever-popular three-day diet, a crash plan of "fill-in-the-blank" foods to eat if you want to lose weight fast. These diets typically claim that you can lose about 10 pounds in three days to a week if you follow their blueprint to the letter. The meal plans are usually extremely basic and calorie-restrictive, because let's face it, that's how you lose weight.
We reached out to two experts to see what they thought — and if the diet works. "It’s a low calorie diet that includes typical American foods," said Janis Jibrin, MS, RD, an adjunct professor of Nutrition at American University. "It’s nutritionally deficient, but not as crazy as some (i.e. juice fasts)." When it comes to the meal plan, she's not a fan. "It’s too low in many nutrients," she explains. Day 2 alone is "so low in fiber, iron, calcium and other nutrients, yet it manages to hit the daily sodium max. (Actually, most health authorities recommend 2,300 mg as a max, so this diet exceeds it.) Sure, the other four days offer more calories and nutrients, but even so, you’re still skimping."
During our research for this post, we noticed that on any military diet website—and there are a bunch of them—it’s virtually impossible to figure out who is behind the website and who the “experts” being cited truly are. Furthermore, the phrase “military diet” is actually a misnomer, according to a military nutritionist quoted in a CNN report. The military diet has absolutely nothing to do with our military, he said.

Being in optimal ketosis for a prolonged period of time (say, a month) will ensure that you experience the maximal hormonal effect from eating a low-carb diet. If this doesn’t result in noticeable weight loss, you can be certain that too many carbs are NOT part of your weight issue and not the obstacle to your weight loss. There are, in fact, other causes of obesity and being overweight. The next three tips in this series might help you.
The ketogenic diet is not a benign, holistic or natural treatment for epilepsy; as with any serious medical therapy, there may be complications.[27] These are generally less severe and less frequent than with anticonvulsant medication or surgery.[27] Common but easily treatable short-term side effects include constipation, low-grade acidosis and hypoglycaemia if there is an initial fast. Raised levels of lipids in the blood affect up to 60% of children[37] and cholesterol levels may increase by around 30%.[27] This can be treated by changes to the fat content of the diet, such as from saturated fats towards polyunsaturated fats, and, if persistent, by lowering the ketogenic ratio.[37] Supplements are necessary to counter the dietary deficiency of many micronutrients.[3]
Nuts, the second food to watch, contain a fair amount of carbohydrate, and it’s very easy to unwittingly scarf down large quantities. Cashew nuts are among the worst carb-wise – you’ll find that they contain around 20% carbohydrate by weight. For someone following a strict keto diet with a 20 grams of carbs per day allowance, this means that consuming 100 grams (which happens in a flash!) will have filled their daily quota. Peanuts tend to be around 10-15% carbohydrate – not putting them in the clear either.
Since we are talking about setting a meal plan, we need to talk about how many calories you should plan to eat. If your goal is to lose weight, all you need to know is your goal weight. The equation is easy; add a zero to the end of your goal weight to find your daily calorie goal. Just be sure not to go under 1200 calories per day as this will send your metabolism into preservation mode, which may cause your body to hold onto weight instead of releasing it.
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.

That’s why many health experts are concerned about people on the keto diet, especially those who try it without the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist. Doctors say that high-fat diets like this one may raise cholesterol levels, and some studies suggest that they increase the risk of diabetes. Some have even called it a “cardiologist’s nightmare.”


However, it's safe to say that no one really knows the origin of the military diet, Yurechko said, as it is certainly not approved by the military. But if you are still a tad bit curious about taking this diet out for a spin, we spoke to some experts on the subject to make sure you have all the ins-and-outs. Here are some takeaways to keep in mind.
Make things yourself. While it’s extremely convenient to buy most things pre-made or pre-cooked, it always adds to the price per pound on items. Try prepping veggies ahead of time instead of buying pre-cut ones. Try making your stew meat from a chuck roast. Or, simply try to make your mayo and salad dressings at home. The simplest of things can work to cut down on your overall grocery shopping.

Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist and Arivale Coach Ginger Hultin, MS, CSO, and Vermont-based registered dietitian nutritionist Maddie Kinzly MS, LD, told POPSUGAR that while you can't choose where on your body you gain (sorry boobs!) or lose fat, some people are more predisposed to holding weight in their belliesw. "Much of this is driven by genetics, so you can look to your parents and other relatives to better understand the body shape that you naturally have and where you may deposit fat stores," Hultin explained.
"With all the different tips out there, it can be tricky to understand exactly which exercises work the best. HIIT is great for fat burning and will get your heart rate up, but I’d also recommend including strength (resistance) exercises too. Try lifting weights, using resistance bands or using the weight machines at the gym as these will increase your metabolism to help with weight loss, and increase your muscle strength. It’s important to mix-up your whole-body workouts so you don’t get bored."
Switch to Lighter Alternatives. Whenever you can, use the low-fat versions of salad dressings, mayonnaise, dairy products, and other products. "You can trim calories effortlessly if you use low-fat and lighter products, and if the product is mixed in with other ingredients, no one will ever notice," says Magee. More smart substitutions: Use salsa or hummus as a dip; spread sandwiches with mustard instead of mayo; eat plain roasted sweet potatoes instead of loaded white potatoes; use skim milk instead of cream in your coffee; hold the cheese on sandwiches; and use a little vinaigrette on your salad instead of piling on the creamy dressing.
For long-term success, it is recommended to avoid short fad diets and focus on a gradual lifestyle change. Start eliminating processed foods, and begin eating a mostly organic, plant-based whole food diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds, nuts, beans, and legumes. Exercise at least 20 – 30 minutes a day. Get enough sleep, reduce stress, and practice a positive mindset.
A survey in 2005 of 88 paediatric neurologists in the US found that 36% regularly prescribed the diet after three or more drugs had failed; 24% occasionally prescribed the diet as a last resort; 24% had only prescribed the diet in a few rare cases; and 16% had never prescribed the diet. There are several possible explanations for this gap between evidence and clinical practice.[33] One major factor may be the lack of adequately trained dietitians, who are needed to administer a ketogenic diet programme.[30]

Honestly? We don't know. While TheMilitaryDiet.com offers plenty of information, including a section with frequently asked questions, blog, and alternative meal plans for vegetarians, there are no authors, experts, or webpage owners listed. And while the name implies a military connection, the page doesn't actually claim any ties to the armed forces. (MensHealth.com reached out to the website for more information and will update if and when we hear back.)
The notion that abdominal obesity is the most dangerous kind isn't new. Back in the 1940s, the French physician Jean Vague observed that some obese patients had normal blood chemistry, while some moderately overweight patients showed serious abnormalities that predisposed them to heart disease or diabetes. Almost always, the latter patients carried their fat around their middles. And, almost always, they were men.
The ketogenic diet achieved national media exposure in the US in October 1994, when NBC's Dateline television programme reported the case of Charlie Abrahams, son of Hollywood producer Jim Abrahams. The two-year-old suffered from epilepsy that had remained uncontrolled by mainstream and alternative therapies. Abrahams discovered a reference to the ketogenic diet in an epilepsy guide for parents and brought Charlie to John M. Freeman at Johns Hopkins Hospital, which had continued to offer the therapy. Under the diet, Charlie's epilepsy was rapidly controlled and his developmental progress resumed. This inspired Abrahams to create the Charlie Foundation to promote the diet and fund research.[10] A multicentre prospective study began in 1994, the results were presented to the American Epilepsy Society in 1996 and were published[17] in 1998. There followed an explosion of scientific interest in the diet. In 1997, Abrahams produced a TV movie, ...First Do No Harm, starring Meryl Streep, in which a young boy's intractable epilepsy is successfully treated by the ketogenic diet.[1]
One of the first dietitians was the English doctor George Cheyne. He himself was tremendously overweight and would constantly eat large quantities of rich food and drink. He began a meatless diet, taking only milk and vegetables, and soon regained his health. He began publicly recommending his diet for everyone suffering from obesity. In 1724, he wrote An Essay of Health and Long Life, in which he advises exercise and fresh air and avoiding luxury foods.[10]
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.
According to Mike Russell, MD: "If you weigh 180 pounds and your goal weight is 130 pounds, losing 20 pounds in one week—the right way—teeters on the brink of impossible. If you’re more like a Biggest Loser contestant, weighing 380 pounds, then losing 20 pounds in one week is plausible (especially considering a large amount of water weight you would lose during the first week)."

Unintentional weight loss may result from loss of body fats, loss of body fluids, muscle atrophy, or even a combination of these.[26][27] It is generally regarded as a medical problem when at least 10% of a person's body weight has been lost in six months[26][28] or 5% in the last month.[29] Another criterion used for assessing weight that is too low is the body mass index (BMI).[30] However, even lesser amounts of weight loss can be a cause for serious concern in a frail elderly person.[31]
Social conditions such as poverty, social isolation and inability to get or prepare preferred foods can cause unintentional weight loss, and this may be particularly common in older people.[43] Nutrient intake can also be affected by culture, family and belief systems.[28] Ill-fitting dentures and other dental or oral health problems can also affect adequacy of nutrition.[28]
Whether or not the 3 Day Military Diet works for you really depends on your overall goals. If your goal is to lose a few pounds and lose them quickly, then it might work for you. However, if your goal is more long-term, like substantial weight loss or improving your overall health, this diet will not work for you. It is too restrictive to sustain for a long period of time to help you do more than jump start a large weight loss, and it doesn't have enough vitamins and nutrients to help you improve your health or reach your fitness goals.
The meals shown here are "templates" that you can vary any number of ways to please your tastebuds and avoid eating the same old thing every day. Follow them and you'll get between 2,400 and 2,800 calories per day. That should provide plenty of calories for all but the most severely obese, while allowing most guys to lose fat around their middles at a steady pace. (Don't worry about hitting the numbers on the nose every time. If you exceed your fat quota during lunch, for instance, just cut back a little during dinner.)
The plan promotes long-lasting, sustainable changes, and undoubtedly a bounty of research backs this up. In fact, one December 2013 study in the American Journal of Medicine shows that people following Weight Watchers were close to nine times more likely to lose 10 percent of their body weight, compared to people following a self-help diet plan. (20)
Chronic stress may increase levels of stress hormones such as cortisol in your body. This can cause increased hunger and result in weight gain. If you’re looking to lose weight, you should review possible ways to decrease or better handle excessive stress in your life. Although this often demands substantial changes, even altering small things – such as posture – may immediately affect your stress hormone levels, and perhaps your weight.
The 3 Day Military Diet sounds perfect for someone that is trying to fit into a smaller dress or suit before an upcoming class reunion, but not designed to sustain a healthy lifestyle over an extended period. The concept of smaller portions, exercise, and drinking plenty of water is a good idea, but I agree that low calorie diets can be dangerous. Thanks for the interesting post!
Like most fad diets, the 3 Day Military Diet is extremely rigid with strict rules. Though it doesn't specifically rule out entire food groups, as a result of the rules most foods are off-limits. It therefore lacks variety. Though it doesn't promote unlimited consumption of anything, it does promote unhealthy, processed foods that are high in sugar, fat, and cholesterol. These include ice cream, hot dogs, and cheese.
You'd think it makes sense: if you have too much belly fat, do a lot of core work to make it go away. But Sylwia Wiesenberg, founder of Tonique Fitness, says it's counterproductive. "If you have extra belly fat, you'll never see the muscles you're working underneath," she explains. "Instead, focus on building a strong lower body—the largest muscle group, and therefore most calorie burning—which will help keep your metabolism humming long after." Then, when you are ready for abs work, do it standing up. A review of core training by the American College of Sports Medicine found that it's a more effective way to tone than traditional exercises that have you on the floor.

As long as this popular crunchy treat isn't doused in movie-theater butter, it makes an excellent weight-loss snack. Not only is popcorn high in fiber, it even delivers some protein. A 1-ounce serving of air-popped corn (about 3½ cups) has 4 grams of fiber, almost 4 grams of protein and clocks in at 110 calories. This combination makes it a snack with staying power. Popcorn is filled with air, so you get a pretty large portion without a lot of calories. You can eat 3 whole cups of popcorn for only 100 calories.
Carb cycling lets you tailor carbohydrate intake to your needs. For instance, the American Council on Exercise points out that to lose weight, you might try a plan of five low-carb days and two high-carb days each week. If improving muscle mass is your goal, reverse that ratio — five high-carb days interspersed with two low-carb days, matching the high-carb days to your most intense workout days.

A University of Michigan study found that lab rats who nommed on a diet enriched with powdered blueberries had less abdominal fat after 90 days than rats who ate a standard diet. The researchers suspected that blueberries are so good at targeting belly fat because of their high levels of phytochemicals, a naturally occurring antioxidant. FYI, blueberries are also an excellent source of fibre.
In 2008 between US$33 billion and $55 billion was spent annually in the US on weight-loss products and services, including medical procedures and pharmaceuticals, with weight-loss centers taking between 6 and 12 percent of total annual expenditure. Over $1.6 billion a year was spent on weight-loss supplements. About 70 percent of Americans' dieting attempts are of a self-help nature.[24][25]
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