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.”
Swanson, a professor of neurology who has researched the impacts of ketogenic diets on inflammation in the brain, got curious about the ketogenic diet when trying to treat the inflammation that persists for days after a person suffers a stroke. When he tried inducing a ketogenic state in mice with stroke injuries, he said, “I was overwhelmed by the effect.” Blocking glucose metabolism worked to suppress inflammatory genes, which in turn helped stroke healing.
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.
Drinking enough water can help you stay slim, too. Research from the American Chemical Society in Boston found that having two 8-ounce glasses of water before a meal while also reducing portion sizes could help you lose weight and keep it off. Not to mention, water fills you up, curbing your appetite: "In addition to slightly boosting your metabolism, drinking water before meals has been shown to help you eat less without trying," says Sass.
You’re transitioning. Your body is equipped to process a high intake of carbs and a lower intake of fat. Your body needs to create enzymes to be able to do this. In the transitional period, the brain may run low on energy which can lead to grogginess, nausea, and headaches. If you’re having a large problem with this, you can choose to reduce carb intake gradually.
A great source of calcium and important cancer-fighting compounds, broccoli also has loads of filling fiber and will set you back only 30 calories per serving. If eating this cruciferous veggie makes you bloat, try steaming it first, which makes it easier to digest while still preserving the cancer-fighting ingredients that could be lost when you boil or cook it in the microwave.
According to Paquette, the Military Diet does have one advantage over other weight loss plans: unlike other diets like Keto, which tend to eliminate entire food groups, the military diet includes a mix of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, albeit in tiny amounts. But he says the guidelines for the diet are simply too general to be considered healthy. For instance, breakfast on the first day simply lists "toast," without specifying whether it's whole-wheat or white.
Diarrhea can also be due to a lack of fiber in the diet, says Kizer, which can happen when someone cuts way back on carbs (like whole-grain bread and pasta) and doesn’t supplement with other fiber-rich foods, like vegetables. It can also be caused by an intolerance to dairy or artificial sweeteners—things you might be eating more of since switching to a high-fat, low-carb lifestyle.

Details of fasting practices differ. Eastern Orthodox Christians fast during specified fasting seasons of the year, which include not only the better-known Great Lent, but also fasts on every Wednesday and Friday (except on special holidays), together with extended fasting periods before Christmas (the Nativity Fast), after Easter (the Apostles Fast) and in early August (the Dormition Fast). Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) generally fast for 24 hours on the first Sunday of each month. Like Muslims, they refrain from all drinking and eating unless they are children or are physically unable to fast. Fasting is also a feature of ascetic traditions in religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Mahayana traditions that follow the Brahma's Net Sutra may recommend that the laity fast "during the six days of fasting each month and the three months of fasting each year" [Brahma's Net Sutra, minor precept 30]. Members of the Baha'i Faith observe a Nineteen Day Fast from sunrise to sunset during March each year.
Digestion is sneaking its way into the spotlight more and more these days, and for good reason—it does a heck of a lot of work. Think of it like a plumbing system: when food makes its way through your body, the digestive system works to turn calories into fuel you can burn for energy, or uses them to build the body's tissues, says Pines. Along the way, that food is also broken down so your body can absorb important nutrients and eliminate toxins and waste. When digestion is poor—i.e. there's a backup from undigested food or the pipes are leaking due to food sensitivities, the pipes won't work properly. As a result, "vitamins and nutrients aren't sufficiently absorbed, you become tired and bloated, your metabolism slows, and your body hangs onto belly fat." Once again, the fix to your problem relies in good ole' fiber and probiotics. These foods are a great place to start.
There are no days off. The plan actually requires you to restrict your food intake all the time. The site says that you have three days "on" and 4 days "off", but on your off days you are limited to 1,500 calories. Healthy food recommendations are provided for your off days. But anyone who can eat healthy portion-controlled meals doesn't need a special hot dog and ice cream program for weight loss. They should just stick to the nutritious diet they're already on.
In the 1960s, it was discovered that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) produce more ketone bodies per unit of energy than normal dietary fats (which are mostly long-chain triglycerides).[15] MCTs are more efficiently absorbed and are rapidly transported to the liver via the hepatic portal system rather than the lymphatic system.[16] The severe carbohydrate restrictions of the classic ketogenic diet made it difficult for parents to produce palatable meals that their children would tolerate. In 1971, Peter Huttenlocher devised a ketogenic diet where about 60% of the calories came from the MCT oil, and this allowed more protein and up to three times as much carbohydrate as the classic ketogenic diet. The oil was mixed with at least twice its volume of skimmed milk, chilled, and sipped during the meal or incorporated into food. He tested it on twelve children and adolescents with intractable seizures. Most children improved in both seizure control and alertness, results that were similar to the classic ketogenic diet. Gastrointestinal upset was a problem, which led one patient to abandon the diet, but meals were easier to prepare and better accepted by the children.[15] The MCT diet replaced the classic ketogenic diet in many hospitals, though some devised diets that were a combination of the two.[10]

Want to lose that belly fat? In your dreams! Seriously, though: a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to get rid of that extra fat around your waist for good. Among the 60,000 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study, those who snoozed for fewer than five hours a night were at the greatest risk of becoming obese and gaining 30 or more pounds over the course of the 16-year study period when compared to those who slept for seven or more hours.


It usually takes three to four days for your body to go into ketosis because you have to use up your body's stores of glucose, i.e., sugar first, Keatley says. Any major diet change can give you some, uh, issues, and Keatley says he often sees patients who complain of IBS-like symptoms and feeling wiped out at the beginning of the diet. (The tiredness happens because you have less access to carbs, which give you quick energy, he explains.)
Once you’ve completed the 3 Day Military Diet plan, it’s best if you limit yourself to 1500 calories a day for the next 4 days. Other dieters follow the military diet 4 days off rule, which means that after 4 days of following a 1500 calorie diet, they do the 3 Day Military Diet again. So, what does a 1500 calorie diet look like? Here are some ideas for how you can plan your meals for your 4 days off:
There’s one thing to like about visceral fat: It yields fairly easily to aerobic exercise. Vaporizing calories via running, biking, swimming—anything that gets your heart rate up—is an effective way to whittle your middle. In fact, one 2011 study from Duke University Medical Center, published in the American Journal of Physiology, found the sweet spot: Jogging the equivalent of 12 miles a week was even more effective in reducing visceral fat than resistance training three times per week. However, both types of exercise were beneficial when it came to belly fat, the researchers say. (Don’t have time to hit the gym? Try these fun at-home cardio workouts if you’re in a pinch.)
Josh Axe, a doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist, estimates that about 25% of people who try a ketogenic diet experience these symptoms, with fatigue being the most common. “That happens because your body runs out of sugar to burn for energy, and it has to start using fat,” he says. “That transition alone is enough to make your body feel tired for a few days.”
The foods included in the diet are chosen for a reason. Each food has a relatively low calorie count, as well as having protein, carbs and fats that interact and promote fat-burning action. These food combinations jumpstart your body's fat-scorching power and speed up your metabolism so the pounds melt away. Drinking extra water while on the diet will help to ensure that this happens. The water helps you feel full without having any calories, while it also helps to flush the nasty toxins out of your system. Those toxins are the same toxins that keep those stubborn extra pounds hanging around.
Finally, lunch on day 3 is very light, consisting of only toast and an egg. You still get a small amount of protein from the egg as well as a smattering of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, D, B-6 and B-12, and iron, all from the egg. You’ve now received an overview of the functions of all of these vitamins except for Vitamin D- which helps the body absorb calcium (1).
I have tried all kinds of weight loss programs and exercise, and they just didn’t get me the results I was hoping for. So I tried the 3 Day Military Diet after hearing about it through a co-worker. You wouldn’t believe how easy it is! Since you only have to make it through 3 days, I can manage the restrictive diet. Now I’ve done 3 rounds of the diet, losing 6.5 pounds each time! I haven’t gained the wait back afterwards either. I do eat only 1400 calories for the 4 days after the 3 day diet portion.
According to its website, the Military Diet works due to its combination of putting the body into a starvation state while consuming fat-burning foods. In fact, the site suggests that the extremely low level of calories is a form of fasting. Research on forms of intermittent fasting has suggested some potential health benefits, but the Military Diet doesn’t follow the same protocol that most research studies have used (going 16 hours without eating or alternating extremely low and moderate calories days, as well as emphasizing nutrient-dense choices when food is consumed).
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]
If you want to shrink your gut, get enough protein in your diet. In this case, about 25 percent of calories. Why? For starters, protein makes you feel full and helps you build muscle (which increases metabolism, thereby making it easier to lose weight). Just as important, high-protein diets have been shown to be the best way of attacking belly fat. In one study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, Danish researchers put 65 people on either a 12 percent protein diet or a 25 percent protein diet. The low-protein dieters lost an average of 11 pounds, which isn't bad. But the high-protein subjects lost an average of 20 pounds--including twice as much abdominal fat as the low-protein group.
H. Guldbrand, B. Dizdar, B. Bunjaku, T. Lindström, M. Bachrach-Lindström, M. Fredrikson, C. J. Östgren, F. H. Nystrom, “In Type 2 Diabetes, Randomisation to Advice to Follow a Low-carbohydrate Diet Transiently Improves Glycaemic Control Compared with Advice to Follow a Low-fat Diet Producing a Similar Weight Loss,” Diabetologia (2012) 55: 2118. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-012-2567-4.

The day before admission to hospital, the proportion of carbohydrate in the diet may be decreased and the patient begins fasting after his or her evening meal.[18] On admission, only calorie- and caffeine-free fluids[36] are allowed until dinner, which consists of "eggnog"[Note 8] restricted to one-third of the typical calories for a meal. The following breakfast and lunch are similar, and on the second day, the "eggnog" dinner is increased to two-thirds of a typical meal's caloric content. By the third day, dinner contains the full calorie quota and is a standard ketogenic meal (not "eggnog"). After a ketogenic breakfast on the fourth day, the patient is discharged. Where possible, the patient's current medicines are changed to carbohydrate-free formulations.[18]
The 4 days off in the Military Diet (days four to seven) offer a little more flexibility, as individuals can choose their own foods, as long as their daily calorie intake is between 1300 and 1500 calories. During these four days, the plan encourages dieters to eat lean proteins, vegetables, and limited carbohydrates. In addition, one cup of caffeinated coffee or tea is recommended with all breakfasts and lunches.
The final possible culprit behind stubborn weight issues may be the stress hormone, cortisol. Too much cortisol will increase hunger levels, bringing along subsequent weight gain. The most common cause of elevated cortisol is chronic stress and lack of sleep (see tip #10), or cortisone medication (tip #9). It’s a good idea to try your best to do something about this.
There are theoretically no restrictions on where the ketogenic diet might be used, and it can cost less than modern anticonvulsants. However, fasting and dietary changes are affected by religious and cultural issues. A culture where food is often prepared by grandparents or hired help means more people must be educated about the diet. When families dine together, sharing the same meal, it can be difficult to separate the child's meal. In many countries, food labelling is not mandatory so calculating the proportions of fat, protein and carbohydrate is difficult. In some countries, it may be hard to find sugar-free forms of medicines and supplements, to purchase an accurate electronic scale, or to afford MCT oils.[53]
In the 1960s, it was discovered that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) produce more ketone bodies per unit of energy than normal dietary fats (which are mostly long-chain triglycerides).[15] MCTs are more efficiently absorbed and are rapidly transported to the liver via the hepatic portal system rather than the lymphatic system.[16] The severe carbohydrate restrictions of the classic ketogenic diet made it difficult for parents to produce palatable meals that their children would tolerate. In 1971, Peter Huttenlocher devised a ketogenic diet where about 60% of the calories came from the MCT oil, and this allowed more protein and up to three times as much carbohydrate as the classic ketogenic diet. The oil was mixed with at least twice its volume of skimmed milk, chilled, and sipped during the meal or incorporated into food. He tested it on twelve children and adolescents with intractable seizures. Most children improved in both seizure control and alertness, results that were similar to the classic ketogenic diet. Gastrointestinal upset was a problem, which led one patient to abandon the diet, but meals were easier to prepare and better accepted by the children.[15] The MCT diet replaced the classic ketogenic diet in many hospitals, though some devised diets that were a combination of the two.[10]
Sure, you can take a multivitamin while you’re on the diet. That said, you should really only be taking a multivitamin if you struggle to eat a varied diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. The multivitamin will ensure that you’re not missing out on any minerals and vitamins that you’re not getting from your diet. Make sure that supplements and vitamins are approved by your doctor before you take them.
Your body consumes calories, even while you’re resting. A sedentary person (no exercise) burns an average of about 1600 calories in a day. These calories, however, are usually replaced with what you do eat. Through the first 3 Days of the diet you’ll eat less than what you consume, which means there’s an additional deficit of about 400 calories per day. So, without exercising, you can expect to cut out 1400 calories per day during the first 3 days of the Military Diet. Add in some walking and dedicate a bit of time to exercise, and you’ll eliminate another 600 calories or more! Based on these numbers, you’d cut out about 2000 calories per day, resulting in a weight loss of less than 3 pounds during the first 3 days of the Military Diet.

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.
The least intrusive weight loss methods, and those most often recommended, are adjustments to eating patterns and increased physical activity, generally in the form of exercise. The World Health Organization recommended that people combine a reduction of processed foods high in saturated fats, sugar and salt[11] and caloric content of the diet with an increase in physical activity.[12]
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