If you like eating meat and want to lose weight, you might be tempted to try this recent extreme diet fad that proponents have made some pretty outrageous claims about. One: that eating nothing but meat can cure you of autoimmune diseases. The problem is that there’s no good research to support that notion, or any other health claim, for that matter. Indeed, omitting foods known to be good for you — fruits and veggies among them — can lead to a bunch of unwanted side effects, including constipation and potentially dangerous nutrient deficiencies. Still, since you’re cutting out so many food groups, there’s a decent chance you’ll lose weight, experts say. Regardless of any possible benefits you might see, this restrictive approach is definitely one you’ll want to ask your doc about before you even consider diving in.
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, potassium and phytochemicals. People who eat avocados tend to have lower BMI, body weight and waist circumference than people who skip this green superfood, per a study in Nutrition Journal. While avocados are higher in calories than other fruits and vegetables, their satisfying fat and fiber combo may help you slim down. Add some to your salad, sandwich or taco night for a burst of creaminess and flavor.
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. A typical day of food for a child on a 4:1 ratio, 1,500 kcal (6,300 kJ) ketogenic diet comprises:
A ketogenic diet helps control blood sugar levels. It is excellent for managing type 2 diabetes, sometimes even leading to complete reversal of the disease. This has been proven in studies. It makes perfect sense since keto lowers blood-sugar levels, reduces the need of medications and reduces the potentially negative impact of high insulin levels.
Go back to basics. Go through your meal planners and food logs to see what does not match up. Look for possible processed foods or artificial sweeteners in new foods you’ve added to your diet recently. If you’ve stopped logging or planning your meals, take this opportunity to start again. Most often just that one step will pull you out of a plateau.
First things first: your stomach is made up of good and bad bacteria, which scientists like to call microbiota or gut flora. And it's important that you keep it in check, as if you were keeping a seesaw level. "Microbiota is considered the body's garden, and it has a controlling influence over a lot of important bodily functions, including metabolism," says Gerry Mullin, M.D., author of The Gut Balance Revolution. Studies show that a diet full of fat and refined carbs (think white bread and potatoes) and low in fiber (fruit, vegetables, beans and oats) disrupt the balance, and the seesaw starts to tip in favor of weight retention and fat accumulation.
Eat More Produce. Eating lots of low-calorie, high-volume fruits and vegetables crowds out other foods that are higher in fat and calories. Move the meat off the center of your plate and pile on the vegetables. Or try starting lunch or dinner with a vegetable salad or bowl of broth-based soup, suggests Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan. The U.S. government's 2005 Dietary Guidelines suggest that adults get 7-13 cups of produce daily. Ward says that's not really so difficult: "Stock your kitchen with plenty of fruits and vegetables and at every meal and snack, include a few servings," she says. "Your diet will be enriched with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and if you fill up on super-nutritious produce, you won't be reaching for the cookie jar."
"It’s easy to become impatient and frustrated when you’re trying to lose weight and haven’t seen the results yet. But be realistic – you won’t see the affect overnight. Your brain’s wiring plays a huge part in resisting changes in lifestyle, and it takes time to establish new habits – up to 12 weeks. Stick with it for at least eight weeks and you should notice a change."
A systematic review in 2018 looked at sixteen studies on the ketogenic diet in adults. It concluded that the treatment was becoming more popular for that group of patients, that the efficacy in adults was similar to children, the side effects relatively mild. However, many patients gave up with the diet, for various reasons, and the quality of evidence inferior to studies on children. Health issues include high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high total cholesterol, and weight loss.
Bulk buy and cook. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, this is the best of both worlds. Buying your food at bulk (specifically from wholesalers) can reduce the cost per pound tremendously. Plus, you can make ahead food (bulk cook chicken thighs for pre-made meat, or cook entire meals) that are used as leftovers, so you spend less time cooking.
Consequently, researchers have widely discredited the hCG diet, which involves using hCG injections, pellets, sprays, or drops, and consuming as few as 500 calories daily. The diet is problematic not only because there’s a lack of research on hCG supplements, but also because the calorie requirement is dangerously low, potentially leading to nutrient deficiencies, fatigue, hormone imbalances, blood clots, and other issues. Thus, most experts agree the hCG diet is not safe for anyone, the Mayo Clinic notes. (35)
Cortisone as an oral drug is another common culprit (e.g. Prednisolone). Cortisone often causes weight gain in the long run, especially at higher doses (e.g. more than 5 mg Prednisolone per day). Unfortunately, cortisone is often an essential medication for those who are prescribed it, but the dose should be adjusted frequently so you don’t take more than you need. Asthma inhalers and other local cortisone treatments, like creams or nose sprays, hardly affect weight.
Although many hypotheses have been put forward to explain how the ketogenic diet works, it remains a mystery. Disproven hypotheses include systemic acidosis (high levels of acid in the blood), electrolyte changes and hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose). Although many biochemical changes are known to occur in the brain of a patient on the ketogenic diet, it is not known which of these has an anticonvulsant effect. The lack of understanding in this area is similar to the situation with many anticonvulsant drugs.
When you're at the gym, don't head straight for the treadmills. Tim Rich, personal trainer and district fitness manager at Crunch Gyms in San Francisco says, "you lose steam when you save the weights for last, and that's where the magic happens." Weight-training burns approximately 30 to 50 more calories a day for every pound of muscle you gain, so "when you have more energy you'll be able to lift heavier weights, which helps you burn more fat everywhere, including your belly," he says. And researchers found that, while those who lifted heavy weights lost the same amount of weight as those who only did cardio, the only weight they lost was fat—the cardio queens lost muscle, and that's never good, especially as you get older.
A little garlic in your meals could mean a lot less weight around your middle. The results of a Korean study found that mice given a high-fat diet supplemented with garlic lost significantly more weight and abdominal fat than those who just ate fatty foods. Even better, they also improved their liver health, making it easier to stay healthy and burn off that excess fat in the long term. For more flavorful ways to make your food more enjoyable, turn to the 20 Spicy Recipes That Fire Up Your Metabolism and watch those pounds melt away.
People claiming huge benefits of these supplements – despite the lack of solid scientific support – may sometimes have a financial reason to believe in the supplements. Some of these products are sold under a multi-level marketing arrangement, where sales people are paid based on commission. For example, the company Prüvit sells drinkable ketones, called KETO//OS with a multi-level marketing structure.
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)."
“There are many diet plans on the market today that promote good health,” says Emily Kyle, RDN, who is in private practice in Rochester, New York. “The key is finding one that does not cause you stress or agony.” Ask yourself questions such as: Would the diet guidelines make you happy? Anxious? Stressed? Are you able to follow them long term? “Factors such as enjoyment, flexibility, and longevity should be strongly considered,” adds Kyle.
As Michael Dansingel, MD from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said: "First, if a diet sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Second, if you can’t see yourself following the diet for the rest of your life, it’s not for you." This basically holds true to the 3 day Military Diet: it sounds magical, yet when you take a closer look, you realize its pitfalls.
The Military Diet is no different from any other plan that requires you to count calories to lose weight. On your three days "on" the calories are counted for you, but only if you eat the bizarre combination of foods that are suggested. If you substitute any food on your three days “on” you are required to measure your food and count calories. On your four days “off” you are also required to keep a food log and count calories.
“Crash diets, also called meal-replacement programs, have become increasingly fashionable in the past few years,” said lead author Dr. Jennifer Rayner, Oxford Centre for Magnetic Resonance, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. “The metabolic improvements with a very low-calorie diet, such as a reduction in liver fat and reversal of diabetes, would be expected to improve heart function. Instead, heart function got worse in the first week before starting to improve.”
Insulin (in-suh-lin): A hormone made by the cells in your pancreas. Insulin helps your body store the glucose (sugar) from your meals. If you have diabetes and your pancreas is unable to make enough of this hormone, you may be prescribed medicines to help your liver make more or make your muscles more sensitive to the available insulin. If these medicines are not enough, you may be prescribed insulin shots.
One of the central claims of the Military Diet is that your meals are arranged in “fat-burning” food combinations. However, “There’s no science behind it,” says Gomer. You may still lose weight if the calories you’re consuming are less than the calories you’re burning off throughout your day. But nothing about pairing grapefruit with peanut butter toast will necessarily help you slim your waistline more than another combination of similarly caloric foods, Gomer says.
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.
Aside from just looking for a quick way to drop pounds without improving your health, you should also have very strong willpower. This diet may allow you to eat ice cream- but it doesn't allow you to stray from the laid out plans at all. It's also very likely that the diet will make you quite hungry; so you must be prepared to not give in to those hunger pangs.
By the time you reach dinner on the 3 Day Military Diet, you’ll be relieved to see the feast you’re allowed to enjoy. The dinners are the heaviest meal of the day- offering the most calories- and also including more fruits and vegetables than the other meals. Ice cream is also featured in all three dinners: a much-needed treat while you’re dieting hard. This food often gets a bad rap for its poor nutritional content. Although it’s true that it contains an overdose of sugar, it also has plenty of calcium and vitamin B-12. The fat content is also important- since the rest of the diet is very low on fat. Fats, contrary to what many people believe, actually play an important role in our bodies. They are a source of energy and also help your body to absorb essential vitamins and minerals. However, there are different kinds of fats. Some are healthy, while others aren’t. The fat in ice cream is saturated fat, and is considered an in-between fat, meaning it’s not particularly good or bad. When consumed in moderation, it won’t do you much harm. However, it’s preferable to consume polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which are typically found in vegetables, nuts, fish and seeds. Now that you understand the role of the ice cream; let’s discuss the nutritional value of the rest of the foods in the dinners.
There are numerous benefits that come with being on keto: from weight loss and increased energy levels to therapeutic medical applications. Most anyone can safely benefit from eating a low-carb, high-fat diet. Below, you’ll find a short list of the benefits you can receive from a ketogenic diet. For a more comprehensive list, you can also read our in-depth article here >
The Keto diet emphasizes weight loss through fat-burning. The goal is to quickly lose weight and ultimately feel fuller with fewer cravings, while boosting your mood, mental focus and energy. According to Keto proponents, by slashing the carbs you consume and instead filling up on fats, you safely enter a state of ketosis. That’s when the body breaks down both dietary and stored body fat into substances called ketones. Your fat-burning system now relies mainly on fat – instead of sugar – for energy. While similar in some ways to familiar low-carb diets, the Keto diet’s extreme carb restrictions – about 20 net carbs a day or less, depending on the version – and the deliberate shift into ketosis are what set this increasingly popular diet apart.
The ketogenic diet is not a benign, holistic or natural treatment for epilepsy; as with any serious medical therapy, there may be complications. These are generally less severe and less frequent than with anticonvulsant medication or surgery. 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 and cholesterol levels may increase by around 30%. 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. Supplements are necessary to counter the dietary deficiency of many micronutrients.
You can do both types of exercise for each of the three days, or just one of them. Then, when you’re on your 4 days off the diet, you can do both cardio and weight training, or perhaps lengthen the time you do either one of them by up to 45-60 minutes. You can also alternate days- doing cardio one day and strength training the next. This way you get the benefits of each, but only focus on one at a time.
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.
I appreciate that you mentioned this wouldn’t be for everyone, nor is it necessarily an ideal way to approach weight loss for the long term. It’s important to think about things like this because when people go on a weight loss program, in order to succeed, they need to know what they’re getting into, why they are doing it and what will be expected of them (and for how long).