No shocker here: It turns out that the Military Diet isn’t quite the unique weight loss solution it’s made out to be. “This [diet concept] has been dressed up differently and brought out to dance before,” says Kimberly Gomer, R.D., director of nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center. In other words, a restrictive three-day plan is nothing new in the health industry.
Pinners, bloggers and YouTube vlogs are driving this trend forward with viral before-and-after pictures showcasing impressive (and often hard to believe) changes. Devotees of the diet consume 1,100 to 1,400 calories a day in the form of so-called “fat-burning” food combinations like hot dogs and bananas, and tuna and toast. (Yes, we said hot dogs.) It’s a one-size-fits-all plan, so athletic men and women are going to dine on the same grub as their more sedentary peers. But is this really a healthy way to lose weight? We got to the bottom of this much-talked-about plan.
But people who started following the keto diet noticed weight loss for a few reasons: When you eat carbs, your body retains fluid in order to store carbs for energy (you know, in case it needs it). But when you’re not having much in the carb department, you lose this water weight, says Warren. Also, it's easy to go overboard on carbohydrates—but if you're loading up on fat, it may help curb cravings since it keeps you satisfied.
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). MCTs are more efficiently absorbed and are rapidly transported to the liver via the hepatic portal system rather than the lymphatic system. 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. The MCT diet replaced the classic ketogenic diet in many hospitals, though some devised diets that were a combination of the two.
Based on calories, you need to cut out or burn 3500 calories to lose 1 pound . Multiply that by 10 pounds, and you’re talking about cutting out 35,000 calories in a week. That’s quite a bit! If we consider your eating habits, most people consume about 2000 to 2500 calories every day. On the Military Diet, you’re cutting back to about 1200 calories a day on the 3 Day diet, and probably around 1500-1700 calories on the 4 days off. That means just in calorie consumption, you’re cutting out about 1000 per day during the restricted portion of the diet.
"When going out for fast food, I used to get the large-size value meal. Now, I satisfy a craving by ordering just one item: a small order of fries or a six-piece box of chicken nuggets. So far, I've shaved off 16 pounds in seven weeks, and I'm on track to being thinner than my high school self for my 10-year reunion later this year." —Miranda Jarrell, Birmingham, AL