The Military Diet promises up to a 10-pound weight loss in just one week—and includes foods like hot dogs and ice cream on its eating plan. Advocates suggest that the Military Diet’s approach was created by the United States military as a way to get quick results (hence the name). This is a pretty good marketing technique since characteristics many associate with members of the armed forces—discipline, efficiency, and effectiveness—are also desirable qualities for weight loss.
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.
In the mid-1990s, Hollywood producer Jim Abrahams, whose son's severe epilepsy was effectively controlled by the diet, created the Charlie Foundation to promote it. Publicity included an appearance on NBC's Dateline programme and ...First Do No Harm (1997), a made-for-television film starring Meryl Streep. The foundation sponsored a multicentre research study, the results of which—announced in 1996—marked the beginning of renewed scientific interest in the diet.[1]
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.
"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."
Routinely squeaking by on five hours or less per night increases visceral fat levels, according to a 2010 Wake Forest University study. What’s more, after analyzing 28 different studies, UK researchers found that people who slept 5.5 hours or less per night ate an extra 385 calories the day after compared to those who snoozed for at least 7 to 12 hours. On top of that, they preferred to munch on fatty foods full of empty calories, like chips.
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.
Dairy products such as cream and cheeses. They work well in cooking as they satisfy. The problem is if you’re munching a lot of cheese in front of the TV in the evening… without being hungry. Be careful with that. Or lots of cream with dessert, when you’re actually already full and just keep eating because it tastes good. Or another common culprit: loads of heavy cream in the coffee, many times per day.
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]
On the ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are restricted and so cannot provide for all the metabolic needs of the body. Instead, fatty acids are used as the major source of fuel. These are used through fatty-acid oxidation in the cell's mitochondria (the energy-producing parts of the cell). Humans can convert some amino acids into glucose by a process called gluconeogenesis, but cannot do this by using fatty acids.[56] Since amino acids are needed to make proteins, which are essential for growth and repair of body tissues, these cannot be used only to produce glucose. This could pose a problem for the brain, since it is normally fuelled solely by glucose, and most fatty acids do not cross the blood–brain barrier. However, the liver can use long-chain fatty acids to synthesise the three ketone bodies β-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate and acetone. These ketone bodies enter the brain and partially substitute for blood glucose as a source of energy.[55]
Some popular beliefs attached to weight loss have been shown to either have less effect on weight loss as commonly believed or are actively unhealthy. According to Harvard Health, the idea of metabolism being the "key to weight" is "part truth and part myth" as while metabolism does affect weight loss, external forces such as diet and exercise have an equal effect.[44] They also commented that the idea of changing one's rate of metabolism is under debate.[44] Diet plans in fitness magazines are also often believed to be effective, but may actually be harmful by limiting the daily intake of important calories and nutrients which can be detrimental depending on the person and are even capable of driving individuals away from weight loss.[45]
For coffee addicts: We really love (need) coffee too, so we understand why everyone has questions about coffee on the Military Diet! Caffeine withdrawal is no fun, especially when you’re already on a low calorie diet. So here’s some good news… Black coffee has less than 5 calories per cup, so if you need to sneak in a cup here and there, just cut out the equivalent calories elsewhere. Do not add cream and sugar. You can add Stevia if you like. You’re welcome…
Other down sides: There’s an initial period where your body is adjusting to its new carb-free existence, and many people experience symptoms like fatigue, brain fog and nausea for a few weeks. You also end up deficient in important micronutrients, like folate, calcium and potassium, which is why most ketogenic devotees recommend taking multivitamins. Personally, I recommend my clients follow a diet that in its ideal state provides all of the nutrients you need through real, whole foods.

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.

Depending on how often you repeat it, the Military Diet might reduce calories to a point where this slow down of metabolism kicks in – but what’s more likely happening is that as you lose weight, your body doesn’t need to burn as many calories because there’s less of you to manage every day! So your metabolism WILL slow down as you lose weight, but it’s not due to you eating fewer calories in a day.
I've learned that if I am around food for long enough, I will eat it. It doesn’t matter if I am hungry or if the food even looks good; I'll just start nibbling out of habit. When my husband would get home late from work, I would typically eat a dinner by myself and then eat more with him when he got home. I tried to sit with him at the table and not eat, but eventually, I would start picking at his plate. Over time, I realized that I needed to sit either across the table or on a nearby couch to avoid the thoughtless habit. He didn’t mind either way and moving away from the food actually allowed me to focus more on him.
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