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.
And, of course, the low-cal nature of the military diet can dangerous, says Amidor. This is especially true if you plan to exercise: Attempting to do high-intensity workouts on such a low-calorie diet could potentially cause you to become weak, light-headed, and fatigued—so low-intensity cardio or walking is your safest option during this diet, says Allen.
Rami co-founded Tasteaholics with Vicky at the start of 2015 to master the art of creating extremely delicious food while researching the truth behind nutrition, dieting and overall health. You can usually find him marketing, coding or coming up with the next crazy idea because he can’t sit still for too long. His favorite book is The 4-Hour Workweek and artist is Infected Mushroom.
Short for “ketogenic diet,” this eating plan is all about minimizing your carbs and upping your fats to get your body to use fat as a form of energy, says Scott Keatley, R.D., of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy. While everyone's body and needs are slightly different, that typically translates to: 60 to 75 percent of your calories from fat, 15 to 30 percent of your calories from protein, and 5 to 10 percent of your calories from carbs.
‘Do it for a couple of minutes in bed and you’ll actually be able to wind down and fall asleep more easily. But it’s a skill, so it requires a commitment to practice it, as with anything. Think of it a bit like dating – the first time you do it it’s terrible, it’s uncomfortable, nobody knows what they’re doing, but the more dates you go on the better it gets.
There are many ways in which epilepsy occurs. Examples of pathological physiology include: unusual excitatory connections within the neuronal network of the brain; abnormal neuron structure leading to altered current flow; decreased inhibitory neurotransmitter synthesis; ineffective receptors for inhibitory neurotransmitters; insufficient breakdown of excitatory neurotransmitters leading to excess; immature synapse development; and impaired function of ionic channels.
What about fruits and vegetables? All fruits are rich in carbs, but you can have certain fruits (usually berries) in small portions. Vegetables (also rich in carbs) are restricted to leafy greens (such as kale, Swiss chard, spinach), cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, bell peppers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, cucumber, celery, and summer squashes. A cup of chopped broccoli has about six carbs.
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.
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.
Scroll through the #militarydietresults hashtag on Instagram and you can see plenty of people trying the meal plan out. Most report being down at least a couple of pounds and reducing their body fat percentage as well. And checking out their pictures, it's pretty crazy the progess they can make with just a few meals and a few days. Want to see what we mean? We asked Instagram users @healthyhappydays_ and @sweatherly816 to share their results with us. Check out their military diet results in the video below.
The military diet is similar to other three-day diet plans (think: the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic three-day diet plans) as it claims to promote weight loss in a short period of time by restricting calories. The diet also bears a striking resemblance to the retro Drinking Man's Diet (or the Air Force Diet) of the '60s, according to Adrienne Rose Johnson Bitar, Ph.D., postdoctoral associate at Cornell University who specializes in the history and culture of American food, pop culture, and health. Much like the military diet, the Drinking Man's Diet incorporated martinis and steak in the diet but kept carbohydrate and calorie counts fairly low, she explains. "Both of these diets were low-calorie or low-carb plans that promised impressive short-term results, but included unhealthy or indulgent foods," says Bitar. (Another unhealthy diet trend that includes lots of red meat: The Vertical Diet. Safe to say, you can skip that diet plan, too.)
During the 1920s and 1930s, when the only anticonvulsant drugs were the sedative bromides (discovered 1857) and phenobarbital (1912), the ketogenic diet was widely used and studied. This changed in 1938 when H. Houston Merritt, Jr. and Tracy Putnam discovered phenytoin (Dilantin), and the focus of research shifted to discovering new drugs. With the introduction of sodium valproate in the 1970s, drugs were available to neurologists that were effective across a broad range of epileptic syndromes and seizure types. The use of the ketogenic diet, by this time restricted to difficult cases such as Lennox–Gastaut syndrome, declined further.
Aude, Y., A. S, Agatston, F. Lopez-Jimenez, et al. “The National Cholesterol Education Program Diet vs a Diet Lower in Carbohydrates and Higher in Protein and Monounsaturated Fat: A Randomized Trial.” JAMA Internal Medicine 164, no. 19 (2004): 2141–46. doi: 10.1001/archinte.164.19.2141. jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/217514.
While the Duke study found no added benefit to resistance training (aka weight or strength training) when it comes to belly fat, a 2014 study from a Harvard University team found otherwise. Twenty minutes of weights a day was linked to less of an increase in belly fat (particularly for older men). “Engaging in resistance training or, ideally, combining it with aerobic exercise could help older adults lessen abdominal fat while increasing or preserving muscle mass," said the paper’s lead author Rania Mekary.
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. One major factor may be the lack of adequately trained dietitians, who are needed to administer a ketogenic diet programme.
Even though the diet does provide foods from serval food groups, registered dietitian Toby Amidor R.D. says it's not enough for complete daily nutrition—especially since high-calorie, low-nutrient foods like hot dogs and vanilla ice cream are part of the limited menu. "Due to the lack of adequate amounts of whole grains, vegetables, dairy, and protein, you won't be able to meet your complete nutrient needs over these three days," she explains.
The military diet is a restrictive three-day plan—a concept that’s nothing new in the health industry. That may explain why the originator of the military diet is unknown—it’s not a unique diet. The three-day diet concept “has been dressed up differently and brought out to dance before,” writes Kimberly Gomer, RD, director of nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center, at the DailyBurn.com.
Science is just beginning to look at the value of a high-carb/low-protein diet. One 8-week study on mice found it may have the same longevity benefits as calorie restriction. While it’s too soon to make projections for people, the researchers point out that however many carbs you eat, they should be high-quality whole grains and vegetables, with moderate fruit intake to limit fructose.
"Only doing abdominal-focused workouts, like crunches, won’t help you banish the bulge. Belly fat is simply where your body stores energy, so you need to take a whole-body approach to tackle it. HIIT training (high intensity interval training) is a great way to burn fat and get your heart rate up. Squats, burpees and treadmill sprints are all examples to try."
You can drink water and black coffee or tea, but no soda, milk, juice, or alcohol. Stick to the menu as much as you can. You’re allowed to switch out some foods if you have food allergies or other dietary needs. But only make swaps that the diet approves. For example, you can have sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter or a tofu dog instead of a hot dog. But don’t switch the grapefruit to an orange or the vanilla ice cream to a scoop of mint chip or cookie dough.
You can use zero calorie seasonings to make your Military Diet meals a bit more appealing. Here are some suggestions: salt, pepper, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, cilantro, dill, hot pepper flakes, cumin, curry powder, turmeric, rosemary, sage, etc. Beware if you use items like mustard, soy sauce and garlic sauce, as they do contain a few calories, so you’ll have to be sure to compensate. Avoid using high calorie seasonings such as ketchup, mayonnaise, oils, etc.
Those trans fats on your menu are hiding out in plain sight and sabotaging your lean belly plans every time you eat them. If a food product says it contains partially hydrogenated oils, you’re eating trans fat, which can increase your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and obesity with every bite. In fact, research conducted at Wake Forest University reveals that monkeys whose diets contained eight percent trans fat upped their body fat by 7.2 percent over a six-year study, while those who ate monounsaturated fat gained just a fraction of that amount. Instead of letting harmful trans fat take up space on your menu, fill up with the 20 Healthy Fats to Make You Thin.
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.