Nope — and it’s not the diet’s only name. Some know it by the Navy diet, the Army diet, or even the ice cream diet, since the three day menu allots for at least a few bites of vanilla ice cream each evening. Personally, we like to think that it’s called the military diet because it takes military-level self-control to stick to the restrictive meal plan.
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.)
Achieving ketosis is a pretty straightforward, but it can seem complicated and confusing with all of the information out there.4If you want to learn more about ketosis and the scientific process around it, you can visit a very in-depth discussion about on Dr. Peter Attia’s website. Here’s the bottom line on what you need to do, ordered in levels of importance:
This diet was amazing for me. I lost over 10 pounds! I followed the diet and did hot yoga. Although there is the occasional review where users of the 3 Day Military Diet claim they haven’t lost any weight at all, the majority lose at least a few pounds. Considering that on average by following a healthy diet and exercising it’s normal to lose about 1 pound a week, the 3 Day Military Diet really speeds up weight loss. People also generally report that restricting themselves for 3 days is much easier than watching their diet over a much longer period of time. Overall, the consensus of those who’ve tried the diet is very positive.
Try a diet in which you consume 2200 calories (men) or 2000 calories (women) per day. This should cause a deficit sufficient for you to lose one or two pounds per week, depending on your activity level. Some women may require lower daily calorie intake, such as 1800 or 1500 a day. Start by limiting yourself to a 2000 calorie limit per day, and lower the limit if you do not see progress.
“The alkaline diet often has a focus on eating lots of fresh produce and unprocessed foods, which could be a good thing,” says Hultin. “However, keep in mind that this is not an evidence-based therapeutic diet. When people take it too far — for instance, drinking baking soda — or become too restrictive or obsessive over food choices, it can definitely turn negative.”
"The issue with exercising during the diet is that you are cutting a large number of calories (your body's source of energy) out of your diet, which may make you feel less energetic and a little more sluggish than your typical self," said Mike Mullen, a performance expert and certified strength and conditioning coach from the New York Sports Science Lab.
Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist and Arivale Coach Ginger Hultin, MS, CSO, and Vermont-based registered dietitian nutritionist Maddie Kinzly MS, LD, told POPSUGAR that while you can't choose where on your body you gain (sorry boobs!) or lose fat, some people are more predisposed to holding weight in their belliesw. "Much of this is driven by genetics, so you can look to your parents and other relatives to better understand the body shape that you naturally have and where you may deposit fat stores," Hultin explained.
The brain is composed of a network of neurons that transmit signals by propagating nerve impulses. The propagation of this impulse from one neuron to another is typically controlled by neurotransmitters, though there are also electrical pathways between some neurons. Neurotransmitters can inhibit impulse firing (primarily done by γ-aminobutyric acid, or GABA) or they can excite the neuron into firing (primarily done by glutamate). A neuron that releases inhibitory neurotransmitters from its terminals is called an inhibitory neuron, while one that releases excitatory neurotransmitters is an excitatory neuron. When the normal balance between inhibition and excitation is significantly disrupted in all or part of the brain, a seizure can occur. The GABA system is an important target for anticonvulsant drugs, since seizures may be discouraged by increasing GABA synthesis, decreasing its breakdown, or enhancing its effect on neurons.
There's not a lot of reliable information available about how the military diet plan was started — or, for that matter, who started it. MilitaryDiet.co and TheMilitaryDiet.com, the two main resource sites for the diet regimen, are both run by fans and proponents of the diet without any cited health professional credentials. According to them, though, the military diet plan is an intermittent fasting diet that combines three days of a strict, low-calorie meal plan with four days of eating whatever you want (as long as it still falls below the calorie intake).
Honestly? We don't know. While TheMilitaryDiet.com offers plenty of information, including a section with frequently asked questions, blog, and alternative meal plans for vegetarians, there are no authors, experts, or webpage owners listed. And while the name implies a military connection, the page doesn't actually claim any ties to the armed forces. (MensHealth.com reached out to the website for more information and will update if and when we hear back.)
Probably, and there are a few reasons why, Keatley says. For starters, people usually reduce their daily caloric intake to about 1,500 calories a day because healthy fats and lean proteins make you feel fuller sooner—and for a longer period of time. And then there’s the fact that it takes more energy to process and burn fat and protein than carbs, so you're burning slightly more calories than you did before. Over time, this can lead to weight loss.
The Military Diet is a strict, short-term plan that requires drastically reducing your caloric intake. The restrictions work over a three-day period, and then you take four days off from the diet. Some users participate in the Military Diet on an occasional basis, while others might do three days on and four days off for a month at a time. In fact, the Military Diet website touts that people who follow the plan for 30 days could “lose up to 30 lbs,” though registered dietitians strongly advise against doing so. (More on that later.)
If giving up pasta is the hardest part of making changes to help lose weight, zucchini noodles are a healthier alternative, Michalczyk says. "I like to think of them as pasta's lower-carb and higher-in-nutrition cousin because zucchini is a good source of vitamins A and C, fiber and potassium for only about 33 calories per zucchini,” says Michalczyk. You can use in zoodles, much on as is with some dip, roast them, or add to salads.
Carbohydrates are a touchy subject: while some blame them for all fat gain, it’s the type of carbs you eat that’s key. A 2011 study out of the University of Alabama found that a diet that slightly cut back on carbs, and which comprised mostly low-GI carbohydrates, lost more deep abdominal fat than those who ate a lower-fat diet. GI stands for glycemic index, a measure of how fast carbohydrates supply your body with energy: high-GI foods make you spike then crash, while low-GI foods provide a slow burn.
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.
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.