During our research for this post, we noticed that on any military diet website—and there are a bunch of them—it’s virtually impossible to figure out who is behind the website and who the “experts” being cited truly are. Furthermore, the phrase “military diet” is actually a misnomer, according to a military nutritionist quoted in a CNN report. The military diet has absolutely nothing to do with our military, he said.
A study from Canada’s McMaster University (partly funded by Dairy Farmers of Canada) put women on several different diets (lower protein, low dairy; lower protein, medium dairy; higher protein, high dairy) and found they all lost the same amount of weight — but that the higher-protein, high-dairy group lost the most belly fat while also gaining and holding onto the most muscle mass. “It seems… increasing calcium and protein in the diet may help to further promote loss of fat from the worst storage area in the body,” said Andrea Josse, lead author of the study.
Y. Wady Aude, MD; Arthur S. Agatston, MD; Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, MD, MSc; Eric H. Lieberman, MD; Marie Almon, MS, RD; Melinda Hansen, ARNP; Gerardo Rojas, MD; Gervasio A. Lamas, MD; Charles H. Hennekens, MD, DrPH, “The National Cholesterol Education Program Diet vs a Diet Lower in Carbohydrates and Higher in Protein and Monounsaturated Fat,” Arch Intern Med. 2004;164(19):2141-2146. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=217514.
Starvation mode is when you restrict calories over a period of time and lose weight quickly, causing your body’s metabolism to slow down. This is a natural side effect of just about any type of weight loss. The less you weigh, the less body tissue your body has to maintain and so your metabolism may drop a bit. Think of it this way: if you carry a backpack up a hill, you burn more calories than if you walk up without a backpack. Extra weight that you carry, even if it’s some extra fat, causes your body to work harder and burn more calories. Another effect of starvation mode is that your body prefers to preserve fat and consume muscle in an effort to help you survive. However, the Military Diet minimizes the effects of the so-called “starvation mode” by including plenty of protein intake in the form of eggs, cottage cheese, tuna, meats and peanut butter. Research supports this strategy, saying that you can preserve both your muscle and metabolism while dieting. In addition, because the diet is only 3 days, after which you return to a more acceptable caloric intake, your body, muscles and metabolism won’t suffer too much.