Luckily, exercise can help spur things along when it comes to that pesky stomach fat. “Visceral fat responds well when… [you] start exercising and watching your calories and what you eat,” Harris-Pincus says. And while endless crunches aren’t your ticket to a flat stomach, it is still important to train your ab muscles. “Everything radiates from the center of your body – your balance, your posture, your functional movement,” says Joe Ardito, founder of Fit Crush NYC. “You can perform better when you have a strong core.”
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.
“Pistachios are a great addition to a diet aimed to help one lose weight because they're one of the lowest-fat and lowest-calorie snacks that offer the most nuts per serving (49 pistachios per 1-ounce serving) compared to cashews (18) and walnuts (14 halves),” says Shaw. Get in-shell pistachios because the leftover shells may provide a visual cue for portion control to curb intake.
The 4 days off in the Military Diet (days four to seven) offer a little more flexibility, as individuals can choose their own foods, as long as their daily calorie intake is between 1300 and 1500 calories. During these four days, the plan encourages dieters to eat lean proteins, vegetables, and limited carbohydrates. In addition, one cup of caffeinated coffee or tea is recommended with all breakfasts and lunches.
Low-calorie diets usually produce an energy deficit of 500–1,000 calories per day, which can result in a 0.5 to 1 kilogram (1.1 to 2.2 pounds) weight loss per week. One of the most commonly used low-calorie diets is Weight Watchers. The National Institutes of Health reviewed 34 randomized controlled trials to determine the effectiveness of low-calorie diets. They found that these diets lowered total body mass by 8% in the short term, over 3–12 months. Women doing low-calorie diets should have at least 1,000 calories per day and men should have approximately 1,200 calories per day. These caloric intake values vary depending on additional factors, such as age and weight.
Slow down, we're not saying you have diabetes. But insulin resistance is "the beginning of your body not dealing well with sugar and carbohydrates," says Melina Jampolis, M.D., author of The Doctor On Demand Diet.. Basically, when you have insulin resistance, it means the body's cells have noticed an increase in sugar in the blood and ratchet up the amount of insulin to transport it to cells that process it for energy. A vicious cycle gets started, you create more insulin—too much of it, in fact—and your cells become resistant to it, leading to more free-floating sugar in your blood stream that eventually gets converted to fat and is usually stored in your belly. Unless you reverse the insulin resistance, your body will keep going round and round, and diabetes could develop. The key, says Jampolis, is to lose fat and build muscle. "Exercise, especially strength training, can improve your body's response to insulin even if you don't lose an ounce," Jampolis explains. Try lifting weights two to three times a week—these moves are great fat-blasters.
And like all crash-diets known to man, Alpert says the military diet is meant to make only a short-term impact instead of teaching positive eating habits that can be sustained for a long, healthy life. As a result, she says it's very likely participants will gain back any weight lost shortly after concluding the diet. (Really. You should stop restrictive dieting.)
Apples contain pectin, an ingredient that naturally slows digestion and encourages feelings of fullness. Studies show that eating a whole apple with your meal (as opposed to apple juice or applesauce) is a natural appetite suppressant, helping you consume fewer overall calories without feeling deprived. Sass likes using shredded apple in slaws and stir-fry, or mixing them into burger patties to add moisture.
Good news, wine drinkers. Thanks to resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grape skin, drinking red wine in moderation can be part of a healthy diet. Some studies suggest that people who drink wine have smaller waists and less abdominal fat than those who drink mainly liquor. And having one glass of red wine can increase your body's calorie burn for up to 90 minutes afterwards. The antioxidants in wine might even help your body prevent cancer and improve heart health. Just be sure to stick to no more than a glass a day—the calories can add up fast.
“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.”
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.
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.
The military diet is a variation of the ever-popular three-day diet, a crash plan of "fill-in-the-blank" foods to eat if you want to lose weight fast. These diets typically claim that you can lose about 10 pounds in three days to a week if you follow their blueprint to the letter. The meal plans are usually extremely basic and calorie-restrictive, because let's face it, that's how you lose weight.
This was a very hard one for me because I'm a frugal and waste-conscious person. I hold on to things for far longer than I should and always try to either recycle or donate whatever I don’t use anymore. This can be difficult when it comes to having leftover food that I probably shouldn't eat three days in a row (I'm looking at you, pizza.) I use the phrase “better in the trash than in my body” anytime I am in that situation to help me realize that if I eat my daughter's picked-at leftovers, for example, they're still not going anywhere in need.