This popular diet program is fairly restrictive — and for the first 30 days, dieters must cut out grains, legumes, most dairy, added sugar, and alcohol without any slip-ups, according to the Whole30 website. (29) The aim is to “reset” your body and to adopt dietary habits resulting in weight loss. Cutting out added sugar and alcohol has merit, but all the restrictions prove challenging and could lead to nutrient deficiencies and disordered eating.
“Crash diets, also called meal-replacement programs, have become increasingly fashionable in the past few years,” said lead author Dr. Jennifer Rayner, Oxford Centre for Magnetic Resonance, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. “The metabolic improvements with a very low-calorie diet, such as a reduction in liver fat and reversal of diabetes, would be expected to improve heart function. Instead, heart function got worse in the first week before starting to improve.”
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.)
The diet plan last a full week, though some only to the three days of planned meals and others do a 10-day military diet. But the experts say it's not something that anyone should be on for very long. "It's probably safe for most people for a week," said Professor Jibrin, but recommends that people shouldn't be on it for any longer. Palinski-Wade agrees: "Following a plan such as this for 3 days will most likely not lead to significant nutritient deficiencies." The author worries, however, about the overall effects. "It sets the patterns for yo-yo dieting and restrictive eating that result in weight regain as well as impairing your relationship with food."
Make things yourself. While it’s extremely convenient to buy most things pre-made or pre-cooked, it always adds to the price per pound on items. Try prepping veggies ahead of time instead of buying pre-cut ones. Try making your stew meat from a chuck roast. Or, simply try to make your mayo and salad dressings at home. The simplest of things can work to cut down on your overall grocery shopping.
A University of Michigan study found that lab rats who nommed on a diet enriched with powdered blueberries had less abdominal fat after 90 days than rats who ate a standard diet. The researchers suspected that blueberries are so good at targeting belly fat because of their high levels of phytochemicals, a naturally occurring antioxidant. FYI, blueberries are also an excellent source of fibre.
To encourage ketone production, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream must be low. The lower your insulin, the higher your ketone production. And when you have a well-controlled, sufficiently large amount of ketones in your blood, it’s basically proof that your insulin is very low – and therefore, that you’re enjoying the maximum effect of your low-carbohydrate diet. That’s what’s called optimal ketosis.
“Thirst and hunger cues feel similar, so it’s important to stay hydrated, especially if you’re trying to lose weight,” explains Moon. Yes, plain water is important, but 20 percent of our daily water intake comes from foods, she says. “Watermelon is 92 percent water, plus it is bursting with vitamins A and C and anti-inflammatory nutrients like lycopene,” she explains.
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.
Sure, high-intensity cardio can help you torch calories, but ideally, you’ll also need to pump some iron to build metabolism-boosting muscle. That’s because strength training is one of the few activities you can do to spike the amount of calories you burn, even after you’re done with your workout. Case in point: one 2012 review of research found that while completing a 20-minute resistance training circuit may help you burn 200 calories, your body’s resting metabolic rate stays elevated for the next hour, helping you burn an additional 50 calories. Plus, when you lose weight, you lose some muscle with it, so building and maintaining that lean mass will help you achieve a more toned look.
Just before her birthday, Rocio decided to lose a few pounds by following the Military Diet. Using an old photocopy her mom had given her from years before, Rocio got started with the diet. Rocio shares with viewers that her mom has been using the diet for years, and had encouraged her to try it. So, although there’s been a lot of hype recently about the diet, it’s by no means new. You’ll notice that her Military Diet plan varies from the one we’ve listed- probably due to the fact that there are various versions of the diet floating around online. Rocio was able to lose 7 pounds while on the diet. She reports that she didn’t feel hungry; but she thinks that drinking water and staying strong mentally helped her. However, due to a birthday cake binge, she gained back 2 pounds after completing the diet. That’s an important reminder to all of us: avoid binge-eating after completing the diet or the pounds will come right back on! Take a look at her experience.
As a self-described “nutrition nerd,” I couldn’t help but analyze the first three days of menus provided using my nutrient analysis software. You’ll see the daily totals at the bottom of each day, and while I can’t describe the intake as “good”, “ideal” or “healthy,” the data was slightly better than I expected. (Or perhaps, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this very odd combination of foods!)
Rothenberg offers a more realistic approach to weight loss by recommending a balance of healthy carbs, lean protein, and healthy fat for every meal. Finally, she suggests, “Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. I personally am an intuitive eater. I eat when I am hungry and I stop when I am full, and I eat foods that make me feel good. When I try to feel good, I end up making healthier food choices as opposed to when I am in ‘diet mode.’”
Salmon is a rich source of high-quality protein and provides plenty of "good" fats: omega-3 fatty acids. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids helped people feel more satisfied when they were watching their calories, per a study in Appetite. Eating salmon can be a delicious and versatile way to get your recommended two weekly servings of heart-healthy fish.
"When going out for fast food, I used to get the large-size value meal. Now, I satisfy a craving by ordering just one item: a small order of fries or a six-piece box of chicken nuggets. So far, I've shaved off 16 pounds in seven weeks, and I'm on track to being thinner than my high school self for my 10-year reunion later this year." —Miranda Jarrell, Birmingham, AL