This calorie restrictive diet claims you can lose up to 10 pounds in one week—but is it too good to be true?
By Anna Bonet
If you’re looking for a quick-fix weight loss plan, you might be tempted to try the Military Diet. Also known as the 3 Day Diet, it claims that you can lose up to 10 pounds in just one week.
But how does it work, and is it an effective method for sustainable weight loss? We speak to registered dietician Sophie Medlin about the pros and cons of the Military Diet.
What is the Military Diet?
While there’s no actual affiliation with the military, the diet is so-called because it can be pretty hard-going to follow. ‘It is essentially three days of a prescribed diet, followed by fours days of eating freely, as long as you’re under 1500 calories per day,’ explains Medlin.
The idea is that you repeat the three days on, four days off weekly cycle until you reach your goal weight.
The Military Diet meal plan
Below is the 3-day meal plan, as outlined on the Military Diet website. After three days, you spend the remaining four days of the week eating what you wish, as long as you’re eating less that 1500 calories each day.
A slice of toast with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, half a grapefruit and acup of coffee or tea (optional).
A slice of toast, half a cup of tuna and a cup of coffee or tea (optional).
A 3-oz (85 grams) serving of meat with a cup of green beans, a small apple, half a banana and one cup vanilla ice cream.
A slice of toast, one hard-boiled egg, half a banana and a cup of coffee or tea (optional).
One hard-boiled egg, a cup of cottage cheese, 5 saltine crackers and a cup of coffee or tea (optional).
Two hot dogs with no bun, half a cup of carrots, half a cup of broccoli, half a banana and half a cup of vanilla ice cream.
A 1-ounce slice of cheddar cheese, 5 saltine crackers, a small apple and cup of coffee or tea (optional).
A slice of toast, one egg, cooked however you like, and a cup of coffee or tea (optional).
A cup of tuna, half a banana, and a cup of vanilla ice cream.
Does the Military Diet work?
As a very low calorie diet, it’s likely that you will lose weight if you follow the Military Diet. However, there is currently no scientific evidence supporting the diet or examining the health implications.
Most people will find this diet unsustainably restrictive and it could easily lead to nutrient deficiencies.
Medlin has reservations about the restrictive nature of the Military Diet. ‘Some people benefit from having the decision making around dieting eliminated, so this might be helpful there,’ she says. ‘However, it is important to remember that you can’t actually eat freely for the the following four days after the prescribed three days, so there will always be a need to make choices.’
Typically, when people severely restrict their calorie consumption for any length of time, they will then overcompensate on the ‘off days’ and eat more than 1500 calories. ‘It will work for some people in the same way as intermittent fasting does, but it’s not going to work for everyone,’ adds Medlin.
What are the Military Diet risks?
Thanks to its very low calorie consumption, the Military Diet might leave you feeling low on energy, and you could potentially experience headaches, dizziness or cramps (as well as the consistent hunger) as a result.
‘Most people will find this diet unsustainably restrictive,’ says Medlin. ‘Following the prescribed three days for more than three days could easily lead to nutrient deficiencies, so introducing a variety of different foods on the ‘off days’ is really important.’
The Military Diet verdict
Ultimately, Medlin argues that the Military Diet is not sustainable. Any pounds shed during the diet will more than likely be put back on as soon as you stop following it, and it is not a healthy way of eating in the long term.
‘This level of restriction isn’t good idea overall and prescribing specific foods is rarely helpful,’ says Medlin. ‘It is far more important to consider what you are eating rather than downloading the latest fad diet.’