How would you like to lose 10 pounds in just 3 days…while eating ice cream?
Sounds too good to be true, right?!
The 3 Day Military Diet claims just that – follow the strict 3-day meal plan (which includes indulgences like ice cream and hot dogs) and you’ll be 10 pounds lighter because of the “chemically compatible foods designed to jumpstart your weight loss.” I don’t know about you, but I’m automatically pretty weary of any diet claiming such drastic results in just 3 days. Here’s my dietitian take on the 3 Day Military Diet.
What is the 3 Day Military Diet – and What Does it Have to Do with the Military?
The Military Diet is a 3-day low-calorie diet meant to “kickstart your metabolism” and make you lose weight fast. The diet has a strict menu for these days, adding up to about 1,000 calories per day. The diet itself only lasts for 3 days.
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You’re warned to not follow the diet for more than 3 days, but to return to a “regular” diet of 1,500 calories for the 4 remaining days of the week, and repeat the cycle until you’ve lost your desired amount of weight. You’re instructed not to work out on the 3 diet days, but to continue your usual exercise regimen on your “off” days.
Here’s what it looks like:
There’s no snacking allowed on the diet, but you can make a few substitutions if you’d like – things like swapping rice cakes for saltine crackers, lentils for meat, or water with baking soda for grapefruit. (whaaat?! Is that supposed to replace…? what) The diet claims to put your body in its most effective fat-burning state by combining “chemically compatible” foods that jumpstart your metabolism.
As far as its tie to the military? There is none – it seems to just be a catchy name.
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Think the diet sounds too hard? The Military Diet website reminds you, “The people that fail on the Military Diet simply don’t have the drive and determination that you do. They complain about hunger or low energy because they are used to eating way more calories in a day. That’s how they gained weight in the first place, by eating more calories than they burned off.” (By the way, making people feel like being overweight or obese is 100% their fault or that being slim is a matter of willpower isn’t just horrible, it’s plain wrong).
Think the diet sounds like it’ll leave you starving? The Military Diet website encourages you that, “A hunger pang here and there doesn’t compare to getting on the scale and seeing actual results.”
image source: Pexels
What Does the Research Say?
So now that we know what this 3-day diet looks like – does it actually do what it claims to do?
Well, there’s no trustworthy research backing the 3 Day Military Diet specifically, as no studies have tested its results or claims. What we do know is that very low calorie diets provide immediate weight loss (which makes sense with such a strict calorie restriction) but do not produce greater long-term weight loss, and may even result in long term weight gain, unlike the sustained weight loss seen with slower weight loss rates. Following a diet plan where an low calorie diet is alternated with a higher calorie diet has been shown ineffective in improving glucose, fat, and protein metabolism, and can even lower resting energy expenditure (meaning your base rate for how many calories you burn just by sitting, breathing, digesting food, etc. is lowered).
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However, there’s plenty of evidence supporting consistent weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week through moderate calorie reduction, physical activity, and a balanced meal plan that focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Weight loss regimens like this have been shown time and time again to produce sustainable, lasting results over several years.
It’s also important to note that the Military Diet is pretty lacking in terms of fruits and veggies – which are the real weight loss stars and provide lots of volume, filling fiber, and antioxidants. There’s ice cream every day, which is claimed to be included for its calcium content – but there are plenty of calcium-rich foods that are much more nutritious than ice cream. While you might be getting in a little calcium on the diet – though only about a third of what’s recommended daily – you’ll still be lacking in lots of vitamins and minerals that come from eating a balanced diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables.
image source: Pexels
What’s the Final Word on the 3 Day Military Diet?
The only good thing about this diet might be that you’re required to eat ice cream every day! There’s no legitimate scientific backing to the very detailed meal plan requirements, and the meal plan is certainly nutritionally lacking – and let’s face it, just plain strange. Would you even want to eat two hot dogs with no buns for dinner or a strange combination of plain tuna, banana, and ice cream? Not when it makes zero sense! There is no evidence that ice cream + hot dogs + ½ a banana = a metabolic boost. Sorry guys, you can’t just make up a nutrition plan and claim it works when you pulled it out of thin air. Plus, any diet plan that warns you to limit exercise for fear of feeling dizzy and passing out raises red flags for me.
While you might lose weight simply because you’re cutting calories on this diet, you won’t get lasting results without lasting lifestyle changes – and if you’re having trouble making lasting lifestyle changes, that’s what I’m here for! Setting up a meeting with a Registered Dietitian and working through individualized long-term weight loss plans will always be more effective and sustainable than 3-day diets.
All in all, I’d stay far away from the 3 Day Military Diet, and work towards a lasting regimen that isn’t insanely restrictive.