It has nothing to do with the military, but this diet is so named because of its rigorous approach to weight loss. The 3-day military diet is designed to result in a 10-lb weight loss in just one week!
If it sounds extreme, it’s because it is. The 3-day military diet is an extremely low-calorie plan that will require extreme persistence when the going gets tough – and it’s gonna get tough.
How does the military diet work?
The diet involves 2 phases per week, repeated weekly: 3 consecutive days of a fixed, low-calorie meal plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with no snacks allowed; and 4 days when you get off the diet, but you’re supposed to still stick to low-calorie and healthy meals. You can have snacks and no food is off-limits, but you should stick to small portion sizes and stay under 1,500 calories per day. You can repeat this cycle every week until you achieve your weight-loss goal. Others opt to do it just once a month.
You will have to count your calories. Over the 3-day period, your total calorie consumption is between 1,100 and 1,400 calories per day, which is much lower than the recommended daily calorie allowance for an average adult. The 3-day military diet focuses on drastic caloric deficit rather than burning calories through exercise, although some physical activity is encouraged.
In addition to significantly reduced calorie intake, the recommended meal plan is also low in fat. The strategy of putting the body on a caloric deficit is actually the main foundation of many successful weight-loss plans, but the 3-day military diet takes it up a notch.
Does the military diet really work?
Severely cutting calorie intake, if sustained, can lead to weight loss. With the 3-day military diet, the cycle of three-days-on/four-days-off means that the plan does not interfere with your metabolism, which longer-term, restrictive diet plans do.
If you can strictly follow sticking to 1,100-1,400 calories per day for 3 days straight each week, for a month, or even just once a month, then the caloric deficit should force your body to tap into its fat stores, i.e. your excess fats, for energy. This is how weight loss occurs.
For many, however, it can be extremely difficult not to succumb to food cravings at some point over the course of your 3-day calorie “fast,” especially when they feel hungry and low in energy.
The 3-day military diet is a great option if you want to shed weight quickly, for a special occasion, for example. People who can survive on very low calories per day, especially if they know how to substitute healthier, more filling, and low-calorie options, will do well with the 3-day military diet.
For most people, however, a diet plan that is as restrictive as the 3-day military diet is not sustainable, and its goal of losing up to 10lbs within a weak is not realistic for long-term weight-loss. The result is the usual yo-yo-ing between weight gain and weight loss, which ultimately leads to frustration and a return to unhealthy eating habits.
Sample foods that are allowed on the 3-day military diet include:
- Bread (whole-wheat), in small amounts
- Cheeses (cottage and cheddar), in small amounts
- Greek yogurt
- Green beans
- Hot dogs
- Sugar-free Ice cream
- Lean meat
- Peanut butter
- Saltine crackers
Is the military diet safe?
The 3-day military diet is relatively safe for the average person if followed only for a short period. Following the diet plan for a prolonged period, however, may pose health risks, such as nutrient deficiencies and metabolic issues. As with any effective weight-loss plan, the key is to also eat more healthfully by adding more wholesome foods to your diet.
The severe calorie restriction will require a lot of willpower, and you will have to learn how to count your calories. Besides these, the diet is fairly easy to follow. Adhering to the diet for a long period may be difficult for a lot of people, though. This means the 3-day military diet is not effective for long-term weight loss and healthy weight maintenance.
Additionally, the diet does not teach you about developing healthy eating habits, apart from limiting calorie intake. Without learning about proper nutrition and long-term fitness and wellness, this weight-loss program is not a sustainable one.
People over the age of 50 should not go on an extremely low-calorie diet, as advised by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The American Heart Association also recommends including high-fiber foods in any weight-loss diet plan to help you feel full sans the extra calories; the 3-day military diet’s recommended foods, however, are low in fiber.
3-Day Military Diet – Final Thoughts
For rapid weight loss, the 3-day military diet plan can be a great option. But it is not a sustainable, long-term weight-loss strategy. Even if you have the willpower to stick to the extremely low-calorie meal plans required for 3 days straight, and you can do this each week for months on end, it is not recommended that you do so.
Not only is the extreme calorie restriction unhealthy when done continuously for a long period; the food options recommended by this diet plan are also insufficient to meet your nutrient needs. However, you can follow the plan intermittently AND supplement it with healthy, nutritious foods both when you’re on the diet and when you’re off it. You can easily alter and improve this diet to make it healthier and more sustainable.
Learn more about how you can make a lifelong commitment to healthful living through Modern Fit‘s customized plans!