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The Military Diet: How Does It Work?

The military diet is aimed to those who want to drop weight fast, but does it really live up to its hype? We explore how the military diet works and if it might be right for you.

The Military Diet: How Does It Work?

Despite what the name entails, the military diet is not necessarily directed to soldiers. Because, in reality, the diet is not affiliated with the military at all.

Instead, it is mostly for those who want to drop weight fast. "Let's say you have to fit into a wedding dress pronto, take a cruise, or your ex is coming to town and you want to make them drool," states the Military Diet website.

But can these claims really live up to their hype? What does one eat on the military Diet? What is the military diet calorie count? Are there any side effects?

We explore how the military diet works and battle these pressing questions.

How Does the Military Diet Work?

The military diet is a low-calorie diet designed to help people drop weight quickly. In fact, the military diet claims prospective dieters can lose up to 10 pounds in one week! Stick to the plan for a month, dieters may lose up to 30 pounds according to further claims.

The diet is devoid of any diet pills and supplements and touts itself for its meal structure. "The special food combinations on the 3-day Military Diet are designed to burn fat, kick start your metabolism and make you lose weight quickly."

But what actually are these "combinations?" You might be surprised to learn the military diet plan combines hot dogs and vanilla ice cream...

Military Diet Meal Plan

The military diet is also known as the 3-day diet and namely so. The first three days are structured, while dieters have flexibility in the remaining four days of the week. Well, this is if they decide to carry out a 1,500-calorie diet plan.

According to the site, this is what to eat on day-by-day on the military diet:

DAY 1:

• 1/2 grapefruit
• 1 slice of toast
• 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
• 1 cup coffee or tea (with caffeine)

• 1/2 cup of tuna
• 1 slice of toast
• 1 cup coffee or tea (with caffeine)

• 3 ounces of any type of meat
• 1 cup of green beans
• 1/2 banana
• 1 small apple
• 1 cup of vanilla ice cream

Suggested Military Diet calories: about 1,400 calories


• 1 egg
• 1 slice of toast
• 1/2 banana

• 1 cup of cottage cheese
• 1 hard-boiled egg
• 5 saltine crackers

• 2 hot dogs (without bun)
• 1 cup of broccoli
• 1/2 cup of carrots
• 1/2 banana
• 1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream

Suggested Military Diet calories: about 1,200 calories


• 5 saltine crackers
• 1 slice of cheddar cheese
• 1 small apple

• 1 hard-boiled egg (or cooked however you like)
• 1 slice of toast

• 1 cup of tuna
• 1/2 banana
• 1 cup of vanilla ice cream

Suggested Military Diet calories: about 1,100 calories

Recommended Substitutions

With such a regimented plan, what if some foods are unfavorable to your taste palate or dietary restrictions? The website recommends using the following substitutions as needed:

• 1/2 grapefruit: Mix 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it. Alternatively, squeeze the juice of the grapefruit and add Stevia as desired.

• 1 slice of toast: 1/8 cup of sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup of whole-grain cereal, 1/2 high protein bar, 1/4 cup of yogurt with 1/2 teaspoon of flax seeds. Dieters can also use one tortilla or two rice cakes instead of bread.

• 3 ounces of any type of meat: If vegetarian or vegan, use lentils, beans, tofu or portobello mushrooms as meat alternatives.

Military Diet Side Effects & Concerns

Especially if under-fueling the body, dieters can experience adverse side effects. These may include:

• Fatigue

• Dizziness

• Headaches

• Irritability

"People that fail on the Military Diet complain about hunger or low energy because they are used to eating way more calories in a day," states the site. "That's how people gain weight in the first place, by eating more calories than they burn off."

Yes, calorie intakes do play a part in weight loss. However, concerns of the military diet go beyond calorie content. Because when it comes to exercise, the site offers this piece of advice:

"If your workout makes you feel dizzy or weak because of the low-calorie count on the diet, something has to give. Slow down your exercise during the three days and try something more moderate. If you ever feel uncomfortable or weak, stop what you're doing."

One should be fueling exercise with energy, which comes from food, not second-guessing it to accommodate a restrictive diet.

The Truth About Military Diet Claims

Dieters alike likely turn to the military diet in hopes to shed weight fast. But they may likewise be intrigued by the fact the diet is easily accessible, free to follow, and cost-friendly. Most health experts also agree sticking to the military diet for 3 days likely will do no harm.

However, some military diet claims are put into question.

Military Diet Claim #1: "Starvation mode is the #1 INTERNET WEIGHT LOSS MYTH. Your weight loss does NOT slow down on the Military Diet because you go into 'starvation mode'. Starvation mode is one of the biggest diet myths on the internet."

The Truth: Starvation mode is simply the body's natural physiological response to reduced calorie intake. While it is not an immediate response, it is not a myth in any regard based on research and history. In actuality, without it, humans would have become extinct in bouts of famine.

Military Diet Claim #2: "Speaking of internet myths, no, the weight loss is not just water weight either."

The Truth: While weight loss is complex, losing one pound of fat mostly comes down to a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories. So, to lose the claimed 10 pounds in a week, that requires a deficit of 5,000 calories per day! All-in-all, any weight dropped is likely to be water weight and come back on once one reverts back to normal eating patterns.

Military Diet #3: Baking soda is a substitute for grapefruit because "it has to do with the body's pH levels, which are either alkaline or acid. In an acidic environment, fat flourishes. So, alkaline-producing foods will help improve the pH balance of the body. Grapefruit and baking soda create more alkaline conditions, better for fat burning."

The Truth: Despite these claims, diet does not impact blood pH levels and fat loss. Besides, a healthy body has organs and mechanisms that tightly regulate pH balance.

Rather than falling into fad diets and short-term solutions, nutrition experts suggest long-term success comes by making long-term lifestyle changes. This includes adopting a nutrient-dense diet, which includes a variety of different food groups. Limit overly processed foods, too, as they tend to supply empty calories and lack nutritional value.

And whether it be the military diet, intermittent fasting, or any other eating pattern of interest, seek out medical advice before pursuing. This especially serves true if managing a health condition such as diabetes.

Sarah Asay's Photo
Written By Sarah Asay, RDN. Published on September 23, 2019. Updated on October 02, 2019.


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