The military diet requires people to follow a low-calorie diet for 3 days and then return to regular eating for 4 days. Across the first 3 days, the diet restricts daily calorie intake to 1,400, 1,200, and 1,100 calories.
The diet is high in protein and low in fat, carbohydrate, and calories. It also includes specific food combinations to try to boost metabolism and burn fat. Despite its name, this diet does not relate to how people in the military eat.
A website providing information about the military diet suggests that people could lose up to 10 pounds (lb) in 1 week and as many as 30 lbs in 1 month if they continue to follow the diet.
In this article, we take a look at whether this diet works, its potential problems and benefits, and what to eat to follow the plan.
Is the military diet effective?
Share on PinterestThe military diet is high in protein and low in fat.
A review article in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examines very-low-calorie diets (VLCDs) and suggests that they can be effective in helping people lose weight in the short term.
A VLCD allows a maximum of 800 calories per day. People with obesity may need to adopt a VLCD to achieve rapid weight loss before bariatric surgery.
Low-calorie diets are those that allow fewer than 1,000 calories per day.
It is impossible to predict how much weight an individual will lose on a restrictive 1-week diet as everyone is different.
However, people often experience rapid weight gain after stopping one of these short-term diets unless they have put a plan in place to maintain the weight loss.
Meal plan and shopping list
Below is a 3-day meal plan that features on a website supporting the military diet. There is also a comprehensive shopping list for people looking to follow this diet.
People can drink water throughout the day, as well as 12 cups of black coffee or tea.
Vegetarian meal plan
A vegetarian and vegan meal plan is also available:
Share on PinterestThe military diet shopping list should include peanut butter and whole-wheat bread.
The following list contains the items of food that people will need to buy for the first 3 days of a week on the military diet:
Following a 3-day military diet plan can cause several potential problems.
Some of the issues below relate specifically to the suggested meal plans.
Limited nutrient intake
The poor variety on the diet days means that people will struggle to eat enough fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients are essential for good health, energy production, detoxification, and efficient metabolism.
High in added salt, sugar, and saturated fat
Between the saltine crackers, peanut butter, bread, hot dogs, and cheese, the diet is quite high in processed foods that contain salt.
People should check nutrition labels to make sure that they are not eating more sodium than the recommended 2,300 milligrams a day limit. Where possible, it is best to buy food brands that are low in sodium or contain no added salt.
The hot dogs that the diet recommends eating consist of processed meat. They contain high levels of saturated fat and sodium.
Each days meal plan also includes vanilla ice cream, which can be high in added sugar. People could substitute the ice cream for 300 calories of healthful fruit, vegetables, or whole grains, which the plan currently lacks.
A diet that emphasizes high-calorie, dense foods may not feel very satisfying because portion sizes must remain small to keep meals within the daily calorie budget. This approach may not be sustainable.
Calories too low to exercise?
Share on PinterestSome people may find exercise challenging on diet days.
Eating fewer than 1,400 calories on diet days may make it challenging to do exercise, especially any high-intensity activities.
Eating enough calories on the 4 days off will allow people to exercise more easily. However, proponents of the diet recommend sticking to fewer than 1,500 calories on these days too.
One small study looking at alternate day calorie restriction (ADCR), also called intermittent fasting, found that combining ADCR with exercise led to greater weight changes than either dieting or exercise alone.
Following a VLCD can prevent people from exercising at all.
The military diet suggests that people who dislike or cannot eat grapefruit swap it for a glass of water with baking soda in it to continue to promote an alkaline environment.
It is true that foods can change pH from acid to alkaline. However, this primarily affects the acidity or alkalinity of a persons urine. The pH of foods in the diet does not affect a persons blood or metabolism enough to significantly influence weight gain or loss, although it may affect other aspects of health.
All fruit produces alkaline byproducts in the body. As a result, swapping one fruit with another fruit should be fine.
The high-protein aspect of the diet will make urine more acidic. As a result, it is not suitable for someone experiencing kidney problems or gout.