3-Day Military Diet: Pros and Cons

The 3-day military diet is a rapid weight loss program. It includes three days of a highly restrictive, very low-calorie diet plan followed by another four days of a low-calorie plan, which isn’t very restrictive. Creators of the 3-day military diet claim users can lose between 10 – 30 pounds per month while eating foods such as hot dogs and vanilla ice cream. The military diet claims that a combination of these foods burns fat and boosts metabolism, although supporting evidence is lacking.

The 3-day military diet encourages calorie restrictions and portion control. For the initial three days, all the calories are accounted for unless a user starts making substitutions, which should be calorie counted and measured. In the next four days, it is highly recommended to count calories and maintain a food log.

While this diet plan may result in weight loss, if you lose weight too quickly, you don’t lose fat; only water weight is shed. Technically, some researchers even say that you can lose about 5 pounds of water weight in a single day. Although proponents of this 3-day military diet claim that users don’t only lose water weight, there is no enough supporting evidence. It’s also alleged that a dietician specialist didn’t design the military diet, just like other fad diets.

What You Can Eat

The military diet comprises a 3-day diet plan of 3 meals per day without snacks. This is followed by four days of less restrictive eating for two snacks and three meals.

In the first three days, consumers will consume foods from a strict list, including ice cream, coffee, green beans, broccoli, apples, bananas, saltine crackers, hot dogs and meat, tuna, grapefruit, cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and peanut butter toast. These are also called ‘on’ days and range between 1,100 and 1,400 calories each day.

Followers can then take four days off from severe restrictions and limit the daily calorie intake to about 1500 calories of healthy food. On the other day, “off-day” meals might include products like zucchini pasta, shrimp, and salad with protein and yogurt parfait.

Although calorie restrictions to about 1500 calories every day might aid weight loss, a short-term diet plan, which emphasizes unhealthy prepackaged foods such as hot dogs, isn’t a perfect solution for overall weight and health management, especially if this cycle keeps being repeated.

Cheese and Eggs

Eggs are often included in few lunch menus and could be prepared following your tastes, considering no fat is utilized. Cottage cheese and cheese slices are also part of some lunch menus.

Some veggies, including dark green leafy vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, green beans, and zucchini are part of the daily diet, especially dinner. The only snacks included in this diet plan are celery and carrots.

Fruit

A grapefruit is included in each breakfast. Also, it’s included in a few lunches. The fruit salad is also part of the lunch menu.

Seafood, Poultry, Meat

Boiled steak, hamburger, lamb, turkey, and roast chicken are included in the dinner menu. Shellfish and fish are also included in the dinner menu. Moreover, cold cuts are part of the lunch menus even though fatty meats like bologna aren’t allowed.

Bread

Protein bread made with a gluten flour, whole-wheat flour, and soy flour is an integral part of the 3-day military diet. The company has provided the recipe, but this is a product, which has been in the grocery stores since the late ’70s.

What Not To Eat

Like any other fad diet, there are a few foods you should not consume while on this diet. These include:

Alcoholic Beverages

Alcohol isn’t allowed during the first three days of the military diet. Nevertheless, in the next four days, red or white wine is allowed, but in moderation.

Full Fat Milk

With the military diet, milk or cream added to coffee shouldn’t be part of this diet. On the diet plan, you get to eat three meals each day. Snacks aren’t allowed in the first three days.

Sugary Treats

There are no desserts of any type that are allowed in this diet plan, including candy, baked goods, ice cream, etc.). Some fruits such as bananas and apples can be consumed in a few days.

What to Eat?

  • Cheddar and cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Bread
  • Black coffee
  • Green beans
  • Apple
  • Grapefruit

What to Avoid?

  • Sugar
  • Cream or milk in coffee
  • Alcohol

Does 3-Day Military Diet Aid Weight Loss?

The three-day military diet promises that users can lose up to 10 pounds per week. On the first day of the military diet, you can eat about 1,400 calories, on the second day you are allowed to take roughly 1,200 calories; and on the third day, about 1,000 calories, even though realistically, much of the weight lost is because of fluid loss and not fat loss. Furthermore, to achieve the desired results, especially weight loss, exercise is recommended but not necessary in the military diet – a critical factor in successful and sustained weight loss.

A diet plan which restricts the calorie intake to less than 1000 calories every day can lower metabolism, so when you eat a regular diet, you gain the lost weight even faster.[i] The diet became more popular since it claims followers can lose up to 10 pounds per week. Technically, this rate of weight loss is possible for obese and overweight individuals who restrict calories. Nevertheless, most of the weight loss is achieved through the loss of water, not necessarily fat.

Fluid loss rapidly drops as the body’s glycogen stores drop, which is the case when you restrict calories and carbs.[ii] This looks great on the scale, but the weight would be regained when you start eating normally. Although you might lose 10 pounds in 3 days, this might not be sustainable. Technically, the 3-day military diet is an excellent plan if you’re looking to lose weight quickly. But it isn’t a good eating plan if you’re looking for a way to sustainably lose weight.

What Are The Rules Of The 3-Day Military Diet?

The 3-day military diet comprises of 2 phases that takes up to seven days. In the first three days, users should follow the set low-calorie diet plan for dinner, lunch, and breakfast. In the first phase, no snacks are allowed in between meals. The total intake of calories during this stage is about 1,100 calories – 1,400 calories every day. This is lower than an adult’s intake, although you can check the calorie requirements.

In the next four days of a week, followers are encouraged to eat healthily and continue keeping the calorie intake low.

  • Users can feel free to drink as much tea or coffee as they want, but you should not add any calories from cream or sugar. Drink enough water too.
  • Cheddar and cottage cheese, saltines, eggs, hot dogs, bananas, vanilla ice cream, meat, black coffee, green beans, grapefruit, tuna, apple, broccoli, and bread.

Potential Health Benefits

Proponents of the military diet allege that fast weight loss might be achieved on this eating plan. Nevertheless, even if you shed a few extra pounds in the first week, this is just fluid loss. In many cases, the users will most likely regain the lost weight because the diet is very restrictive and a short-term weight loss plan.

Weight Loss

Overall, the military diet might be very beneficial for people looking to lose weight. The 3-day military plan is pretty easy to follow since it includes minimal foods with simple cooking methods and measurements. The suggested meal for the following four days allows for a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and includes whole grains and legumes.

Promotes Healthy Eating

The military diet offers the calorie target for every food and recommends alternatives for people with allergies and other food intolerances. The diet mainly focuses on proteins that increase fullness, provide enough energy for daily activities, and maintain muscle. It’s essential to maintain muscle tissue because it directly contributes to an individual’s metabolism.[iii] In essence, following the 3-day military diet might be harmless and effective in the short term, but sustainability isn’t assured.

Sample Shopping List

If you opt to try out the 3-day military diet, you’ll spend most of the time in the second phase, which is more relaxed than the first three days, which is more restrictive and excludes snacks. The shopping list below includes the basics for the products you’ll require during the first and second phases. However, this isn’t an exclusive list, and you might find other types of foods that fit your tastes and preferences.

The list below contains products of food that users will have to purchase for the initial three days of the week on the 3-day military diet.

  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Small quantities of cheddar cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Saltine crackers
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans (canned, frozen, or fresh)
  • Meat
  • Hot dogs
  • Three cans of tuna
  • Eggs
  • Peanut butter
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Two apples
  • Two bananas
  • One grapefruit
  • Caffeinated tea or coffee
  • Other veggies (celery, cucumbers, artichokes, asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, spaghetti squash, green beans, turnips, eggplant, bell peppers).
  • Cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli)
  • Leafy greens (lettuces, kale, spinach)
  • Seitan, tempeh, tofu

Sample Meal Plan

Following is a three-day diet plan that features on the site supporting the 3-day military diet. Also, there is a detailed shopping list above for those looking to rely on this diet. People might drink water the entire day and 1 – 2 cups of black tea or coffee.

1st day

  • Breakfast – ½ a grapefruit, one slice of toast, and one cup of caffeinated tea or coffee
  • Lunch – a half cup of tuna, toast, and one cup of caffeinated tea or coffee
  • Dinner – one cup vanilla ice cream, one small apple, ½ a banana, one cup of green beans, and 3 ounces of meat

2nd day

  • Breakfast – ½ a banana, one slice of toast, one egg
  • Lunch – 5 saltine crackers, one cup of cottage cheese, one hard-boiled egg
  • Dinner – ½ a cup of vanilla ice cream, ½ banana, ½ of a carrot, broccoli, and two hot dogs with no buns

3rd day

  • Breakfast – 1 small apple, one slice of cheddar cheese, and three saltine crackers
  • Lunch – 1 slice of toast, one hard-boiled egg
  • Dinner – one cup vanilla ice cream, ½ a banana, and one cup of tuna

Vegetarian Meal Plan

The following vegan and vegetarian meal plans is available:

1st day

  • Breakfast – one cup of caffeinated tea or coffee, two tablespoons peanut butter, one slice of toast, ½ a grapefruit
  • Lunch – one cup of caffeinated tea or coffee, one slice of wheat toast, two tablespoon hummus, ½ an avocado
  • Dinner – one cup of vanilla ice cream, a small apple, ½ a banana, one cup of green beans and tofu

2nd day

  • Breakfast – ½ a banana, one slice of wheat toast, ½ cup of baked beans
  • Lunch – 5 saltine crackers, two tablespoon hummus, ½ an avocado, 1 cup of unsweetened soy, almond milk, or hemp
  • Dinner – ½ a cup of vanilla ice cream, ½ a banana, ½ a cup of carrots, one cup broccoli, two veggie hot dogs with no buns

3rd day

  • Breakfast – 1 small apple, five saltine crackers, one slice of cheddar cheese
  • Lunch – 1 slice of wheat bread, one tablespoon hummus, ½ an avocado
  • Dinner – one cup of vanilla ice cream, ½ a banana, ½ cup of canned chickpeas

Pros And Cons Of The 3-Day Military Diet

The rules are pretty straightforward, making this diet plan seem attractive. Nevertheless, the drawbacks of the 3-day military diet are also significant. Following is a review of the advantages and disadvantages of this eating plan to help you make an informed final decision before choosing to try this diet.

Pros

Simple
Meal Plan Provided
No Long-Term Commitment
Inexpensive

Cons

Not Sustainable
Very Low In Calories To Exercise
High In Saturated Fat, Added Sugar And Salt

Pros

Simple

The 3-day military diet is very easy to follow and doesn’t leave much room for errors. Each meal plan is well outlined and only includes three foods (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) with no snacks. Substitutions aren’t encouraged. However, the proponents of the diet claim that substitutions are only allowed if users have food intolerances to some of the foods.

Meal Plan Provided

Users who do not like counting calories or measuring portions might prefer this diet plan since it takes all guesswork out of this meal plan. There are many variations from one meal to another; so, shopping will be easier since most of the included foods are readily available in many grocery stores.

No Long-Term Commitment

Unlike other weight loss diet plans, which are popular today, there is no subscription needed to follow the 3-day military diet. Users can quickly learn more about this eating plan from online resources.

Inexpensive

Compared to other weight loss diet plans that require consumers to buy processed foods, this diet plan is more affordable. Food is eaten in small amounts, so the grocery bill for one week of the plan won’t be high.

Cons

Not Sustainable

Although some consumers might be able to follow this eating plan for seven days, most people will find that the 3-day military diet is very restrictive to sustain. Many researchers recommend that diet programs should be nutritionally sufficient and customized to meet your needs to be maintainable in the long term.[iv]

Very Low In Calories To Exercise

Eating less than 1,400 calories on diet days might make it more challenging to do exercises, particularly with regards to high-intensity activities. Consuming adequate calories on the four days “off” allows consumers to exercise efficiently. Nevertheless, proponents of the military diet recommend sticking to less than 1,500 calories on the four days.

High In Saturated Fat, Added Sugar And Salt

Between the cheese, hot dogs, bread, peanut butter, and saltine crackers, the diet is pretty high in processed foods, which contain salt. People should check the nutrition labels to ensure they aren’t consuming more sodium than the suggested 2300mg per day. When possible, you should purchase food brands, which are lower in sodium or contain zero added salt.

The hot dogs, which are recommended in this diet, comprise processed meat. These hot dogs contain high levels of sodium and saturated fat. Every day’s meal plan includes vanilla ice cream, which might be higher in added sugars. People can substitute ice cream for 300 calories of whole grains, vegetables, or healthy fruit that this diet plan currently lacks.

Any diet that emphasizes dense foods and high calories might not feel quite satisfying because the portion sizes are still small.[v]

Is The 3-Day Military Diet A Healthy Option For You?

For short-term weight loss, the military diet is allegedly very effective, but any weight lost while following this diet plan is likely to be regained after the resumption of your normal diet. The 3-day military diet is not a sustainable long-term healthy eating plan or weight loss solution. Also, it doesn’t teach essential skills such as meal preparation, planning, and healthy meal consumption, which might support sustainable weight loss.

The United States department of agriculture dietary guidelines has tips and recommendations for a healthier balanced diet plan that must include various fruits, oil, dairy, seeds, nuts, legumes, beans, lean meats, grains, and vegetables.[vi] Also, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers the calorie range for women between 1600 and 2200 calories per day and men between 2200 and 3000 calories every day, but further stresses that the number varies based on activity level, weight, sex, and age.

The 3-day military diet doesn’t comply with the recommendations provided by USDA for calorie, carbohydrate, or protein intake. In reference to the USDA’s 2020 – 2025 dietary guidelines for Americans, adult women and men are advised to eat 10% – 35% of calories from proteins, 20% – 35% of calories from fats, and 45%-65% of calories from carbs. Also, the USDA provides suggestions for dietary fiber (about 22 grams to 34 grams per day).[viii]

To lose weight healthily, the USDA suggests cutting out 500 calories per day. On the 1,400 calorie diet, that’s an intake of approximately 900 calories per day, but this number is pretty low but might vary.

How Much Does The 3-Day Military Diet Cost?

As compared to other weight loss programs or commercial diets where you’ll have to buy processed and prepackaged foods, the military diet largely involves whole foods that can be purchased from the local farmers’ market and many grocery stores. Moreover, with this diet, you don’t have to buy supplements, like it’s the case with some diets such as the Yoli Diet. As a result, it’s highly likely that this diet plan is more affordable than other eating plans.

FAQs

What is the Main Health Benefit of the 3-day Military Diet?

Researchers have found that the 3-day military diet is more effective for the preservation of fat-free mass and fat loss, including building muscles. Because the military diets recommended a daily intake of 1000-1400 calories per day on the first three days, you can shed up to 10 pounds during this period.

What Should You Eat on the Military Diet?

Following are some of the foods you should eat while following the 3-day military diet: 3 cans of tuna, eggs, peanut butter, whole wheat bread, two apples, two bananas, one grapefruit, and caffeinated tea or coffee.

How Much Weight Will You Lose on the Military Diet?

Also known as the 3-day diet, the military diet is a weight loss eating plan that can help you lose 10 pounds in 7 days. The program involves a 3-day meal plan and four days off.

What Can You Substitute for Grapefruit on the 3-day Diet?

You can substitute grapefruit with a tbsp. of baking soda in a glass of water. In reference to the military diets site, baking soda encourages fat burning.

Can I Lose 10 Pounds in Three Days?

To shed 10 pounds in three days means reducing your calorie intake by a whopping 35,000 calories in three days.

 

Sources

  1. [i] Bérubé-Parent S, Pelletier C, Doré J, Tremblay A. Effects of encapsulated green tea and Guarana extracts containing a mixture of epigallocatechin-3-gallate and caffeine on 24 h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in men. Br J Nutr. 2005 Sep;94(3):432-6. doi: 10.1079/bjn20051502. PMID: 16176615
  2. [ii] Kreitzman SN, Coxon AY, Szaz KF. Glycogen storage: illusions of easy weight loss, excessive weight regain, and distortions in estimates of body composition. Am J Clin Nutr. 1992 Jul;56(1 Suppl):292S-293S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/56.1.292S. PMID: 1615908.
  3. [iii] Nair KS, Halliday D, Garrow JS. Thermic response to isoenergetic protein, carbohydrate or fat meals in lean and obese subjects. Clin Sci (Lond). 1983 Sep;65(3):307-12. doi: 10.1042/cs0650307. PMID: 6347500.
  4. [iv] Dulloo AG, Geissler CA, Horton T, Collins A, Miller DS. Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/49.1.44. PMID: 2912010.
  5. [v] Srour B, Fezeu LK, Kesse-Guyot E, et al. Ultra-processed food intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: Prospective cohort study (Nutrinet-santé). BMJ. 2019;365:l1451. doi:10.1136/bmj.l1451
  6. [vi] USDA. Dietary guidelines for Americans 2020–2025. Published Dec 2020.
  7. [vii] USDA. Dietary guidelines for Americans 2020–2025. Published Dec 2020.