How Does the Military Diet Work, Is It Safe and How to Get Started?

Every day on the internet there are millions of people worldwide looking for quick ways to lose weight. The search results speak for themselves.

How do I lose weight in a short time, quick weight loss, meal plan for fast weight loss, the list goes on.

The Military Diet is one that will almost always show up near the top of the list and for good reason!

This weight loss regime is touted by anybody who wants to lose weight without exercising and in a very short time with little or nearly no effort.

The question is, does it really work. Here we will look at what the Military Diet can and cannot do for anybody looking to shed weight at lightning speed.

The Military Diet is a popular diet which claims that you can lose weight fast by eating an extremely low-calorie diet.

This may be true but keeping it off may be quite difficult. Often diets like the Military Diet are known as fad diets and could possibly lead you to gaining more weight than you had originally lost.

It is based very loosely around intermittent fasting which is not necessarily a bad thing if done correctly.

Despite its name, the Military Diet does not have anything to do with the military and as stated by experts, does not have the nutrition or balance required that leads to good military performance.

It has been stated that the diet in the military is totally opposite to this diet. They eat nutritional and often calorie packed meals due to the nature of their job.

This diet is not for the faint hearted, it gets tough and requires anybody undertaking it to have a lot of persistence.

Such a restrictive diet has numerous risks associated with it and we will look at this more in depth further down the page.

How Does The Military Diet Work

The calorific intake on the Military Diet is dramatically reduced and it is a very strict, short term weight loss plan.

It is claimed that you can lose 10 lbs in one week. For a three-day period, you stick to the restrictions then you have a four day “rest period” from the diet. There have been reports of people doing this diet 3 days on and 4 days off for a complete month and losing up to 30 lbs.

This can be detrimental to your health, with dietitians and nutritionists strongly advising against it.

During this diet, weight loss is not due to the number of calories burned but rather calorie deficits which are caused by severely restricting the foods that you eat.

Between 1000 and 1400 calories is the intake recommended by the Military Diet website for the first 3 days.

Even over the 4 days, you have off, you are still advised to eat only 1500 calories or less. Water loss is also one of the biggest causes of losing weight.

Supporters of the diet claim 3 days on, and 4 days off will effectively help with weight loss while at the same time not messing about with your metabolism.

There is no promise that you will not give in to cravings during the three days though!

In saying all of the above, there have been some very positive results with people who did need to lose weight fast, not for vanity but for health reasons.

Sometimes it is essential that people get their weight down before undergoing surgical procedures or can begin a certain exercise program.

There are a lot of people who claim this diet have worked wonders for them and swear by it. Some have lost weight and kept it off, others have discovered a whole new way of living by better food choices and exercise.

There are others who have not been so happy with it. They either felt unwell during the dieting, with others reporting that they felt unwell even during their four days off.

Some people said they gained weight back very fast and even put on much more weight that they had actually lost.

Where Did The Military Diet Originate

When you look for the Military Diet on the internet, you will find tips, pictures and a detailed diet plan. All the normal information is there that people look for when researching something, FAQ, a blog, substitutions, a calorie counter and reviews.

However, the homepage of the Military Diet does not have a nutritionist, expert or author giving any credibility to this diet.

This is concerning because a diet plan needs to have the support of somebody who is credible. This could be an organization, resource or person. Having nothing or nobody to vouch for what they are putting on the site does not inspire confidence.

CNN tried to call the number provided and email the address given but there was no response from either of these, not a good start at all and immediately raises red flags.

Why Do People Try The Military Diet

It is common for people to try this diet as it is touted as the “secret diet of supermodels and celebrities”.

Seeing all the beautiful people looking trim and fantastic drives people to try and reach this often-unattainable status.

Also known as the grapefruit diet, the Mayo Clinic Diet, American Heart Association Diet, the Birmingham Hospital Diet and the Kaiser Diet, the Military Diet is exactly the same but with nobody reputable backing it and none of the other names above support it!

Many of the celebrities who tout this diet have personal chefs, personal trainers and do not even need to worry about if they are getting the correct calories or nutrition due to somebody else organizing that for them. Having a nutritionist on hand is another plus!

Should You Try the Military Diet

If you already have health conditions such as people with high cholesterol, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes or are a pregnant woman, you need to speak to your doctor. This diet is very restrictive and could be dangerous.

It is claimed that this diet is a weight loss plan for people who need to lose weight quickly. Not everybody can fight the hunger pangs or deal with the low energy which is part and parcel of such a low-calorie diet.

There is an upside to the Military Diet. Because you are not eating processed foods (although not too how the hot dogs or ice cream come into this) or taking supplements and you are eating only real foods, it is quite affordable.

This diet is not seen as sustainable or realistic due to eating a lot more calories once the low-calorie period has finished; meaning gaining back the weight that has been lost.

For people over 50 years of age, the Military diet could be dangerous due to the low calorific intake.

If you are going to start this diet, it would be a good idea not to do it when you have plans to go out to a dinner party or a restaurant as it is such a limiting diet.

On the four off days, you may be able to work around it but other than that it is a no-no.

Benefits And Risks

When a person restricts themselves from certain food, there is a risk that you will miss out on essential nutrients which often can’t be replaced by a multivitamin.

Binge eating due to having been restricted to such an extreme is one of the short-term risks that are associated with this diet.

Constipation is also something else that many people suffer from due to the restriction of certain foods.

Possibly, one of the biggest benefits is weight loss, due to a lot of countries in the world having a massive obesity issue.

Studies show that people who began with a loss of 15-25 percent of their body weight within six months of starting the diet, could possibly maintain a 5 percent weight loss over 4 years.

The issue though is that the lack of exercise involved in the Military Diet as well as lifestyle could make it difficult to keep any of the weight off. There would need to be lifestyle and dietary changes for this to be of any use.

The Military Diet Shopping List

Let’s take a look at what needs to be your shopping list if you are planning on following the Military Diet Plan for three days.

  • Tuna x 3 cans
  • Bananas x 3
  • Apples x 2
  • Coffee or Tea (must have caffeine)
  • Grapefruit x 1
  • Eggs
  • Peanut Butter
  • Meat x 3 ounces (meat can be any of your choice)
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Saltine Crackers
  • Hot Dog
  • Carrots
  • Green Beans
  • A small amount of cheddar cheese
  • Whole wheat bread

Apparently, there are reasons for each of these foods, they are listed below.

  • Grapefruit will kick start the liver and get it into burning fat mode
  • There are two sources of calcium. Cottage cheese and ice cream.
  • Caffeine is on the list due to assisting the body in burning fat, therefore, losing weight. This is because your metabolism is slightly raised by caffeine. It is said that after your first coffee in the morning, your metabolism is boosted for up to two hours after drinking it.
  • Apples contain high amounts of pectin. This stops your cells absorbing so much fat.
  • Tuna, peanut butter, eggs and other high protein foods burn more fat because they require more energy from the body during the digestion process.
  • Certain vegetables ok but others have a high calorific value and are kept to a minimum.

Looking at the shopping list alone is enough to make the average person hungry! There are hardly any calories there and I am still unsure as to why ice cream and hot dogs are on the list!

Acceptable and Unacceptable Food

Here we take a look at what foods are considered acceptable and unacceptable while undergoing the Military Diet.

Acceptable Food

  • Banana
  • Bread (whole-wheat), in small amounts
  • Carrots
  • Coffee (with restrictions)
  • Egg (with restrictions)
  • Grapefruit
  • Hot dogs
  • Ice cream
  • Meat
  • crackers
  • Tea
  • Tuna

Unacceptable Food

  • Artificial sweetener although Stevia is ok
  • Creamers
  • Fruit juices
  • Milk
  • Oranges
  • Sugar

Even though this goes against normal weight loss advice, low in fibre foods are on the recommended list.

To be able to stay full for longer, high fiber foods need to be consumed. The coffee and tea which are listed must both be caffeinated. Non-caffeine drinkers may have issues here.

An Example of A Three Day Military Diet Plan

Day 1

Breakfast: 1 slice of toast with up to 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1 cup of black coffee or tea with caffeine, and ½ grapefruit

Lunch: 1 slice of toast with up to ½ cup of tuna fish, 1 cup of caffeinated coffee or tea

Dinner: Any type of meat but must be no more than 3 ounces, 1 apple (small), 1 cup of green beans and half a banana

Dessert: 1 cup of vanilla ice cream

Day 2

Breakfast: Half a banana, one slice of toast and one egg

Lunch: 5 crackers, 1 hardboiled egg and 1 cup cottage cheese

Dinner: 2 hot dogs (no buns), half a cup of carrots, 1 cup of broccoli, the remaining half of the banana

Note that one cup of broccoli is included and a valuable source of insoluble fibre but nowhere near enough.

Day 3

Breakfast: 5 crackers, 1 apple, and 1 slice of cheddar cheese

Lunch: 1 piece of toast and 1 egg

Dinner: ½ banana and 1 cup of tuna

Dessert: 1 cup of vanilla ice cream

To achieve the results that the diet claims, complete adherence is recommended.

This diet is like a bank in the sense that you can “borrow” food from another meal if you feel like you need a snack but you will be paying back the bank by missing out at that particular meals.

Can You Substitute Food For Vegetarians Or Vegans

For those who have food allergies, are vegan or vegetarian or have other dietary requirements, anything on this meal plan is able to be replaced by food with a calorie count similar to the one being replaced, as long as it provides the same nutrients.

Two-thirds of a cup of tofu will replace half a cup of tuna and for breakfast, one cup of soy milk is a great substitute for egg.

Cottage cheese substitutes are 15 to 20 almonds. They are the same calorific and nutrient value as eating a slice of cheddar cheese.

Sunflower or almond butter is an amazing substitute for peanut butter when you are enjoying your slice of toast on day one.

What Dangers Are There In The Military Diet

There are dangers involved with losing weight so rapidly. You could possibly experience any or all of the below:

  • Irritability
  • Dehydration
  • Muscle loss
  • Weakness
  • Gallstones
  • Loss of menses in women
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Fatigue

What Precautions Should You Take During The Military Diet

Many people use this diet for a special event. This will surely lead to binge eating and weight gain.

To lose weight safely and keep it off, it is important to make lifestyle and dietary changes. Fad diets put you at risk of regaining all the weight you have lost plus a lot more.

Keep up your water intake, you will be tired, and water helps! Multivitamins can help but they do not make up for what you are missing out on by following this diet.

If at any time you feel unwell, stop the diet. Contact your medical professional if you have any concerns at all.

What Do Experts Say About The Military Diet

Experts are calling it “crazy”, and “ridiculous” which in itself should be a red flag. Dietitians are there to help people with their diet, but this is one they would not recommend!

You are sending your body into starvation mode, storing your calories, by what is essentially fasting.

Your body then slows down your metabolism but when you start eating normally again you gain back the weight and more.

On this diet, you also burn minimal fat but lose water weight and lose muscle which is not a good thing!

There are medical professionals who have called it dangerous, particularly when it comes to teenagers who are still developing mentally and physically.

The lack of nutritional value and calories in this diet can be detrimental to young people. Of course, they all want to look like their favorite person off YouTube, but chances are they never will!

Adolescents need to be guided if they are worried about their weight, this could be due to peer pressure more than anything else.

They need to know that everybody is different and are all amazing just as they are.

If there is a weight problem, helping them with a structured routine, healthy diet and exercise is what needs to be done.

Yes, it sounds easy and no, it definitely isn’t, especially with moody teenagers. If there are concerns, a visit to the doctor may be called for.

There have been cases where 3 days of this diet have turned into much longer and have had devastating consequences.

Final Thoughts

The Military Diet is a fad that that is highly restrictive and dangerously low in calorific value. Even though it is stated that there are no processed foods, many can be seen in the meal plan.

Hot dogs and ice cream are sugary and processed and are totally deficient of any of the minerals and vitamins that are needed to keep us healthy.

There is a growing consensus that the Military diet can be a factor in diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, gallstones and even cancer.

There is no scientific evidence that this diet can boost your metabolism and has the potential to be dangerous as well as totally unsustainable. There is also the chance of eating disorders due to the nature of this diet.

Everybody is different and what works for one person does not work for another. Fad diets are not the best way to lose weight.

There needs to be a change in physical activity, switching to a healthy, more plant-based diet and regular exercise to see the weight drop off and stay off.

People always want to lose weight and look their best, which is the most natural thing in the world.

The only way to do this is to change your eating lifestyle and exercise habits. There is no use in doing the Military Diet if after a week you have gained more weight than you have lost.

It is all great to lose 10 lb and look great but when you gain it back, things can then become a vicious cycle.

There is a very real chance of eating disorders due to the nature of the diet. This can be exacerbated by the fact that everywhere you look in the media today, whether it is social media or mainstream media, there are beautiful, slim people everywhere.

It pays to remember that it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice (as well as filters) to stay looking like that.

To look and feel your best, it cannot be repeated enough that a healthy lifestyle is key as is a good dose of self-confidence.

There is no denying the Military Diet is extremely useful in some cases such as in a medical situation when a patient needs to lose weight quickly before an operation.

There are other times that Military Diet may be helpful in giving somebody that boost that they need to make the lifestyle changes needed to lose weight the healthy way. There are pros and cons but unfortunately, there seem to be more cons.

Unfortunately, this diet screams fad diet and is an all-round bad idea. If you do choose to go ahead and give it a try, seek advice from your medical professional and listen to your body.

If you experience anything that doesn’t feel “right”, go straight back to your doctor immediately.

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