What is the military diet all about?
The 3-days military diet is a very regimented and restrictive low-calorie diet. It seems to me like it is a combination from parts of other popular diets all thrown into one. So, based on the 5:2 diet idea of fast and feast, the military diet eating plan is a strict eating regime for only 3 days of the week. The other four days there is a restriction on caloric intake, but it is a much healthier amount (1500 calories per day). The main concepts behind the military diet and it’s claims to success are:-
- The very low-calorie content for 3 days a week
- It is based on intermittent fasting – only 3 days a week
- The above 2 factors, combined with the specific food combinations are said to boost your metabolism, leading the body to burn fat and lose weight.
On a more positive note, the military diet plan, whilst nothing new in the weight loss industry, is one of the only free plans you will come across with:
- no eBook,
- There is not any expensive food involved (probably because there isn’t that much actual ‘food’) and
- no quick weight loss pills or supplements to buy.
How to do the Military Diet
Pretty simple. For three days follow exactly the low-calorie meal plan detailed below. It is important to include all the foods in the exact proportions apparently. Furthermore, during the three day meal plan, you can NOT eat any snacks at all between the three daily meals. For the remaining four days of the week, eat healthily but continue to keep calorie intake as low as possible. During this time, the calorie intake should be around 1,400 calories a day but that will also depend on age, gender, and individual body weight.
Daily Meal Plan on the 3 day Military Diet
By dinnertime, I would imagine that you are starving, but sorry – no relief. It’s an apple, half a banana, a small serving (85 grams) of meat with green beans and a cup of vanilla ice cream!
What do you think about the Military Diet, Doc?
What about the nutritional Content of the diet, Doc?
I find the nutritional content of the military diet slightly concerning too. For example, hot dog sausages (highly processed meat) are part of one of the main meals of the military diet. The hot dog is NOT a nutrient-rich meat to take, particularly when consuming a low-calorie diet. Furthermore, the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) analysed over 7,000 research studies and concluded that hot dogs increase your risk for colorectal cancer. Ice cream, although containing some of the nutrients found in dairy products like protein, calcium and various vitamins, is loaded with both saturated fats and sugar. Saltine crackers are hardly nutrient-rich either. They are very low in calories but are also low in healthy nutrients and high in sodium and unhealthy trans fats.
The 3 day Military Diet plan is NOT a healthy long term plan. The 3 day military diet does not encourage people to develop long-term healthy eating habits. Furthermore, no exercise is incorporated into the diet plan which may lead to loss of muscle mass rather than fat. As a medical practitioner I would be more inclined to advocate small changes for weight loss or adopt a long-term eating plan such as the Mediterranean diet that is scientifically proven to be heart healthy with numerous health benefits.
My Military Diet Weight Loss: A Personal Tale
In my crazy bid to lose weight fast, I stumbled upon the military diet. ‘What could be easier?’ I thought, ‘I used to be in the army cadets’ I thought, ‘It will be fine’ I thought. Now let me tell you unless you are a fully trained SEAL or have undergone Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training you are in for a tough 3 days. The military diet promises you rapid weight loss of about 10 pounds in one week – not surprising when you really look at the amount of food allowed.
Day One: Overly Optimistic
So, armed with a black coffee in one hand and a slice of peanut butter toast in the other – let the diet begin. I demolished that and the half grapefruit – (which I think is basically just a big pink lemon) in less than 30 seconds and looked around thinking, ‘Right, what’s next’. At least the coffee gave me a bit of a buzz on an empty stomach even though it was a little bitter without milk and sugar. Stevia, a plant-based sweetener, is allowed if you usually take your coffee with sugar but not artificial sweeteners.
My stomach was growling an hour later and I distracted and comforted myself simultaneously by thinking, ‘not long until lunch now.’ I had a couple of glasses of water in a desperate attempt to trick my tummy. I was hoping it would feel like food had been eaten but my stomach was wiser than I had thought and now seemed to be turning like a broken washing machine.
Fading Fast …
Lunch could not arrive quickly enough, however on every level, it totally bombed for me (excuse the army pun). The black coffee tasted a little odd and the one slice of whole wheat toast and half a can of tuna barely touched the sides. This was probably the smallest lunch I have ever eaten in my life. No wonder it’s called the military diet there is probably more food in an army ration pack!
By dinnertime I genuinely felt that I had not eaten a thing. Despite more copious amounts of water, a throbbing headache was beginning to set in. My energy levels had plummeted. Dinner was a combination of meat for protein, a small apple and a cupful of green beans. There was one tiny, shining light in this ordeal, which was the small, bowl of creamy, sugary ice cream. I felt slightly better after that … for about 10 minutes.
Felling utterly despondent and in deep despair, I decided the only course of action was an early night to curb the hunger pangs. So snuggled into bed but sleep was elusive due to the intense hunger pangs and the fantasies that were starting to form in my mind. No! not those sort of fantasies!
Fantasies of huge plates of steak and chips, donuts, hot dogs, chocolate, sweets, sticky toffee pudding, spaghetti bolognese, lasagne. Big Mac, Kentucky Fried chicken… forget counting sheep, I was counting calorie-laden meals and snacks. By the early hours I was even fantasising about the cabbage soup diet I had once experimented with. Those lovely bowls of cabbage soup. My mouth was watering, I was hungry and now sleep-deprived into the bargain.
This indeed is one of the criticisms of the 3 day Military diet. You may well binge or crave high sugar or high carbohydrate foods due to the severe food and calorie restrictions.
Day Two: Hopelessly Hungry
By the time I had woken up on day 2 – forget the military diet – I felt like a prisoner of war. I was low in energy and mood with an ongoing ache in my head. Checking the mirror didn’t do anything to cheer me up. I was feeling I imagined that I would be half my former size by now but I could see no noticeable difference. I continued with my military mission however, determined to earn my ‘medal’ – the promised 10 lbs weight loss.
So let the assault course begin. For breakfast, I had one slice of whole wheat bread, one hard boiled breakfast egg and half a banana. Foolishly, I had chosen to do the military diet during the week whilst still trying to work – big mistake, HUGE. I was having problems concentrating and completing the most basic tasks. Lunch was the worst; another boiled egg, a cupful of cottage cheese and 5 saltine crackers – woeful, truly woeful. Dinner, as you already know by now, was 2 hot dog sausages without the buns a few vegetables and the ice cream. Even the ice cream didn’t cheer me up any. Day 2 was the hardest day by far.
Day 3: Finishing Famished!
By the time day three finally arrived, which was a lot better psychologically because the end was in site and tomorrow I could be eating all my favourite foods. Well, you’re still supposed to stick to a calorie count, but at least I could get my blood sugar levels up and end this hunger. Although I completed a week of the military army diet but by the second week I genuinely could not face the idea of going through those three days again and started searching around for a more sustainable eating plan. I did lose pounds – well 8 lbs to be exact, on the military diet but gained it all back as soon as I started eating normally again.
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