Everything You Need To Know About The 3 Day Military Diet

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Last Updated: 13th October 2016

When it comes to losing weight, there are just so many diets out there. How do we know which one is the best for us? Could some be more harmful or work out better for our overall health than other diets?

The 3-day military diet may be one that you’ve heard about, and is a version of intermittent fasting. Surely if this is named after the personnel trained to keep our country safe, it is good for the body, right? Surely it should be one that you can follow without any worries, right?

Here’s all you need to know about the 3-day military diet to make sure it’s just right for your needs.

What Exactly Is the 3-Day Military Diet?

This isn’t a diet that only lasts for three days, and you’ll keep the weight off for the rest of your life. The “3-days” part implies to the amount of time you will spend on the diet at once. For three days in a week, you’ll follow the plan. The other four days you are “off the plan,” but that doesn’t mean you will eat everything that you want. There is a plan that you can follow if you want to make the switch back to your three days on easier.

The plan is designed to help you lose 10lbs within the space of the week. Once you get to your ideal weight, you can follow a maintenance plan to keep the weight off.

While losing the weight, you’re able to follow a fitness program. During the four days off, you can follow a plan that will cut your calories to 1,500 per day. This will be more than enough to get through everything you need to do and help you continue your weight loss.

So, what’s the downside? One of those is just how strict the diet is. The main reason it’s called the “military diet” is that you need to have the willpower and determination to succeed. You need to have that certain element that all people in the military need. Another reason is that it will give you the body of a person in the military, which is always something to focus on when it seems that little bit too hard.

What Do You Need to Buy?

Want more good news about this diet? The military diet is completely free to follow, as it requires no book or program online. You can follow it all through free websites, and create your own recipes and meals based on the ingredients that you’re allowed and not allowed.

The program was created by the US military (another reason it is known as the military diet) as a way to get soldiers fit quickly. It’s not harmful to the body, because of this main need.

Soldiers don’t exactly have a lot of money and won’t want to buy specialty products and guides. They just want to get in shape for the bare minimum. This is why it’s a great diet for you. The only things you need to buy are the foods that you want to eat!

What Are the Risks to Following the Military Diet?

Whenever you follow a new diet, one thing you’ll want to check is the risks involved. All diets have risks, even those that are created to be the healthiest in the world; and those created for soldiers!

One of the biggest risks to this diet is if you following for a long time. There are risks of nutritional deficiencies, because of some of the strict limitations on the diet. You run the risk of not getting enough protein or vitamins needed to develop muscle and bone.

That being said, the military diet for the diet process is only designed for short-term use. It’s not one of those that you should follow as a diet for the rest of your life. There is a maintenance section that will help you keep the weight off, and improve some nutrients that you get on a daily basis.

Does that mean you shouldn’t follow it? Think about the amount of weight you need to lose and what you want to get out of your diet. It may be something that you do to kick start your plan, or help you lose that last little bit of weight. It can also get you ready for the summer.

Can you overcome the risks?

The good news is that you can counter many of the risks associated with the diet. This is due to the four days that you get “off.”

You have the choice of following a healthy eating program during this time or snacking on junk food. If you opt for the former, you increase the amount of nutrients you get. Following the diet over the long-term won’t cause nutritional deficits because you will get everything you need four days of the week. If you choose to follow the latter, you do put yourself at a higher risk of problems.

Why Should You Follow the 3-Day Military Diet?

Now that you know what it is, it’s time to look at why you should follow it. Why is this the diet for you?

Not all diets are suited for all individuals. You’ll find some easier to follow and more enjoyable than others. At the same time, you’ll find some diets help you lose weight and keep it off more than others will. This will be the case for the military diet. As you read this, you may decide that this is just the one to help you with your weight loss goal.

One of the main reasons to follow this diet is that it really works. The way it was designed was to help real people with a simple goal. It doesn’t necessarily involve a lot of science and is more about determination and physical goals.

This wasn’t designed for those wanting a beach body. It was designed for those with a practical need to get in shape. That means one thing for you: it’s not a fad.

This isn’t going to lead to a lot of yo-yo dieting. It’s not all about cutting out nutritious foods or certain food groups. The purpose is to follow a healthy lifestyle while creating a calorie deficit good enough to help you lose a lot of weight in a short period of time.

While it is restrictive, the good news is that it isn’t difficult to follow: as in, it doesn’t involve a lot of steps and long lists of things you can and can’t do. You get a list of food that you need to avoid and ideas for meals during your “on” days and then have free reign over your next four days. You can follow a healthy eating plan during the four days if you want, but even that will be easy to follow.

The hardest part of this is sticking to the actual diet, not the instructions.

But don’t you end up gaining all the weight after it?

This isn’t quite a diet in the true sense of the word. Diet implies that you eventually stop following it, and that is why the weight gain happens. When you get to your weight goal, you don’t just stop following the plan.

It’s all about healthy eating and sustainable weight loss. There is a maintenance option. After all, soldiers don’t keep losing weight. They get to a point that they’re happy and keep their weight at that level. They also continue to improve their fitness and strength levels.

Why This Diet Isn’t for You

It’s worth looking at the downsides of the diet. After all, this is EVERYTHING you need to know, right?

The diet definitely isn’t for everyone. Those who love varied meals throughout the week won’t find this much fun. It is extremely restrictive and regimented for the three days that you’re on it. If you really want to keep the weight loss efforts up afterwards, you’ll have to follow a healthy eating plan. For some people, it can feel like being on a diet for the rest of their lives.

It also involves exercise. Not everyone will want to do this, especially running and weight training. You can adapt this part of the diet to suit you, doing activities that you enjoy. You can also build up to the training programs recommended by the military.

If you’re one of those who really struggles to follow a regimented diet and goes off the rails after a day or two, you may want to look for something that isn’t this 3-day diet. It’s completely up to you. We all have our favourites and least favourites when it comes to losing weight.

Another reason not to follow it is the nutrient deficiency some people will find during the 3-day period. If you have a medical problem, you will definitely want to discuss this diet with your doctor before you consider it. This diet can lead to problems with medication working, due to the lack of calories and nutrients during your “on” days.

Who Benefits the Most for the Military Diet?

Certain types of people will benefit the most from this type of diet. While looking at why it may and may not be for you, it’s worth seeing if you’re someone who will benefit the most from it.

Those who have the motivation to lose weight and willpower to continue when it gets hard are the people who benefit the most. You may not think you have it right now, but you may surprise yourself. Motivation and willpower are needed because of the restrictive nature.

You can help yourself by having goals that you want to reach. Focus on what you want to get from the diet, and find ways to deal with the hunger pangs and cravings you will experience during the three “on” days. What one of the best things do to is to tell yourself “not right now,” instead of a strict “no.”

Those who don’t want to spend time shopping for specialist products will definitely benefit. You don’t need to spend hours in grocery stores looking for certain herbs and spices. There’s no need to go to specialist stores for the perfect ingredients. Most people will have all they need already in their cupboards.

You’ll also be able to follow it on a financial budget. You just need the simple items from the store and herbs that you want to add in. Most of the foods are reasonably priced and easily bought in bulk.

Is There Any Scientific Evidence?

While the diet wasn’t designed because of science, it doesn’t mean that science isn’t involved. The U.S. government has helped to create this diet, so there is one simple scientific idea used to base this whole diet around the idea of calorie deficits.

No studies have been completed, but people have proven that this does work. The diet helps you intake fewer calories than your body needs to burn. This means the body goes after calories that have been stored to make sure it can continue function. You’ll end up burning fat, so you lose it as you go.

What about burning muscle?

The calories in muscle are easier for the body to get to, but you can prevent this from happening. During the diet, you will do exercise, including weight training. This helps you build the muscle in your body, protecting it from getting hold of calories. Your body will be forced to go after the calories stored in the fat.

The exercise will also help you tone your muscle. This doesn’t necessarily help you lose the fat surrounding it, but it will give you shape and tone when you do get rid of the fat.

What about the claims of metabolic rate improvement?

There are some claims that certain types of foods combined with one another will help to boost the metabolic rate. There are claims that this helps you lose more weight, even when not exercising or following the plan

Science doesn’t back this up. There are numerous elements that go into the metabolism and improving its rate. The type and amount of food you eat and the amount of exercise you do will affect your metabolic rate. For example, green tea can help to increase the metabolism slightly, but that doesn’t make the 3-day military diet extra special.

While this doesn’t change the fact that the diet works, it is a fact that you need to be aware of. This will help you make a decision over whether this is something that you really want to follow or not, and help you understand why it really works.

Why High Carb Meals Work for Weight Loss

If you’ve heard of the Atkin’s diet and South Beach diets, you’ll be aware of carbs causing weight gain. This isn’t necessarily the case, but many diets and healthy eating plans will cut down on some carbs you eat on a daily basis.

This is because some carbs can lead to more blood sugar. They can lead to more of a glucose response by the body, which can lead to some weight gain.

That being said, there are carbs that can help with weight loss. Also, one type of food isn’t going to make suddenly you gain weight, and you do need to get all your food groups.

The military diet does focus on a lower protein and higher carb plan. This is due to the need for carbohydrates for energy. The military diet is focused on the exercise that you do, so you need to make sure your body has everything it needs to get going and complete tasks.

Will the Diet Really Help You Lose 10lb a Week?

There’s the claim that you can lose as much as 10lb a week on the diet. Is this really the case?

It’s important to note that a healthy weight loss is up to 2lb a week. This is when you will definitely lose fat, rather than losing water in your body. By following a diet that gives you a consistent 10lb a week weight loss, you’re actually losing more water and potentially muscle from your body.

If you have a lot of weight to lose, you may find that you lose more on a regular basis. This is because your body will retain more water and you’ll find it easier to get rid of. This isn’t as detrimental to your health as it would be if you didn’t weigh too much over your healthy BMI.

Remember, there’s no scientific research into this diet. There’s no physical proof that you will be able to lose your 10lbs a week for the beach-ready body.

How to Help Yourself During the 4 Days Off

The 3-day military diet does include four days a week when you’re not on the strict plan. That doesn’t mean you have to ruin all your efforts from the three days on plan. You can follow a 1,500 calorie diet to keep up the hard work, without damaging your health.

The 1,500 calories don't sound like a lot, especially considering men and women are recommended to eat 2,500 and 2,000 calories a day respectively. Most people will eat less than the scientific recommendations, as they are just average recommendations and take into account people will do the recommended levels of exercise, too.

Women especially are more likely to burn 1,600-1,700 calories a day, so eating the 2,000 would end up creating a weight gain. By eating 1,500 calories a day, you’re creating a smaller deficit.

You can also focus on eating healthy foods to get to those calories, avoiding the potential risks of creating a nutritional deficit. Trying focusing on more fruits and vegetables, which are much lower in calories than the likes of ice cream, chocolate, and fast food.

The best way to keep your calorie intake down is by focusing on a healthy eating plan. This will involve three meals and two snacks a week, and focus on the likes of higher protein and fibre foods, fruits and vegetables, and whole grain meals. While you may get higher carb meals during your “on” days, you’re giving your body the needed opposite in your “off” days.

Can You Tailor It for You?

The military diet can come across as quite boring after a while. You get a diet plan to follow for three days, and you may wonder if you can tailor it to suit your preferences.

The downside of tailoring it is that you run the risk of losing out on benefits. You may opt for foods that are higher in calories than your “on” days need. It’s best to follow the three days “on” as close to the instructions as possible. It does make it one of the easiest diets to follow because of this.

The tailoring comes into the four “off” days. You can follow whatever diet you want during this time. The 1,500 calorie diet is just a recommendation, but not necessary to boost your efforts.

However, if you are vegan or vegetarian, you can change the diet to suit your needs. Rather than using meat, you can use meat substitutes. They can be better for you even if you are a meat eater.

It’s also possible to make other substitutes if you don’t like certain foods. You will need to do some research on the specific foods and the benefit they offer the body. That way you can find something that will offer the same benefits, so you don’t completely miss out.

Can I Still Drink Tea and Coffee?

Some people find switching to plain water the hardest part of the diet, especially at first. If you’re a coffee lover, you may find that you suffer from headaches due to caffeine withdrawal.

I have some excellent news for you:

Yes, you can have caffeinated drinks!

Water is the best option, of course. You can even add some lemon to the water to give you that little extra kick. Drink as much water as you can, and avoid the artificial sweeteners. For a little natural sweet taste, add other fruit to your water, like strawberries, melons, and pineapples.

Caffeine is allowed: and as much as you want to have! The benefit of caffeine is that it works as a stimulant. It can help to boost the metabolism, helping you to lose more weight. The decision is what to put in it since you should avoid artificial sweeteners.

If you do need to sweeten it, consider Stevia. This is a natural sweetener and doesn’t have the chemicals that cause problems for the blood sugar levels and overall health that many others do.

Do avoid adding cream or milk to your coffee. Try to drink it black where possible, and don’t replace your water intake with caffeine. The best option is to have that one coffee to start your day and then focus on getting as much water as possible.

How to Follow the 3-Day Military Diet

Now that you know about it, it’s time to find out the plan. Remember this is restrictive for the three days so you may be shocked by the look of the first three days. You’ll get used to it, though, and remember you do have four “off” days to look forward to each week.

Day 1: 1,400 calories to consume

When you think about some calories you’re going to get, you won’t panic so much. Remember what we covered about your actual calorie-burning ability?

Start off your morning with a slice of toast and two tbsp of peanut butter. This will give you the carbs and fats your body needs to get started. Follow that with half a grapefruit, and a cup of tea or coffee. It’s worth starting off your day with some water, just to get your metabolism kick started, ready for your breakfast. The water will also help you feel fuller.

Lunch is another slice of toast and half a cup of tuna. The tuna will give you the omega 3 your body needs, as well as some protein. Don’t mix anything else with your tuna. It seems quite bland but focuses on that summer body.

Enjoy it with water, tea or coffee.

Dinner you can have a little more—and you’ll be happy to know that you won’t need to have toast! Opt for a 3 oz serving of meat of your choice and a cup of green beans. Follow that with half a banana and a small apple. You can also enjoy a cup of vanilla ice cream.

That dessert can be eating altogether, giving you a small fruit salad to finish off your first day. Store that other half of the banana in the fridge by wrapping it in cling film, so you can have it tomorrow.

Well done on completing your first day. Now it’s time to move onto Day 2.

Day 2: 1,200 calories to consume

Some calories you eat today will be a little lower than yesterday. You won’t notice it too much, especially as you get into the diet.

Start your day with a slice of toast and a hard-boiled egg. This will give you your carbs and protein that your body needs. You can follow that by half a banana. Follow it by a cup of tea or coffee.

Lunch is another hard-boiled egg and five saltine crackers. Have some cottage cheese with that to make sure you get some protein. Follow that with another cup of tea or coffee if you want. Don’t forget your water throughout the day!

Dinner is two hot dog sausages—sorry, but you’ll have to miss out the bun and toppings! Have it with a cup of mixed broccoli and carrots. You can enjoy half a banana with half a cup of vanilla ice cream to finish off the day.

Day 3: 1,100 calories to consume

This will be your hardest day of the week.

Start off with five saltine crackers and an ounce of cheddar cheese. You can then follow them with a small apple, and your choice of tea or coffee.

Lunch is toast and egg. You can choose how you want to enjoy your egg, as it won’t change the calories that you consume. Finish it off with your tea or coffee.

Finally, for dinner, it’s time for a cup of tuna (plain), half a banana and a cup of ice cream; vanilla of course.

If you are starting to feel hungry at all throughout the day, opt for a glass of water. This will be healthy for you (no calories), and can help you lose weight. It will also help you feel a little fuller.

You’ll notice that there are specifications like half a banana and five saltines. Don’t deviate from the plan. This is designed to keep your calories to a set amount, and deviating will increase your calories.

If you don’t like something or can’t eat something, such as meat, tuna or bananas, then you can replace with something of the same value that offers the same health benefits. For example, a cup of tuna can be switched for a cup of almonds. Peanut butter can be switched for seed butter if you’re allergic, but keep the measurements the same.

The important thing when making alterations is that the calorie content remains the same.

When opting for bread, wholegrain is preferable. This will not just give you carbs but the fibre that your body also needs.

When it comes to your 1,500 calorie days, you don’t need to add too much in the way of snacks. An extra 100-400 calories would be the equivalent of beans on toast. The good news is you can add more vegetables and fruits, as they are much lower in calories than anything else.

The Dos and Don’ts of the Military Diet

When it comes to the military diet, you want to focus on giving yourself the best chance at losing weight. Here're a few quick dos and don’ts to follow.

Do make only the substitutions mentioned above. You don’t need to add any other foods to the plan. It’s created just right to make sure you get the calories your body needs, so you still lose weight.

Do find a reason to follow the diet. “To get skinny” isn’t always going to help you. You’ll need to have a goal in mind because this diet is hard. What is going to give you the motivation to get through this?

Do find a healthy eating plan for the other four days. This isn’t an opportunity for you to binge. You can enjoy a few treats, but don’t overdo it. A 1,500 calorie diet for the four days is highly recommended to help you make the most of the 3-day military diet “on” period.

Do add an extra 100 calories however you want each day if you’re a man following it. Men need more throughout the day than women.

Do download the app. There is an app available with the food plan and tips to keep yourself going. It’s worthwhile having it to keep you on track to lose weight.

Do get help and support from others. Having others who are motivating you on the plan will be great. You may even find a friend or two who want to do it with you.

Don’t snack during the “on” days. It’s not designed for the extra food. The calories are set out perfectly with the three meals. You don’t need to have your dessert straight after your dinner. You can choose to have it a little later as a snack, but make sure you don’t snack on extra foods throughout the day.

Don’t be lazy It’s tempting to find excuses not to do exercise because of your diet. This diet will allow you to work out because the total number of calories you consume isn’t ridiculously low. In fact, 1,200 calories a day on average is the recommended amount, and you only have one day that goes under that. Feel free to workout on a daily basis.

Don’t follow the diet too much on a consistent basis. There are some who will follow the three days continuously with no “off” days. This is okay for the short term, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose, but it isn’t recommended. The diet was designed for you to have your four days off the restrictive diet. Staying on it for too long will lead to nutritional deficiencies and lead you to binge eat afterwards.

How to Build Your Exercise Up

If you’re just starting on the diet, you may never have done regular exercise before. Don’t worry, you can still follow the plan.

Doing exercise isn’t essential, but it will help. Just make sure you build yourself up, so you don’t end up injuring yourself. Go for a 20-30 minute brisk walk two or three days a week at first to get your body used to it. You can then increase that to five or six days a week.

As you get used to exercising more, you can then boost your exercise levels even further. Try adding some weight training or longer cardio sessions each week.

If you are going to a gym and have a personal trainer, make them aware of your diet plan. This will help them create an exercise program around your plan to avoid doing any damage. It may not be something that they have heard about, so make sure you’re ready to explain.

You don’t need to do a lot of exercises that you hate. Find something that you enjoy, whether it is an aerobics class or sport. This way you are more likely to stick to the plan as you continue with the diet.

What Do Others Say?

There are a lot of reviews on the 3-day military diet online. They are mixed, depending on the person’s goals and wishes.

For some people, it was just too restrictive. There are those who don’t really have goals and try a diet just to lose a bit of weight. They then find that they can’t follow it because they’re not in the right mindset. Others just find that the diet isn’t for them, and find something else more suitable.

Some people have found the diet extremely beneficial. They lost the weight they needed and got the boost that they needed. Some have said that the diet was excellent for the short term kick start, but that they needed something else for the long term.

Remember that not all diets will suit everyone. We all have different wants, needs, and preferences. Just because someone found the diet perfect for them, doesn’t mean you will. Likewise, just because someone hated it, doesn’t mean you will.

Should You Follow the 3-Day Military Diet?

I can’t say if this is definitely something you should do. It’s time for you to make that decision, based on your complete guide right here.

This is definitely restrictive, as you’ve seen from the plan listed above. If you find it difficult to stick to such a regime, then it isn’t really going to be for you. That being said, you can make it work. You may not think you have the motivation and willpower right now, but that important goal will push you whenever you get to a difficult spot.

When you do start the diet, do it with all your heart. Follow the plan and make a commitment to yourself. It’s only three days of the week, and then you get a little freedom. Isn’t it worth putting yourself through the regimen for that time, knowing that you could lose up to 10lbs in a week?

This diet does work, especially for the short term. It will give your body the kick start you need, and then you can focus on healthy eating. By opting for a healthy eating plan, you will keep the weight off that you have lost.

It can be a jump start to an amazing journey of health and fitness. Since this diet is simple but challenging, you should be able to find it easy to maintain it by eating healthy and doing easy exercises even at home.

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