Does The 3-Day Military Diet Actually Work?

The 3-day military diet packs a lot of intrigue into its name. Any diet with the word 'military' in it conjures up ideas of being tough, and that it only lasts three days is of interest. But before we enlist, we need to know exactly what this food rationing regime entails, and if it really works.

The 3-day military diet is a food plan that actually extends over one week, and focuses on decreasing the number we see on the scale. According to The Healthy, the plan provides a list of foods that you can eat for three days. The calorie count on the first day should be around 1,400. On the second day, that number decreases to around 1,200 and on the third to just 1,100. The other four days a week are more relaxed and you are encouraged to eat what you like, up to a total daily calorie count of around 1,500. 

Temporarily restricting calories results in temporary weight loss

According to The Military Diet's website, a recommended breakfast for day one would be a slice of toast with peanut butter, half a grapefruit, and a cup of coffee. For lunch, you can have coffee, half a cup of tuna, and a slice of toast. For dinner, you can dine on three ounces of any meat, a cup of green beans, and one cup of vanilla ice cream for dessert. If you are vegan, vegetarian, or have any food allergies, the diet plan has no rules for substitutions.

Restricting calories is a cornerstone of a number of different diets. But how do we know if it works? Jennifer Bruning, RDN, a Chicago-based nutrition strategist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends caution. In the case of the military diet, "It's three days of restrictions and four days of lesser restrictions, but still restrictions," she tells The Healthy. "So, for those seven days, the average healthy person might lose a couple of pounds, but the majority of it will be water weight." 

Bruning goes on to explain that the diet doesn't contain enough fruits and vegetables. The plan also lacks calcium rich foods, so be careful of nutrient deficiencies if you plan on following this program for a while. Whether you are looking to lose a few pounds or clean up your eating habits, the 3-day military diet may be best for short-term enlistment, and not a long-term commitment.