Note: Normally this blog is strictly about helping young adults learn more about the military, and military related topics. I’ve had close to a dozen people ask me about the Military Diet over the last few months, and I thought it would be fun to try it out (needed to lose a few lbs. here) and break things up a bit.
A lot of fuss has been made about the Military Diet in the last few years.
The Military Diet, like most diets, starts out with the premise that you’ll lose weight fast.
How much weight, exactly? Well, according to most sources, you’ll lose 10 lbs. in a week.
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What Exactly Is The Military Diet?
According to Healthline, the Military Diet essentially involves a 3-day meal plan, followed by 4 days off.
It gets its name “The Military Diet” because some proponents have claimed that Military Nutritionists developed the program to help prospective soldiers lose weight.
This has been proven false by numerous sources, but the myth is still routinely perpetuated.
How Does The Military Diet Work?
The Military Diet is simple…
You’re essentially required to eat 3 low-calorie meals per day for 3 days, and then eat normally for 4 days.
You repeat the cycle as often as you want until you hit your goal weight.
Here’s what the actual meal plan looks like:
|1||1 Cup of coffee or tea (non-decaf, no sugar or creamer)|
1 slice of toast, preferably whole wheat.
2 tablespoons of peanut or almond butter1/2 grapefruit
|1 cup of coffee or tea (non-decaf, no sugar or creamer)|
1 slice of toast, preferably whole wheat
1/2 cup of tuna fish
|3 ounces of any meat (about the size of a deck of cards)
1 cup green beans
1 small apple
1 cup vanilla ice cream
|2||1 egg (cooked to your preference)|
1 slice of toast, preferably whole wheat
|1 Cup of cottage cheese|
1 Hard boiled egg
5 saltine crackers
|2 Hot Dogs (no bun)
1 cup broccoli steamed
1/2 cup carrots, steamed
1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
|3||1 Slice of cheddar cheese|
1 small apple
5 saltine crackers
|1 slice of toast, preferably whole wheat|
1 egg, cooked to your preference
|1 cup of tuna
1 cup vanilla ice cream
After you complete the 3 day plan, you’re then supposed to switch to the 4 day plan to round out the week.
Here’s what that looks like.
Rather than go into a long and drawn out explanation of what the Military Diet is all about, let’s get right into the details of my personal experiment.
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My Personal Results With The Military Diet
Day 1 Of The 3 Day Military Diet
AM weight: 195 lbs.
I’m not gonna lie, I was very hesitant to jump into this diet for a variety of reasons.
For starters, it’s such a severe lack of calories for someone my size / activity level.
Throughout the 3 days, you’re looking at an average daily caloric intake of about 1,200 calories per day.
For someone like myself, a 195 lb. man 37 years of age that does moderate to intense levels of exercise 4 days a week, normally I would require about 2,624 calories to maintain my weight.
1,200 calories per day is a 1,424 calorie per day deficit, which is absolutely enormous.
I decided that I would scale back my workouts significantly, virtually cutting out cardio and limiting myself to weight training only for about 30 min. 4 times a week.
The only time in Day 1 of the Military Diet that I was not absolutely starving for food was for about the 30 min. after I would consume each meal.
Apart from that, I felt like I was starving myself the rest of the day (which in fact, I basically was).
Trying to fall asleep on an empty stomach is usually pretty difficult for me, but I must say it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be on day 1.
Day 2 Of The 3 Day Military Diet
AM weight: 193 lbs.
Waking up on Day 2 was a struggle of epic proportions.
Normally I jump out of bed, ready to tackle the day.
Not this morning…
I could sense that my body desperately needed carbs, and felt like it was shutting down to conserve what little energy it had left.
Breakfast on day 2 of the military diet.Nevertheless, I dragged my a$$ out of bed and grabbed that first cup of morning coffee, sans the sugar and creamer of course.
Traditionally, breakfast doesn’t happen for several hours after I wake up.
I’ve grown accustomed to getting most of my work done in the morning, and a full stomach just seems to make me tired.
Not this morning….
I was starving about 30 min. after that first cup, and just had a lack of focus / concentration that wasn’t allowing me to get anything done.
I bit the bullet and had my measly 1 hard boiled egg, 1 plain slice of ezekiel toast, and 1/2 banana.
As soon as I took a bite of the banana, I could literally feel it drop into my stomach and almost instantly evaporate.
It was almost as if my stomach was ready to devour itself, and the banana kept that from happening.
I sliced up the hard boiled egg and put it on my slice of toast.
I was tempted to put a slice of american cheese and a couple strips of bacon on it for some flavor, but nonetheless, I didn’t.
Ahhh bacon, how I’ve missed you….
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The rest of the day went pretty similar.
I’d feel ‘satisfied’ (but not full) for about the 30 min. after I finished eating my ‘meal’, and then the hunger pangs would start up again.
It got to the point where I was literally staring at the clock just waiting for the next meal.
I spaced them out about 4 hours apart, because the military diet doesn’t exactly specify how you should do this.
Day 3 Of The 3 Day Military Diet
AM weight: 190 lbs.
Day 3 was actually not as difficult as I expected it to be, at least in the morning.
It seemed as though my body had grown sort of accustomed to the lack of calories, and I stepped on the scale to see where I was at.
I could definitely start to see (and feel) the difference.
My basketball shorts were fitting very loosely, almost to the point where they felt like they were going to fall down.
At this point I was actually excited to continue on with this, despite the pounding headache I had.
One thing I noticed right off the bat was I didn’t seem to feel as hungry as I did on days 1 and 2 of the military diet.
I mean, I still felt hungry.
But it wasn’t the type of hunger where I felt like I was about to eat my keyboard.
My energy levels seemed to come up a bit as well, and day 3 was a relative breeze compared to the first 48 hours.
Days 4 – 7 Of The Military Diet
AM weight (day 4): 189 lbs.
The menu selections of the Military Diet vary pretty dramatically on days 4 – 7, so it definitely made things easier.
For example, for breakfast you’re allowed to have a 2 egg omelette with cheddar cheese. (which is what I ended up having on days 4 and 5)
For lunch, you can have a turkey, pear, and swiss sandwich topped with 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard. Just make sure you hold the mayo.
Dinner was my all time favorite when it came to the Military Diet.
The selections presented are actually things I would eat normally, even if I wasn’t on a diet.
For example, one of my personal favorites was the BBQ Black Bean burger with coleslaw.
The recipe is as follows:
- 1 Black Bean burger cooked with 1 tablespoon of BBQ sauce
- Whole wheat bun
- Coleslaw: 1.5 cups of shredded cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots mixed with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Another one of my favorites was the Cheese and Artichoke pizza with a side salad, made from scratch.
Here’s the recipe for that one:
- 1 Whole grain flatbread
- 3 tablespoons of spaghetti sauce (I used Newmans Own)
- 1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup mozzarella
Bake for 10 min. at around 350 – 425 degrees (varies by oven).
The side salad was really good too, here’s the recipe for that one:
- 3 cups mixed greens
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons Italian dressing
Mix it all up and you got yourself a side salad!
By the end of the week, I was down to about 186 lbs., so about 9 lbs. total.
I could definitely see that I lost a decent amount of weight.
Clothes were fitting looser, and I started to notice my ab definition popping out from underneath a good layer of fat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who’s Behind The Military Diet?
This part is a bit unclear. There’s a website that reportedly is the official site behind the Military Diet (literally called themilitarydiet.com), but it’s unclear who’s behind it.
On the sites About Us page, there’s alot of “I’s”…
“I like quick fixes.”
“I never throw out my skinny jeans.”
“I want to help you reconnect with your skinny jeans.”
But who is I?
I checked the Whois information, and came up short.
It would have been nice for the site to put a name behind the site, but low and behold this is what we’re left with.
OMK sent an email via the contact form on their site, but have yet to hear a response.
Can I substitute any of the items in the meal plan?
Yes, it is totally possible to substitute items in the Military meal plans. (thank god)
I’m actually not a big fan of tuna, so this was the very first thing I was thinking about switching it out.
However, with that said, you can’t just substitute the items with just anything. You have to be very specific with your substitutions, and also specific on the days you eat them.
According to them the following are suitable replacements for day 1:
1 Slice of Toast – Suitable replacements include:
- 1/8 cup of sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup of whole grain cereal (Post Great Grains, Alpen, Kind Almond Butter Whole Grain Clusters)
- 1/2 high protein bar
- 1/4 cup yogurt with 1/2 teaspoon of flax seeds
- One tortilla
- Two rice cakes
1/2 Grapefruit – Suitable replacements include:
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water.
Literally that’s it…
I was hoping for a 1/2 of a carrot or maybe even a sugar packet or 2, but nonetheless, this is the only substitution for a grapefruit on the Military Diet.
1 cup of black coffee or tea – Suitable replacements include:
- 1 Cup of green tea
- 1 8 oz can of Sugar free Red Bull (nice!)
1/2 Cup Of Tuna – Suitable replacements include:
- 1 Piece of Sushi grade tuna
- 1 cup of cottage cheese
- 1 cup of canned chicken
- 1 cup of canned Tofu
- 1 cup of almonds
3 Oz. Of any type of meat – Suitable replacements include:
- 3 oz. of lentils
- 3 oz of beans
- 3 oz of tofu
- 3 oz of portobello mushrooms
1 cup of green beans – Suitable replacements include:
- 1 cup of brocolli
- 1 cup of asparagus
- 1 cup of baby kale
- 1 cup of tomatoes
Note: Be sure to consume the same caloric equivalent for whatever you choose as a substitute. For example, 1 cup of green beans contains 31 calories. All of the above replacements contain just about the same amount of calories, but if you choose a different replacement, like collard greens, you’ll need a larger quantity to meet the caloric requirement.
Pros And Cons Of The Military Diet
- Easy to follow recipes
- Inexpensive (ie free)
- No supplements, gadgets, or special equipment required (just iron will power)
- Perfect for those looking to lose a bunch of weight real quick
- Not a sustainable way to lose weight
- You will feel very hungry the majority of time
- Limited menu options
Does The Military Diet Actually Work?
In my opinion, yes.
Seriously, none of this is rocket science. You’re essentially starving yourself for 3 days.
The meals I was eating was basically there to keep my body from shriveling up into an life size skeletal chart.
Taking in less calories is the hallmark of any diet, especially if you’re looking to lose weight in a short period of time.
The issue that I have is, it’t not a sustainable way to lose weight and keep it off.
To be fair, it doesn’t sound like this is what the Military Diet is intended to do.
By all accounts, it’s essentially made to help you drop as much weight in the shortest amount of time possible.
This diet would be perfect for people that have:
- A wedding to attend in less than a week
- A high school reunion they want to impress an old fling / classmates at
- A wrestler who’s trying to make a certain weight class
- An eating disorder (easy for them!)
It’s not for people that are serious about keeping the weight off for good.
I mean, yeah, you’ll lose weight.
But the minute you shove a slice of pizza or a cheeseburger into your face, you’ll likely gain all of your lost weight right back.
If you’re dead serious about losing weight, and want to do it the ‘right’ way, check out this article here.
It’s got everything you need to lose weight at a reasonable pace, and it’s attainable for almost anyone.
Just like the Military Diet, it’s also completely free!