Military Diet: 3-Day Diet Plan to Lose 10 Lbs In 1 Week


There is no shortage of fast weight-loss diets on the market that claim to help you lose weight rapidly. The Military diet is one such program.

Proponents of the Military diet claim this method can help you lose weight quickly by merely following a set of free meal plans. In fact, this diet goes as far as to promise a weight loss of up to 10 pounds in only one week.

It goes without saying that these claims have made the Military diet extremely popular among individuals looking for a quick fix. 

Can a diet really help you lose 10 pounds in only 7 days? More importantly, is this diet safe?

This article will take a deep dive into the Military diet, its free 3-day meal plans, and explore the potential drawbacks that dieters should be aware of before trying this 7-day diet.



What Is the 3 Day Military Diet Plan?

The 3-day diet also referred to as the Military diet, army diet, and navy is a short-term, low-calorie diet that you follow for one week. The first 3 days of this 7-day diet plan restricts your intake to around 1,400 calories or less, followed by 4 days of regular eating.

Based on the name, you might assume that this diet is affiliated with the United States army or military.

However, according to the Military diet’s website, this weight loss diet is not associated with any organization, including the armed forces or any branch of the military. Additionally, this diet is free, and you are not required to purchase any shakes, supplements, or products while on the eating plan.

Instead, this diet is a collection of 3-day, low-calorie menus for rapid weight loss. This diet plan also claims to include specific food combinations that help increase your metabolism to burn fat.

According to the diet’s website, the 3-day diet is meant for “weight loss emergencies,” such as wanting to fit into a wedding dress.

In the end, the Military diet promises a quick weight loss of up to 10 pounds in a week or 30 pounds in one month if you continue to follow the 7-day diet plan after the initial week.

How Does It Work?

The three-day diet is a low fat, low carb, and low-calorie plan consisting of 2 phases that last for 7 days.

During the first 3 days of this restrictive diet, you follow a very low-calorie diet that totals less than 1,400 calories per day. 

While following this diet plan, your shopping list will include coffeeeggs, green beans, tuna, carrots, broccoli, saltine crackers, cheddar and cottage cheese, steak, hot dogs, bananas, peanut butter, and vanilla ice cream.

A typical meal on the Military diet may involve 3 ounces of meat or two hot dogs, a small apple or piece of toast, and one slice of cheddar cheese. It is also recommended to have one cup of black coffee or tea at breakfast and lunch for the caffeine. Additionally, there are no snacks between meals during the initial 3 days. 

According to the Military diet’s website, these meal plans include combinations of foods that boost metabolism. We’ll discuss these claims in more detail later in the article.

After the first 3 days, you have a 4-day “break” from dieting. There are no diet menus during this phase, and there are no “food rules” or specific foods that you need to eat. However, for best results, it is recommended to practice moderation by monitoring portion sizes and limiting your food intake to 1,500 calories a day.

The last day of this diet is day seven. After that, you are free to resume a regular eating pattern or repeat the 7-day diet if desired. Proponents of this diet claim that you can continue the weekly cycle until you reach your goal weight.

 First Day: 857 to 1,300 Total Calories 

Military diet day 1

Breakfast: Roughly 330 Calories

  • 1 slice of whole-grain toast
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 1/2 grapefruit
  • One cup of black coffee or tea without sugar or milk

Lunch: Roughly 180 Calories

  • 1 slice of toast 
  • 1/2 cup of tuna
  • One cup of black coffee or tea

Dinner: Roughly 500 Calories

  • 3 ounces of any type of meat
  • One cup of green beans or a cup of broccoli
  • 1 small apple
  • 1/2 banana
  • One cup of vanilla ice cream

Day 2: 973 to 1,100 Total Calories 

Military diet plan day 2

Breakfast: Roughly 330 Calories

  • 1 slice of whole-grain toast
  • 2 tbsp of peanut butter or 1 slice of cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 banana
  • One cup of coffee or tea

Lunch: Roughly 360 Calories

  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • 1 cup of cottage cheese
  • 5 saltine crackers
  • One cup of coffee or tea

Dinner: Roughly 565 Calories

  • 2 hot dogs without a bun
  • 1/2 cup carrots
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream

Day 3: 719 to 1,000 Total Calories 

Military diet plan day 3

Breakfast: Roughly 270 Calories

  • 1 ounce or a slice of cheddar cheese
  • 5 crackers
  • 1 small apple
  • One cup of coffee or tea

Lunch: Roughly 153 Calories

  • 1 slice of toast
  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • 1 cup of carrots
  • One cup of coffee or tea

Dinner: Roughly 500 Calories

  • 1 cup of tuna
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup of broccoli
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream

Coffee or tea is also permitted as part of this diet as long as it’s free of calories, sugars, and milk products. In fact, it may be a good idea to sip on black coffee or tea between meals since there are no snacks during the first 3 days of the 7-day diet.

The Remaining 4 Days

The last four days of the Military diet are off-days and have fewer restrictions than the first days. 

However, it is still recommended to keep your caloric intake below 1,500 calories per day. You can accomplish this by paying attention to portion sizes and choosing healthy foods, such as veggies, lean meats and poultry, and whole grains. Other than that, you are free to eat what you want for the remaining days of the week.

What Can I Drink on the 3-day Military Diet?

It is recommended that individuals following the 3-day diet plan drink plenty of water throughout the day to encourage adequate hydration. 

According to this diet’s website, you can also sip on unsweetened black coffee or tea, as long as these beverages do not contain added calories from cream, milk, or sugar. 

Sweeteners and most artificial sweeteners (except for Stevia in coffee) are not allowed on the menu, meaning that soda and other sugary beverages will not work on the Military diet plan. 

In general, it is a good idea to drink water, black coffee, and unsweetened tea, including black, green, and herbal teas.

Additional Foods and Food Substitutions

The Military diet plan allows for food substitutions due to dietary restrictions, food preferences, and food allergies. 

For example, you can exchange the two tablespoons of peanut butter for almond or sunflower seed butter if you have a peanut allergy. 

However, any food substitutions must have the same number of calories as the original menu plan. Therefore, it may be necessary to conduct some calorie counting if you plan to make any changes to the 3-day menu.

Additionally, the 3-day Military Diet website also offers a vegetarian and vegan version of the military diet. For example, vegans or vegetarians can exchange the meat or tuna with cottage cheese, tofu or tofu dogs, almonds, avocado, or hummus

Does the 3 Day Diet Work?

The answer to the question of whether the 3-day diet works is both yes and no. Ultimately, the Military diet plan will likely result in rapid but short-term weight loss for most individuals.

This is because the Military diet menu lowers your daily calorie intake by severely limiting the amount of food you eat. By eating less food in a day, you form what is known as a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit occurs when you eat fewer calories than you burn for energy, causing the body to turn to other fuel sources, such as body fat. 

A calorie deficit is the primary cause of weight loss on most diets, including popular examples such as intermittent fasting, the Mayo Clinic Diet, the paleo diet, and keto plans.

Anytime you reduce the amount of food you consume, you will likely lose weight and burn fat. The Military diet menu is no exception to this rule. 

However, whether or not this rapid weight loss is permanent is another matter, and many dieters may find that they regain the weight once they stop dieting.

Is This Diet Evidence-Based?

There are no studies on the Military Diet, and much of the available information about this plan is from dubious diet websites. 

Without high-quality research, it isn’t easy to compare this diet to other, well-researched diet plans. 

However, there is plenty of research that supports the use of calorie restriction diets for weight loss.

A systematic review that examined successful strategies for weight loss among healthy adults found that, overall, a calorie deficit is needed in order to produce significant weight loss (1). Since the Military diet is a low-calorie meal plan, it will likely cause weight loss by creating a calorie deficit.

However, this review article also found that a combination of calorie restriction, regular exercise, and healthy behavior change was needed to maintain this weight loss (1). This could mean that adopting healthy habits is a more sustainable approach for keeping the weight off than a short-term, quick fix diet such as the Military diet menu.

How Much Weight Can You Lose On The 3-Day Military Diet?

Snacking

According to proponents of the 3-day diet, you can lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in one week while following their calorie-restricted menus. However, there is no research to back these considerable claims.

Instead, it is more likely that weight loss results will vary based on the individual.

The amount of weight that anyone can lose on a diet depends on several factors, including age, gender, genetics, the extent of the calorie deficit, and amount of excess weight (aka how much extra weight an individual has to lose).

For example, individuals with a history of obesity may lose weight faster than those currently at a healthy body weight. Generally speaking, it is more difficult to lose body fat if you are already within a healthy weight range. 

Additionally, it is normal to see rapid weight loss at the beginning of a new diet, which may slow down or plateau as you near your goal weight.

Therefore, it is important to consider personal factors in order to set a weight loss goal that is realistic and achievable. Many people find that their willpower slips when they set a goal that turns out to be unattainable. 

Keep in mind that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that dieters lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week (2). This is because individuals who lose a gradual amount of weight may be more likely to keep that weight off in the long run. 

Additionally, it is the stance of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that a sustainable weight loss of 3% to 5% from starting weight has the ability to improve health by decreasing the risk factors of diabetes and heart disease (3). This means that you do not need to lose a massive amount of weight to improve your health. 

Potential Drawbacks of the Military Diet

Following the Military diet plan may have potential drawbacks that a dieter should be aware of and include:

Limited Variety of Foods

A significant drawback of this diet is that it lacks variety and calories during the diet period. Due to the severe calorie restriction, most people will not consume enough fiber, healthy fat, vitamins, and other essential nutrients during the three diet days.

For example, the 3-day diet menu is notably low in healthy fats, such as olive oil and avocados. Studies have shown that a diet rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil, may help reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when used in the place of saturated fat (4-6). 

Additionally, this menu relies on many of the same foods during the diet days, which may inadvertently leave many healthy foods, such as spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, strawberries, and leafy greens, out of the diet.

These nutritional inadequacies may put you at risk of deficiencies if you practice the 3-day diet for weeks or months at a time. This is even more true if you do not eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of real foods during the four off-days. 

The Military diet is also high in sodium, saturated fat, and sugar, mostly from the saltine crackers, hot dogs, cheddar cheese, and ice cream.

On the one hand, adding ice cream to a diet may help reduce cravings for desserts and other “off-limit” food items. However, low-calorie diets that emphasize high-calorie foods, such as ice cream and peanut butter, may leave you unsatisfied because the portion sizes must remain small.

For example, one-half cup of ice cream or one tablespoon of peanut butter is not very much and will likely leave you feeling hungry. Keep in mind that this diet does not include snacks, meaning that you may feel hungry for extended periods, which could drain your willpower. 

Potential for Weight Regain

The Military diet plan promotes rapid weight loss and promises followers that they can lose 10 pounds in one week. 

However, when you lose weight rapidly, some of that loss will be from water loss and muscle mass instead of body fat. Anytime you severely restrict your calorie intake, the body turns to alternative energy sources for fuel. Initially, the body will begin to burn glycogen, which is a type of stored carbohydrates.

Glycogen molecules are known to retain water. Therefore, as the body starts to burn glycogen for fuel, this extra water weight is excreted from the body and may give the false impression of rapid weight loss. However, any pounds of water weight that you lose will only be temporary, and you will likely regain it once you resume your usual diet.

Additionally, the Military diet is meant to be a short-term, 7 day diet and does not promote healthy lifestyle changes. 

Individuals will likely experience rapid weight regain after completing this temporary, fad diet unless they have a strategy in place to maintain these changes. 

Questionable Science to Support Claims

According to the 3-day Military diet website, this diet causes you to lose weight, in part, by eating a combination of foods that boost metabolism to burn body fat.

However, there is little scientific reasoning to support this claim, and any increase in metabolic rate due to specific foods will be small.

There is some evidence that coffee and green tea may contain compounds that minimally affect metabolism (7-9). In particular, the caffeine found in these beverages may increase the resting metabolic rate by 3 to 11% for up to a few hours after caffeine intake (8, 9). 

Additionally, some research suggests that foods high in protein may help raise the metabolic rate more than fat and carbs (10, 11). This increase in metabolism during eating, known as the thermic effect of food (TEF), is the energy needed to digest and convert the nutrients from food into a usable form.

However, not all foods have the same TEF. One small study consisting of eight volunteers found that protein may increase the metabolic rate by 15 to 30%, compared to 5 to 10% for carbohydrates and 0 to 3% for fats (10). However, it is worth noting that the Military diet menu is not exceptionally high in dietary protein.

The Military diet also includes foods for no real reason, such as ice cream and hot dogs, making it hard to believe that this diet has unlocked the secret to a magic combination of foods.

Overall, the foods you eat may have a minimal impact on your metabolism but will likely not produce weight change unless combined with a healthy lifestyle. Ultimately, there is no specific food or combination of foods that will burn fat, and most of the weight you lose while dieting will be due to the calorie restriction. 

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, the 3-day Military diet is a low-calorie meal plan and not a long-term diet strategy. 

While temporarily following the Military diet may be safe for most healthy, well-nourished adults, it is not the best way to lose weight. It is also too low in calories to be considered a healthy diet. Additionally, following this diet plan for weeks or months at a time could result in nutrient deficiencies. 

Furthermore, fad diets, such as this one, promote rapid weight loss, mostly in the form of water weight, which could result in weight gain once you finish the 7 day diet. This means that the Military diet may help you lose weight in the short-term but is likely not a good diet for sustainable success.

The bottom line is that there are plenty of other diet programs available that also encourage permanent lifestyle changes for both weight loss and a decreased risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. Ultimately, the Military diet is not the best diet for individuals who are interested in long-term weight management. 

Instead, try focusing on healthy habits that will set you up for success in the future. A good place to start is by reducing your intake of processed foods, eating more fruits, veggies, and real foods, establishing a fitness routine, and getting enough sleep.

You may also want to speak with your doctor or a registered dietitian-nutritionist before starting any new diet or reduced-calorie diet plan. 

  1. Ramage, Stephanie et al. “Healthy strategies for successful weight loss and weight maintenance: a systematic review.” Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism = Physiologie appliquee, nutrition et metabolisme vol. 39,1 (2014): 1-20. doi:10.1139/apnm-2013-0026
  2. “Losing Weight.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 Feb. 2020, www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html.
  3.  Raynor, Hollie A, and Catherine M Champagne. “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Interventions for the Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics vol. 116,1 (2016): 129-47. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2015.10.031 
  4.  Garg, A. “High-monounsaturated-fat diets for patients with diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 67,3 Suppl (1998): 577S-582S. doi:10.1093/ajcn/67.3.577S 
  5.  Appel, Lawrence J et al. “Effects of protein, monounsaturated fat, and carbohydrate intake on blood pressure and serum lipids: results of the OmniHeart randomized trial.” JAMA vol. 294,19 (2005): 2455-64. doi:10.1001/jama.294.19.2455 
  6.  Guasch-Ferré, Marta et al. “Olive oil intake and risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality in the PREDIMED Study.” BMC medicine vol. 12 78. 13 May. 2014, doi:10.1186/1741-7015-12-78 
  7. Diepvens, Kristel et al. “Obesity and thermogenesis related to the consumption of caffeine, ephedrine, capsaicin, and green tea.” American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology vol. 292,1 (2007): R77-85. doi:10.1152/ajpregu.00832.2005
  8. Dulloo, A G et al. “Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 49,1 (1989): 44-50. doi:10.1093/ajcn/49.1.44
  9. Koot, P, and P Deurenberg. “Comparison of changes in energy expenditure and body temperatures after caffeine consumption.” Annals of nutrition & metabolism vol. 39,3 (1995): 135-42. doi:10.1159/000177854
  10. Westerterp, K R et al. “Diet induced thermogenesis measured over 24h in a respiration chamber: effect of diet composition.” International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders : journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity vol. 23,3 (1999): 287-92. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0800810
  11. Weigle, David S et al. “A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 82,1 (2005): 41-8. doi:10.1093/ajcn.82.1.41
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