3-Day Diet: Military Diet to Lose 10 Lbs In a Week, Does it Work?


There are plenty of weight-loss diets on the market that claim to help you lose weight fast. The Military diet is one such weight loss program.

Proponents of the Military diet claim this program can help you lose weight quickly. In fact, this diet promises a weight loss of up to 10 pounds in one week by simply following a 3-day meal plan.

Needless to say, these claims have made the Military diet extremely popular.

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

This article will discuss the effectiveness of the Military diet, how to follow the 3-day meal plan, and explore potential drawbacks of this diet.



What Is the 3 Day Military Diet Plan?

The 3-day diet, also known as the Military diet, is a short-term, low-calorie diet plan which lasts for three days and is followed by four days of regular eating. The first 3 days of the Military diet restricts your intake to around 1,400 calories or less.

According to the Military diet website, this weight loss diet is free and is not affiliated with any organizations, including the military or product sponsors. You are not required to purchase any shakes, supplements, products, or exercise plans while on this diet.

Instead, the Military diet is a set of low-calorie menus that you follow for 3 days. This diet plan also claims to include specific food combinations that boost metabolism and burn fat.

In the end, the Military diet promises that you can lose 10 pounds in 1 week and as much as 30 pounds in a month if you continue to follow the diet plan.

How Does It Work?

The Military diet is a low calorie, low fat, and low carb meal plan that is split into 2 phases and lasts for 7 days.

During the first 3 days of this diet, you follow a predetermined menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with no snacks between meals. During these days, your total calorie intake is low and totals between 1,100 calories and 1,400 calories per day.

The Military diet menu includes foods such as coffee, eggs, green beans, saltine crackers, cottage cheese, steak, hot dogs, bananas, peanut butter, and vanilla ice cream, to name a few.

A typical meal on the Military diet may include a cup of tuna or two hot dogs, a small apple, and one slice of cheddar cheese. It is also recommended to have one cup of coffee or tea at breakfast and lunch.

According to the Military diet website, the meal plans include combinations of foods that help increase metabolism and boost weight loss. We will discuss these claims in more detail later in this article.

After the first 3 days of dieting, you have a 4-day “off” period where you choose what to eat.

There are no instructions or “food rules” for eating during this period. However, it is recommended to monitor portion sizes and limit your calorie intake to 1,500 calories a day.

Proponents of this diet claim that you can repeat this weekly cycle as desired until you reach your weight loss goal.

Below is a three day sample meal plan of the Military diet.



Day 1: 857 to 1,300 Total Calories

Day 1: Military Diet plan

Breakfast: Roughly 222 Calories

  • 1 slice of whole-grain toast
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 1/2 grapefruit
  • One cup of coffee or tea *no milk or sugar

Lunch: Roughly 172 Calories

  • 1 slice of whole-grain bread
  • 1/2 cup of tuna
  • One cup of coffee or tea

Dinner: Roughly 463 Calories

  • 3 ounces of any 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

Day-2 Military Diet Plan

Breakfast: Roughly 206 Calories

  • 1 slice of whole-grain toast
  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • 1/2 banana
  • One cup of coffee or tea

Lunch: Roughly 305 Calories

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

Dinner: Roughly 462 Calories

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

Day 3: 719 to 1,000 Total Calories

Day 3: Military Diet plan



Breakfast: Roughly 253 Calories

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

Lunch: Roughly 153 Calories

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

Dinner: Roughly 313 Calories

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

Coffee or tea is okay as long as it’s free of sugar and milk products. Any other sugary or calorie-added drinks are not allowed. 

The Remaining 4 Days

The remaining four days of the Military diet are off-days and have fewer dietary restrictions than the first 3-days. 

However, this does not mean that the remainder of the plan is diet free. 

According to proponents of the Military diet, it is recommended to keep your caloric intake below 1,500 calories a day by paying attention to food portions. 

Other than that, you are free to eat what you want for the rest of the week.

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

Individuals following the Military diet are encouraged to drink plenty of water throughout the day. 

According to the 3-day Military diet website, you can also drink unsweetened black coffee or tea, as long as you do not add calories from cream, milk, or sugar. 

Sweeteners and most artificial sweeteners are not permitted on this diet, meaning that soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages will not work on the Military diet plan. 

In general, it is a good idea to stick with water, black coffee, and unsweetened black, green, or herbal teas.

Additional Foods and Food Substitutions

The Military diet allows for food substitutions due to dietary restrictions or food intolerances and allergies. However, all food substitutions must have the same number of calories.

For example, you can swap peanut butter for almond butter or sunflower seed butter due to an allergy.

Additionally, vegans or vegetarians can exchange the meat or cup of tuna with cottage cheese, tofu or tofu dogs, almonds, avocado, or hummus

In the case of food substitutions, the calories in the swapped foods must be equal to the calories from the original menu. If you plan to make any food substitutions on this diet, you will need to conduct some calorie counting.

Does the 3 Day Diet Work?

The Military diet will likely result in short-term weight loss for most individuals.

This is because the Military diet lowers your daily calorie intake, which creates a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit occurs when you consume fewer calories per day than you burn and is the primary driver of weight loss with any diet.

Most diets, including popular examples such as intermittent fasting, paleo, and keto plans, will result in a calorie deficit.

Anytime that you reduce the amount of calories that you consume, you will likely lose weight, and the Military diet is no exception. 

Is This Diet Evidence-Based?

Currently, there are no studies on the Military diet, and much of the available information about this plan is anecdotal. 

Without high-quality human trials, it is difficult to compare this diet’s efficacy and safety to other 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 adults found that, overall, a calorie deficit is needed for 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 energy restriction, regular physical activity, and behavioral changes are required for successful weight maintenance (1). This could mean that adopting healthy eating and exercise habits is a more sustainable approach for maintaining weight loss than a short-term diet such as the Military diet.

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

snacking

According to proponents of this plan, you can lose up to 10 pounds or 4.5 kg in one week while following the Military diet. However, there are no studies to back this claim.

Instead, it is more likely that results will vary from person to person. 

The amount of weight that an individual can lose on any diet depends on several factors, including age, gender, genetics, and starting weight.

For example, individuals who have a history of overweight or obesity may lose weight faster than individuals currently at a healthy size. Generally speaking, it is harder to lose body fat for those already within a healthy weight range. 

Additionally, it is not uncommon to see rapid weight loss at the start of a diet, which may slow or plateau as you near your goal weight.

Therefore, it is important to consider personal factors when setting weight change goals.

Keep in mind that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a gradual weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week while dieting (2). This is because individuals who lose weight gradually may be more likely to maintain that weight change in the long run. 

Potential Drawbacks of the Military Diet

Following the Military diet may have potential problems or drawbacks that include:

Limited Variety of Foods

One drawback to the Military diet is that it lacks variety during the diet period. Due to the extensive calorie restriction, most people will not consume enough fiber, vitamins, and minerals during the diet days.

While these nutritional inadequacies will likely not cause any lasting harm for individuals who follow this plan for the short-term, it may put you at risk of nutrient deficiencies if you practice the Military diet for months at a time. This is especially true if you do not eat a balanced diet during your off-days. 

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

In a way, including one cup of ice cream on a diet plan can be beneficial as it may help reduce cravings for sweets and desserts. However, low-calorie diets that emphasize calorie-rich foods, such as ice cream, may not feel satisfying because the portion sizes must remain small.

For example, one-half cup of ice cream is not very much and will likely leave you feeling hungry soon after you finish eating dinner. 

Potential for Weight Regain

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

However, when you lose weight rapidly, some of that loss will be from water weight and muscle instead of body fat. Anytime that you reduce your calorie intake, the body looks for alternative sources of energy. Initially, the body turns to glycogen, which is a type of energy reserve stored in muscles and the liver.

Glycogen is known to hold onto water molecules. Therefore, as the body burns glycogen for fuel, this excess water is excreted from the body and may give the impression of rapid weight loss. However, water loss is only temporary, and you will likely regain it once you resume a regular diet.

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

Individuals will likely experience weight regain after completing this short-term, fad diet unless they have a plan or strategy in place to maintain these changes. 

Questionable Science to Support Claims

Proponents of the Military diet claim that this diet helps you lose weight, in part, by eating a combination of foods that boost metabolism and increase fat burn.

However, there is limited scientific rationale to support this claim, and an increase in metabolism due to foods will likely be minimal.

There is some evidence that coffee and green tea may contain compounds that marginally increase metabolism (3-5). In particular, caffeine may increase resting metabolic rate by 3 to 11%, with these effects lasting a few hours after caffeine consumption (4, 5). 

Additionally, some research suggests that high protein foods may raise metabolism more than fat and carbs (6, 7). This increase in metabolism that occurs during eating is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF) and is the energy or calories needed to digest, absorb, and utilize the nutrients in the food you eat. 

Not all foods contribute to the TEF equally. One small study consisting of eight volunteers found that protein may increase metabolism by 15 to 30%, compared to 5 to 10% for carbs and 0 to 3% for fats (6). However, the Military diet is not particularly high in dietary protein and could be better classified as a moderate protein diet. 

The Military diet also includes foods for no real reasons, such as ice cream and processed meat, which calls these food combination claims into question.

Overall, the foods that you eat may have a small or minimal impact on your metabolism and will likely not produce weight change unless combined with other lifestyle changes. Ultimately, there is no magic combination of foods that will burn body fat, and most of the weight you lose on the Military diet will be due to the calorie restriction. 

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, the Military diet can better be described as a low-calorie meal plan versus a long-term diet strategy. 

Temporarily following the Military diet is likely safe for most healthy, well-nourished adults. However, long-term adherence to this diet plan could result in nutritional deficiencies. It is also too low in calories to meet most people’s daily calorie requirements.

Additionally, “fast diets,” like the Military diet plan, promote rapid weight loss, mostly in the form of water loss, which could result in weight gain once you stop dieting. 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 you to make permanent lifestyle changes for both weight loss and health benefits. Individuals who are interested in long-term weight management may want to avoid the Military plan. 

Instead, try focusing on healthy habits that will set you up for long-term success. A good place to start is by cutting back on processed foods and sugar, eating more fruits and vegetables, establishing a workout routine, and getting enough sleep.

  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. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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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