Does the 3 Day Diet Work? Review, Pros, Cons, and How It Works

Does the 3 Day Diet Work?

If you’ve never heard of the 3 Day Diet, it’s said to be a diet that allows you to drop a significant amount of weight in less than one week—up to 10 pounds, in fact! 

But, you may be asking: does the 3-day diet work? And is it a good idea to follow a diet that promotes rapid weight loss? 

Here are all the facts you need to know about the Military 3-day diet.

Short-term diets such as this promise to be a good method for anyone whose weight has plateaued, as it advertises a quick way to lose 10 pounds. But the bad news is that there are real concerns with this type of eating plan. 

Does the Military 3 Day Diet Work?

Let me guess—you’ve landed here because you searched “does 3 day diet work?” or some iteration of that phrase. And who wouldn’t want to lose weight quickly, and also once and for all?

The 3-day diet—also called the 3 day Military Diet or Military Diet for short—is an extremely calorie-restricted diet that limits intake to less than 1,000 calories per day. More than anything, it promises to help you lose body fat in no time at all.

Dieters need to be wary of extreme diets. No matter how the calories are divvied up, challenging your body to drop 10 pounds in three days is not likely to be the most healthy of diet plans. While diets such as this can and do “work,” certain precautions and expectations must be maintained to do it safely.

The short answer is that this diet certainly does accomplish its goal of a 10 pound weight loss in 3 days. But there’s more to this diet story. 

How Much Weight Can You Lose on the 3 Day Military Diet?

Just like any diet, you might choose to follow, results are going to vary from person to person on this diet, too. This can be due to metabolism, inaccuracies in calorie counting and such. Let’s begin by taking a look at the numbers associated with the 3-day diet. We will determine just how much weight one can expect to lose in less than one week. 

For the average person to drop 1 pound of fat after 7 days they would need to cut their intake of calories by at least 500 every day. (Multiply that over 7 days and you would need to eliminate 3,500 calories total.)

If you’re serious about weight loss and want to drop an entire 10 pounds in less than 7 days, that would work out to eliminating more than 35,000 calories in a week! 

Most diet experts would recommend against this.

The faster the weight comes off, the more likely you are to rebound and gain the weight back once you start consuming your normal calories again. If someone loses more than 1-2 pounds per week, it’s likely that water and muscle weight is coming off, as opposed to fat. 

In other words, even if you manage to lose 10 pounds, it’s not fat that’s coming off so much as water weight. Any rapid weight loss can even break down your muscle mass as your body feels itself starving, as well as weaken your bones, as your body mines for needed minerals. 

For people that follow a restrictive meal plan of any kind and that have a lot of weight to lose, they are much more likely to lose that weight rapidly.

On the other hand, for those that are not considered much beyond a healthy weight, it’s going to be a lot harder to lose weight. 

No matter if you are following a diet for 1 day, a diet for 3 days, or a diet for 5 days, this principle holds true. And what’s worse, despite all the effort it took to lose weight, it will likely return the moment you stop the diet. Weight loss of this kind can set someone up for a lifetime of yoyo diets. 

A much better idea is to begin any kind of diet with a more long-term view. In other words, approach your diet with a sense that it is the beginning of a lifestyle change that goes beyond any set number of days and is aimed to improve your health. With this perspective shift, you won’t view the first three days as something to suffer through, but rather the first days of a new journey. 

Let’s review the 3-day Military Diet now so that you can see for yourself just what a super restrictive calorie meal plan over a few days looks like. 

Yes, it can be tempting to see a 10 pound weight loss, but we promise, that 10-pound weight loss will likely rebound towards a 12 pound weight gain down the road.

3-Day Diet Meal Plan for the First Three Days 

This diet is characterized by its extreme lack of sustenance and actual food. What’s more, you’ll notice that the calories come from not-so-healthy sources. This meal plan outlines 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 3 dinners. The foods are all pretty cheap and easy to find. As with most fad diets, the meals are pretty one-note. 

Total calories for each day come in well under 1,000—more like 800-900 calories, instead. 

For day 1, this diet recommends making a breakfast of black coffee, only half a grapefruit, and a single slice of toast. You are permitted only one tablespoon of peanut butter (and not the typical serving size of 2 tablespoons of peanut butter). 

For lunch 1, you may eat tuna fish (half a cup), another slice of toast, and water, black coffee or tea. Dinner consists of 2 hot dogs, 1 cup of cottage cheese, and peanut butter, with 1 cup of broccoli. If this doesn’t seem like a great start to losing weight, just wait… You may be surprised to learn that for a snack, you are allowed a whole cup of vanilla ice cream on this diet. 

Ice cream?! Yes, you read that right—ice cream is allowed on this diet. 

(We can think of much more healthy sources for calories than 1 cup of vanilla ice cream, but for whatever reason, 1 cup of ice cream is permitted on this diet every day.)

For day 2, breakfast again is pretty simple. A single slice of toast, one egg hard-boiled, and a single banana. Again, black coffee or tea, and/or water. In total, this breakfast totals out at 200 calories. 

For lunch on the second day, you are permitted 1 cup of cottage cheese and some saltine crackers to go with it. Again, there seem to be a lot more nutritious ways to consume calories besides saltine crackers, but there you have it. Don’t think about adding any flavor to this “meal.” No sauces, spices, or dressings of any kind are allowed. 

But! As you may have guessed, what is allowed is that vanilla ice cream again! An entire scoop of sugary vanilla ice cream, to reward you for the pitiful first two meals. 

Dinner on the second day consists of 2 hot dogs minus the buns, 1 cup of veggies (carrots and broccoli), and one-half banana for a little fruity sweetness. Your dinner beverage is again coffee or tea or water—all unsweetened.

For those estimating calories, lunch comes out to about 300 calories, and dinner, 460 (this includes that darn vanilla ice cream). Add that to the 200 calories you ate at breakfast on day two and it totals 960 for the day.

For the third and final installment, day 3 breakfast begins with one small apple, one slice of cheddar cheese, and more saltine crackers.

Lunch is barely worth mentioning, but day 3 dinner has a little change of pace. 1 cup of tuna, 1 banana, and…you guessed it!

1 cup of vanilla ice cream again!

Despite that 1 cup of ice cream, no sweetened beverages: it’s only coffee or tea, or water again. 

Day three in total comes out to about 900 calories, on average. 

If you’ve been reading this diet meal plan with a skeptical expression, you’re not alone. As reviewed here, it’s about the unhealthiest and counterintuitive way to consume calories. Aside from that 1 cup of broccoli and carrots, there is hardly a cup of green anything to be had. 

We know people are keen to lose 10 pounds, but there are far healthier ways to help you lose weight than consuming a slice of toast for three days straight. The amount of hot dogs included in this plan (I mean, hot dogs?! Come on!) and even the repetitive peanut butter recommendation actually goes against what most dietitians would tell you. 

In conclusion, spending three days eating nutrient-deficient foods such as these is really not wise, no matter if there is a cup of tuna and a cup of veggies thrown in here and there.

What Else You Should Know

As I’m sure you can guess, this is not a diet that any nutrition professional would guide you to try.

In fact, a certain site that outlines this diet even has the following disclaimer attached to the diet:

 “Neither the staff nor management of 3 Day Diets are experienced, licensed, or knowledgeable to judge or recommend the validity or safety of this diet. We do not necessarily endorse this diet and recommend that before trying this or any other diet to consult a physician or licensed medical practitioner. Use at your own risk.”

Losing a significant amount of weight in just 3 days is super enticing—we get that. However, common sense tells you that if a diet seems too good to be true, it’s probably not a sustainable—let alone, healthy—diet. And after reading through this diet plan, we can think of much more nutritionally sound ways to spend 3 days. A tablespoon of peanut butter, a cup of vanilla ice cream, and two hot dogs for dinner is always a bad idea. 

This 3 day diet might be low in calories, but that is its only “diet” characteristic. What is does have is a ton of salt, cholesterol, and unhealthy fat. This diet would be a major health setback for anyone already suffering from health conditions like diabetes and/or high blood pressure and cholesterol.

 While this diet may allow its participants a brief weight loss, they would surely be seeking their next diet when any weight loss came charging back on. 

About the only thing the 3 day diet accomplishes is calorie-restriction. Otherwise, it might as well as be called the “every day is a cup of vanilla ice cream day” diet!

So, What Does Make for a Good Diet? 

  • One that doesn’t promise results in a guaranteed number of days, for starters. 
  • One that includes healthy eating, by recommending foods that sound more like a cup of green beans than a cup of ice cream. 
  • One that has some kind of fitness or exercise component. 
  • One that advises steering clear of sugar.
  • One that includes a menu with more than four different food groups. 

Yes, a low-calorie diet can seem enticing for the fast weight loss it says you’ll have, but in the years ahead, it will only harm you, and not lead to any kind of specific long-term wellness. 

Misato Alexandre

Co-Founder

After making healthy living a priority, Misato lost over 20 lbs in less than 90 days. Instead of weight loss being a dreading experience, living the lifestyle of health and fitness granted her more happiness and joy than ever before. She co-founded Fitwirr to make health and fitness simple for everyone and share her tips through writing evidence-based articles on nutrition, weight loss, and exercise.

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