Weight Loss

How to Reinvent Yourself with The Military Diet Meal Plan: A Beginner’s Guide

The Military diet is one of the most popular diets in the world. It claims to help you lose 10lb in a single week, it’s one of the quickest ways to lose weight in a hurry.

There is no book or supplement that needs to be purchased. It’s a diet plan that is of no cost and is widely known.

So you’re asking if this diet actually works? 

This article will explain everything that this diet consists of and everything that you need to know. So you yourself can see if it’s something that you should try.

The Military Diet… What is it…?

Also known as the 3- day diet, this is a weight loss plan that can help you lose around 10 lbs in a week.

This plan works in cycles. It’s a 3-day plan followed by 4 days off and the cycle continues as long as you would like to repeat it until reaching your goal weight.

Supporters of this diet plan claimed that it was designed by the US Military, specifically their nutritionists as a plan to help soldiers drop weight and get in shape quickly.

Although, it seems that there are no ties or affiliations with the U.S. government or military in any way. It’s also been coined as the Navy diet or Army diet in many other sources.

 Take away:

The military diet promotes substantial weight loss in one week’s time. Following a low calorie diet plan. Which may be hard for some to commit to or maintain, due to the caloric restriction.

So what’s the plan all about?

The full cycle is a 7-day period, split into two different cycles or phases. For the initial 3 days breakfast, lunch and dinner which consists of a low calorie meal plan. There are no snacks in this meal plan. It’s three set meals with no snacking in between.

The complete caloric intake during this phase is about 1,100–1,400 calories a day.

Which is much lower than the average adult caloric intake, calories are usually based on current weight and activity level.

For the off days or the final 4 days of the cycle, you’re advised to continue to eat healthy and keep the caloric intake on a low-level. 

Which after so many days of restriction, may be difficult for one to adhere to. This 7-Day cycle can be repeated many times until reaching your desired body weight.

 Take away:

This is a set meal plan with lowered calories for the first 3 days. 

The final 4 days of the military diet have fewer restrictions, although healthy eating and consumed calorie awareness is still advised. 

The Actual Meal Plan

Here is the 3-day meal plan of The Military Diet.

Day 1

Here’s the meal plan for day 1. Equaling about 1,400 calories.

Breakfast:

  • A slice of toast with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • Half a grapefruit
  • A cup of coffee or tea (optional)

Lunch:

  • A slice of toast
  • Half a cup of tuna
  • A cup of coffee or tea (optional)

Dinner:

  • A 3-oz (85 grams) serving of meat with a cup of green beans
  • A small apple
  • Half a banana
  • One cup vanilla ice cream

Day 2

Meals for day 2, equaling about 1,200 calories.

Breakfast:

  • A slice of toast
  • One hard-boiled egg
  • Half a banana
  • A cup of coffee or tea (optional)

Lunch:

  • One hard-boiled egg
  • A cup of cottage cheese
  • 5 saltine crackers
  • A cup of coffee or tea (optional)

Dinner:

  • Two hot dogs, with no bun
  • Half a cup of carrots and half a cup of broccoli
  • Half a banana
  • Half a cup of vanilla ice cream

Day 3

Day 3, which equals about 1,100 calories.

Breakfast:

  • A 1-ounce slice of cheddar cheese
  • 5 saltine crackers
  • A small apple
  • A cup of coffee or tea (optional)

Lunch:

  • A slice of toast
  • One egg, cooked however you like
  • A cup of coffee or tea (optional)

Dinner:

  • A cup of tuna
  • Half a banana
  • 1 cup of vanilla ice cream

All while drinking as much coffee or tea as you wish, without adding any creams or sugar. Drinking lots of water as well, will increase weight loss results. 

The Last 4 Days

The final four days of this meal plan still involves dieting. 

There aren’t foods to avoid and snacking is now permissible. Although, portion sizes should still be limited, keeping your total caloric intake under 1500 calories a day. 

There are many online calorie counters as well as apps to help you keep track of your daily intake. Other than that, there are no other restrictions for the final four days of this diet plan. 

Take away:

The initial phase of this diet is a set menu that must be adhered to, although the final four days have little rules, besides staying under 1500 calories per day.

Food Substitutions…

Dietary restrictions to allow for food substitutions during the initial 3 days of this meal plan do exist, although portions are the same and should contain the same amount of calories. 

For instance, if you  are allergic to peanuts you can switch out the peanut butter for almond butter.

Or you can switch out 1 cup of tuna for a handful of almonds, if you are vegetarian or vegan.

 The most important factor is that the calories are the same amount. You must be counting calories, even if you change the meal plan slightly, in any way.

Supporters of the military diet report good results with also adding hot lemon water to the meal plan routine. 

Although no sweeteners whether sugar or artificial can be added to any beverage during this meal plan cycle. Even the slightest increase in calories will jeopardize your weight loss results 

Take away:

There are food substitutions permitted, making this meal plan possible for any type of diet restriction or dietary lifestyle. 

Any evidence to back up the Military Diet?

No studies on the Military Diet have been done, but with caloric restriction for a week long… Anyone would lose 7-10 pounds following this diet.

The fewer calories you consume,  the more body fat is burned for energy. No matter what type of eating plan you follow.

Although there are claims that this is specific weight loss based on these food combinations of the military diet plan. 

They say that these combinations of food increase fat burning by way of your increased metabolism, but again there are no studies to support this claim.

Specific food combinations have not been scientifically confirmed to add success to weight loss.

Green tea and coffee have beneficial properties that increase metabolism as well as performing as a diuretic. 

I am a firm believer in the benefits of green tea, I drink it on a weekly basis and notice a slimming effect for myself as well. Although it does affect my sleeping pattern, due to the lack of caffeine in my diet at all, not drinking soda or coffee.

But someone that drinks coffee daily or soda on a regular basis, most likely wouldn’t feel any effects from green tea… And they also have naturally decaffeinated green tea available. 

A low-carb high-protein diet in theory encourages more fat burning as well as a metabolic increase by limiting or excluding other foods groups, including ice cream:), check out my post on the low-carb diet for more detailed info. 

Take away

Due to the low amount of calories, the military diet will help you lose weight. But it has no increased success or advantages than any other calorie restricted diet.

How safe is the Military Diet & Is it easy to maintain?

Because of the short duration of this diet, it would most likely not leave any lasting harm to the average individual.

Although if this 7-Day cycle was repeated over and over for several months, the caloric restriction could directly impact nutrient and vitamin levels within your body putting you at risk for different illnesses. 

Especially due to very little inclusion of fruits and vegetables during the first three days of this meal plan. Requiring you to consciously incorporate fruits and veggies into your final four days of the diet.

Many components of this diet are unhealthy, the high sodium content of hot dogs or the eating of ice cream very often.

This isn’t a sustainable diet for a true healthy lifestyle, due to the use of unhealthy and processed foods throughout the plan. 

This diet plan, I feel is for short-term use only. Whether that be one cycle or three cycles. This does not implement true lifestyle change. It’s more about restriction and willpower.

 Take away:

For healthy individuals, the military diet is a safe route. That it should be done with short-term intent and not practice for extended periods of time. The weight loss achieved will most likely not stay away for long.

Really Lose 10 Pounds In a Just a Week?

The popularity of this diet started because of its noteworthy claims, claiming to help you lose 10lbs in just a week. 

Ideally, this is a very possible rate of weight loss for those that eat excessive calories, even thousands of calories over their recommended caloric intake based on their body weight. 

Although most of the weight that is lost, will be due to decreased water retention and not actual fat. So once normal eating or increased caloric intake resumes, that weight will return once again.

Take away:

The weight loss claims of 10 lbs a week are possible and will most likely happen. 

But once a more realistic calorie intake resumes weight will return, since most weight lost during the 7-day period would have only been water weight. 

But I still feel that this would be a great diet to do a week before a vacation or big event, to give you that slimmed down and bloat free appearance that you may be desiring. 

Is it Effective?

Yes, it will work.

If you’re looking to quickly lose some extra pounds, you will find the military diet to be helpful.

But once you stop this great restriction of calories the weight is most likely to return rather quickly. 

This is more of a fad diet and it’s not meant for lasting weight loss or true lifestyle change.

Diets that support true lifestyle change are used as a catalyst to lose weight and keep it off, these diets are also out there.

I recommend a  lowered carb diet or gluten-free diet will keep you from excessively eating processed foods that are usually filled with sugars and starches, which are the building blocks for extra pounds, added belly fat and abdominal weight. 

I myself have done this diet occasionally, years back. I found this diet difficult due to my texture problems, the tiny amounts and unusual food choices & combinations.

Including my personal difficulty with cottage cheese,  due to my texture issues. Each time, it felt like an episode of  “Fear Factor” (a reality TV show that no one younger than a millennial would know). 

As I would eat it over the sink, hoping I could successfully swallow the required cup serving.

I tried large curd, I tried small curd, it made no difference. Each was just as horrible as the other. Cottage cheese is definitely an acquired taste. That was one of the hardest challenges I’ve had to do lol.

The most weight loss I was able to achieve was 7-8 lb only completing one cycle period at a time. I practice a gluten-free and dairy-free diet presently… which is a diet choice that does take some getting used to…

But it’s very sustainable and has shown fat melting benefits as well. I’m 2 years in and the health benefits of a gluten-free diet are so great that this will be a lifetime change for me.

Jeanette Laine, Health & Wellness Expert

About Author

I'm Jeanette Laine and I am a Licensed Physical Therapy Practitioner, Certified Lymphedema Therapist, Certified Health & Nutrition Coach and Wellness & Weight loss Expert. I create informative wellness articles and recommend effective natural & healthy products, techniques & programs, to aid in attaining and understanding weight loss and optimal health & beauty.