Growing up in a military family made me appreciate the discipline and commitment required to be in the military. The Military Diet that is popping up around the internet again is not endorsed by any branch of the military, but it is being hailed by followers as a way to jump-start or perk up your weight loss efforts and lose 10 pounds in the process. Before you raise your hand to salute the Military Diet, make sure you know the pros and cons.
No one is certain where the Military Diet originated, although there is a website for the diet. The diet works on the theory that regulating your food intake to a certain balance of carbohydrates and calories for three days will help you lose up to 10 pounds.
It all sounds good in theory, but let’s be real. This theory is just based on the known scientific fact that lowering calories results in weight loss. There is no science behind the foods you will eat during the three days of the diet. It’s simply a low-calorie diet with specific foods to consume.
What You Eat
The Military Diet website indicates your meals for the three days of the diet should look like this:
Breakfast: 1 slice of toast with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, 1/2 grapefruit, 1 cup coffee or tea without sweetener
Lunch: 1/2 cup tuna, 1 slice of plain toast, 1 cup unsweetened coffee or tea
Dinner: 3 ounces of meat, 1 cup green beans, 1 small apple, 1/2 banana, 1 cup vanilla ice cream
Breakfast: 1 egg, 1 slice toast, 1/2 banana
Lunch: 1 hard-boiled egg, 1 cup cottage cheese, 5 saltine crackers
Dinner: 2 hot dogs without buns, 1/2 cup of raw carrots, 1 cup raw broccoli, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
Breakfast: 1 slice of cheddar cheese (approximately 1 ounce), 1 small apple, 5 saltine crackers
Lunch: 1 slice of bread or toast, 1 egg
Dinner: 1 cup tuna, 1/2 banana, 1 cup vanilla ice cream
You can see from the above menu that the diet is extremely restrictive and low in calories. Substitutions are allowed, but you need to be careful that you do not significantly alter the daily calorie allotment or the diet will not be as effective.
If you want to try the diet but don’t eat meat, you can substitute beans or eggs for the meat portions. Don’t like bananas? Have an apple or orange instead. Try to substitute like foods for like foods. For example, don’t substitute grains for vegetables or fruit for meat.
The Challenge to Stick With It
Like many fad diets, the challenge to staying on this diet is actually sticking to the food recommendations. I have tried a lot of diets over the years, and any time I tried a fad diet such as this one I did well on the first day, so-so on the second day, and I binged on chocolate and chips by the third day.
If you are really committed to trying this diet, I recommend cleaning out your pantry and refrigerator of junk food. Then purchase what you need for the next three days and do your best to stick with the recommended foods.
If you are not used to eating at the calorie levels recommended, you will get hungry. And if you are like I am, when you get too hungry, you eat a lot at one time. There are no healthy snack options in the diet to assuage your hunger, so you’re going to have to handle the inevitable hunger as best you can if you insist on trying the diet.
Should You Try It?
I cannot recommend this diet for several reasons.
First, it falls into the fad diet category, which means it is inherently unhealthy and sets up unrealistic expectations for success. Second, the calorie levels are substantially lower than most physicians recommend. And third, why go on a fad diet when other healthier diet plans are readily available?
Trying the diet anyway?
Remember that this is a three-day plan, and the instructions indicate that after three days you should eat about 1,500 calories a day before restarting the diet. Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to stick to this diet for the long term. If you do try it, think of it as a way to jump-start your weight loss and then switch to a more reasonable, realistic diet plan.