What is the Military Diet?

The military diet is a budget-friendly diet plan that claims to help people lose up to 10 pound in a week. The weight loss plan is comprised of a 3-day fixed meal plan which has to be followed strictly. The remaining 4 days of the week have no fixed meal plan, but dieters are encouraged to eat healthfully on those days.  This 7-day cycle should be followed until a person achieves his or her desired weight.

The diet is popularly referred to as the army diet, navy diet, or ice cream diet, as ice cream is part of the 3-day portion of the diet. Supporters of the diet plan claim that the diet was created by the US army to get their soldiers in shape; however, this claim is refuted by US military nutritionists.

Image Credit: MilaCroft / Shutterstock
Image Credit: MilaCroft / Shutterstock

What Does the Military Diet Consist of?

The diet consists of a fixed meal plan for the first 3 days. The low-calorie menu must be strictly followed for the first 3 days, which  are devoid of any snacks.
Meals for the 3 days of the plan consist of

Day 1

  • Breakfast - 1 cup of caffeinated coffee or tea, 1 slice of toast with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, and one-half of a grapefruit
  • Lunch - 1 cup of coffee or tea, 1 slice of toast, and one-half cup of tuna
  • Dinner - 3 ounces of meat (any kind), 1 cup of green beans, one-half of a banana, 1 small apple, and 1 cup of vanilla ice cream

Day 2

  • Breakfast - 1 piece of toast, 1 egg, and one-half of a banana
  • Lunch - 1 hard-boiled egg, 5 saltine crackers, 1 cup of cottage cheese
  • Dinner - 1 half of a banana, one-half cup of carrots, 1 full cup of broccoli, 2 hot dogs, and one-half cup of vanilla ice cream

Day 3

  • Breakfast - 1 slice of cheddar cheese, 5 saltine crackers, and 1 small apple
  • Lunch - 1 slice of toast and 1 egg
  • Dinner - One-half a banana, 1 cup of tuna, and 1 cup of ice cream

During these 3 days, substitutions are allowed (with some restrictions); however, the total number of calories in each portion be equivalent.

The Remaining 4 Days

There are no restrictions for the remaining 4 days; however, proponents of this diet encourage healthful eating during these days as well. The total daily intake should be restricted to 1,500 calories per day.

Is the Military Diet Safe and Effective?

As the diet restricts carbohydrates and calories, there is substantial loss of water from the body, which produces some weight loss. However, dieticians warn that the weight lost will be regained once you go return to your normal diet. This phenomenon, termed “weight cycling,” can weaken a person’s immune system and lead to several health problems.

This diet can be really difficult for those who are accustomed to eating a high-calorie diet (eg, 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day). A drastic drop in the total calorie intake can make a person irritable and lethargic or tired. Physical activity may seem cumbersome in such cases.

Advocates of the military diet say that certain food combinations described in the plan can boost a person’s metabolic rate. However, there is no scientific evidence to back up this claim. In fact, restricting certain quality foods, like vegetables, can actually lead to nutritional deficiencies.

The Verdict

Because the military diet follows a very simple plan, it can be a sustainable choice for prospective weight-losers. However, issues such as weight cycling and nutritional deficiencies may result. In conclusion, the military diet is not recommended for persons desiring  long-lasting weight control.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jan 14, 2019

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