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Health and Fitness News

Shaping Up with the Military Diet

Lose weight fast and furious with this diet fad.

Also known as the navy diet, army diet, the 3-day diet, or ice cream diet, the military diet claims to help you lose up to 10 pounds in one week. The strange thing is, though it’s called the military diet, the plan has no actual connection to the military. Diet proponents claim the diet was designed by U.S. military nutritionists to get soldiers in shape, but the military denies any such claim. Despite the fact that no one seems to know who designed the diet, it has quite a following.

What can you eat on the military diet? Is it safe or effective? Read on to learn the facts.

The Plan

Have an upcoming event and need to lose weight fast? Then you may want to try the military diet. The program sets forth a three-day eating plan followed by four days of your own healthy low-calorie diet to round out the week. If you haven’t reached your goal weight after a week, you can start over.

To get an idea of the diet plan, here is what you eat on day one. Breakfast consists of one slice of toast, half a grapefruit, two tablespoons of peanut butter, and one cup of tea or coffee (sweetened only with Stevia). For lunch, you eat one slice of toast, half a cup of tuna, and one cup of tea or coffee. At dinner you get three ounces of your choice of meat, half a banana, one cup of green beans, one apple, and one cup of vanilla ice cream.

Days two and three are similar in calorie count with a few food swaps. Overall, each day consists of 1,100 to 1,400 total calories. To see results, you’re not allowed to snack, and you must eat exactly what the diet suggests.

The Pros

The military diet is simple and inexpensive compared to many fad diets out there. There’s no joining fee; no whole food groups to avoid; and no special shakes, supplements, or pre-packaged meals to purchase. Having each meal planned out takes the guesswork out of what to eat. Because your meals are tightly regimented and consist of relatively basic foods, you likely already have most of the recommended foods in your pantry. Even better, the meals require little to no prep work.

Because the diet is so low in calories, don’t be surprised that you’ll lose a few pounds. Proponents claim the food combinations burn fat and speed metabolism, but no studies prove these claims. Since the diet plan lasts only three days (followed by four days of healthy eating), it’s considered relatively safe. Eating a strict, low-calorie diet longer than three days, however, may be harmful to your health.

The Cons

It’s a fad diet. Quick weight loss is possible, but because of its restrictive nature it’s not sustainable for more than a short time. Your metabolism is thrown off kilter causing your body to hold on to calories. As soon as you return to your normal way of eating, the weight will return with a vengeance.

Low-calorie diets are known to make you feel tired, sluggish, hungry, and irritable. The weight you lose will be mostly water weight, not fat. If you’re looking for lasting weight loss, the military diet is not the way to go.

Also, the meals aren’t exactly nutritionally dense. Crackers, hot dogs, and ice cream aren’t what you’d expect from a weight-loss plan. Therefore, it’s important to focus on vegetables and nutritious foods on the four days you have off.
Finally, remember—there’s no credible expert or organization known to have created the military diet. This alone should give you some pause.