If you’ve been looking for a new diet to try — or just scrolling through healthy recipes on Pinterest — you’ve probably seen the “Military Diet." It’s a new fad diet that promises to help you lose 10 pounds in about a week, even less if you’re lucky, and was supposedly named after a technique the military uses to help recruits shed pounds. But what’s the deal, how can you do it, and does it work? We’ve got all the answers.
According to MilitaryDiet.co, it’s an intermittent fasting diet that combines three days of a set low-calorie meal plan with four days of eating whatever you want (as long as it still falls below the calorie intake). During each of those scheduled three days, you’ll consume about 1,000-1,400 calories — though CNN’s look at the diet suggests that actual calorie intake based on the menu might be as low as 760 calories. For reference, the United States governments' Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion says that moderately active adult males need about 2,200-2,800 calories a day, and moderately active adult females need about 1,800-2,000 calories a day.
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Nope — and it’s not the diet’s only name. Some know it by the Navy diet, the Army diet, or even the ice cream diet. Personally, we like to think that it’s called the military diet because it takes military-level self-control to stick to.
You can check out the full three-day menu at 3DayMilitaryDietMenu.com, but day one’s meals include a breakfast of half a grapefruit, a slice of toast with peanut butter, and a cup of caffeinated tea or coffee; a lunch of half a cup of tuna, one slice of wholegrain toast, and one cup of coffee or tea; and a dinner of 3oz of meat, one cup of green beans, half a banana, one small apple, and one cup of vanilla ice cream. It’s not a lot of food — but it does all sounds delicious.
The short answer is that you’re seriously limiting your calorie intake. The longer answer, according to MilitaryDiet.co, is that it “comprises carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, all of which are needed for optimal body function.” At least in theory.
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That’s probably the better question. And again, there’s an easy short answer: Yes. By drastically limiting your calorie intake, your body is burning more than it’s taking in, and you’ll shed pounds quickly, maybe even that promised 10 pounds in a week. But if you’re looking for long-term losses, CNN says you may be out of luck. “With this type of low-calorie, lower-carbohydrate diet, you are losing mostly water and potentially some muscle,” dietician Elaine Magee explained. “Water weight drops quickly as the body's glycogen stores decline, which happens when you restrict carbs and calories. Weight will come back when you begin to eat normally again.”
Theoretically, you could stay on the military diet all of the time — but you’d likely always be hungry, always be irritable, and not have the energy you need to go about your daily life, let alone exercise, which is the real key to losing weight.
If you’re looking for a quick fix to fit into a dress, say, for your daughter’s wedding, sure, the military diet might work for you. But if you’re looking to make long-term changes, or keep the weight off for more than just the week, this is not the way to go.
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