Is the military diet right for you? Experts explain the pros and cons

 Is the military diet right for you?  Experts explain the pros and cons

When you hear the term “military diet plan” you might assume it’s a way to prepare soldiers for boot camp. But this is not the case. In fact, the military diet “lacks any affiliation with the military, and does not adhere to the nutritional principles used in actual military practices,” explains Nicole Andrews, RDN, oncology nutritionist and author of Sugar does not feed cancer. and what? Below, nutritionists explain, most importantly, in detail the potential dangers of a restricted menu.

Meet the Experts: Nicole Andrews, RDN, oncology nutritionist and author Sugar does not feed cancer and Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, author First time pregnancy cookbook.

What is the military diet?

“The Military Diet is a three-day eating plan that promotes weight loss,” says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN., author First time pregnancy cookbook. Manaker adds that its claim to fame lies in its potential ability to help followers lose 10 pounds in one week when they stick to a strict three-day diet plan followed by eating within calorie limits for the rest of the week. Andrews says the Military Diet limits followers to between 1,100 and 1,400 calories per day for the first three days.

Andrews explains that although those who follow the Military Diet do so sporadically, others take more drastic measures and may stick to the pattern for an entire month—a plan that is said to result in weight loss of up to 30 pounds. “However, as a registered dietitian, I strongly advise against this approach,” she says.

What foods can you eat on the military diet?

The diet is essentially “low-fat and relies on calorie restriction to facilitate rapid weight loss,” Andrews adds. “Even during the four days off, individuals are encouraged to stick to a low-calorie diet of 1,500 calories or less.”

Here are some examples of foods included in the military diet:

  • grapefruit
  • banana
  • apples
  • Brown bread
  • Peanut Butter
  • sausage
  • tuna
  • egg
  • green beans
  • Meat
  • carrot
  • Broccoli
  • Two basket crackers
  • cheese
  • Cheddar cheese (small amounts)
  • Vanilla ice cream

“Many fast foods, fried foods, whole dairy products, sweets and sugary drinks are avoided in the military diet,” Manaker adds. “Alcohol is also not recommended, as it provides empty calories and can slow down the body’s metabolic processes. Starchy vegetables and white bread are also avoided.

Is the military diet really effective?

Like most fad weight loss diets, the military diet may help followers lose weight initially, however, due to its restrictive nature, the pounds are likely to come back (and perhaps even go higher) when participants return to their normal daily diets. says Andrews. “This weight cycling, known as yo-yo dieting, can have adverse effects on metabolism and body composition, making it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight over the long term,” she stressed.

“As a result, the long-term effectiveness of the military diet is questionable,” Andrews continues. “Therefore, it is advisable to seek guidance from a registered weight loss dietitian to explore more balanced and sustainable dietary approaches to achieve long-term health and weight management goals.”

Is the military diet safe?

The safety of the military diet is a topic of debate among health professionals, Manaker explains. “Although this may lead to weight loss in the short term, the restrictive nature of the diet and limited calorie intake may not be sustainable or healthy over a long period,” she adds. “This can lead to nutrient deficiencies and does not promote healthy eating habits in the long term.”

Benefits of the military diet

If you’re looking to lose weight, the military diet should help you see results. But it doesn’t come without risks. In fact, the dietitians we spoke to for this story recommend against trying this diet.

Dangers of the military diet

Nutrient deficiencies associated with a restricted diet can lead to health complications such as fatigue, weakness and poor immune function, as well as mental and emotional disadvantages, Andrews says.

“Individuals may experience intense feelings of irritability, mood swings, and increased stress due to the physical stress and deprivation associated with severe calorie deficits,” she says. “Furthermore, a preoccupation with food, strict dietary rules, and a constant focus on calories can contribute to an unhealthy relationship with food, leading to feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety surrounding eating habits.” In serious situations, these feelings can escalate into eating disorders, she adds.

Military diet plan

The official website for the Military Diet explains the three-day eating plan as follows:

Day 1:

  • Breakfast: 1 slice of toast, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, half a grapefruit, 1 cup of black coffee or tea (with caffeine)
  • Lunch: 1 slice of toast, 1/2 cup of tuna, 1 cup of black coffee or tea (with caffeine)
  • Dinner: 3 ounces of any type of meat (such as chicken or beef), 1 cup of green beans, half a banana, 1 small apple, 1 cup of vanilla ice cream.

the second day:

  • Breakfast: one slice of toast, a boiled egg, half a banana
  • Lunch: 1 cup of cheese, 1 boiled egg, 5 saltine crackers
  • Dinner: 2 hot dogs (no bun), 1 cup broccoli, ½ cup carrots, ½ banana, ½ cup vanilla ice cream.

Day 3:

  • Breakfast: 1 slice of cheddar cheese, 5 saltine crackers, 1 small apple
  • Lunch: one slice of toast, one egg (cooked any way)
  • Dinner: 1 cup tuna, half a banana, 1 cup vanilla ice cream

“During the four days off, it is generally recommended to eat a balanced, low-calorie diet, aiming to eat around 1,500 calories per day or less,” Andrews explains. “It is important to consult a health care professional or registered dietitian before starting any new diet plan, especially one as restrictive as the military diet, to ensure it is appropriate for your individual health and nutritional needs.”

If you think you have an eating disorder and need support, call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at (800) 931-2237. You can text HOME to 741741 to message a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free.

Kayla blanton is a freelance writer and editor covering health, nutrition, and lifestyle topics for numerous publications including protection, Daily health, Self, the peopleAnd more. She’s always open to conversations about filling up on delicious dishes, breaking beauty standards, and finding new, gentle ways to take care of our bodies. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University with concentrations in women’s, gender, sexuality, and public health studies, and is born and raised in the Midwest and lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two spoiled kitties.

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