The 3-Day Military Diet: Pros, Cons, and How It Works

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What Is the 3-Day Military Diet?

In This Article

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The three-day military diet, also called the three-day diet, is a quick weight-loss program that includes three days of a very specific eating plan followed by four days of a less restrictive, low-calorie plan.

Proponents of the plan claim you can lose up to 10 pounds a week or 30 pounds in a month while eating foods like vanilla ice cream and hot dogs. The diet claims to combine specific foods in a way that boosts metabolism and burns fat, however, there is no scientific evidence to support this.

What Experts Say

“This diet cycles on for three days and then off for four days with the ‘on’ days only providing about 1,100 to 1,400 calories and then the four ‘off’ days still only allowing 1,500 calories. This is extremely restrictive and not enough energy for most people.”


The origin of the three-day military diet is unclear. According to some sources, the diet was created by nutritionists working for the United States military as a fast way to help soldiers slim down. It widely speculated, however, that the diet was created by a marketing specialist and not a dietitian.

How It Works

The military diet is a “combination of low-calorie, chemically compatible foods designed to work together and jump-start your weight loss,” according to the Military Diet website. However, there is no science to back up these claims.

The program requires you to eat a very strict list of food for three days (these are referred to as your “on” days). Then you take four days off from the strict diet.

What to Eat

On the three-day military diet, you will follow a specific plan for three days, then have four days off. The off days are limited to 1,500 calories of preferably healthy food. Here’s a closer look at the three-day plan:

Day One (1,400 calories)

  • Breakfast: one slice of toast with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, half of a grapefruit, and black coffee or tea
  • Lunch: one slice of bread or toast, a half cup of tuna fish, and black coffee or tea
  • Dinner: 3 ounces of meat, one cup of green beans, half of a banana, one small apple, and 1 cup vanilla ice cream

Day Two (1,200 calories)

  • Breakfast: one slice of toast, half of a banana, and one cooked egg
  • Lunch: 1 cup cottage cheese, one hard-boiled egg, and five saltine crackers
  • Dinner: Two (bunless) hot dogs, 1 cup broccoli, half of a banana, and 1 cup vanilla ice cream

Day Three (1,100 calories)

  • Breakfast: one slice of cheddar, one small apple, and five saltine crackers
  • Lunch: one slice of bread or toast and one cooked egg
  • Dinner: 1 cup of tuna, half of a banana, and 1 cup vanilla ice cream

Limited substitutions are allowed on the plan as long as you stay within the calorie guidelines. On your “off” days, you are advised to consume 1,500 calories per day of a less restrictive diet. Suggested off-day meals and are listed on the diet’s website and include items such as a yogurt parfait, a protein salad, and shrimp and zucchini pasta.

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