The Truth About the Military Diet
I think we can all agree that maintaining a healthy lifestyle involves a certain amount of discipline. Whether you are restricting your calorie intake, cutting out a group of food or sticking to a strict exercise regime, it is important to keep your goals in mind in order to stay motivated. For most people who start a diet, their main goal is to lose weight. Seeing the numbers decrease on your scale are an easy way to measure your success and feel like you are making progress.
There are many ways to achieve your fitness and nutrition goals, almost too many ways if you ask me, that have their own formula for losing weight. One of the newest fads, known as the Military Diet, promises a weight loss of at least ten pounds within two weeks. Seems too good to be true right? The creators of this diet claim that it is to be used for quick weight loss, and it is not recommended as a long term nutrition plan. Therefore, they focus on simple calorie restriction over the course of three days, with combinations of food that supposedly work with each other to increase your metabolism. While this diet is not affiliated with any military or governmental institution, the name implies the level of drive and determination needed to make it through.
The Basics of the Military Diet
You may have heard the Military Diet be referred to as the 3-day diet or even the ice cream diet. That is because this diet plan involves a 3 day strict meal plan followed by 4 days of regular healthy eating. You are expected to continue this cycle until you reach your goal weight.
The meal plan includes three low calorie meals a day with no snacks in between. You are allowed to drink black coffee and unsweetened tea, but it is highly suggested to stick with water for your main hydration source. The daily calorie intake is estimated between 1,100-1,400 calories, which is lower than the average adult and something that people initially struggle to get used to. This is by no means a fast, as you still get to eat everyday, but it can take your body a while to get used to. It is common to experience periods of hunger during this time, and even experience lightheadedness, especially if you continue to be physically active.
For the following four days, it is recommended that you maintain a healthy lifestyle. You no longer have restrictions on your calories, but you should try and avoid binging on junk food and overly processed sweets. You will see results more quickly if you keep your daily calorie intake relatively low.
The Typical 3 Day Meal Plan
Here is an example of what you are expected to eat while following the Military Diet. Healthy substitutions are allowed, as long as your calorie intake remains the same. Look how much ice cream you get to eat!
Does the Military Diet Really Help You Lose Weight?
The Military Diet promises fast and effective weight loss but there have been no official studies on the diet that support this theory. However, the average person should experience weight loss based on the simple fact that that if your calories consumed are less than calories burned, you will lose weight. Even if you do not exercise for the three day period, your body continues to burn calories while at rest as it uses energy.
As with many quick fix diets, a lot of the weight loss you will initially experience is water weight. That means you will see the numbers on your scale decrease, but you are not actually losing any fat during this time. Once you return to eating normally, it is likely that you will regain the weight that you have lost.
In terms of improving your eating habits for a healthier lifestyle, the Military Diet does not provide a base for long term change. It may be fairly easy to execute, but it is not a diet that should be maintained. This is because there is a clear lack of variety and nutrition within the diet. Though the creators of the Military Diet claim to use combinations that are chemically compatible to promote weight loss, a diet of hot dogs, bread and ice cream does not promote healthy eating habits.
Determining Your Goals
If your goal is to lose weight fast for an upcoming high school reunion, then the Military Diet may be worth researching. However, if you are looking to change your eating habits and develop a healthier relationship with food, then making more sustainable changes to your diet is a better fit. Health is not a short term concept, and therefore there is no quick fix. Diets that promise quick weight loss usually do not refer to weight loss that can be maintained. Therefore, it is likely that you will gain back the weight as quickly as you first lost it.
For the best results, it is better to make changes to your current diet which you can maintain over the span of your life. This may include ice cream and hotdogs once in awhile, but will likely focus on natural, less processed food. My best advice for figuring out how to change your diet is to pay attention to how you feel after you eat something. If eating an entire bag of chips leaves me with a stomach ache, then I will try and avoid that in the future. For me, how I feel is a better determining factor than numbers on a scale.