What is the Military Diet?
Can the 10 day military diet help you lose 10 pounds in less than two weeks? To anyone looking for a quick crash diet, the 10 day military diet could be the answer to your problems. Find out what foods should be consumed on the 10 day military diet plan, how much weight you can lose in 3 to 10 days, and if this eating plan is safe for you.
The original military diet is also known as “the 3-day military diet”, “the navy diet”, “the army diet”, and “the ice cream diet”. This eating plan is a weekly cycle that involves dieting for 3 days and then taking 4 days off from the set meal plan. This cycle is repeated week after week until you have achieved your desired weight loss goals (1).
Supporters of this diet claim that the military diet was designed by the US military nutritionists as a way to get the men and women in the military in tip-top shape as quickly as possible. They also state that you can lose 10 pounds in a week following this eating plan (1). However, despite these claims, it should be noted that this eating plan is not affiliated with any military or government institution (18).
What is the Difference between a Military Diet and a 10 Day Military Diet Plan?
The major and only difference between these two diets is the number of days that it is done. Unlike the original eating plan that is done on a 7-day cycle – 3 days on, 4 days off, the 10 day military diet is done for 3 days on, 4 days off, and another 3 days on. Like the original diet, you are required to repeat the 10 day military diet cycle until you reach your desired weight.
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What Does a 10 Day Military Diet Plan Look Like?
As stated above, the 3 days of the original diet comes with a set meal plan that you are required to follow. Here is what these days look like:
Meal 1 – Breakfast
½ grapefruit, 1 slice whole-wheat toast, 2 tbsp of peanut butter, and 1 cup black coffee
Calories: 334. Fats: 17 g, Protein: 12 g, Carbs: 40 g
Meal 2 – Lunch
½ cup of tuna, 1 slice of toast, and 1 cup black unsweetened tea
Calories: 222. Fats: 3 g, Protein: 30 g, Carbs: 19 g
Meal 3 – Dinner
3 oz flank steak, 1 cup of green beans, ½ banana, 1 small apple, and 1 cup of vanilla ice cream
Calories: 510. Fats: 27 g, Protein: 27 g, Carbs: 62 g
Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1066. Fats: 47 g, Protein: 69 g, Carbs: 121 g
Meal 1 – Breakfast
1 large egg, 1 slice of whole-wheat toast, and ½ a medium-sized banana
Calories: 223. Fats: 7 g, Protein: 11 g, Carbs: 32 g
Meal 2 – Lunch
1 cup of cottage cheese, 1 large hard-boiled egg, and 5 saltine crackers
Calories: 298. Fats: 10 g, Protein: 31 g, Carbs: 24 g
Meal 3 – Dinner
2 hot dogs, 1 cup of broccoli, ½ cup of carrots, ½ banana, and ½ cup of vanilla ice cream
Calories: 585. Fats: 43 g, Protein: 19 g, Carbs: 45 g
Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1106. Fats: 60 g, Protein: 61 g, Carbs: 101 g
Meal 1 – Breakfast
5 saltine crackers, 1 slice of cheddar cheese, and 1 small apple
Calories: 250. Fats: 11 g, Protein: 8 g, Carbs: 32 g
Meal 2 – Lunch
1 hard-boiled egg and 1 slice of toast
Calories: 178. Fats: 7 g, Protein: 10 g, Carbs: 20 g
Meal 3 – Dinner
1 cup of tuna, ½ banana, and 1 cup of vanilla ice cream
Calories: 529. Fats: 22 g, Protein: 59 g, Carbs: 43 g
Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 957. Fats: 40 g, Protein: 77 g, Carbs: 95 g
Vegans and some vegetarians who do not consume meat, fish, and eggs can substitute these with other protein sources. It can be seitan, tofu, lentils, chickpeas (hummus), beans, spelt, and green peas (17), among others.
Irrespective of your diet, you are not allowed to consume milk, alcohol, cream, sugar, and other artificial sweeteners on your dieting days. While the first and last 3 days of the military diet menu are quite restrictive, the 4 off days are less restrictive. On these days, you are advised to consume no more than 1500 calories a day (21).
How Does the Military Diet Work?
If you are wondering “How to lose weight in 10 days with the help of a 10 day military diet”, here is the answer why. Ordinarily, men and women need 2500 calories and 2000 calories a day to maintain their weight. This number, however, is determined by age, weight, height, level of physical activity, and more (8).
As seen above, the dieting days require you to eat around a thousand calories a day. This number is incredibly low for both men and women, who, according to Harvard Medical School, should not consume less than 1500 calories and 1200 calories a day, respectively (3). In light of this, the 10 day military diet can be classified as a very-low-calorie diet, especially on the 6 dieting days of the eating plan.
Very-low-calorie diets are rapid weight-loss programs in which calories are extremely restricted. These diets are done under medical supervision and are often used to help obese patients achieve significant, short-term weight loss as part of a comprehensive weight-loss program. After a given amount of time, these patients are then set on a healthier eating plan to help them maintain their weight loss (20).
On the 4 off days, you will be eating up to 1500 calories of a less restrictive diet, which has a fewer number of calories than most people need. In light of these two factors, you are creating a calorie deficit on all 10 days of the military diet. For those who are unaware, a calorie deficit is an energy deficit created when you eat less food than your body requires. When you do this, your body turns to stored fat, which it uses as a source of energy or fuel (4).
Military Diet: Can You Lose 10 Pounds in 3 Days?
No, you cannot. Despite the amazing weight loss results promised by the 10 day military diet, you can’t lose 10 pounds in 10 days, let alone in just 3 days. Here is the reason why:
For you to lose 1 pound of fat (or 0.4 kilograms) a day, you have to burn about 3500 calories a day (6). As seen above, men and women do not consume this much calories even when they are maintaining their weight. The 10 day military diet is incredibly restrictive on energy intake on 6 days of the week and allows you just 4 days of a more adjustable but still caloric deficit diet.
With this, it is clear that a person on the 10 days military diet cannot burn 3500 calories a day to lose 1 pound. Even if you were to add a workout regimen to your days, you would still not achieve a weight loss goal of 10 pounds in 3 days. After all, you cannot burn what you do not have or consume.
The only people who might have a chance to burn these many calories are professional athletes who consume more than 3500 calories a day. Professional athletes cannot survive on a 10 day military diet as they can consume up to 8000 or 12000 calories a day while training (10).
Is the 10 Day Military Diet Plan Healthy or Safe?
No, it is not. Here are the following reasons why:
It is too low in calories
As seen from the sample of the recommended 3-day military diet above, the plan restricts your calorie intake a lot. If you were to follow a 10 day military diet plan for a month, it would mean that you were following an unsupervised very-low-calorie diet plan for about 18 days of the month.
Some temporary side effects of such a diet plan include fatigue, constipation, nausea, and diarrhea. In some cases, some people can get gallstones, which is a serious side effect caused by VLCDs, such as the 10 day military diet (19).
Causes rapid weight loss
The 10 day military diet plan also causes rapid weight loss, which is not only unhealthy. It also leads to side effects such as mood swings, headaches, hair and muscle loss, irritability, dizziness, and menstrual irregularities in women. If you follow this diet for long, it can lead to dangerous and life-threatening effects, such as malnutrition (nutrient deficiencies), slower metabolism, dehydration, and gallstones (13).
It is high in added salt, sugar, and saturated fat
The recommended diet calls for foods like tuna, bread, saltines, hot dogs, vanilla ice cream, and cheese, all of which are highly processed and high in sugars and trans fats.
The recommended amount of salt in your diet is about 2300 milligrams a day. Going above this recommended limit can lead to increased blood pressure and a higher risk for heart disease, stroke (12), and loss of calcium from the bones (14). Hot dogs are processed meats that contain various chemical compounds that are not present in fresh meat. These compounds may increase the risk of chronic diseases, especially cancer (22).
This diet also calls for half a cup of sugar every night. A high intake of sugar is not good for you, as it may lead to weight gain and increases your risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer, and depression. A lot of sugar in your diet also speeds up the skin’s aging process, cellular aging, increases the risk of developing acne, and fatty liver (2).
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What Can You Do to Safely Lose Weight?
Instead of following the 10 day military diet plan in the hopes of losing weight, here are some tips and tricks that you can use to ensure that you lose weight in a safe, gradual, and sustainable manner:
Count your calories
Instead of dropping your calories to such low numbers, use a calorie counting app to reduce 500 to 1000 calories from your typical diet. This will help you lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. While this number is much lower than the promised 10 pounds in 3 days, it is a more reasonable and achievable number.
Eat foods that are high in protein
Protein can help you lose weight as it increases your metabolism, reduces your appetite, and keeps you fuller for longer. Protein sources include eggs, lean meats, and plant-based sources, such as legumes, soybeans, and lentils (11).
Consume more whole grains
Whole grains such as whole-wheat flour, bulgur (cracked wheat), oatmeal, whole cornmeal, and brown rice are fantastic sources of fiber and other important nutrients, such as B vitamins, iron, folate, selenium, potassium, and magnesium.
Drink more water
Among the reasons why water may help you lose weight is that: it is a natural appetite suppressant, increases your resting metabolic rate, helps burn fat, and metabolizes carbohydrates in the body, among other factors (5).
Eat more vegetables
They are high in micronutrients, making them good for your health, and they are also low in calories. Which means you can eat more volumes of veggies without worrying about upsetting your calorie intake. You should consume leafy greens such as collard greens, kale, bok choy, spinach, Romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, and cabbage (16).
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are also a great addition to your diet. They are a good source of fiber and are rich in nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin; vitamins C, E, and K; folate; and minerals (7).
Moreover, starchy carbs, such as carrots, corn, beets, sweet potatoes, plantains, butternut squash, and yams, can be consumed in moderation, since they can be quite high in calories and carbohydrates (15).
Eat more fiber-rich food
A high-fiber diet can help you reach your weight loss goals, as they keep you fuller for longer. This will prevent you from overeating and going over your recommended calorie intake. This diet also helps with lowering cholesterol levels, regulating bowel movements, and reduces your risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases (9).
Above all else, make sure that your diet is healthy and well balanced. Such an eating plan ensures that your body has all the nutrients it requires to work effectively.
A balanced diet has vitamins, carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. It must include foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, as well as lean proteins.
The Bottom Line: Should You Use a 10 Day Military Diet for Weight Loss?
No, you should not. The 10 day military diet plan has too many side effects for it to be considered as a healthy diet for weight loss. On the other hand, this eating plan is not based on any scientific proof, meaning that any promises of weight loss or improved health cannot be trusted.
Instead of trying the 10 day military diet menu as a weight loss plan, choose a better and more sustainable diet to help you lose weight. If you are unsure about how to make a well-balanced diet for weight loss, please speak to a doctor or dietitian, and they will help you figure it out.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
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- Can water help you lose weight? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Counting calories: Get back to weight-loss basics (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Cruciferous Vegetables and Cancer Prevention (2012, cancer.gov)
- Cut down on your calories (2018, nhs.uk)
- Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet (2018, mayoclinic.org)
- How Many Calories Do Olympic Athletes Need? (2016, npr.org)
- How Protein Can Help You Lose Weight Naturally (2017, healthline.com)
- Most Americans Should Consume Less Sodium (2020, cdc.gov)
- Rapid Weight Loss (2019, webmd.com)
- Salt and Sodium (n.d, hsph.harvard.edu)
- Starchy Vegetables and How to Enjoy Them (2020, verywellhealth.com)
- The 13 Healthiest Leafy Green Vegetables (2018, healthline.com)
- The 17 Best Protein Sources for Vegans and Vegetarians (2016, healthline.com)
- The Military Diet: A Beginner’s Guide (with a meal plan) (2017, healthline.com)
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- What Is a Very Low-Calorie Diet? (2020, verywellfit.com)
- What Is the 3-Day Military Diet? (2020, verywellfit.com)
- Why Processed Meat is Bad For You (2017, healthline.com)