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Blog Nutrition Diets The 4-Day Military Diet: What Is It And How Does It Work?

The 4-Day Military Diet: What Is It And How Does It Work?

4 day military diet

What Is The 4-Day Military Diet?

Everybody is up for the quick fix when it comes to dieting. That is why a lot of diet methods are promising to help people lose weight in just a span of days, like the 4 day military diet – another diet method that everyone is raving about. Let us find out if it could really give you the weight you want.

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The military diet is characterized as an extremely low-calorie diet designed to help followers lose 10 pounds per week. The 3-day diet outlines specific foods to be consumed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Followers maintain a regular, healthy diet for the following 4 days each week (15).

The Military Diet plan features a step-by-step food and fluid guide that provides between roughly 860 to 1150 calories each day. It is all based on how many calories the body needs to gain one pound of fat – 3500 calories a day (19).

4-Day Military Diet: Is It Safe?

There are no studies that show the health benefits of the 4 day military diet. However, there are research and studies that show significant health benefits of a low-calorie diet.

One study published in Cell Metabolism Journal this month concluded that cutting calorie intake by 15% for over two years can reduce oxidative stress, which may slow aging and protect against diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

A different, more extreme calorie-restricted diet study published in Science Translational Medicine showed that so-called fasting-mimicking diets practiced for five days a month for three months can also help the body with aging. In this study, the fasting-like diet reduced body weight and fat, lowered blood pressure, and decreased the hormone IGF-1, which has been implicated in aging and disease.

Although low-calorie diets have health benefits, the 4 day military falls under the category of rapid weight loss diet. And just like any other rapid weight loss diet, it also has its health risks.

gallstones
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  • Gallstones

Those who lose weight rapidly, such as the promised 10 lbs per week in the military diet, are at risk of developing gallstones. When you starve for a long period or lose weight quickly, your liver releases extra cholesterol into the bile. Fast weight loss can also prevent the gallbladder from emptying properly. Weight-loss surgery may lead to fast weight loss and a higher risk of gallstones (5).

Your chances of developing gallstones may depend on the type of weight-loss treatment you choose. Diets or surgeries that cause fast weight loss may be more likely to lead to gallstone problems than diets or surgeries that lead to slower weight loss. If you have silent gallstones, you may also be more likely to develop gallstone symptoms.

  • Muscle Loss

One well-established risk of rapid weight loss is muscle atrophy. Studies comparing the effects of rapid weight loss with slow and sustained weight loss show that those experiencing rapid loss are more likely to have muscle wasting. Over time, loss of muscle mass has been associated with higher levels of morbidity and mortality. The negative consequences of muscle atrophy can be exacerbated in those with type 2 diabetes.

According to a study, glycogen is stored in the liver, muscles, and fat cells in a hydrated form (three to four parts water) associated with potassium. The total body potassium changes early in very low-calorie diets primarily reflect changes in glycogen storage. When you first start restricting calories, your body turns to its stored glycogen and burns it for energy. Although a very low-calorie diet may help you lose weight fast, a lot of the pounds you shed may come from glycogen and water.

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3 day military diet menu
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  • Lack Of Nutrients

Due to the lack of variety in the foods allowed on the military diet, the diet may not provide adequate nutrition. To be healthy, you need a balance of foods from different food groups. It is difficult to get good nutrition and feel satisfied on a very low-calorie diet. Furthermore, consuming as few as 800 calories daily may not give you the energy you need for daily living and regular physical activity, especially if you eat the same foods every day (17).

  • Slower Metabolism

When you don’t eat enough, your body goes into survival mode and starts breaking down muscle to release the glucose stored inside, which can be used for energy. Because you’re not taking in enough calories, your body slows down your metabolism in an effort to conserve energy. You might feel sluggish and cold, and even have gastrointestinal abnormalities, such as constipation (2

Other Risks:

  • hair loss
  • skin thinning
  • hypothermia
  • cholelithiasis
  • electrolyte derangement
military diet results
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3-Day Military Diet Menu

The military diet is high in protein and low in fat, carbohydrate, and calories. It also includes specific food combinations to try to boost metabolism and burn fat.

But before the prepared meal plan, you first need to buy everything in the military diet’s 4 day shopping list.

Shopping List:

  • caffeinated coffee or tea
  • one grapefruit
  • two bananas
  • two apples
  • whole-wheat bread
  • peanut butter
  • eggs
  • three cans of tuna
  • hot dogs
  • a small piece of meat
  • green beans (fresh, frozen, or canned)
  • small head of broccoli
  • carrots
  • saltine crackers
  • cottage cheese
  • a small amount of cheddar cheese
  • vanilla ice cream

The military diet requires people to follow a low-calorie diet for 3 days and then return to regular eating for 4 days. During the first 3 days, the diet restricts daily calorie intake to 1400, 1200, and 1100 calories (20).

Every morsel you’ll eat on this diet has been chosen for you ahead of time. You will need to follow the plan completely to get the best results. According to the Military Diet website, below is a 3-day meal plan that you can follow.

4 day military diet
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Day One

Breakfast

  • ½ grapefruit
  • 1 slice of toast
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 1 cup coffee or tea (with caffeine)

Lunch

  • ½ cup of tuna
  • 1 slice of toast
  • 1 cup coffee or tea (with caffeine)

Dinner

  • 3 ounces of any type of meat
  • 1 cup of green beans
  • ½ banana
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 cup of vanilla ice cream
military diet menu
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Day Two

Breakfast

  • 1 egg
  • 1 slice of toast
  • ½ banana

Lunch

  • 1 cup of cottage cheese
  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • 5 saltine crackers

Dinner

  • 2 hot dogs (without bun)
  • ½ cup of carrots
  • 1 cup of broccoli
  • ½ banana
  • ½ cup of vanilla ice cream
military diet 4 day shopping list
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Day Three

Breakfast

  • 5 saltine crackers
  • 1 slice of cheddar cheese
  • 1 small apple

Lunch

  • 1 hard-boiled egg (or cooked however you like)
  • 1 slice of toast

Dinner

  • 1 cup of tuna
  • ½ banana
  • 1 cup of vanilla ice cream

Remember that water is the best thing you can drink while on the Military Diet. You can also drink coffee, as long as you don’t add extra calories with creamer and sugar. Artificial sweeteners are not good for your blood sugar and can cause weight gain. The only recommended artificial sweetener you can use while on a Military Diet is Stevia (in your coffee). You can also drink as much caffeine free herbal tea as you want while on this diet.

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military diet 4 day meal plan
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Military Diet 4-Day Meal Plan

The remainder of the week also involves dieting. Snacks are permitted, and there are no food group restrictions. However, you are encouraged to limit portion sizes and keep the total calorie intake under 1500 per day.

Below are sample meal plans you can follow for 4 days:

Day One

Breakfast: Broccoli & Parmesan Cheese Omelet

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped broccoli
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 slice of sprouted-grain bread, toasted

Calories: 407

A.M. snack: 1 medium pear

Calories: 101

Lunch: Butternut Squash Soup with Avocado & Chickpeas (4)

Ingredients

  • 1 (15-ounce) can Amy’s Light-in-Sodium Butternut Squash Soup
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¾ cup canned chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons diced avocado
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat plain Greek yogurt

Calories: 402

P.M. snack: 1 kiwi and 1 cup edamame (in pods), sprinkled with coarse sea salt to taste

Calories: 142

Dinner: Citrus Poached Salmon with Asparagus and 1 cup Easy Brown Rice

Ingredients

  • 4 4-ounce fresh or frozen skinless salmon fillets
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
  • 1 pound asparagus spears, woody bases removed
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 orange
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 sprig fresh parsley leaves

Calories: 432

Daily totals – Calories 1485: Protein 87 g, Carbohydrates 187 g, Fat 45 g

military diet 4 day meal plan
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Day Two

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs with Vegetables and 1 Slice Whole-wheat Bread, toasted

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli, asparagus, and/or zucchini
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon shredded Cheddar or Gouda cheese

Calories: 408

A.M. snack: 1 medium apple

Calories: 95

Lunch: Veggie & Hummus Sandwich and 1 Medium Orange

Ingredients

  • 2 slices whole-grain bread
  • ¼ avocado, mashed
  • ½ cup mixed salad greens
  • ¼ medium red bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons hummus
  • ¼ cup sliced cucumber
  • ¼ cup shredded carrot

Calories: 387

P.M. snack: 10 walnut halves and 1 tbsp dark chocolate chips

Calories: 181

Dinner: Charred Shrimp & Pesto Buddha Bowls

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup prepared pesto
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp (16-20 count), patted dry
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 avocado, diced

Calories: 429

Daily totals – Calories 1500: Protein 70 g, Carbohydrates 139 g, Fat 52 g

military diet 4 day meal plan
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Day Three

Breakfast: Peanut Butter-Banana Cinnamon Toast

Ingredients

  • 1 slice whole-wheat bread, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • a small banana, sliced
  • 1 pinch cinnamon to taste

Calories: 290

A.M. snack: ½ cup raspberries and 10 almonds

Calories: 109

Lunch: White Bean & Veggie Salad (4 cups)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mixed salad greens
  • ¾ cup veggies of your choice, such as chopped cucumbers and cherry tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup canned white beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ avocado, diced
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pinch freshly ground pepper to taste

Calories: 360

P.M. snack: 10 seeded crackers and ¼ cup hummus

Calories: 211

Dinner: Pork Chops with Garlicky Broccoli (13)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds broccoli with stems, trimmed and cut into spears
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 (4 ounces) boneless pork chops, trimmed
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1 sprig chopped fresh thyme for garnish

Calories: 543

Daily totals Calories 1514, Protein 64 g, Carbohydrates 130 g, Fat 88 g 

4 day military diet
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Day Four

Breakfast: Ricotta & Yogurt Parfait (14)

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup part-skim Ricotta
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • ¼ cup raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon slivered almonds
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds

Calories: 272

A.M. snack: 1 medium orange and 10 walnut halves

Calories: 192

Lunch: Meal-Prep Vegan Moroccan Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients

  • 2 heads butter or Bibb lettuce, leaves separated
  • 1 ½ cup cooked quinoa, cooled to room temperature
  • 4 cups Moroccan Kidney Bean & Chickpea Salad
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh mint

Calories: 425

P.M. snack: 2 medium carrots, 1 cup sliced cucumber, and ¼ cup hummus

Calories: 169

Dinner: Grilled Eggplant & Tomato Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 pound plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ pound eggplant, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 8 ounces whole-wheat penne
  • ¼ cup shaved Ricotta Salata or crumbled Feta cheese

Calories: 449

  • Daily totals – Calories 1507: Protein 60 g, Carbohydrates 180 g, Fat 68 g

For people who want to achieve losing 10 pounds, the diet can be repeated in cycles with 3 days of dieting and 4 days of regular eating (but with calorie restriction).

results
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Military Diet Results: Is It Effective For Weight Loss?

The military diet is characterized as an extremely low-calorie diet designed to help followers lose 10 pounds per week. However, there have been no studies on the military diet yet. But the average person is very likely to lose a few pounds due to the week-long calorie restriction.

A weight loss of one to two pounds a week is the typical recommendation. Although that may seem like a slow pace for weight loss, it’s more likely to help you maintain your weight loss for the long term (11).

It is also essential to know the recommended daily calorie requirements for men and women. In order to know how many calories you are going to cut in your diet to lose weight.

Daily recommended calorie consumption for males:

Age 19-20

  • Sedentary: 2600
  • Moderately active: 2800
  • Active: 3000

Age 21-30

  • Sedentary: 2400
  • Moderately active: 2600-2800
  • Active: 3000

Age 31-50

  • Sedentary: 2200-2400
  • Moderately active: 2400-2600
  • Active: 2800-3000

Age 51+

  • Sedentary: 2000-2200
  • Moderately active: 2200-2400
  • Active: 2400-2800

Daily recommended calorie consumption for females:

Age 19 to 30 years

  • Sedentary: 1800-2000
  • Moderately active: 2000-2200
  • Active: 2400

Age 31-50 years

  • Sedentary: 1800
  • Moderately active: 2000
  • Active: 2200

Age 51+ years

  • Sedentary: 1600
  • Moderately active: 1800
  • Active: 2000-2200

If you want to lose weight, you would have to consume less than the amounts listed above. Remember that one pound (0.45 kilogram) of fat equals 3500 calories. So, to lose one pound a week, you need to reduce by 500 from what you normally eat each day (500 calories x 7 days = 3500 calories) (21).

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The Bottom Line: Can A 4-Day Military Diet Help You Lose Weight?

Yes, the 4 day military diet can help you lose weight but not as much and not as quick as it promises. If you want to lose weight, you would have to consume less than your recommended calorie intake per day. The less you consume, the faster you lose. However, it is important to follow a healthy, well-balanced diet that provides enough energy and essential nutrients, and to engage in physical activity.

Before trying the military diet, you should first ask the supervision of a trained expert, either your dietitian or nutritionist.

Do you know that your body needs some exercise in addition to a proper diet? Check out this 20-min Full Body Workout at Home.

DISCLAIMER:

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!

SOURCES:

  1. 3 Day Military Diet Menu Plan (n.d., themilitarydiet.com) 
  2. 4 Ways Low-Calorie Diets Can Sabotage Your Health (2020, eatright.org)
  3. 5-Day 1,500-Calorie Diet Meal Plan (2020, eatingwell.com) 
  4. Butternut Squash Soup with Avocado & Chickpeas (2018, eatingwell.com) 
  5. Dieting & Gallstones (n.d., niddk.nih.gov)
  6. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level (n.d., health.gov)
  7. Fasting-mimicking diet and markers/risk factors for aging, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease (2017, stm.sciencemag.org)
  8. Glycogen storage: illusions of easy weight loss, excessive weight regain, and distortions in estimates of body composition (1992, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) 
  9. How can I lose weight? (2018, medicalnewstoday)
  10. Human Skeletal Muscle Disuse Atrophy: Effects on Muscle Protein Synthesis, Breakdown, and Insulin Resistance—A Qualitative Review (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  11. Losing Weight (n.d., cdc.gov) 
  12. Metabolic Slowing and Reduced Oxidative Damage with Sustained Caloric Restriction Support the Rate of Living and Oxidative Damage Theories of Aging (2018, cell.com)
  13. Pork Chops with Garlicky Broccoli (2019, eatingwell.com) 
  14. Ricotta & Yogurt Parfait (2016, eatingwell.com) 
  15. The Military Diet (n.d., webmd.com) 
  16. Veggie & Hummus Sandwich (2017, eatingwell.com) 
  17. Very Low-Calorie Diets: What You Need to Know (n.d., webmd.com) 
  18. What are complications of very-low-calorie diets (VLCDs)? (2020, medscape.com) 
  19. What Is The ‘Military Diet’: 5 Risks And Benefits You Need To Know Before Starting Weight Loss Plan (2016, medicaldaily.com)
  20. What is the military diet and does it work? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
  21. Why do doctors recommend a slow rate of weight loss? What’s wrong with fast weight loss? (n.d., mayoclinic.org)
See also  The Favorite Food Diet: Scam Or Fact? Can You Lose Weight While Eating Your Favorite Foods?
K. Fleming
K. Fleming

I am a U.S. educated and trained Registered Dietitian (MS, RD, CNSC) with clinical and international development experience. I have experience conducting systematic reviews and evaluating the scientific literature both as a graduate student and later to inform my own evidence-based practice as an RD. I am currently based in Lusaka, Zambia after my Peace Corps service was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic and looking for some meaningful work to do as I figure out next steps. This would be my first freelance project, but I am a diligent worker and quite used to independent and self-motivated work.

Kristen Fleming, MS, RD, CNSC

A. Porter
A. Porter

Alex is a professional writer who takes pride in helping people achieve their health goals and motivates others to start taking care of their bodies through exercise and proper nutrition. Being a part of the BetterMe Team, he is extremely inspired by our mission to promote a healthy lifestyle, which includes not only physical, but also mental well-being. Alex emphasizes the importance of safe yet efficient workouts and healthy diets. His main goal is to make more people realize how essential these aspects are, and how drastically they can improve their lives.

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