The Military Diet Isn't A Healthy Way To Lose Weight — Here's Why

The Military Diet Isn't A Healthy Way To Lose Weight — Here's Why

If I told you you could lose 10 pounds in a week, what would you think?

Yes, it sounds enticing, but not exactly realistic.

These are the results promoted by the Military Diet — a diet that’s been around for a while but has recently surged in popularity.

The Military Diet centers around a three day “on” and four day “off” cycle that promotes calorie restriction.

The diet, which actually has no affiliation with the armed forces, promotes a three-day meal plan followed by four days “off” (but still restricting calories). You then repeat that cycle as needed to reach your goal. The diet claims that certain food pairings help you lose weight more rapidly.

But is this plan an effective way to lose weight? Most importantly, is it healthy?

Grapefruit Breakfast

On Military Diet days, you’re required to keep your daily calorie intake between 1,100 and 1,400.

First, let’s outline what the exact diet entails. Here is a sample day of the Military Diet:

Breakfast

½ grapefruit

1 slice toast

2 Tbsp. peanut butter

1 cup coffee or tea (with caffeine)

 Lunch

½ cup tuna

1 slice toast

1 cup coffee or tea (with caffeine)

 Dinner

3 oz. any meat

1 cup green beans

½ banana

1 small apple

1 cup vanilla ice cream

The other two Military Diet days are fairly similar, keeping the calorie intake between 1,100 and 1,400 per day. During the rest of the week, you’re encouraged to keep your calorie intake under 1,500 per day.

Woman on Scale Weighing Herself

You’ll probably lose weight on the Military Diet, but it might not be the kind of weight you want to lose, and you might not be able to keep it off.

At first glance, you can probably see that this eating plan doesn’t seem like a lot of food, at all. This is how the Military Diet promotes rapid weight loss. Although it specifically outlines what to eat, the diet is actually simply a very calorie-restricted plan.

If you drastically reduce your calorie intake for a week, you may lose weight. But chances are, you won’t be losing just fat — especially if you’re losing more than two to three pounds in a week. Plus, in the long run, adhering to such a restricted diet can actually lead to weight loss plateaus and even weight gain.

Because this diet is so restrictive, it prevents your body from getting the vital nutrients it needs, and therefore it’s not sustainable.

While every person’s nutritional needs are are different, this small number of calories is much too low for the vast majority of people. In fact, the calorie intake on the Military Diet is roughly equivalent to the number of calories an active toddler needs to eat daily, not a grown adult — and definitely not an active one. By some standards, it’s about half the amount of calories needed by a moderately active adult male.

When it comes down to it, the Military Diet can definitely help you lose fat quickly, but it’s not a healthy or sustainable approach. You’ll likely gain any weight you lose right back after you stop the diet (weight that likely isn’t all fat but also water and perhaps even muscle). With this plan, you’ll also be missing out on key nutrients by limiting foods like quality protein, colorful vegetables, and healthy fats.

Hot Dog

Diets that are high in processed foods and boast a magic recipe for weight loss aren’t healthy for you.

The Military Diet is also quite high in processed foods, which are not only lacking in nutrients themselves, but may also be high in sodium and other additives that aren’t conducive to a healthy diet. A diet that promotes such a low caloric intake of mostly processed foods that aren’t very satiating may be mentally challenging to follow, making it highly unsustainable.

We encourage you to keep this in mind when it comes to diets, especially new trends and fads: Be wary of any diet that promotes an intake of highly processed foods, promises rapid weight loss, or requires drastic calorie restriction.

If you’re looking for a healthier, more sustainable approach to weight loss, focus on a diet of quality, whole foods — the kinds of foods our meal plans are made up of — in proper portions to fuel your body paired with a smart exercise program and adequate rest and sleep. A healthy weight loss program teaches you to make positive behavior change instead of encouraging yo-yo dieting and promising “magic” results. Weight loss is a journey, not a one week or even one month diet. Your plan needs to be sustainable, nourishing, and enjoyable, too!

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