The Military Diet: A Food Fad in Need of Some Basic (Nutrition) Training

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Another day, another new diet trend. This time, it’s called the “military diet.” Like many of the diets that have come before it, this three-day diet promises big weight-loss results. We dug into the details to determine whether this diet should be given a medal of honor … or a courtmartial.

Unsurprisingly, there have been no studies comparing the effectiveness of the military diet to any other weight-loss plans. But judging by the detailed three-day meal plan online, it looks there wasn’t much science that went into the rationale of this diet either.

The creators of the diet tout the power of certain “fat-burning” food combinations. But some of their meals just look like MyPlate … if you took away the fruits and vegetables. For example, lunch on the first day is ½ cup tuna and one slice of toast. Though this meal provides some important nutrients (protein and healthy fats from the tuna, and carbohydrates from the bread), will this meal instantly “burn” fat for you? Nope. Besides, this meal needs a bit more work and would be a lot more complete with some fruits and veggies.

The duration (or lack thereof) for this diet is also cause for concern. A three-day change in eating habits is not enough to spur lasting weight loss. Short-term diets may help you shed some pounds for a short period of time, but you are likely to regain the weight. The diet’s website suggests that if the first three-day military diet doesn’t work, it “can be repeated over and over until you get the results you’re looking for.” Unfortunately, you might be repeating for a long time—which, for the record, I do not advise. (Why it’s called the “military diet” is anyone’s guess, given that it limits daily intakes to as few as 1,000 calories—far below typical calorie limits for adults, to say nothing about someone who needs to withstand the physical rigors of basic training.)

With its short duration and a major lack of variety (especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables), the military diet deserves a dishonorable discharge. Luckily there are better options for those seeking long-term weight management. Focus on filling your diet with nutrient-rich foods and staying within your daily calorie limits. This, unlike the military diet, is a science-based and time-tested way to lose excess weight.