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  • What Is The Military Diet And Does It Work?

    1st September 2020

    1st September 2020

    By Catherine Hargreaves

    Another day, another diet trend. This time, die-hard dieters are taking inspiration from the military lifestyle. Designed for quick results and notoriously claiming 10 pounds of weight-loss in as little as a week, the military diet is definitely fast and furious. But what is it, and is it actually worth following? 

    What is the military diet?

    Despite being a diet trend of recent times, the military diet has actually been around for years. Some people claim that it was designed by nutritionists in the US military in order to get soldiers into shape at top speed, but the truth is that it isn't actually affiliated with any military or governmental institution.

    With no prerequisite book or expensive foods necessary, the premise of the military diet is simple: significantly reduce your calorie intake for three days of the week, and eat ‘normally’ on the other four. For the first three days, you must follow a specific meal plan, comprising around 1,000 calories per day alongside unlimited tea and water. Once this half of the week has been completed, you’re allowed to eat ‘what you want’ to the tune of 1,500 calories a day (score!) for the next four days. Exercise is optional, but not essential.

    What can I eat on the military diet?

    Days 1 to 3 are prescribed for you, with replacement options available for dietary requirements, such as vegan and gluten free. If you’re able to eat everything though, Days 1 to 3 will look something like this for you:

    Day 1:

    Breakfast

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

    Lunch

    • ½  cup of tuna
    • 1 slice of toast
    • 1 cup of coffee or tea

    Dinner

    • 3 ounces of any type of meat
    • 1 cup of green beans
    • ½  banana
    • 1 small apple
    • 1 cup of vanilla ice cream

    Day 2:

    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)
    • 1 cup of broccoli
    • ½  cup of carrots
    • ½  banana
    • ½ up vanilla ice cream

    Day 3:

    Breakfast

    • 5 saltine crackers
    • 1 slice (30g) of cheddar cheese
    • 1 small apple

    Lunch

    • 1 hard-boiled egg
    • 1 slice of toast

    Dinner

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

    Feeling satisfied? We aren’t so sure.

    So how does the military diet work?

    As with all forms of weight-loss, the military diet works by putting your body into a calorie deficit whereby you are burning more calories than you are taking in. This causes your body to break down fat for fuel once it runs through its energy which comes from food.

    Even if you don’t do any exercise, the extremely low calorie intake in this diet will ensure that you’re most likely burning more than you’re eating – remember, your basal metabolic rate (BMR) ensures that you are burning anything from 1,300 to 1,800 calories a day just keeping your body alive and functional.

    However – will you lose 10 pounds in a week? Almost definitely not, or at least not in the way you might hope. A pound of fat equates to roughly 3,500 calories burned, meaning you’d need to be in a calorie deficit of 35,000 for the week to lose 10 pounds of fat. That would equate to a deficit of 5,000 calories per day, meaning you’d need to be burning between 3,500 and 5,000 calories through exercise each day to stay on track. If you think this sounds unrealistic and restrictive, we’re with you.

    What may happen is that you lose a significant amount of water weight. When your body stores carbohydrates it also stores water, so restricting your intake and reducing your body’s stores of carbs will likely shift the scales, without you having lost any fat.

    Are there any benefits to the military diet?

    Studies have shown that the most successful diets are those that can be maintained consistently. Arguably, incorporating four days of a slightly raised calorie intake, with a choice of nutrition at your disposal, may make the diet easier to follow than a stricter, full-time, seven-day schedule. However, the extent to which calories are reduced remains considerable compared to the recommended 1,800 – 2,500 calories per day (dependent on gender and level of activity). As such, many of us may find the diet difficult to keep up with.

    What about the downsides to the military diet?

    The military diet, whose website also names it the incredibly misleading ‘three day diet’ is a classic crash diet, designed to lose weight fast. However, as with all ‘quick fix’ diets, the weight lost (the majority of which will be water weight) is much more likely to come straight back on once you return to ‘normal’ eating. 

    This is because intense periods of low-calorie consumption can wreak havoc with your hunger and satiety hormones, leading you to overeat without feeling full as your body, feeling starved, attempts to bring in as much nutrition again as possible. You may also experience more intense cravings for the foods you had previously ‘banned’, leading to further binging.

    The verdict on the military diet

    Whilst the military diet isn’t exactly dangerous, it is intensely restrictive, and thus unlikely to lead to long-term results. Also, thinking about fat and weight loss in this way isn’t all that mentally healthy either. Instead, we’d recommend a well-balanced diet which includes the occasional treat, to ensure neither mind nor body is feeling restricted. Pair this with the fundamentals of good sleep, regular exercise, and work-life balance, and you’ll be well on your way to feeling like your best self.

    However, if weight-loss or fat-loss does happen to be a goal of yours, aim for a steady rate of maximum two pounds lost per week to ensure your body is still getting all of the vital nutrients it needs. And if you’d like a little help, why not check out the Innermost Weight-loss Range – three products designed to support the breakdown of fat for energy, boost your metabolic rate, and increase feelings of fullness to prevent unnecessary snacking. Purchase the entire range in our Weight-loss Collection bundle to save.

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