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Marine Corps Diet: Shed Those Pounds With Fortitude!

Writing a Diet Plan
Angie Moore
Written by Angie Moore

People want to lose weight for many reasons. But when you’ve gotten to a certain point, all you want is fast results. It may be at the end of a long-term diet, when you’ve reached a plateau, or it may be at the beginning of a lifestyle change, when you want a quick loss to boost your confidence.

Either way, the Marine Corps Diet is perfect for these situations, since it has days with absolutely no calorie restrictions and entails a weight-loss of up to 14 pounds. It is, nevertheless, a one-week crash diet. Some brave souls venture into doing it twice back-to-back, but more than that is highly hazardous. We’ll give you a day-by-day intel on everything you’re eating, along with some other advice on what you’re supposed to be doing to see faster results.

Day 1 – eggsperience

  • Breakfast: 3 eggs
  • Lunch: 3 eggs
  • Dinner: 3 eggs

That’s right: your food on day 1 consists of 9 eggs. Calorie-wise, this means you’ll only be eating around 75-80kcal/ egg, so just around 700kcal for the whole day. Don’t let the number trick you into thinking you’ll be in starvation mode if you try this. Although you’ll be eating a third of the recommended daily caloric intake, it’s just for one day.

This means you’ll experience a fasting day. Fasting has a number of benefits for the organism, since it lowers the insulin levels and gives your metabolism a boost, and a chance to burn fat instead of sugar.

Fasting with 9 eggs per day though – that’s not your typical walk in the park. The good thing about it is that you’ll be getting enough protein to keep you feeling energized. You’ll also be less hungry than you’d normally be if you’d be eating this trifling amount of calories – it’s probably because proteins keep you satiated.

Protein in eggs fat burning food

It could also be because you’re really not looking forward to eating another 3 eggs for the next meal. So it’s quite a psychological approach to this dieting business – you’re starting off actually NOT wanting to eat. A trick you could use is cooking the eggs differently for every meal, such as boiled for breakfast, scrambled for lunch and poached for dinner. You’ll get the feeling that your meals are somewhat different.

The downside of this first day is that it starts you off with no carbs. You’ll probably experience a sugar crash because of this. Here’s why: your body is used to changing carbs into glycogen and burning that for energy, since it’s the easiest source to find and burn. The rest of the carbs are stored as fat deposits. Once you take that source of energy away from your body, it’ll have to burn something else – fat deposits – and you’ll feel cranky and irritated in the process. Don’t worry too much though; it’s only for one day.

What could actually be dangerous about Day 1, as I’m sure you’ve realized by now, is the high amounts of cholesterol you’ll be gulping down: 373mg per 100grams of eggs. Considering that 2 eggs weigh about 100grams, you do the math. Besides, you’ll get to eat 9 times the amount of cholesterol allowed for one day, which you actually shouldn’t be doing if you have heart issues or diabetes. And that’s why you shouldn’t do this diet too often.

Day 2 – sugary sweet

  • Breakfast: 1 egg or grapefruit
  • Lunch: fresh fruit salad
  • Dinner: steak, tomatoes, celery and cottage cheese

The first thing to notice is that today you could actually eat as much as you want, except for breakfast where you wouldn’t be going past 80 kcal.

That is just an illusion though. Let’s take the fruit salad you’ll be having for lunch. Depending on the caloric intake of the fruit you’ll be picking, this will no way go above 100kcal/ 100grams. Except if you’re planning on eating just coconuts and dates, but that’s highly unlikely for most people. And how much food can you actually eat at a meal? One pound? That’s about 450grams, so you’ll be eating 450 kcal tops.

Fresh fruit salad

As for the dinner, say you’re a steak addict. You won’t eat more than 200 grams, which has 400kcal. The same for the cottage cheese – another 200kcal. The tomato and the celery have so few calories, that you probably won’t eat more than another 200kcal. So, you won’t pass 800kcal.

That’s the maximum limit of 1300kcal for the whole day. It’s actually borderline restrictive, but the good news is you won’t feel it, since all the meals are specially planned to keep you satiated.

As for the nutritional properties of the food you’ll be having, let’s start with breakfast. If you’re not sick of eggs yet, for breakfast you have the option of eating another one. Of course, you could go with the other option: the notoriously fat-burning grapefruit. This little piece of fruit will help you burn more fat than ever, because it’s said to create an alkaline environment in your body, which increases the use of fat deposits as energy.

The Marine Corps Diet gets you a healthy lunch consisting of a fruit salad. You’ll be getting enough dietary fiber to increase that fat-burning even more. Not to mention you’ll be getting the sugar you’ve been deprived of on Day 1, but in a healthier form. That will certainly make you feel more energetic and less cranky. The food items you’ll be getting for dinner – proteins and fat along with fiber – accelerate the metabolism and keep you full and ready for day 3.

Day 3 – iron power

  • Breakfast: 1 egg or grapefruit
  • Lunch: fish, tomatoes, spinach and salad
  • Dinner: lean lamb chops, tomatoes and salad

This is yet another day where you’ll be eating as much as you want – or so you’ll think. We’ve already talked about the calories and benefits of your breakfast, and that’s what you’ll be having for the whole week.

Lunch has a number of healthy foods which help you burn fat instead of sugar and make you feel quite full. Take the fish. One fillet of the most calorie-dense fish doesn’t go over 400kcal, which consist of proteins and fats in equal proportions.

Fish, tomatoes, spinach and salad

Proteins are a macronutrient quite hard to digest. In fact, 30% of their total amount of energy is burnt during their digestion. That means you’ll be burning 120kcal just for digesting your fish. Besides them being hard to digest gives you the feeling of satiety.

The combination with vegetables is what increases the fat-burning even more, since fiber isn’t a digestible carb. It’ll pass right through you, after your body has taken the vitamins and nutrients it needs. This healthy meal doesn’t have more than 600kcal in total.

Dinner consists again of protein and fiber to help you feel full without going over 500kcal.

Besides the low total amount of calories for the day (about 1200kcal), which don’t let you experience hunger and help you lose weight by burning fat, not water, you have another benefit: iron. Apparently, studies show that iron deficiency causes weight gain, while an iron-rich diet stimulates the metabolism and promotes faster weight loss.

You’ll get all this iron primarily from fish, spinach and lamb-chops, but the salad and the tomatoes also have some iron of their own. As such, the Marine Corps Diet isn’t just about the calories, but their nutrients too.

Day 4 – back to fasting

  • Breakfast: 1 egg or grapefruit
  • Lunch: green salad and tomatoes
  • Dinner: 3 eggs and dried toast

Today is another day of eating below 1000 calories. In fact, it would be a surprise if you’d go over 800kcals – it depends how much toast you eat. Say you’re eating 5 slices, at 80kcal per slice, you’ll be getting 400kcal. Add the 240kcal from the eggs – we know you’ve missed them dearly – and you’ll be at 640kcal.

A pound of green salad and tomatoes is less than 100kcal. Basically, Day 4 brings you around 800kcal, provided you really stuff yourself. The good news is that you won’t feel like you’re starving.

Tomato salad

The main benefits you’ll be experiencing today come from four directions:

  • Intermittent fasting. Day 1 and Day 4 are fasting days, divided by other non-fasting, albeit low-calorie days. This is called intermittent fasting and it’s a great way to increase your metabolism. Your insulin levels will lower in the fasting days which will accelerate fat loss even more.
    Besides, you’re already eating a low amount of carbs, which means your blood sugar has begun to decrease. The boost you’ll be getting to your metabolism comes in fact from the days you’re not fasting. Your body feels fuller and it consumes more energy than it normally would if you were having just a constant low calorie intake.
  • Fiber and proteins. As we’ve said before, these will make you feel satiated since they’re hard to digest. They’ll be in your stomach for longer amounts of time, which will cut the hunger in half. However, this only works when you’re not eating carbs. Otherwise, your body would choose to burn them for energy, instead of the other macronutrients.
  • Vitamins. You’ll be getting a lot of Vitamin A and Vitamin C from the grapefruit, the green salad and the tomatoes. What Vitamin A does is accelerate fat loss, because it’s soluble in fat. That means it cannot be absorbed by your body, without it burning some fat for this purpose. On the other hand, Vitamin C can also help you lose more fat weight since it has an enormous impact on your blood-sugar levels.
  • Low energy density foods. Breakfast and lunch especially have a number of foods with a very low caloric intake. That allows you to eat a lot, and still have a low-calorie meal. Imagine eating 2 or 3 pounds of food for lunch and still being below 300kcal.

Day 5 – potassium FTW

  • Breakfast: 1 egg or grapefruit
  • Lunch: fish, tomatoes, and salad
  • Dinner: lean ham salad, tomatoes and spinach

We’ve already talked about the nutrients and vitamins you can find in most of these foods and how they accelerate fat-loss, while also boosting your metabolism and keeping you satisfied.

The new appearance for today is the lean ham salad. For people who’ve never tried it, the recipe for 12 servings consists of the following ingredients mixed together and then refrigerated:

  • 3 cups ground fully cooked ham
  • 2 hard cooked eggs, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
  • 4 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard

Thankfully, you get to add eggs again to this fabulous recipe. Joking aside, let’s take a look at these ingredients.

Lean ham is not so low in calories, at 162kcal/ 100grams, but it does have 36% protein. That means you’ll again be enjoying the health and weight-loss benefits of protein – which can likewise be found in eggs.

Lean ham

It also has 12% fat. That’s not a lot, but keep in mind that fat is not the enemy here. Conversely, eating healthy fats can actually help you lose more weight. After all, you’re burning fat, not sugar.

The combination of fats and proteins is a miracle-worker when it comes to accelerating the metabolism and eliminating the hunger sensation. But you’ll be getting another benefit from this in the form of potassium – an electrolyte which helps you lose more weight, since it makes your muscles feel less tired and thusly work harder.

Potassium can also be found in the other food items scattered along the menu: spinach, tomatoes, green salad are just the ones you get to eat today for other meals, while celery and onion are ingredients to this recipe.

Apart from being rich in potassium, celery, onion and relish are low energy dense foods. These are here just to give you some extra flavor, like the mustard. Besides, if you choose a ground mustard seed, you’ll be sneaking in some extra potassium.

This brings us to the mayonnaise. One twelfth of a cup has 130 kcal, and 13 grams of fat. Since one serving of this lean ham salad has 230kcal, you get where most of them come from. But the calories aren’t the problem, since these particular ones offer a great solution. Mayonnaise helps you feel full (thanks to its rich fat content), and it keeps your morale up since it’s extremely palatable.

The Marine Diet’s Day 5 therefore doesn’t go over 1300kcal, and that’s only if you eat double servings for everything.

Day 6 – bring celery sticks

  • Breakfast: 1 egg or grapefruit
  • Lunch: 3 eggs, dried toast
  • Dinner: steak celery, tomatoes and cottage cheese

To promote a healthy and rapid fat burn, this day continues the tradition of recommending one grapefruit to be eaten at breakfast.

As for lunch, you’ll be treated to a feast consisting of your favorite 3 eggs and dried toast. The proteins in the eggs really manage to complement the fibers found in the toast. The combination of these two is what will banish hunger until dinnertime. We’re skipping the part about how proteins and fiber accelerate the fat burning, and keep your metabolism up and running with under 650kcal.

Steak celery, tomatoes and cottage cheese

Dinner comes again with the benefits of a full meal. Tomatoes are the low in energy food you need to up your fiber intake. Cottage cheese brings you the benefits of dairy: the combination of Calcium, Vitamin C and healthy fats reduces your blood sugar levels and creates an appropriate environment for heightened weight loss.

As for the Steak celery, there are a number of recipes you can pick and choose from, but try to stay away from the unnecessary frying. Our recommendation is to try a basic boiled stew made out of the following ingredients:

  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups thinly sliced celery
  • 1 1/2 pounds steak, trimmed and cut into thin 1 inch slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 cup water

These are the quantities for 6 servings, and one serving doesn’t go over 300kcal, which means dinner will also give you a maximum of 700kcal to burn, while Day 6 in the limit of 1300kcal.

Apart from this, the onions, the celery and the black pepper are here to increase your metabolism, not to mention that celery is a negative-calorie food. In fact, most of them don’t have a lot of calories and are here just for the taste. The high-fiber and low-calorie ingredients go well with the high-protein steak.

Add that to the cottage cheese, and you’ll enjoy every benefit of a hunger-relieving, fat-burning, nutritious and nourishing meal, thanks to its high-protein, high-fat and high-fiber content.

Day 7 and you’re done!

  • Breakfast: 1 egg or grapefruit
  • Lunch: fresh fruit salad
  • Dinner: lean lamb chops, salad and tomatoes

If you’ve been reading along, you probably know everything there is to be said about Day 7 of this diet.

By now, the daily grapefruit (we’re guessing Day 1 cured you of eating eggs unless you really have to) has started to create the needed alkaline conditions in your body to burn more fat.

The fiber in the fruits and vegetables, along with a natural, good and unprocessed sugar intake has re-equilibrated your blood-sugar levels and lowered your insulin. Your entire digestive process should be smoother by now, and you’re discovering how to feel full without carbs.

Lean lamb chops

In fact, talking about carbs, you’ve probably gotten rid of the initial crash experienced in Day 1 and learnt how to manage your total carbohydrate intake. Since you’re off them, you should also be feeling less puffed and less bloated. You should’ve been able to lose some water weight along with the fat-weight, which probably makes you feel better.

The proteins you’ve gotten by now, along with all the vitamins and minerals in the vegetables and fruits, are supposed to have upped your energy levels. They also make it possible for you to lose weight faster without actually reducing your muscle mass.

Keeping your muscle mass intact – not to mention increasing it – is highly beneficial to maintaining an accelerated metabolism and burning more fat.

Luckily, the Marine Diet isn’t one of those crash diets which make you eat just one type of food item until you get sick to your stomach, and provides you with healthy options for balanced meals.

Other stuff you need to know

  • Day 1 is the worst. That’s probably because of the eggs, you’ll get the feeling that this day will never end. Be patient however, and cook your eggs differently every time. You’ll also be experiencing some withdrawal symptoms because of not getting the sugar or the carbs your body is accustomed to. Be sure that, by the time you reach Day 4, you will have gotten used to the low-carb diet.
  • No snacking. You’re eating large amounts of food for every meal, so snacking shouldn’t be a problem, unless you have a sweet-tooth. Unfortunately, you’ll have to say goodbye to candies and cookies for a week, or otherwise this diet won’t work as well. If you’re used to eating 5 times per day, just keep one of your food items for later. But don’t cheat and eat more than you had planned.
  • Drink lots of water. Water has always been a great aid in keeping your health at high levels and it’s also good with weight-loss. The Marine Corps Diet is a low-carb diet, which means you’ll also lose some water weight. That’s why it’s important to stay hydrated. Another reason is that hydration makes your body run at optimal levels, thus helping it use more energy and burn more fat.
  • Black coffee is a yes. Along with green tea, black coffee boosts your metabolism and has very few calories. In fact, it could be said that it’s a negative-calorie drink, since it gives you an energy spur. It can also help you feel satiated, especially in the first day of anguish.
  • You can have lemon juice. Don’t think of adding whipped-cream on your fruit salad, but you can consider lemon juice. It’s low in calories, and it has a lot of Vitamin C, which we’ve already established helps burn fat. If you’re used to drinking soda or even freshly-squeezed fruit juice between or at meals, you won’t be able to do that during the Marine Corps Diet. Substitute those for a mixture of water and lemon juice, and you’re good to go.
  • No sugary drinks. We’re serious, stay away from sugar or this diet won’t work at its maximum capacity. Sugar is the main resource that your body chooses to use in order to get the energy it needs. The other macronutrients will be stored in fat deposits, and instead of burning fat, you’ll burn sugar.
  • No alcohol. Alcohol has a serious amount of calories which you’re not even counting. Apart from this, it increases you appetite for unhealthy, carby foods, which you definitely don’t want. Not to mention that it dehydrates you very fast, another impediment for a diet. It will also inhibit the burning of fat, since alcohol is easily transformed into sugar and used as energy. As you surely figured out for yourself after a wild night out.
  • No salad dressing, except vinegar. Salad dressing is ridiculously rich in calories compared to the actual salad, not to mention it’s less nutritious and has fewer health benefits. Instead of adding that to your salad, eat another vegetable, it will do you more good. Vinegar is ok, since it’s not rich in calories and also helps with weight-loss. It will be hard the first time, but you’ll get used to it.
  • It’s preferable to choose the grapefruit. This fruit is well-known for its abilities to create the proper alkaline conditions in your body to burn fat faster. It also has a number of vitamins which have the same effect, since they are fat-soluble and your body needs to use fat in order to metabolize them. It also has healthy fiber and no cholesterol.
  • Exercise. With all the protein you’re getting, there’s no need to fear that you’ll lose muscle mass or water weight if you exercise. On the contrary, you’ll become leaner and more toned. Plus, you can even add some lean muscle on your body if you’re doing some smart weight-training.

We’re really not into the whole 9 eggs in one day thing, as you’ve definitely realized by now. We’re not saying it will kill you, but it wouldn’t hurt if you’d ask your doctor about it first. Or you could consider substituting some eggs for another food item which has the same amount of calories, and a lot of protein, like chicken, tofu, cheese, etc.

All that being said, we’re actually happy with this diet, since we believe it teaches you portion control, and that you can lose weight fast while eating as much as you need.

About the author
Angie Moore
Angie Moore

Angie brings a mix of knowledge and experience in diet creation and fitness best practices. With Kansas State University‘s bachelor’s degree in dietetics and over 7 years of experience working with thousands of clients to better their life, Angie is passionate about your health and well-being. She is also a well-known foodie, having published a few books about diets that work. For most of the time, you can find her in the gym working out with friends and clients, pushing them for top results and fulfilled life.

  • Jamey Bronn

    Hmm this seems too tough… I’m not sure I’d be able to survive the 1st day with eggs only…

    • Well, no pain, no gain. I’m sure you can do anything once you’ve put your mind to it. You can do it!

  • Mary Ong

    Hello Angie, I love how you named your daily diet meal plans. They are fun and cool! However, my eyes went wide when I saw the first day – eggs, eggs and more eggs! Haha! However, the rest seemed fine to me. As I read this article, I feel motivated to start my 3-day military diet. 🙂

    • As explained here, these eggs will really rev up your day so you won’t feel you’re being deprived. Eggs are also good protein sources. Nevertheless, if you have some health issues, it’s best to consult your medical practitioner before embarking on any diet of your choosing.

  • Chynna Lambert

    If not for this article, I would not know that grapefruits can burn fats. I searched online and found out that it really does! However, in the absence of grapefruit, can I replace it with pomegranate?

    • The success of the diet plan lies on portion control and the right combination of food. That being said, it’s best to stick to the original food in the marine corps diet. Also, substituting grapefruit with other fruits cancels the benefits.

  • Sophie Lewis

    The very first thing that hits me here is that ‘eggsperience’. I couldn’t believe that someone’s whole day meal consists of 9 eggs alone. I agree that eggs are nutritionally, but how can we be sure that this will keep us full without getting hungry in between meals?

    • Eggs are a great source of protein and are very nutritious. A single boiled egg consists of Vitamins A, B2, B5, B12, Folate, Selenium and Phosphorus. However, if you have allergies or prefer other food based on your dietary needs, the military diet has a list of food that can be substituted to eggs.

  • Jenna White

    I just want to add a side note on that grapefruit. I’ve read this post about grapefruit consumption which has been associated with weight loss since the 1930s. The scientists even made an experiment about it and find out that there are some ingredients in grapefruit that contribute to weight loss. Upon seeing your post, it convinced me how important a grapefruit is for a diet.

    • Grapefruits have been hailed for years as an excellent fruit to boost weight loss. These fruits are packed with fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients that aids metabolism and may prevent certain diseases, including Cancer. No wonder the 3 day military diet includes this power-packed fruit in its meal plans.

  • Josi Lopez

    What about diet soda? Is it really good when you are on a diet or it is just some of the misconceptions of people?

  • Alison Lee

    I’m planning to make a fruit salad. Are there certain fruits that you would only recommend to be included?

  • When on the military diet, the only artificial sweetener permitted is Stevia. Besides, soda is bad for us and is not recommended. You can wean yourself from soda, your health will thank you for doing so!
    Have you tried infusing your water with lemon or cucumber? There are other fruits that you can also try. Making your own iced tea from scratch is also healthier. Just boil a couple of green tea bags, cool and drink up.

  • Go for a variety of small berries such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or strawberries. Avocados, apples, bananas, cherries and kiwis are also excellent. These fruits are packed with nutrients and have lower sugar than say, mangoes.

  • Riley Clark

    This marine corps diet is indeed for brave souls. Some articles said that crash dieting is usually bad because it results in quitting and binging. Most people go back to bad habits and put the weight back on, but overeating is still the cause of that.

  • What’s great about the military diet is that it’s only for 3 days, so you don’t suffer from “diet burnout” or boredom. Mos dieters of other programs quit because they find the entire diet too long. Compare that to the short duration of the 3 day military diet and you have a winner right there.
    This will definitely jump start your weight loss and makes dieting more enjoyable. You also have the option to cycle the diet, allowing you 4 “off” days until you decide to begin the military diet again.

  • Elaine Kidd

    The Marine Corps Diet looks so intimidating because of the Day 1- eggsperience! I can see my husband doing this easily but it would be challenging for me. Is it really just eggs without any toast? Is it okay to assume you can add a pinch of salt to each egg or not? Can you add some herbs, spices, sriracha, or just cook it with some minced garlic to make it tastier? I know eggs are nutritious and just one large boiled egg contains vitamins A, B5, B12, D, E, K, B6, and Zinc, Folate, Selenium, Phosphorus, and Calcium, but eating them all in one day will be challenging for me.

  • Erin Spencer

    I don’t see myself feeling hungry with this Marine Corps diet plan. The challenge would be weaning myself off the taste of processed sugar and comfort of eating pasta, and having that fruit salad without any sugar syrup or whip cream. The challenge would be replacing the crunchiness and savory taste of a potato side dish with tomato. Anyway, it’s about time I take control of my sugar addiction and eat for the body I want. I will just soothe and reward myself with a long, luxurious bath in the evening and some tea =).

  • Angie Moore

    It’s only for 3 days Erin and you’ll be pleased to see the results. Weaning our bodies from sugar and trans fat is easier said than done. That’s why you have to set your priorities and goals before undertaking any diet regimen. Knowing why you want to lose weight will help you get through the difficult days when you just want “the crunchiness and savory taste of a potato side dish.” :o)

    As I always say: “no pain, no gain!”

  • Angie Moore

    Have you looked at the list of food substitutions Elaine? This diet is flexible since it also considered our preferences or food allergies.
    Yes, you can even try a bit of condiments on your eggs or any meals http://3daysmilitarydiet.com/faq/healthiest-condiments.html

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