DIET PLAN

3 Day Military Diet Substitutes: Learning About Foods, Calories, & Dieting

What should I get?
Angie Moore
Written by Angie Moore

The military diet is quite easy to follow as it offers easy preparation and simple food choices. However, due to varying factors, some cannot follow the recommended meal plans. You may either have a pre-existing medical condition, food allergy, or simply you don’t like some of the foods included in the diet. It happens.

This is where this diet beats most of other weight loss meal plans out there. The diet is flexible and even the most basic food choices in the meal plans have their corresponding substitutes. Even more, you get an entire list of substitutes and you are not charged extra to access it!

Following, we are going to discuss some of the most common 3-day military diet substitutions so you’d understand better how this diet works. Also, it’s very important to understand why substitutions must be taken from their list and not random. This will be included in the mistakes you should avoid doing section.

Understanding substitution

The first rule of substitution: the serving size doesn’t matter, the amount of calories does.

For example, if you will replace tuna with almonds, you should not follow the serving size of the former and apply it to the latter. It only takes approximately twenty pieces of almonds to gain the amount of calories that a full can of tuna can give. Almonds, despite their bite-sized proportions, are heavy in calories. If you need to have a list of food to buy, check out our piece on how to select the correct food for the military diet.

Imagine eating a cup full of almonds by mistake. That will totally ruin your meal plan by overshooting your calorie intake. Proportions and serving sizes may vary, and that is why it is very important to know what you eat to be able to follow the recommended calorie intake for every single meal.

The importance of the meal plan structure

The meal plans in the military diet are not a random set of food options that are packed together in small portions in order to lose weight. These are composed of a carefully planned, tailored-fit set of ingredients that create a holistic and extremely effective combination. This way, you get to lose weight without compromising on nourishment.

Diet plan concept

The reason that this diet works is not just about the reduction of calorie content, but also how the nutrients and their effects interact during digestion. Of course, all this happens when the meal plans are followed to the dot.

Due to varying reasons, some individuals may not be able to follow the pre-determined meal plan. Some of these reasons might be because of allergies or just a matter of personal preference. This is where proper substitution comes in, and despite the food replacement, you could still achieve results that you want after completing the routine.

Always think fresh

Most of the ingredients in the military diet require fresh choices. They are very accessible and readily available to any household. This is extremely important for fruits, vegetables, as well as dairy and meat.

It pays to check the label, and for canned merchandise, always check the production and expiration date to avoid canned goods that have been sitting on the shelf for too long.

About grapefruits and oranges

Let’s start with the most commonly committed mistake in this diet: grapefruits are often replaced with oranges.

Just because they look alike (a bit) does not mean the former can be replaced by the later. Grapefruit is strategically included in this diet because of its nutritional and chemical effects. It has a proven weight-loss effect because it decreases insulin levels, which are responsible for glucose absorption. Many people out there who’ve been trying to lose weight appreciate the power of this amazing fruit.

Grapefruits

So is there really a substitute for grapefruit? The honest answer would be no. It has a unique combination of enzymes that is not found in any other fruit. Replacing this with orange jeopardizes the diet plan and the closest alternative is to add half a teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water. This substitute allows the enhancement of pH balance of the body, which increases the effectiveness of burning fat.

Tuning the tuna

Tuna is one of the primary meal plan ingredients of this diet. It is a light protein source, and is rich in vitamins and minerals. The ideal tuna preparation for this diet is plain tuna, but this might be too bland to appeal to the taste buds of most people. The best alternative preparation will be grilled lean tuna with a serving size similar to a cup of canned tuna.

Nicoise tuna salad with salad greens, tomato, olives and flaked fresh tuna served on an omelette base, overhead view

Substitutes for tuna are very flexible because you can replace it with any lean meat of choice, but the closest replacement will be another type of fish. You can also read our piece on the benefits of eggs in the military diet for more insight.

Meat

Meat is such a great component in this diet because of its diversity in terms of options and preparations. However, this becomes a hurdle for vegetarians. In this case, you can replace meat with beans, lentils, or even Portobello mushrooms as worthy alternatives. These alternatives will require a larger serving compared to the meat to catch up on the calorie content.

Portobello mushrooms

For example, an ounce of lamb contains about 83 calories. On the other hand, a serving of Portobello mushroom, which is about one cup, only contains approximately 22 calories, while a tablespoon of boiled lentils contain 14 calories.

The caffeine fix

Like the grapefruit, coffee is one of the catalysts in this diet. It promotes an appetite-suppressing effect that is strong enough for you to feel it, but mild enough to be within tolerable limits. This is quite an easy fix for coffeeholics, but might pose a challenge to individuals who are not fans.

Caffeine fix

Green tea is the closest alternative to coffee because it shares a similar effect. However, do not even think about replacing the coffee with an energy drink or a soda! Remember that this is not just about the caffeine content, but the overall chemical effect of coffee. For tips on how to make coffee healthier, check our piece on this important topic.

Energy drinks and sodas may have caffeine, but they are also overwhelmingly filled with other ingredients that you don’t need. And let’s not get start on the sugar overdose!

Green Tea

Teas are milder substitutes. If you don’t like coffee, you should consider green tea as your best substitute. As much as possible, the substitution should be equivalent to the servings of coffee in the meal plan, which is one every meal and another for spare. While teas are a bit lighter, you should not overindulge on the intake.

Substituting your veggies

Vegetables share more streamlined calorie contents, thus making substitution a lot easier to estimate and follow. However, it is very important to refrain from consuming any condiments with your vegetables because this can alter the effect of the meal or add up unwanted ingredients and the calories that come with them into your body.

  • Carrots can be replaced by squash, beets, parsnip, or bell pepper.
  • Broccoli can be substituted by Brussel sprouts, spinach, or cauliflower.
  • If you don’t like your green beans, you can replace them with spinach, tomatoes, or lettuce.

Replacing carrots is quite easy, as it contains 41 calories per 100 grams and can be replaced with other more preferred vegetables possessing similar caloric value, such as beets, which have 43 calories per 100 grams. Broccoli has approximately 35 calories per 100 grams, whereas its more popular alternate, the cauliflower, has 25 calories per 100 grams.

Bread

If you’re not feeling the bread, substitute it with one-half of a protein bar, about one-eighth cup of sunflower seeds, or half a teaspoon of flaxseeds.

Protein bars with flaxseeds

Another good bunch of alternatives are rice cakes and tortillas, which have low calorie content but are just as equally filling. However, make sure to watch your seed consumption because it is one of the easiest alternatives in the entire list that often lead to overeating. Like nuts, seeds are small in size, but they pack in a lot of calories, so it is very important to stick with the recommended serving suggestion.

Saltine crackers

Saltine crackers taste good if consumed only once in a while, but they can taste too bland or underwhelming if consumed on a regular basis. The perfect alternate for saltine crackers will be rice cakes. Rice cakes are a perfect substitute for saltine crackers because of their completely different texture and more complex taste.

Rice cakes

While saltine crackers can be replaced with any other cracker of choice, it is important to ensure that the amount of calories is close to the intended calorie content. The serving size of saltine crackers in the meal plan is about five pieces, which is equivalent to 65 calories at 13 calories per piece. Rice cakes can easily cover this calorie requirement, but they require a smaller serving size.

Cottage cheese

The very light and healthy cottage cheese can be replaced by other cheese variants that you might prefer, such as cheddar or ricotta. You can also substitute it with a serving of egg or a small portion of ham.

Another good alternative is Greek yogurt, but it is important to use the plain one variant as your cottage cheese substitute. Lastly, you can also try to consume a serving of tofu, which is a non-dairy alternative that is packed with similar nutritional content.

Greek Yougurt

Cheddar cheese            

For the meal sets that require cheddar cheese, you can switch it out with the ones you switch cottage cheese with. The alternatives include ham, eggs, and even cottage cheese itself. We also have soy milk, tofu, or soy cheese if you prefer something that is non-dairy.

Cheddar Cheese

The recommended serving size of cheddar cheese is one slice, which translates to about an ounce. Almost all of the alternatives can follow their corresponding serving sizes, but be careful with ham (145 calories per 100 grams) and soy milk (54 calories per 100 ml).

Banana

A small banana contains about 50 calories and can be replaced with kiwis (68 calories per 100 grams), papayas (43 calories per 100 grams), or apricots (48 calories per 100 grams). These alternative fruit choices share similar calorie content and can be flavorful as well.  In addition, you can also try applesauce, plums, or a small serving of grapes.

Grapes

Peanut butter

Peanut butter is frowned upon by individuals who have a known allergic reaction to peanuts, whereas some just don’t like the taste of it. The good news is that you can replace this with pumpkin butter, hummus, almond butter, or soy butter.

Peanut butter

If you don’t like spreads, a serving of two tablespoons of sunflower seeds can compensate for the calories and nutritional requirement of peanut butter.

Vanilla ice cream

Vanilla ice cream is probably the most “cheated” meal component in this list. Some unknowingly jeopardize their military diet schemes by substituting vanilla ice cream with another flavor. The most important rule is to never ever replace vanilla ice cream with another flavor that you like, with chocolate being the usual suspect.

Vanilla ice cream is the purest form of ice cream, with the least amount of flavoring and sugar, as well as the absence of other ingredients, such as nuts or chocolate chips, cookie dough, or even marshmallows.

Ice cream

Water

You might be surprised at why water is on this list. That is because water is the only component of this diet that should not, for any reason, be substituted. It is free from added sugar, preservatives, flavoring, and the best part is, zero calories.

Drink water

Take lots of water, and not just any other fluid, to keep you hydrated. It will help you cleanse your body and ultimately help you lose weight. You will feel great after a week under the military diet augmented with increased water intake.

Substitute guide

As the substitutes have been listed down, you can refer to the chart below as a summary of your possible replacement to ensure the effectiveness of this diet by following its regimen with the correct food choices.

These food options are calculated in calorie content per 100 grams.

Military Diet Substitute Chart – Calories per 100 grams
Chicken239 calories
Beef250 calories
Salmon208 calories
Mackerel231 calories
Portabella Mushroom26 calories
Lentils353 calories
Lamb292 calories
Green Tea1 calorie
Black Tea1 calorie
Brussels Sprouts43 calories
Spinach23 calories
Cauliflower25 calories
Beets43 calories
Bell Pepper20 calories
Zucchini17 calories
Flaxseeds534 calories
Rice Cakes387 calories
Sunflower Seeds584 calories
Ricotta Cheese174 calories
Cheddar Cheese402 calories

The verdict

If the pre-planned meals are not compatible with you or your taste preferences, it is not the end of the road for you in terms of the military diet. You don’t need to find for the next diet that might work. With a great selection of equally effective substitution, there is a good chance that these replacements will help you accomplish your goal to lose weight safely and without compromising your health.

Remember that it is very important to follow the instructions, and when you substitute food items correctly, you will surely hit your goal and successfully complete the program.

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.

  • Albert Dorell

    I always include tuna in my meal plan, however, after reading about mercury levels, it seems like I am eating too much. So I switched to grilled chicken – it tastes good as well and cheaper too

    • There has been some concern regarding mercury levels in
      tuna. However, as long as you eat everything in moderation, there’s
      nothing to worry about. Grilled chicken is also nutritious. You can also
      try other fresh catch that is so easy to prepare. Fish can be steamed or grilled for a healthier option.

  • Steven Schick

    Rice is a necessity, especially in Asian countries. I think you don’t need to replace rice if you can’t. Just go with brown rice instead of the white one, but remember to cut the carbs you are eating. 🙂

    • Rice also has carbohydrates in its composition (28g per 100g of rice), but you are right – it is one of the most consumed grains and should not be removed from the diet if it is the base for you.

  • Mary Ong

    I like this article. It clearly explains that bananas are also a part of a healthy diet. The banana has an alkaline value of -5.5 which is really good because as you work out your blood goes slightly acidic, so after workouts you want to get this back to about neutral as soon as possible. If you are worrying about the sugar content of a banana, then you are over-analyzing your diet. The sugar you need to cut is the refined sugar. Fruit is still okay.

    • Yes Mary,
      Fruits are actually recommended for a healthy diet as their sugar (fructose) is natural and easy to process. I saw you mentioned the banana as a post-workout snack, but this can also be a pre-workout treat.

  • Lorna Nars

    Apart from sharing similar calorie content, do the alternative fruit choices (kiwis, papayas, and apricots) share similar health benefits?

  • All fruits are important vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need. Kiwis, papayas and apricots are also rich in potassium, just like bananas. These fruits help increase dietary fiber, as well, so load up on your fruits everyday!

  • Mark Davis

    I am a coffee lover. I can’t go on throughout the day without my coffee. Is drinking coffee bad for health? Or can I still drink it but with less sugar, creamers or none at all?

  • Michael Jones

    Substitution in diet is for me really effective. Instead of always eating at fast foods chains, why not explore and discover healthier foods you haven’t tried before. Make it an adventure and a part of your bucket list. When you’re looking for meat, try eating fish instead. When you feel like you’re missing your burgers, try eating vegetable salad with some chicken on it. Sometimes, it’s all in the mind. We have to overcome what our minds are telling about our cravings or so. 🙂

  • Andy Miller

    Awesome! Thank you for that substitution chart, Angie. Big help! Just want to add, you can also substitute beef and bacon with chicken and fish instead. 🙂

  • Hi there Andy! You’re most welcome and glad the chart is helping. You’re right about the beef and bacon being replaced with chicken and fish. Just go for lean cuts of meat or fish prepared with no high calorie frills like sauces or gravies. You can even try Tofu, which is very filling and healthy.

  • Thanks for that great advice Michael! Sometimes, all we need are healthier options to eat well. What’s great about the military diet is that you can replace some food you don’t like with other choices in the substitution list. There are tons of great food choices that are nutritious. We just have to make wise choices.

  • Thanks for dropping by Mark! Here’s good news, you can still drink your coffee when you’re doing the 3 day military diet. Just make it black, without sweetener or creamer. Coffee is a natural appetite suppressant and it will help you tremendously while on the diet.

  • Savannah Matherly

    I just started the diet this morning. But I am thinking about day four already. What do you recommend for after the the 3 days?

  • Hi Savannah! Hang in there and make sure to drink lots of water to hydrate. You can also drink black coffee and green tea. After 3 days, your body will get used to eating smaller portion of meals. Still opt for lean meats, veggies and fruits. Stay away from high sodium, salty food and sweets.
    Good luck! You can do it!

    • Savannah Matherly

      Thank you! I have been drinking 100+ oz of water and then green tea only 2 times per day. Sweets isn’t my issue, I LOVE salt! That is what I have been missing the most.

      • That’s great! Hydrate yourself, water is good for our bodies. It also makes us feel fuller. Black coffee is good, too. It’s a natural appetite suppressant that’s why it’s also included in the military diet.
        Oh, about the salt, you can add some to your meals, but only in moderation. Most condiments and no calorie seasonings such as ginger, fresh garlic, cayenne pepper, curry, turmeric, sage, rosemary, dill, and red pepper flakes are allowed.

  • Patricia Brown

    I’m glad I read this. I did not think that it would matter so much to replace vanilla ice cream with plain chocolate flavor ice cream! But now I get that there would be more sugar added in a chocolate ice cream to
    make it taste as sweet as vanilla. But what about banana-based ice cream? Would that be a good substitute for vanilla ice cream? Also would a couple of ounces of 70%+ chocolate pieces be a good alternative for dessert too? Since I plan to do this 3-days military diet several times a year, I am just looking for ways to make it a little different so I won’t get tired of it.

    • Angie Moore

      Hi Patricia! I would recommend sticking with the vanilla ice cream or replace it with yogurt – or anything you want, as long as it’s in the list of food allowed as substitutes. Remember that this diet works because of the food combination. Although the diet gives you a lot of flexibility regarding food preferences.

0
0
Total
0
Shares