What Is The Military Diet: Guidelines To Help You Understand It Better

Military diet guidelines
Angie Moore
Written by Angie Moore

With so many diet choices today, you might get lost and be confused about where to look. There’s Atkins, Jenny Craig, Fruitarian, Vegan, and a lot more. All these diets promise great results, and they all have pros and cons. Then, we have the Military Diet; the diet that promises results you can actually see in just seven days.

The military diet advantage

One of the advantages of this diet is the duration required to see the effects. You can see the effects in as little as three days. While the actual duration completely depends on your target weight, it is a diet that can be used regularly or intermittently. Some individuals apply this diet as an emergency to lose weight safely within the shortest possible duration. Others prefer to go through this diet because it does not require additional exercise. There are so many objectives that the diet can accomplish, and it is one of the few that can be sustained for a very long time.

See also: 3-Day Military Diet Results: To the Boot Camp

The duration varies. Some use the diet as to lose weight immediately through the safest possible route in the shortest amount of time. Given that the military diet works on a 3-day/4-day routine, this can be sustained as a long-term diet regimen. You might think that this diet works because of the usual reduction of calories that will facilitate the burning of stored fats. This is not actually the case for the military diet.

The army diet basics

The secret to its effectiveness is the appropriate food combinations, with the correct amount of servings that are properly digested and absorbed without promoting excess sources that will become stored as fats. Aside from this feature, the diet is virtually free because all you have to do is to adjust the food options that you have at home.

Is this a crash diet?

The military diet is a cycle-type diet that is based on carefully planned meal sets for three consecutive days. These days are the “ON” days, where the calorie intake is controlled within 1500 to 1700 calories per day. After three days, the individual is placed on a four-day “OFF” cycle where he or she can eat her usual food choices. This diet is one of the few currently available that do not require supplementary exercise or medication. And the results?

Man crash dieting

You can lose as much as 10 pounds in just one week. It is such a strong claim that even skeptics are not convinced, unless they tried it. Like any other diet, results may vary, and it may not always be a perfect 10-pound per week loss. However, experts indicated that as long as you follow the diet recommendations and meal plans, you are guaranteed to lose weight.

So, is this considered as a crash diet? While crash diets involve extreme reductions in calorie content, a diet is only considered as such if the calorie content drops below 1500. A diet will be considered as fasting if the daily calorie intake drops below 1000. It may be considered as a mainstream crash diet if you will base it solely on the calorie reduction, but it does not starve you like other more extreme dieting options.

In addition, this diet has almost no complications and even fewer withdrawal symptoms because of its short yet effective rotation. In fact, this is one of the diets that will not wean you off the usual “keep out” food choices, such as coffee and ice cream.

Understanding the diet

This diet is not as extreme as the vegetarian diet, nor as relaxed as Jenny Craig diet. It is somewhere in the middle, without being too strict on food choices. The controlled serving size and food options create a complementary effect that will not starve you, yet you still lose weight. To understand how portion sizes works in the military diet, see our informative article on this topic.

Dieting requires a considerable level of dedication, commitment, and discipline. These are the factors where dieters fail miserably because they tend to give in to a healthy serving of quarter-pounder or another large order of fries. There has been extensive feedback that the diet plan is not effective, but if you’ll look closely, these claims come with some deviations from the diet.

Military diet for 3 days

The most recommended drink that augments the effectiveness of the diet is coffee. It has been proven to have an appetite-suppressing effect. However, this doesn’t mean you can splurge on your cups of joe with all the creamers and sugars. The diet works with black coffee only, without any creamers, dairies, or other add-ons. For sweeteners, Stevia is strongly recommended because sugar and other artificial sweeteners can shoot up the calorie intake. Read our article on the benefits of coffee in the military diet for more details.

As explained by first timers, one of the most common causes of failure in this diet is the risk of overeating. This typically occurs during the first week, especially for individuals who have rather unhealthy and large servings. Cravings might kick in on the second or third “ON” day, which can be a very tough encounter for those who crave a lot. Because the meals are in controlled servings, it is not a surprising occurrence that some may want to have another serving.

In the end, the meal plan will lose its effectiveness. Coffee drinkers may have the tendency to overload themselves with caffeine, thinking that increasing the consumption will compensate for the hunger. The problem with this idea is that you load your system with more and more caffeine, which may lead to increased heart rate and increased urination because of the diuretic effect of the drink. It would be best to consult your doctor before initiating any type of diet if you have pre-existing medical conditions that can be affected by undergoing such diet plans.

Military diet food options

One good thing about this diet is that the food choices for de ON days are not difficult to obtain. You don’t have to find a rare ingredient or use complicated contraptions or food preparations. None of those will be required here. Almost all of the highly recommended food choices are readily available and very affordable.

Military diet food options

Diet plans for the military diet are very easy to prepare. They do not require any special mixes, sauces, or potions. Because of the simplicity and effectiveness of the diet, more and more people are encouraged to try it.  Bananas, apples, grapefruit, jams, crackers, carrots, tuna, beef, and other common household ingredients like peanut butter and light ice cream are being utilized in this diet.

With basic ingredients and very simple serving sizes to match, the biggest hurdle here would actually be your cravings. But if you can manage a three-day, strictly implemented meal plan, then you are bound to lose a significant amount of weight.

Hydration and dieting

Most diets nowadays only focus on the food that we have to eat. By contrast, the military diet places emphasis on the importance of proper hydration, that is, the consumption of fluids not just limited to the number of cups of coffee each day.

The most recommended source of hydration is definitely water because it has no calories and is free from preservatives, coloring, flavoring, and other additives. Water stabilizes metabolism, ensures proper digestion, improves blood circulation, and keeps thermoregulation on point.

Drink a lot of water

You may have heard this before, but consuming at least seven glasses of water every day will keep you healthy. If you haven’t been doing this before, try to augment hydration with the military diet regimen, and you will see and feel the difference.  You’ll notice that your skin becomes suppler, you feel better, your mood stabilizes, and you feel more active. Imagine these benefits by simply drinking enough water. Our article on how to choose the best drinks for the military diet is a must-read, so check it out!

A person who is not drinking enough is more prone to indigestion and metabolic imbalances. It may sound ironic, but drinking fewer fluids can often lead to weight gain. If you want to lose weight faster, you have to drink more water. Now, individuals who cannot tolerate the recommended coffee or tea can just pump up their water intake. You will still get similar results.

Think natural

The military diet promotes natural food choices and less of the processed foods. This ensures that your body is receiving the right amount of nourishment in its purest form, away from excess salt and other chemicals usually found in processed foods. The diet is quite forgiving when it comes to starches and sugars, as long as the servings are regulated. As you progress in applying this diet as your regular routine, it helps you think more and read the labels written on the choices that you buy from the store.

Whenever you eat, think natural. We all know that some processed foods are very hard to resist, and we don’t want to shut it down overnight, such that when you wake up, you are no longer allowed to eat this or that. Gradual tapering of the frequency and the serving size is less stressful and more effective that instantaneous halting the consumption of a particular food item.

Healthier choices can start one by one, like when buying bread for example. If you can, right there and then, choose the bread that has the lowest fat content that you can tolerate. A lot of consumers buy the healthiest wheat bread out there and end up not eating the bread because it tastes like paper.

Young woman at the market

You should not force yourself into embracing a lifestyle that is completely out of your element in an instant. It should be a gradual process, and you might be surprised that you’ve reached that point where you have already shifted from the flab to fab.

About meats, gradually reduce the consumption of processed meat or even those being sold after sitting inside the freezer for too long. Go fresh, because it is healthier, and the nutrients are more intact. It also guarantees that there are no preservatives in it.

Now for those who cannot resist the temptation of chowing down on some hot dogs or burgers, you can still do so. However, if this is something going on as a daily habit, you may want to reconsider reducing it to just several times a week until you come up to the point of having just a single serving per week being good enough to fix the craving.

Gradual weaning is effective in reducing the servings consumed in processed meat, far more effective than stopping completely. There has been an association between stress eating and “overnight diet conversion.” Some individuals can sustain a sudden diet change, but usually, it only lasts for a matter of weeks.

Because the body is used to consuming that large serving of fries or that sundae, if you shut it down, it creates a reaction that causes your body to seek the taste or satisfaction that comes with eating these foods, which is definitely irreplaceable unless you eat the actual stuff. The result is elevated stress, which leads to increased consumption of other food choices, and ultimately, weight gain. It is quite ironic that the military diet provides fast results, but it also has methods that you have to take slowly but surely.

Maintenance of military diet

Should you want to maintain the weight you’ve achieved through this diet regimen, there are some additional things you have to do. One of these is staying active. We are not talking about signing up for that expensive gym membership; we’re talking about the avoidance of being engaged in a sedentary lifestyle. When the body is more mobile, even just by doing routine walks, it activates the body’s fuel requirement, which reduces the chances of storing excess calories.

Walking most basic form of exercise

Walking is the most basic form of exercise, and you can do it when buying food from the grocery, shopping in the mall, or even just going around the community. When you keep yourself on the go, you activate your muscles and you’re your circulation active as well, as compared to a sedentary lifestyle where circulation becomes significantly sluggish.

The military diet promotes smaller portions, and even if you are on your off days, you can apply this meal plan. Several smaller meals each day is the better choice when it comes to weight management. It has lesser tendency to eat more, compared to the three standard and calorie-heavy meals. We have indicated earlier that overeating is a risk, but that can be prevented once the body is already acclimated to this particular routine of consuming smaller, calculated meals.

Also, if you will go on smaller servings, you must make sure that you’ll be able to sustain it. You cannot just do the small frequent meals today, and then go crazy over large-sized servings tomorrow. This will never work. If you are planning to eat something, like an artisan ice cream or that pizza, it would be best to eat it the day after you completed your third “on” day because it can be overwhelming to your system after dealing with reduced calorie content meals over the past couple of days.

Diet cheat day

In addition, “off” days should still be somewhat regulated. A common mistake for some testimonials is that they tend to overindulge during their first few cycles. After successfully completing the three days “on” cycle, they reward themselves with sugar, fat, and another serving of a hearty sandwich, and another one. In the end, they nullify the first three days.

You can still consume your sodas and sweetened drinks, but if you’re serious not only about the weight loss but also about the overall wellness of your body, you should start to wean yourself off of these drinks. There is no better substitute than water, so do your best to drink lots of water to keep you hydrated. Proper hydration promotes better circulation and ensures that the wastes and excess salt and other ingredients are flushed off. It also slows down the premature drying of the skin.

In addition, a person who is under military diet and follows the meal plans that includes coffee should drink more water as coffee has a diuretic effect. This may not cause considerable dehydration, but replacing the fluid loss with water will ensure proper circulation and elimination of waste.

Drink more water

It is highly recommended that your daily water intake is greater than the volume of other fluids you consume, such as coffee and other beverages. This encourages elimination of accumulated salt and other unhealthy compounds that stay in your body if you are not very well hydrated.


When one of our goals is to lose weight, it pays to understand what the diet is all about. This diet offers very simple instructions to follow, takes a short time to show results, and is not very exhausting to implement.

However, the key to any successful self-project lies within you. You should have enough discipline to follow the instructions if you want to achieve results. The more committed you are, the more chances you have of achieving amazing results that will help you turn into a healthier and more confident person than you were before. Diet experts and other individuals who might share the same struggle as yours have tried it, and it worked for them, so there is a good chance that this could be the diet plan you’ve been searching for quite some time now.

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.