3 Day Military Diet: Does This Diet Plan Really Work?

[toggle title=’Click to show/hide spoiler’]

The 3 Day Military Diet has now reached “fad diet” territory. If you’re here reading this, chances are you’ve heard of this diet plan. But like many fad diets, they gain popularity quickly but don’t stick around because they either ultimately don’t work or something new and improved comes along. The 3 Day Military diet plan claims that those who follow can lose up to 10 pounds in one weeks’ time.

Today we’re going to take a closer look at the 3 Day Military Diet and see if the hype is worth a try, if you’re considering trying this diet.

3 Day Military Diet Basics

It’s worth noting that the 3 Day Military Diet, actually has nothing at all to do with the military itself.

Some call it by this name because of the discipline required to follow its strict guidelines for losing weight.

The 3 Day Military Diet is simply a very low-calorie diet plan. You will be on a severely restricted calorie intake for three consecutive days, followed four days that are not structured.

However, the 3 Day Military diet menu still recommends eating healthy for these four days following the 3 days of calorie restriction.

How restricted? Very. Most plans call for 3 days of around 1100 to 1400 calories intake per day. That’s it. No snacks in between meals, nothing.

Those who are proponents claim those on the 3 Day Military Diet lose 10 pounds in one week and that you can repeat this 3 day/4-day routine until meeting your weight loss goal.

Most 3 Day Military Diet menus are the same and recommend the same foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner for each of the 3 days.

The food you eat will of course be low calories, because you aren’t eating much per meal. It will be low protein and higher on fat and carbohydrates.

The diet claims that the food combinations are meant to boost metabolism and aide in fat loss (more on this later).

The cornerstone of the diet is the fact that you are eating a very small number of calories each day, remember, we said between 1,100 to 1,400 calories per day. We do know that in order to lose one pound of fat, you need to burn 3500 calories.

Depending on how active a person is and what their total daily calorie expenditure is, theoretically, there is an opportunity to lose fat during the diet.

But, is this sustainable and how will it affect a person’s metabolism going forward?

Sample 3 Day Military Diet Menu

As we said earlier, anywhere you look for information on the 3 Day Military Diet, the meal plans are all basically the same. Here is what is recommended for the 3-day portion of the diet:

Day 1:


  • ½ Grapefruit
  • 1 Slice if toast
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 Cup of coffee or tea


  • ½ Cup of tuna
  • 1 Slice of toast
  • 1 Cup coffee or tea


  • 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:


  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Slice of toast
  • ½ Banana


  • 1 Cup of cottage cheese
  • 1 Hard-boiled egg
  • 5 Saltine crackers


  • 2 Hot dogs (without bun)
  • 1 Cup broccoli
  • ½ Cup carrots
  • ½ Banana
  • ½ Cup of vanilla ice cream

Day 3:


  • 5 Saltine crackers
  • 1 Slice of cheddar cheese
  • 1 Small apple


  • 1 Hard-boiled egg
  • 1 Slice of toast


  • 1 Cup of tuna
  • ½ Banana
  • 1 Cup of vanilla ice cream

Not much here. Personally, I wonder why a hot dog? I was puzzled by that choice of food for this diet. However, still staying impartial, I’m pressing on to see if this is legit.

Curiously, I could not find macronutrient or calorie breakdowns of each meal and day on any source of information for the 3 Day Military Diet.

I decided to plug everything into the MyFitnessPal app and see where it came out, for a full calorie and macro breakdown of my own.

3 Day Military Diet Macro and Calorie Breakdown

Day 1 Breakfast

Total Calories–269

  • Protein—9.9 grams
  • Carbs—29 grams
  • Fat—12.6 grams

Day 1 Lunch

Total Calories—75

  • Protein—7.5 grams
  • Carbs—9 grams
  • Fat—1 gram

Day 1 Dinner

Total Calories—609

  • Protein—26.1 grams
  • Carbs—75.5 grams
  • Fat—22.6 grams

Day 1 Totals

Total Calories—954

  • Total Protein—43.5 grams, 18.2% of total calorie intake
  • Total Carbs—113.5 grams, 47.6% of total calorie intake
  • Total Fats—36.2 grams, 34.2% of total calorie intake

Day 2 Breakfast

Total Calories—178

  • Protein—9.1 grams
  • Carbs—22.5 grams
  • Fat—5.7 grams

Day 2 Lunch

Total Calories—278

  • Protein— 28.1 grams
  • Carbs— 21.3 grams
  • Fat— 8.9 grams

Day 2 Dinner

Total Calories—584

  • Protein—20.8 grams
  • Carbs—42.6 grams
  • Fat—36.7 grams

Day 2 Totals

Total Calories—1040

  • Total Protein—58 grams, 22% of total calorie intake
  • Total Carbs—86.4 grams, 33% of total calorie intake
  • Total Fats—51.3 grams, 44% of total calorie intake

Day 3 Breakfast

Total Calories—276

  • Protein—8 grams
  • Carbs—35.9 grams
  • Fat—11.2 grams

Day 3 Lunch

Total Calories—117

  • Protein—8 grams
  • Carbs— 9.5 grams
  • Fat— 5.2 grams

Day 3 Dinner

Total Calories—407

  • Protein—11.6 grams
  • Carbs—43.5 grams
  • Fat—20.7 grams

Day 3 Totals

Total Calories—800

  • Total Protein—27.6 grams, 14% of total calorie intake
  • Total Carbs—88.9 grams, 44% of total calorie intake
  • Total Fats—37.1 grams, 42% of total calorie intake

As you can see, the diet is high in carbohydrates and fats, and protein is not emphasized as much in the diet.

Advantages of the 3-Day Military Diet

Quick Results

The 3 Day Military Diet, when followed closely can help a person to lose weight in short amount of time.It might be possible that you need to lose weight quickly for some event. Notice I said, “weight”, and not fat. More on that soon.

Easy to Follow

Another advantage to the diet is that it’s relatively straight forward. There are no expensive meal plans to follow or programs to enroll in.

Fast Motivation

People who are very obese could see drastic losses in weight in a very short amount of time using this diet of very low calories.It also might be the case, that the 3 Day Military Diet can act as a jump start for someone who has been frustrated in the past using various diets that don’t show results quickly.However, that could also be the reason why they are not losing weight in the first place. Sustained fat loss takes time. Patience and discipline is key.

Disadvantages of the 3-Day Military Diet

Low Nutrients

As we talked about earlier in the post, calorie restriction is the backbone of this diet. The calorie restriction is sustained for 3 straight days, so during this time you are taking in very little nutrients from the food you eat.

You might be asking how this is different from intermittent fasting? The difference between the two is that the fasting window is lasting for normally a 16 hour window, after which normal food consumption takes place.

Using intermittent fasting, calories and nutrients aren’t necessarily restricted to extremely low levels, just deferred to a later time. The 3-Day Military Diet sustains this restriction for 3 days at a time.

High in Fat and Carbohydrates

As you can see from the macronutrient breakdown we did, the diet itself is high in fats and carbohydrates, as compared to protein. Not a great combination for weight loss and healthy eating. Protein is essential for muscle retention and aiding in metabolism.

Negative Effects on Metabolism

When we force our body into a “starvation mode” our metabolic rate will slow naturally as our body attempts to conserve energy in order for it to perform daily activities.

This is natural. However, this will become the new normal for our body as it adapts.

When you are done with the 3-Day Military Diet and resume a normal eating pattern, there is a strong possibility you will gain back all the weight you lost and even gain additional weight.

Potential Muscle Loss

Studies show that high protein diets can aide in muscle retention and fat burning.In fact, it’s recommended in order to gain muscle or retain muscle, daily intake of protein should be around .8 to 1.2 grams per pound of body weight.

The 3-Day Military Diet falls far short of that recommendation, almost assuring that the weight you do lose will not just be made up of fat, but also muscle that you already have will be sacrificed.

Not Sustainable

The goal of any diet is to lose the fat and keep it off. In order to lose the fat and also keep it off, a diet needs to be sustainable.The hardcore nature of the 3-Day Military Diet makes it very hard to maintain over a long period of time.Compounding this fact, you will not be getting the proper nutrients. Your body will adapt to lower calories and metabolism will be altered, so you might even eventually hit a weight loss plateau.When you do hit this plateau, you can’t cut calories further without not eating at all. You’re already eating rock bottom calorie levels.

The only option would be to exercise or abandon the diet. You might find that exercising with so few calories is very difficult.

Can You Really Lose 10 Pounds In One Week?

The main claim for this diet is that participants can lose 10 pounds in one week. It’s important to understand what that means, and as usual, the devil is in the details.What is being lost? Fat? It doesn’t say that, but isn’t that the goal?We would think so, but they don’t say you can lose up to 10 pounds in fat in a week. Probably because you can’t.The CDC recommends adults only lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week. If you have read many posts on this blog, you would know that in order to lose one pound of fat, you must be in a caloric deficit of 3500 calories.

Losing 10 pounds of fat in one week would require a person to be in a caloric deficit of 35,000 calories! That averages out to a deficit of a 5000 calorie deficit per day.

I would venture a guess that most people are not going to have over 5000 available calories to cut each day.

The only time this might be true is for extremely overweight people who are already eating 5000 plus calories per day.

If that’s the case, rapid weight loss is possible, but not a likely scenario for most of us.

The most likely reason for losing 10 pounds in a single week, is because you’re body is losing water weight, some fat, and some muscle.

This will more than likely satisfy the 10 pounds of weight claim. However, water weight comes back. This is why the diet is probably at best a short term fix.

What About Exercise?

If you are wanting to continue to hit the gym while using the 3-Day Military Diet, you may want to think twice.Your body will be using every calorie you intake to perform normal daily functions, so there won’t be many spare calories, or even glycogen stores for physical activities.You may find that you are exhausted very quickly, or can’t lift anywhere near normal levels of weight. This is a trade-off a person will make with this diet.Some people may not like to exercise, therefore, they don’t mind the fact that they don’t have the energy to spare, because they weren’t going to exercise in the first place.

Long Term Risks

There are some risks with using this diet as a long term solution. Dietary fiber is restricted. In the short term, it might cause constipation, but in the long term it can put you at risk for diabetes and coronary heart disease.

You may also be at risk for gallstones, resulting from rapid weight loss. Major complications can result if left untreated.

Bottom Line: Does The 3 Day Military Diet Work?

After taking a close look at the 3-Day Military Diet, the food plan and weighing the pros and cons, the bottom line is the 3-Day Military Diet is probably not worth the potential risks and side effects.

There are many different ways to lose weight and some are more effective than others, but one thing always rings true: Weight loss, and in particular, fat loss, should be sustainable.

A healthy diet should be one that you can incorporate and live your life around. Not the other way around. A healthy diet should take time and promote sustained fat loss over time.

We also preach fat loss and muscle retention through adequate protein intake, while tracking macro nutrients on a daily basis.

The 3-Day Military Diet does not emphasize or promote any of these basic fat loss principles.