The 3 day diet or the military diet consists of low-calorie meals for short-term weight loss. It limits the caloric intake and specifies each food you should eat to achieve weight loss.
How does the 3-day diet look?
The diet combines some healthy foods with some unhealthy foods as follows:
Breakfast – 1/2 grapefruit, 1 slice of toast, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, 1 cup coffee or tea (with caffeine)
Lunch – 1/2 cup of tuna, 1 slice of toast, 1 cup coffee or tea (with caffeine)
Dinner – 3 ounces of any type of meat, 1 cup of green beans, 1/2 banana, 1 small apple, 1 cup of vanilla ice cream
Breakfast – 1 egg, 1 slice of toast, 1/2 banana
Lunch – 1 cup of cottage cheese, 1 hardboiled egg, 5 saltine crackers
Dinner – 2 hot dogs (without bun), 1 cup of broccoli, 1/2 cup of carrots, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream
Breakfast – 5 saltine crackers, 1 slice of cheddar cheese, 1 small apple
Lunch – 1 hardboiled egg (or cooked however you like), 1 slice of toast
Dinner – 1 cup of tuna, 1/2 banana, 1 cup of vanilla ice cream
In order to understand what the diet proposes we need to understand what foods it recommends. As the diet is short in time with only 3 days, every meal is written down.
The first issue with the diet is the limited food intake. Day 1, day 2 and day 3 range around a total of 1.000 calories. For an adult male or female this is just extreme. This is less than half of the recommended daily caloric intake. However, this is for a limited number of days so it could probably work.
You should not be consuming 2 coffees with such a limited caloric intake. Coffee can dehydrate your body and you would be providing it with “fake” energy for the first part of the day. You should also avoid eating ice cream as the calories are not actually nutritious and filled with refined sugar which defeats the purpose of the diet. If you really want to eat ice cream you should move it up at least one meal to the lunch. This way you can burn the calories throughout the days with moderate activity.
The same issue arises with the ice cream in Day 1. Crackers are also not the healthiest snack you can have on a diet. Eating hotdogs is bad in itself but eating them without buns makes for a recipe for stomach acid. The idea of concentrating unhealthy food for dinner repeats itself again in day 2.
On the final day you should feel hungry enough. The food intake is still very limited. At least you get some proteins and Omega 3 from the tuna. The crackers are also not a good idea for breakfast as they are likely to make you hungrier and make the whole process more uncomfortable.
How to approach the diet the right way
It’s worth mentioning that not everything about this diet is wrong. But before you go through this diet it would be advisable to talk to your doctor or at least with a nutritionist.
If you want to cut your calories by 50% in order to shock your body and advance in your weight-loss journey, there are far better options for you. On a physiological level it may sound acceptable to have some unhealthy foods to make you believe you are not really on a diet. Versions of this approach can be seen today with the intermittent fasting program which allows you to eat in a small window of time each day, regardless of what types of food you eat.
A good approach to 3 day diet is to find the right balance between the caloric deficit and the nutritious foods. So for example on Day 1, you should boost food intake by at least 300-500 calories.
The British National Health System (NHS), regarded as the best healthcare system in the world recommends progressive weight loss. This is why it is not recommended to follow a drastic 3-day diet unless under strict supervision. Sure, some top athletes follow a similar diet before a competition, to achieve a weight with is alright with sports regulations. But these diets are done under professional supervision and most of the times they shouldn`t even be necessary as they can deplete the athlete from strength.
Losing weight should be expanded into weeks and months and not just focused into 3 days. The NHS recommends a 12-week program which could work for most people. Their recommended caloric intake is 1.900 for men and 1.400 for women. Most importantly, the diet recommends a combination of various nutritious foods.
For example, the breakfast is a spin on the traditional approach to a healthier approach. The white bread is replaced by wholegrain options. Cereals with sugars are also replaced with healthier options such as porridge, muesli or oats.
The lunch is also approached from a healthier perspective. Two small servings of vegetables can be combined with wholemeal pasta versions. The same can be done or dinner and you can even add some low-fat proteins. Fresh fruits are recommended as snacks.
When compared with the 3 day diet, we can see why approaching losing weight needs to have a healthy base. Losing 200-300 calories for 12 weeks, combined with healthier food options and some daily physic activity is a better way to ensure you reach your target. It doesn`t shock the body as much, it lets you adapt to the reduced calories and it gives you the opportunity to get informed on healthy nutrition.
There have been many studies on diets but none of them recommend a drastic calorie cut as the 3-day diet. Although the history of this diet is unknown, some people place its roots in the 80`s. It may have originated from the drastic diets professional athletes went through before competitions. Many boxers for example are known to go through very drastic diets in the final week before a match just because they need to be able to pass the scale test. There are also other theories on the origins of the 3-day diet, but most fail to pinpoint its exact beginnings. In the end it doesn’t matter where the diet came from, be it the military or professional boxing. All that matters is that these types of diets are not accepted by the scientific community today. They are vastly outdated and can`t be performed without professional supervision.
the 3 day diet should be focused on lowering your caloric intake by 200-300 calories to get you accustomed with a lower food intake level. It should be a time when you know how to plan healthy meals in advance. It could also be a time when you increase your water intake to make sure your body stays properly hydrated. A low calorie diet should come with an increased water intake as our body also gets hydration from certain foods like fruits or vegetables. Balancing water, rest, physical activity and healthy meals should be the right approach to a proper 3 day diet.