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February 15, 2022 10 min read

Is this too good to be true, or do you get value for your money?

Before you make up your mind to embark on this low-calorie diet plan, you deserve to know what it entails. Below, we have compiled everything you need to know about the military diet.

Photo of soldier in camouflaged uniform and tactical gloves holding canned food field ration on black background.

What Is The Origin Of The Military Diet?

Understandably, when you first come across the term, you visualize a strict diet tailored for men in uniform. This is incorrect as this wonder weight loss plan which is thought to have originated from the men in uniforms, has nothing to do with them. Also sometimes called the Army diet or Navy diet, the military diet is a fad diet claimed to have its root deep in the US army. This is simply a rumor, and any veteran would scoff at this speculation. 

The military diet is believed to have more believably emerged from a public “letter of corpulence” written by an obese undertaker.

That’s right, low-carb books were a thing even in the 19th century. This man, William Banting, was severely obese before a sugar-restricted diet plan. This diet worked wonders for William Banting as he lost most of his unhealthy weight. This pushed William to share his testimonies in this letter addressed to the public, detailing all the trial and error methods he encountered in his weight-loss journey. 

The military diet is so-called because of the discipline, strength, and stamina needed to embark on this diet plan.

You become a soldier in your own right due to the strictness of the diet. It has nothing to do with soldiers and has never been sanctioned by a team of military cooks. 

The Military Diet As A Low-Calorie Diet

The military diet is a diet plan that you follow strictly for three days before returning to your regular diet for four days.

It requires a strict low-calorie diet high in proteins and low in carbohydrates and fats. It is said to help you lose up to 10 pounds without supplements or any subscription fees to help you along the way. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to weight loss.

What works for one person might not work for the other due to the difference in factors like body weight, metabolism, gender, health, and genetic makeup.

Various diet plans claim to help people lose weight. These diet plans are  intermittent fasting, plant-based diets, low-carb diets, low-fat diets, keto diets, and even paleo diets. These diets aim to alter different aspects of your daily nutritional intake but work together to achieve a common goal. Of all other diet plans, the low-calorie diet plan remains the most common choice. 

A low-calorie diet is a diet plan that restricts the amount of calorie intake throughout the length of the diet program. It requires enlightenment concerning the calorific contents of all foods and the discipline to carry on until the end.

It also means you might have to secure the help of a professional dietician to help you formulate an adequate diet that remains low in calories and high in all other essential nutrients. 

Working with a low-calorie diet plan means consuming a total of 1000 to 1500 calories a day as opposed to the daily 2000 to 2500 intake advice for adults. This intentional shortage of calories in your system creates a calorie deficit, causing you to lose weight.

 Low-calorie diets have been around for a very long time dating as far back as the 1930s. It stems from simple science investigating weight gain from the number of calories consumed daily.

Calories are the energy released when your body breaks down and digests food. Your body requires energy to function and uses calories as the lowest form of energy.

When you ingest more calories than your body needs to work, the excess is stored as body fat.

This causes weight gain when left to go on for too long. Low-calorie diets make use of this knowledge as a means of weight loss. While low-calorie diets are great ways to lose weight, it is not an option open to everyone. Everyone needs calories, but some even more than others. These are the classes of people that fall under the ranks of bodybuilders, powerlifters, people recovering from illness, lactating mothers, and pregnant women.

What Is The Military Diet?

The military diet is believed to be an easy fix to lose weight fast.

It claims to help you lose weight in little to no time with a very restrictive diet plan that squeezes in tuna and even ice cream. This is suspicious in its own right as it is also referred to as the ‘ice-cream diet.’ The military diet simulates intermittent fasting thanks to its on-and-off restrictive calorie intake. The plan presents a set of foods that should be consumed as breakfast, lunch, and dinner with no do-overs. There is no space for snacking in-between.

Think of this as a food boot camp. The only slack you get cut is removing any food item you are allergic to.

The military diet is a crack diet that requires only a few days to get what it promises to be remarkable results.

While the diet itself lasts only three days with the rest of the week off, you get the choice of repeating the diet plan over and over until you get your preferred results.

This might last anywhere from one month to three months until you achieve your goal weight. However, keep in mind that the more you embark on this plan, the more your body remains calorie-deficit and deprived of adequate nutrition. It is highly restrictive and can interfere with your approach towards food after a long period.

Every bite you take during this diet plan is pre-planned and accounted for. Like a lieutenant being dogged by a Captain, you are expected to follow every diet rule to the dot. This will ensure that you get the results promised. The military diet consists of simple foods found in the nearest grocery store. These foods include grapefruits, apples, bananas, hard-boiled eggs, and cheese. 

How Does The Military Diet Work?

The military diet plan involves 2 phases in a week: The 3-day restive diet phase and the 4-day unrestricted diet phase. 

The 3-day restricted diet phase includes a set plan of consumption of foods so low in calories that they total a maximum of 1400 calories per day.

The 4-day unrestricted stage is a ‘break’ that allows you to eat a balanced diet or a less restrictive and intensive diet plan that continues to assist you in losing weight. This, however, is a choice that depends on you.

With the military diet, you are provided a set meal plan for the whole day, including your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each meal is evenly spaced with no snacks between meals. Your selection of meals is limited to 16 choices evenly spread across all three meals for the day. 

The list of approved meals include:

  • Toast and peanut butter
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Tuna
  • Cottage cheese
  • Grapefruit
  • Banana
  • Apples
  • Meat
  • Hotdog without the buns
  • Saltine crackers
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Ice cream
  • Coffee
  • Water

The diet strictly revolves around a portion size of these items with only substituting natural alternatives in the case of intolerance to a food. You are only required to make changes to your diet plan when necessary.

Some of the unaccepted foods are:

  • Alcohol like wine, spirits, or beer.
  • Milk
  • Creamer
  • Sugar of any kind, be it white or brown
  • Honey
  • Agave 
  • Seasonings except for salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

A military diet looks something like this:


  • A slice of toast
  • Peanut butter (or an alternate like avocado butter in the event of an allergy to peanuts)
  • Grapefruits, apples, or bananas. 
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Cheddar cheese 
  • Water, herbal tea, or a cup of coffee without sweetness or creamers


  • A slice of toast or saltine crackers
  • One cup of tuna
  • Hard-boiled or fried egg
  • Hotdog
  • One cup of broccoli 


  • Grilled ribeye steak or hotdog (minus the bun, of course)
  • Green beans or broccoli 
  • Banana
  • One small apple
  • One cup of vanilla ice cream

Benefits Of The Military Diet

The military diet has been around for years but has never been scientifically studied or proven safe and effective. There is no evidence to support the fast action of this low-calorie diet plan. However, the verdict remains the same amongst faithful military dieters: it is a quick way to lose weight.

Some of the benefits of the military diet include:

  • It is easy and affordable: Other than the rigorous planning that goes into striking a balance across all meals for the 3-day length of your fasting, there isn’t much preparation needed to begin the military diet. You do not need to pay hundreds of dollars for a subscription fee to help you along the way. The approved foods are easy to purchase and can be gotten from the nearby grocery store.
  • Structured plan: The military diet already has a pre-made plan that details your meals for the duration of your diet. It helps you to plan your meals quickly.
  • Lose weight in a short time: Like the military diet promises, it might help you lose weight in no time. 
Portrait of unhappy man eating broccoli salad in kitchen

Cons Of Military Diet

There is more to a healthy weight loss journey than how many calories you can deplete in 3-days. The recommended way to burn fast is to not only steadily reduce your meal portions but also increase your engagement in physical activities.

The military diet takes none of these factors to kind and focuses instead on solely restricting your calorie intake.

Couple this with a lack of evidence from proper scientific investigation, and you get nothing but a recipe for disaster waiting to bubble over. While the military diet is infamous for rapid weight loss, this comes at a price.

Some of the disadvantages of the military diet include:

  • Deprivation of nutrients: By limiting your meal to nutrient-poor foods, primarily fruits, and processed foods, you deprive your body of the necessary nutrients needed to function correctly. The body requires an adequate supply of food high in all nutrients from carbs to protein, fat, minerals, and vitamins to maintain a healthy inner system. The lack of these nutrients and the depletion of calories in your meal takes its toll on your body in the long run. If you have to carry on with the military diet, ensure that you are healthy enough and play it safe.
  • Short-term solution: The military diet promises to help you lose several pounds within the diet plan. What then happens after you put an end to this restrictive feeding? With the lack of a strict diet plan like the military diet, bouncing back to your former diet without proper planning would lead you to gain weight rapidly as your body tries to make up for all those lost calories.
  • Hunger and fatigue: Your body needs time to adapt to the spontaneous restriction of your diet. This might take a period of appetite and fatigue as your body gets used to functioning on a lower amount of calories per day. Because your body is low on energy fuel, you might experience pangs of hunger and periods of fatigue within the first few days.
  • Constipation: The military diet contains less fiber than the average adult needs. With the absence of high fiber foods like whole grains, which are essential to make up the bulk of stool, you might be in for some trouble doing the number 2. Fiber deficit leads to a risk of constipation.
  • Fluctuating weight: While you might lose weight during the military diet plan, without due discipline, you have a high tendency to regain weight. This constant weight fluctuation that arises from an on-and-off military diet plan stresses out your body system.  Weight gain and loss are directly linked with hormones and this fluctuation might lead to a dangerous hormonal imbalance when left to go on for too long. This might open the door to vast health problems like eating disorders, out-of-control weight gain, and even heart diseases.

Does The Military Diet Work?

Various facts and fiction are associated with the military diet, regardless of these under researched assumptions. The military diet is still widely believed to be a great way to lose weight. But does it work? 

Of course, as with any low-calorie diet, you might begin to notice that the numbers on your scale begin to reduce.

It has nothing to do with any magic diet because this is purely your body responding to the drastic reduction in the available calories needed to function. With your body running through most of these calories, there is little to no-calorie available to be converted to fat.

Think about it: you provide your body with just enough calories to get you by and end up tapping into your body ‘reserve’ in search of extra fuel to expend, leading you to burn a few kgs of stored fats in your muscles and liver called glycogen. 

What many people do not know is the loss of weight during this 3-day diet is mostly water weight.

This weight comes back as soon as you return to your regular daily diet. Put, the military diet is not enough for permanent weight loss. This change is not long-term and does not leave a permanent imprint on your metabolism.

There is no evidence to support the claim that the military diet helps to permanently increase your metabolism to help you burn calories faster. 

This is important because you need to continue to maintain a healthy diet after reaching your weight loss goal with the military diet.

It is also important to note that there is no scientific research that claims the military diet helps to burn through more fat than any other diet.

There is no evidence that this low-sugar diet directly translates to better control of sugar spikes and your blood sugar level. While the military diet plan can be set for a controlled short-term goal, you probably need to understand that there is no way you are shedding 40 pounds or it’s equivalent in a month. The military diet does not offer such drastic and dramatic changes as weight loss is highly dependent on factors like age, activeness, and genetics.

Should You Join The Military Diet?

The military diet hasn’t been studied and is full of several unanswered ‘maybes’. Some health enthusiasts strongly criticize the inclusion of processed foods in the diet plan, citing it as unhealthy. 

If you search for a more sustainable weight loss program, it is advised to go with diets that make more healthy dietary changes to your meals.

Do not make any drastic meal changes. Instead,  gently and continuously alter your meals, giving your body time to adapt to these nutritional changes—couple these changes with  weight loss exercises for the best results.

If you want to lose weight while maintaining mental clarity and energy throughout the day,  SHREDDED-AF can help