Are you looking for a way to lose weight and get into better shape? Losing weight is not a process of instant gratification, however, and many of us quickly lose steam because we don’t see the results that we wish. Is there a weight loss plan that allows us to jump-start our progress, gain momentum, and still enjoy real, sustainable food? There might be–it’s the 3 day military diet.

Here’s a little bit about the 3 Day Military Diet

The 3 Day Military Diet is a fast weight loss program that boasts rapid weight loss over a three-day cycle, followed by four days of a low-calorie, less restrictive eating plan. The plan allows you to repeat the weekly cycle until you achieve your desired goal weight. Followers of the program claim to have lost as much as 10 pounds per week, or almost 40 pounds in a month, eating foods like hot dogs, vanilla ice cream, and peanut butter. The science behind the plan is the food combinations that supposedly jump-start the metabolism, encourage fat burning, and satiate hunger.

How did it originate?

The origin of the 3 Day Military Diet is unknown. Still, some theorize that nutritionists working for the U.S. Military designed the plan as a way for soldiers to quickly slim down and get into shape.

How does it work?

Combinations of specific foods pair together to fire up your metabolism and promote rapid weight loss. For three days, you stick to a list of allowed foods at particular times, and the following four days, you develop a low-carb, relatively low-calorie eating pattern.

What do I eat on the 3 Day Military Diet?

The “on” days of your diet plan are as follows:

Day one:


One slice toast
2 Tbsp peanut butter
1/2 grapefruit
Black coffee or tea


One slice toast
Half cup of tuna fish
Black coffee or tea


3 ounces meat
1 cup green beans
Half a banana
One small apple
1 cup vanilla ice cream

Day two:


One slice toast
Half a banana
One cooked egg


1 cup cottage cheese
One hard-boiled egg
5 saltine crackers


2 hot dogs without buns
1 cup broccoli
Half a banana
1 cup vanilla ice cream

Day three:


One slice cheddar cheese
One small apple
5 saltine crackers


One slice toast
One cooked egg


1 cup tuna
Half a banana
1 cup vanilla ice cream

Limited substitutions on the plan are allowed, as long as you stay within calorie guidelines.

What are the possible food substitutions for the 3-day military diet plan?

As much as some people want to try the diet plan, they are put off by foods on it that are unappealing or even off-limits to them. Rest assured, there are some food substitutions for each meal that you can use to customize according to your tastes and dietary needs that will work equally as well. We’ll break down food substitutions for each meal that will produce the same kind of chemical reaction and keep you on track for losing weight:

Day one breakfast

Swap out 1/2 tsp of baking soda in a glass of water for grapefruit. The diuretic effect of this pH balanced water will remove excess water from tissues.

An acceptable substitute for toast would be 1/8 cup of sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup multigrain cereal, one tortilla, or two rice cakes.

Peanut butter can be swapped out for most nut butter, including cashew, almond, and sunflower seed butter. You can even use hummus or bean dip for additional protein.

Day one lunch

Some people cannot stomach the taste of plain tuna from a can. Acceptable substitutes would be any lean meat, cottage cheese, tofu, or almonds. Slices of avocado with sunflower seeds would also be a delicious alternative.

Day one dinner

Vegetarians, no worries–you may use lentils, beans, or tofu as meat alternatives.

Swap out your green beans for lettuce, spinach, or tomato, making sure that your calorie count is the same.

Fruit substitutions for the apple and banana could include dried apricots, kiwi, papaya, plums, peaches, pears, zucchini, or grapes. Again, make sure your calorie count is the same for these two items.

Are you craving a healthier option than vanilla ice cream? Consider 1 cup of fruit-flavored yogurt, unsweetened apple juice, or almond milk. No chocolate almond milk, please, as it contains added sugars that can derail your metabolic process.

Day two breakfast substitutions

  • Egg—1 cup of milk, one chicken wing, two slices bacon, 1/2 cup beans or lentils
  • Toast–1/8 cup sunflower seeds of 1/2 cup multigrain cereal
  • Banana–2 kiwis, 1 cup papaya, two apricots, grapes, applesauce

Day two lunch substitutions

  • Cottage cheese–1 cup plain unsweetened yogurt, ricotta, cheddar cheese, eggs, or ham
  • Hard-boiled egg—1/2 avocado
  • Saltine crackers–rice cakes, almond crackers

Day two dinner substitutions

  • Hot dogs–turkey or soy dogs, deli meat, lunch meat, beans, lentils, portabello mushrooms
  • Broccoli–cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, asparagus
  • Banana-2 kiwi, 1 cup papaya, two apricots, grapes, plums, applesauce
  • Vanilla ice cream—1 cup fruit-flavored yogurt, applesauce, almond milk

Day three breakfast substitutions

  • Saltine crackers–rice cakes, almond crackers
  • Cheddar cheese–eggs, cottage cheese, ham, tofu
  • Apple–plums, peaches, pears, zucchini, dried apricots

Day three lunch substitutions

  • Hard-boiled egg–1 cup milk, one chicken wing, 1/4 cup nuts, two slices of bacon, 1/2 avocado
  • Toast–1/8 cup sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup whole-grain cereal, one tortilla, two rice cakes

Day three dinner substitutions

  • Tuna—1/2 cup canned chickpeas
  • Banana–2 kiwis, 1 cup papaya, apricots, plums, grapes, applesauce
  • Vanilla ice cream–1 cup fruit-flavored yogurt, apple sauce, almond milk, or vegan Coconut Bliss

Pros and Cons of the 3 DAY Military Diet

Some nutritionists and dietitians argue that the 3 Day Military Diet is not a sustainable way to lose weight, as the calorie restriction in the first part of the diet is too low to provide adequate energy for most. With any diet plan, it is wise to consult your doctor before beginning any program, and you should always follow medical advice when starting and implementing a new program.

There are, of course, pros and cons to this diet that promises rapid weight loss using combinations of real foods:

Diet plan pros:

This diet plan does quickly start your weight loss, and if followed correctly, can yield lasting results. A method this structured can take the guesswork out of dieting that is so hard for some to sustain.

Food combinations are comprised of items that you can find in most people’s homes, and they are relatively easy to obtain and prepare. Food substitutions are acceptable to most, and there are some options for vegetarians and other dieters who have different food sensitivities or restrictions. Check here for more information on food substitutions that are acceptable on the plan.

You can repeat this 3-day-on, 4-day-off plan, which keeps your metabolism fired up and working efficiently to lose weight on an ongoing basis. With other types of diets, following a low-calorie plan for an extended time can cause your metabolism to slow, making weight loss difficult.

Diet plan cons:

While many know this as an effective weight loss plan, the reality is that there are processed foods on this list of meals. For some, this type of eating while on a “healthy” eating plan is unacceptable. Hot dogs, for instance, have shown links to the development of heart disease and even cancer. Finding a healthier substitute might be more beneficial for lasting weight loss.

While you may lose a few pounds initially, following this diet for an extended period might cause you to gain the weight back, because some of the foods on this diet are processed, high-fat foods. While the thought of eating vanilla ice cream every night after dinner is appealing, it might not be a sustainable way to follow a sensible eating plan that helps you maintain your weight.

Is this diet calorie counting in disguise?

The military diet is all about portion control. For the first three days, calories are counted for you unless you choose to add in foods or make substitutions, which must still be measured, and calorie counted. It is recommended on the following four days that you keep a food log and continue to count calories, keeping your daily total under 1500 calories to see measurable results.

weight loss

You will lose weight…but is it all water?

Experts note that water weight is relatively easy to lose; some people can lose up to five pounds of water weight in a single day. While your initial pound count might be primarily water, following the diet over time will allow you to drop needed pounds.

water weight loss on 3 day military diet

Final Thoughts on Trying the 3 Day Military Diet

As you embark on your journey to be healthier, you must decide if the 3 Day Military Diet is right for you. Talk to your doctor, make smart choices, and see what you how you can benefit from trying out this simple yet effective plan for both quick and lasting weight loss. Here’s to your healthiest days ahead and a slimmer, trimmer you!