What Is the Military Diet and Is It Safe? Here's What a Dietitian Says

The Military Diet is a calorie-restricted diet designed for drastic weight loss.

Following a diet with the word military just sounds like it offers results, doesn't it? And as a strict weight-loss diet, it promises to help people lose 10 pounds in just one week, according to the Military Diet's website.

If hearing more about the Military Diet intrigues you, and you want to learn more about what it is, how to follow it, and the risks associated with adopting it, read on to get some serious knowledge bombs.

What Is the Military Diet?

The Military Diet is a three-day weight-loss diet that claims to help people lose 10 pounds in one week. You would follow the specific diet plan for three days every week, followed by four days of eating from a list of allowed foods while maintaining a calorie deficit. This pattern of restricting and liberalizing is promoted to help prevent cravings, although there is no support for this theory in research.

While it doesn't appear that the Military Diet is based on any dietary practices that military personnel are required to follow, this diet leans into the strictness associated with being a part of the military.

Unlike many trendy diets, the Military Diet doesn't require participants to purchase any supplements, pre-made shakes or packaged meals. There are no exercise requirements involved, and lifestyle changes are not suggested.

How Does It Work?

By following a three-day low-calorie diet every week, you'll go into a calorie deficit, which can help you lose weight. During this phase, you'll be very strict with what you eat.

During the four days off, participants are encouraged to continue to maintain a calorie deficit while getting more flexibility on what they eat. To calculate this, the website advises multiplying your current weight by 12. That number should be the maximum amount of calories you consume on your "days off." However, you should not exceed 1,500 calories per day.

a collage of photos of some of the foods that are part of the Military Diet
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Military Diet Foods List

The Military Diet leaves no wiggle room for dietary preferences or cravings. Here's what you're eating on the strict plan, according to their website:

  • Grapefruit
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Toast
  • Saltine crackers
  • Peanut butter
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Eggs
  • Tuna
  • Meat (not specified what type)
  • Hot dogs (no bun)
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Coffee or tea

What Not to Eat

While following the Military Diet doesn't leave a lot of opportunity for making your own food choices, it recommends you avoid certain foods when following this diet:

  • Candy
  • Soda
  • Fried foods
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Alcohol
  • Fruit juice
  • White bread

Is the Military Diet Safe?

There's no research evaluating the safety of following the Military Diet. Here are the pros and cons to consider if you're considering trying the diet.


If you maintain a calorie deficit, you will lose weight, according to a 2021 review in the Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome. In addition, the diet is pretty affordable with a relatively simple shopping list, particularly on the three-day "on" portion of the diet.


The Military Diet is extremely restrictive. The plan doesn't allow substitutions unless a person follows a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. That's a huge downside, because restrictive diets, such as low-calorie diets, are difficult to maintain long-term, points out 2021 research in Current Obesity Reports. This type of dieting may ultimately lead to weight gain and be psychologically damaging, potentially contributing to depression, irritability and eating disorders, according to a 2020 review in Cureus.

In addition, the foods required on the Military Diet are somewhat randomly chosen, and there is no variety during that three-day "on" phase. Eliminating or restricting food groups can result in inadequate intake of certain macro- and micronutrients. The Military Diet does not include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Plus, it only allows for two to three servings of produce daily, far less than what's recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This diet plan also limits dairy and whole grains.

Should You Try the Military Diet?

It's unlikely your health care provider will recommend following the Military Diet. While you may lose weight initially, this way of eating isn't a long-term solution for sustainable weight loss. It also may not provide enough calories to sustain your needs, especially if you live an active lifestyle.

If your goal is to lose weight, meeting with a registered dietitian, who can provide personalized weight-loss recommendations, is a safer approach.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the 3-day Military Diet healthy?

The 3-day Military Diet may help people lose weight, but it's not a healthy approach. It's low in calories, restrictive and may not provide the nutrients your body needs for overall health.

How much weight can you lose with the Military Diet?

According to the Military Diet website, people may lose 10 pounds after one week of following the Military Diet.

Can you drink unlimited water on the Military Diet?

Water is the recommended beverage to enjoy when following the Military Diet. There's no limit to how much water a person can drink on the Military Diet. Coffee and tea are also allowed.

Can you drink diet soft drinks on the Military Diet?

No type of soda is permitted on the Military Diet.

The Bottom Line

The Military Diet is a low-calorie, restrictive diet. While people may lose weight when following this diet, it's unlikely that it will be a long-term solution to achieve your weight-loss and health goals.

Learn More: How Much Weight Can You Safely Lose in a Month?

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