Dietribes / Flavour of the Week

Three Days of Rations: The Military Diet

flavour-of-the-week-logoIn the US, the Paleo Diet, juice cleanses and the Mediterranean diet proved the most popular diet searches of 2013. Never one to follow trends, Canadians searched most often for… The Military Diet? Three days of so-called military rations of tuna, hot dogs and cottage cheese to lose “up to 10 pounds a week” or a whopping 30 pounds in one month. Did we mention that you get to eat daily ice cream?

Call us suspicious, but “chemically formulated food combinations” of ice cream and tuna fish don’t exactly sound “designed to work together,” as the diet promises. Is it all ridiculous hype or should you fall in line and follow this “all natural” wonder diet?

If this was one of the most popular diets in 2013, why hadn’t we heard about it? With no big endorsements from TV health experts or commercial presence, The Military Diet seems to have spread through social media like Facebook and Pinterest. But it’s really nothing new – whether called the Three-Day Army Diet, the Hot Dog Diet, or Bubba’s Three-Day Diet (?) – variations on a three-day meal plan consisting of “food combos” of refined starches, miscellaneous protein and meagre veggies and fruit has been around for a while.

The Diet Plan: a “three days on” set plan (see below), followed by a flexible four days “off” from dieting.

Day 1:

  • Breakfast: coffee, 1 slice toast with 2 tbsp peanut butter, 1/2 grapefruit
  • Lunch: coffee, 1 slice toast with 1/2 cup canned tunahot dog
  • Dinner: 3 oz. meat, 1 cup green beans, 1 apple, 1/2 banana, 1 cup vanilla ice cream

Day 2:

  • Breakfast: 1 slice toast , 1 egg, 1/2 banana
  • Lunch: 1 cup cottage cheese, 5 saltines, 1 egg
  • Dinner: 2 hot dog wieners, 1 cup broccoli, 1/2 cup carrots, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream


Day 3:

  • Breakfast: 1 slice cheddar cheese, 5 saltines, 1 apple
  • Lunch: 1 slice toast, 1 egg
  • Dinner: 1 cup canned tuna, 1/2 banana, 1 cup vanilla ice cream

Will you lose weight on The Military Diet? Probably but you will be hungry! According to our calculations on eaTracker, the three-day plan provides 900 – 1300 Calories per day – you would lose weight limiting yourself to 900 Calories per day of ANY food. While your grocery shopping would certainly be simplified, the three-day plan is deficient in pretty much every vitamin and mineral, with the exception of a few B-vitamins and vitamin C on day 2 only (thank you, broccoli!). It is pretty sad on the fibre front owing to few veggies and fruit too.

As for the “off-days” being free from dieting, dieters are still encouraged to consume less than 1500 Calories… which sounds an awful lot like the “diet days” considering the average intake among adults is a-likely-underestimated 2,200 kcal per day (1)!

What’s the evidence? Not surprisingly, there is no research evidence to back-up this diet and the logic behind the “chemically formulated” food combos proposed is more than suspect. What about the ice cream? While there is some research to suggest that including dessert as a part of a weight loss plan may be beneficial (2) – see our previous Dessert with Breakfast? post – eating less than 1,000 Calories per day is not the way to do it.

No Baloney’s advice? Don’t be seduced by the promise of daily ice cream! The Military Diet is simply another rigid “diet plan” providing few calories and even fewer nutrients. The promise of losing 10 pounds per week is unreasonable and unrealistic. Eating nitrate-laden hot dogs may help you lose weight initially, but is not the path to long-term lasting weight loss and maintenance, particularly in the absence of physical activity and adequate produce!


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