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Military Diet: Lose Up to Ten Pounds in Three Days

The Original Three-Day Diet Plan

Since I first published the Military Diet diet online in 2007, countless people around the world have used it successfully to lose weight. Although there are copycats, this is the original, which is important because even a small change to this diet can set you up for poor results.

How to Lose Weight in 3 Days

  • Follow the diet exactly! I cannot stress this enough. The foods on the menu work together to boost metabolism, provide energy, help with sugar swings, and jump-start the fat-burning process. The diet must be followed for three consecutive days.
  • Weigh yourself on the morning of the first day, but not again until the morning of the fourth day. Take your measurements too. If you gain muscle, you may not weigh less but you may lose inches. Weight can also fluctuate unpredictably (and make you discouraged). This is important so that you stay focused and positive.
  • In three days you should lose up to 10 pounds. Some people report losing more than that, others less. Every metabolism is different!
  • After three days, eat as you normally do, but don’t over-do it!
  • No snacking between meals! Eat all foods listed for a meal at mealtime. Don’t save anything for snacks. You’re trying to re-wire your metabolism!
  • You can repeat the diet, but take a break and eat normally for at least four days before beginning it again. You could lose up to 40 pounds in a month if you follow these guidelines precisely.

Is the Military Diet sustainable?

Nutrition experts caution that for many, this diet will not lead to long-term weight loss. “The highest likelihood of success comes with changing as little as possible to get your weight down, not overhauling everything,” says Dr. Charlie Seltzer, a physician in Philadelphia with a specialty in weight loss. “Over time, small, sustainable changes equals big sustainable, weight loss.”

Having said that, this three-day diet can work to jump-start a weight-loss plan.

Doctor Approval for Dieting

Before starting this or any diet, check with your doctor. Read on for facts and information, but whether this diet is right for you is up to you and your physician.

The Three-Day Military Diet Menu Plan

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Breakfast (297 calories)
Breakfast (182 calories)
Breakfast (369 calories)
1/2 grapefruit
1 egg (any style)
5 saltine crackers
1 slice toast with 2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 slice of toast
1 slice cheddar cheese
caffeinated coffee or tea
1/2 banana
1 small apple
Lunch (157 calories)
Lunch (297 calories)
Lunch (132 calories)
1/2 cup tuna
1 cup cottage cheese
1 hardboiled egg
1 slice toast
1 hardboiled egg
1 slice toast
caffeinated coffee or tea
5 saltine crackers
Dinner (767 calories)
Dinner (660 calories)
Dinner (342 calories)
3 ounces meat (your choice)
2 hot dogs (without buns)
1 cup tuna
1 cup green beans
1 cup broccoli
1/2 banana
1/2 banana
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
1 small apple
1/2 banana
1 cup vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup vanilla ice cream

Three-Day Military Diet Shopping List

Protein

  • Tuna, fresh or canned in water, 2 cans
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Beef or turkey hot dogs. Avoid mixed meat wieners with fillers.
  • Cottage cheese
  • Meat of any type, including (but not limited to) seafood, beef, pork, or poultry. If using canned or deli meat, look for low-sodium.
  • Peanut butter, crunchy or smooth

Carbohydrates

  • Any type of bread, but whole wheat is best.
  • Saltine or plain soda crackers

Fruit and Vegetables

  • Grapefruit
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Small apples

Drinks

  • Caffeinated coffee and/or tea

Other

  • Vanilla ice cream
You can add Splenda to sweeten your black coffee or tea, but don't use any milk.
You can add Splenda to sweeten your black coffee or tea, but don’t use any milk.

Allowed Beverages

  • Caffeinated coffee or black tea for the first two meals of day one only. No added sugar or milk.
  • Water only from then on. Here is what to aim for: Take half of your weight in pounds and drink at least that many ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, drink at least 80 ounces of water per day (more if you exercise vigorously).
  • Sugar-free hot chocolate made with water, not milk.

Stay Well Hydrated!

Take half of your weight (in pounds) and drink at least that many ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, drink at least 80 ounces of water per day.

It's day one! Get started right with a good breakfast of grapefruit, toast, peanut butter, and tea or coffee.
It’s day one! Get started right with a good breakfast of grapefruit, toast, peanut butter, and tea or coffee.

Breakfast Day One

Meal Calories: 297
1/2 grapefruit
1 slice toast
2 tablespoons peanut butter
coffee or tea (any brew, as long as it’s caffeinated)
Use either smooth or crunchy peanut butter.
Use either smooth or crunchy peanut butter.

Lunch Day One

Meal Calories: 157
1/2 cup tuna
1 slice toast
coffee or tea (black, with splenda if desired)
Wheat toast is best.
Wheat toast is best.

Dinner Day One

Meal Calories: 767
3 ounces meat (any type)
1 cup green beans (cook in broth for a delicious flavor)
1/2 banana
1 small apple
1 cup vanilla ice cream (today it’s a cup of ice cream but for the next two days it’s 1/2 cup)
water

Day One Calorie Intake: 1,221 calories.

Be sure to prepare your chicken without any added fat.
Be sure to prepare your chicken without any added fat.
Starting today, drink only water.
Starting today, drink only water.

Breakfast Day Two

Meal Calories: 182
1 egg (cooked in any manner)
1 slice toast
1/2 banana
water
Prepare your egg any way you like.
Prepare your egg any way you like.

Lunch Day Two

Meal Calories: 297
1 cup cottage cheese (or 2 ounces cheddar cheese)
1 hardboiled egg
5 saltine crackers
water
If you don't like cottage cheese, substitute with a slice (2 ounces) of cheddar cheese.
If you don’t like cottage cheese, substitute with a slice (2 ounces) of cheddar cheese.

Dinner Day Two

Meal Calories: 660
2 hot dogs (no buns)
1 cup broccoli
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 banana
1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream
water
Feel free to add mustard, relish, and the other additions listed below to your meals.
Feel free to add mustard, relish, and the other additions listed below to your meals.

Day Two Calorie Intake: 1,139 calories.

Beef or turkey hot dogs are best.
Beef or turkey hot dogs are best.
You're nearly done! Be sure to stay hydrated today. Remember: If you want to replace the cheddar cheese for breakfast, you can substitute a cup of cottage cheese or 2 ounces of ham.
You’re nearly done! Be sure to stay hydrated today. Remember: If you want to replace the cheddar cheese for breakfast, you can substitute a cup of cottage cheese or 2 ounces of ham.

Breakfast Day Three

Meal Calories: 369
5 saltine crackers
1 slice cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
1 small apple
water
If you prefer cottage cheese, substitute it for the cheddar cheese.
If you prefer cottage cheese, substitute it for the cheddar cheese.

Lunch Day Three

Meal Calories: 132
1 hardboiled egg
1 slice toast
water
A little salt and pepper perk up a hardboiled egg.
A little salt and pepper perk up a hardboiled egg.

Dinner Day Three

Meal Calories: 342
1 cup tuna
1/2 banana
1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
water

Day Three Calorie Intake: 843 calories.

Enjoy your last meal on the Military Diet!
Enjoy your last meal on the Military Diet!

Substitutions

Five ounces of a meal replacement shake or two ounces of low-fat yogurt with 1/2 teaspoon flax seed can be substituted for a slice of toast.
Five ounces of a meal replacement shake or two ounces of low-fat yogurt with 1/2 teaspoon flax seed can be substituted for a slice of toast.

The foods recommended for this diet work together to boost metabolism, so it is not recommended that you substitute any foods. The results are not guaranteed and the diet may not work if not followed precisely.

If you must find an alternative to a food on the diet for a health or medical reason, here are the best choices with the same nutritional value.

Three-Day Military Diet Substitutions List

Gluten-Free Substitutions

  • 1 ounce (1/8 cup) sunflower kernels. Note that sunflower kernels are naturally gluten-free but don’t choose the Planters brand as there are traces of gluten.
  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) low-fat yogurt with 1/2 teaspoon flax seeds.

Vegetarian Substitutions

  • Same amount of cottage cheese for tuna.
  • Same amount of tofu for tuna.
  • Almonds or peanuts.
  • Flax or pumpkin seeds.
  • Veggie hot dogs.
  • Any type of beans or lentils (4 ounces per frank).

Other Substitutions

  • 1/2 of a high protein bar for toast.
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened whole grain cereal for toast.
  • 5 ounces of meal replacement shake for toast.
  • Can substitute chicken for tuna.
  • Can substitute strawberry or vanilla flavored milk (but not chocolate) for ice cream.
  • Can substitute low-fat yogurt with fruit for ice cream.
  • Can substitute apple juice for ice cream.
  • Can substitute bratwurst for hot dogs.
  • Feel free to substitute soy or sunflower seed butter, or sunflower kernels, for the same measurement of peanut butter.

A Couple Ideas to Make the Most of a Few Ingredients

Cook the green beans with the meat or simmer in broth.
Cook the green beans with the meat or simmer in broth.
Warm the apple and/or banana and pour over the ice cream. Yum!
Warm the apple and/or banana and pour over the ice cream. Yum!

Additional Foods and Spices Allowed

  • Splenda
  • Small amounts of mustard
  • Small amounts of relish
  • Lemon pepper
  • Sugar-free gum and mints
  • Salt and pepper but no other seasoning
  • Broth

To swap out the grapefruit, mix 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in a glass of water. Drink the mixture at least 30 minutes before eating and have a different piece of fruit, preferably a citrus fruit, with your meal.

To swap out the grapefruit, mix 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in a glass of water. Drink the mixture at least 30 minutes before eating and have a different piece of fruit, preferably a citrus fruit, with your meal.
To swap out the grapefruit, mix 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in a glass of water. Drink the mixture at least 30 minutes before eating and have a different piece of fruit, preferably a citrus fruit, with your meal.

One kiwi, one cup of papaya, or two whole apricots can be substituted for 1/2 banana.

One kiwi, one cup of papaya, or two whole apricots can be substituted for 1/2 banana.
One kiwi, one cup of papaya, or two whole apricots can be substituted for 1/2 banana.

A good substitute for tuna is a same-sized portion of cottage cheese.

A good substitute for tuna is a same-sized portion of cottage cheese.
A good substitute for tuna is a same-sized portion of cottage cheese.

Substitute two slices of bacon, a cup of milk, one chicken wing, or 1/4 seeds or nuts for a whole cooked egg.

Substitute two slices of bacon, a cup of milk, one chicken wing, or 1/4 seeds or nuts for a whole cooked egg.
Substitute two slices of bacon, a cup of milk, one chicken wing, or 1/4 seeds or nuts for a whole cooked egg.

To swap out green beans, have three cups of fresh (or one cup cooked and drained) spinach, a salad of lettuce and a few cherry tomatoes, or the same measurement of just tomatoes.

To swap out green beans, have three cups of fresh (or one cup cooked and drained) spinach, a salad of lettuce and a few cherry tomatoes, or the same measurement of just tomatoes.
To swap out green beans, have three cups of fresh (or one cup cooked and drained) spinach, a salad of lettuce and a few cherry tomatoes, or the same measurement of just tomatoes.

Substitute two ounces cheddar cheese for one cup of cottage cheese. If you don’t want cheddar cheese, you can have two eggs or two ounces of ham.

Substitute two ounces cheddar cheese for one cup of cottage cheese. If you don't want cheddar cheese, you can have two eggs or two ounces of ham.
Substitute two ounces cheddar cheese for one cup of cottage cheese. If you don’t want cheddar cheese, you can have two eggs or two ounces of ham.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Repeat the Military Diet to Lose More Weight?

If you want to repeat the Military Diet, eat normally for at least four days before doing the three-day diet again. You could lose up to 40 pounds in a month if you follow these guidelines precisely.

How Do I Make the Most of the Four Days Off?

Eat balanced, healthy meals on the days off. You’ll get faster, better results if you don’t go crazy and load up the calories during this period. In fact, your weight-loss will be more sustainable if you use the days off to develop healthy, long-term eating habits. For example:

  • Keep your protein sources light (salmon and chicken breast are the best meat choices).
  • Eat low-sugar and high-fiber fruits and vegetables at every meal.
  • Make sure your carbohydrate choices are whole-grain.
  • Stay hydrated!
  • Avoid added sugars.

Is the 3-Day Diet an Intermittent Fasting Diet?

No, because there are no periods of fasting. It could be considered a very low-calorie diet though because the daily calorie intake is below the recommended 1,500 daily calories recommended for weight loss.

Isn’t Most of the Weight-Loss Water Weight? What About Losing Fat?

Especially if you are very overweight, your initial weight-loss will be water. If you repeat the diet, however, and begin to generally improve your eating habits (even on your days off) you will begin to burn fat because you will be consuming fewer calories than you burn for energy.

Is This Diet Recommended by the American Heart Association?

No, it isn’t. However, several readers mention (in the comments below) that heart doctors have recommended using a diet similar to this one to help them lose weight quickly before surgery. To me, that just reinforces the effectiveness of the concept.

Some great weight-loss exercises include jogging, walking briskly, using an elliptical machine, swimming, jumping rope, and using a treadmill.
Some great weight-loss exercises include jogging, walking briskly, using an elliptical machine, swimming, jumping rope, and using a treadmill.

The 3-Day Diet With Exercise

Many readers ask whether they should exercise on this diet. The answer is yes! Remember, this diet is used by the military and you don’t find those people sitting on their rumps!

The type and duration of exercise you choose depends on your current activity level and how lean you are.

If you are severely overweight, you might choose a brisk walk around the block. That’s great—just keep moving! You may only be able to walk around the block this week, but next week you can try two!

If you are already active and have more muscle, go ahead and push yourself. You’ll gain even more muscle and the more muscle you gain, the more you can exercise! You’ll look leaner and more toned and will be much healthier in general.

Some great weight-loss exercises include:

  • jogging
  • walking briskly
  • using an elliptical machine
  • swimming
  • jumping rope
  • using a treadmill

Of course it’s always wise, and recommended, to discuss your exercise program with a doctor, especially if you have medical/health conditions.

Where I Got the Idea for the 3-Day Diet

How did I come up with all of this?

A military gentleman who attended our church some years back introduced me to this diet. He said that military recruits use this diet when they need to get in shape quickly. Since then I’ve done extensive research and heard from countless people who have tried this plan. Combined with my own personal trial and error, the diet that follows is carefully tested and includes advice to help you succeed. Feel confident and see the results for yourself!

Take half of your weight (in pounds) and drink at least that many ounces of water every day.
Take half of your weight (in pounds) and drink at least that many ounces of water every day.

I’m Afraid of Yo-Yo Dieting!

Whether you repeat the Military Diet after four days off or not, gaining the weight back is a concern. If you eat cheesecake and candy bars instead of fruit, you may indeed gain it back!

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Keep up your good eating habits and stay active and you will keep the weight off.

For help staying focused, I suggest this free service: My Fitness Pal. This online tool can be used with a computer or mobile device to help you keep track of what you eat. It’s easy and will help you stay on track. You can keep track of exercise, too.

How to Keep the Weight Off

  • Continue to drink your water as before. Here’s what to aim for: Take half of your weight (in pounds) and drink at least that many ounces of water. For example if you weigh 160 pounds, drink at least 80 ounces of water per day (more if you exercise vigorously).
  • Take dietary supplements including a good multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. Some other good choices are Omega 3, herbal system cleansers, and food enzymes. (DO NOT take supplements during the three days of the diet unless recommended by a healthcare provider).
  • Keep up the exercise!
  • Continue eating nutrition-packed food, although in more variety.
  • If you plan to continue the Military Diet, use your four days off to refocus and prepare for the three days back on by shopping, cooking ahead of time, and ridding the house of tempting foods.

Get Support

Whether it’s a family member, a weight-loss support group, the Three Day, Military Diet Facebook page, or the comments section below, reach out if you have questions or need motivation. Also, return the favor to others. You may be the one that gives someone the exact words they need to succeed!

Military Diet Success Stories

These are people just like you who found success using the Military Diet. I’m sure that the stories featured here will inspire and motivate you to achieve your own goals.

Becca: Salem, Oregon

Becca lost 87.2 pounds through diet and exercise.
Becca lost 87.2 pounds through diet and exercise.

“I’m sure that the Military Diet has saved my life! Let’s be honest: Weighing 332.2 lbs at age 32 isn’t much of a life. I was an active person, but still it took a lot of oomph to get me moving and feeling good!

Since I have found and started this meal plan, it has been an amazing adventure! I have dropped weight, increased my activity level, and I feel more confident with myself in everything I do. In March, 2012, while I was still at my highest weight, I completed my first 5K. Then, by walking, doing cardio hip hop, and watching what I ate, I managed to lose 20 pounds. However, when the scale stopped going down I thought I was stuck.

That July, I started this amazing, three-day diet. I told myself that it’s only three days, I’ll give it a shot. In the first week, I was down 10 lbs. The weight just kept melting away. I am now down almost 70 lbs. (67.2lbs). I’ve done this in two months with a few weeks off for vacation and getting back into our school routine. That’s a total of 87.2 lbs since March! I just finished my fifth 5K and have plans of working toward a half marathon! I would have never imagined doing this had I not found this amazing meal plan.”

Way to go, Becca! We’re proud of you. We’ll keep watching for your updates of progress. You’re such an inspiration to us all!

Perla: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Perla lost 80 pounds through diet and regular workouts.
Perla lost 80 pounds through diet and regular workouts.

“I’m a military wife and a mother of three children. Being a military wife is hard, so I found myself turning to food every time I felt sad, worried, or depressed. Because of this, I ballooned to 278 pounds. I was shocked that I had let myself get that unhealthy!

Thankfully, the Military Diet gave me the boost that I needed. In February, 2012, I began following this plan religiously and also combined workouts four times a week. Now, I have managed to lose a total of 80 pounds!

So I say, ‘Everything is possible, never give up!'”

Congratulations, Perla! Your experience is an inspiration!

Renee: Grain Valley, Missouri

“Before the birth of my second child, my max weight was 241 pounds. I had gained double the weight with my second pregnancy, but had just accepted the weight gain as being healthy for myself and my baby girl. I was thinking that I would be able to lose it with no problem. Then, at my six week postpartum checkup, I was only down to 216 pounds. I thought to myself, “OK, now that it’s been six weeks since my baby was born, I can get back on my exercise routine and lose this weight. No more of those, ‘You just had a baby’ excuses.” Well, I got lazy, and my eating habits didn’t change as I thought they would. I would catch myself eating double portions and getting second helpings to the cake, cookies, and all the other “good” stuff.

I was going through some photos on our Ipad one day and I thought to myself, “Oh my . . . who is that lady sitting on our couch?” Looking closer, I realized it was ME! It was heartbreaking that I didn’t even recognize myself. My three year old son had candidly taken a picture of me that evening. I’m so glad he did because that was the turning point for me. I had to do something. Only I can change this, right?

One day, as I was browsing on Pinterest, I noticed a link to this article. I was thinking, “WOW! Is this for real? It’s probably just another diet that won’t work for me.” After reading into it further, I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad that I did and that I stayed committed. I never gave up no matter how hungry I was. It changed my life in every way! Now, I don’t avoid mirrors anymore. I am getting rid of clothes that are too big, rather than too small. I feel better mentally, physically, and emotionally. I have confidence now that I’ve never carried with me before! I’m healthier, and just feel better all the way around; more than I have in my entire life! Another thing that makes this experience even better for me is that I just received my lab results from my physician yesterday, and they are better than they have ever been!

I just completed my 15th week and had my weigh-in this morning. I am proud to say that I’ve reached my weight loss goal of 45 pounds! I am so proud of myself for staying committed to this diet plan and to my exercise routine.

I once read a quote on this diet’s Facebook page that has stuck with me ever since: “Life isn’t a remote. So get up and change it yourself.” That’s exactly what I did and I will never regret it.

So now I say to you, ‘Stay committed and NEVER give up! This diet does work and will work for you!'”

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