Is there really a Military Diet? When did this happen? I have been a veteran for over twenty years and have never heard of this. Truthfully, my friends and I survived Bootcamp by thinking of breakfast during the two-mile run. We talked about french toast and bacon while hastily gulping in air. Then later, at breakfast, we stuffed ourselves in the chow hall because “we deserved it.” Did we lose weight? Nope. But we did build muscle and definition over our entire bodies.
I remember having a few friends who could not meet the weight limit, and they had to undergo a “tape test.” Men were measured at the neck and waist, while women were measured at the neck, waist, and hips. The measurements were used to calculate body fat and compared to set standards. If you didn’t meet the standards, you were told to lose weight and scheduled for a reweigh. Luckily for me, I never had to do the tape test. But if I had, I would’ve blamed it on the bacon.
Back then, I was in the best shape of my life. In fact, when my family came to graduation, they took pictures of my well-toned arms and legs while I did bodybuilder poses. Those arms and legs are long gone. But let’s get back to the military diet.
What is it?
The Military Diet is a three-day diet plan to help you lose ten pounds per week. You can do the diet for three days and then take four days off each week until you reach your weight loss goal. Is it effective? Yes, it is, but the better question is, is it safe? The answer is that no diet is safe unless it is sanctioned and monitored by your physician.
What can you eat?
Plan to eat no more than 1500 calories a day. The diet has a strict schedule of foods to eat on days one, two, and three. The suggested foods include half a grapefruit, toast, tuna, coffee, eggs, apples, cheese, and vanilla ice cream. Yes, ice cream. You can drink black coffee, tea and all the water you want. But you cannot have milk, soda, or any alcohol. You can make substitutions for any food allergies or sensitivities or if you are vegan.
However, the diet lists exactly what food substitutes are allowed and how much. The plan also has recommendations for condiments, seasonings, and the exact portion sizes. There is even a plan for the four days when you’re off the diet. These guidelines will eliminate any extra variable that might affect your weight loss goal.
What can you do?
First of all, if you are only eating 1500 calories a day, you may not feel energetic, and feeling sluggish and tired is to be expected. As such, strenuous exercise like weightlifting is discouraged. Instead, low-impact activities like yoga, walking, and tai chi are encouraged. Your sense of humor might be affected as well. For me, the idea of no milk or alcohol will lead to hanger way before day three.
I suggest avoiding people or places requiring lots of patience or energy. This might not be the time to babysit the grandkids for the weekend or volunteer for Vacation Bible School. Instead, plan to take it easy for those three days. Additionally, know that your diet plan does not allow for restaurant dining. A cup of tuna, half a banana, and a cup of vanilla ice cream are not entrée options on any menu. So, plan to eat at home.
What are the benefits?
Aside from achieving your weight loss goal, the Military Diet has other hidden benefits. First, what a great way to jumpstart your new healthy eating goal! Once you meet with your doctor and get their approval, the diet is an easy, simple way to change your eating habits. The food items are inexpensive and readily available at any grocery store, and even the food substitutes are easy to find. The shopping list is so minimal that your grocery bill will be slashed in half!
Plus, this is an easy way to introduce fruits and vegetables into your diet. The protein choices are healthy and varied; you get to select what you have for the required three ounces of meat. The meal plan is easy to prep for the week with easy-to-transport lunch options, and you will have more free time because of the little time it takes to prepare the food. The only foods that might take some time to prepare are egg, meat, and vegetable options. Feel free to use that extra time to develop healthy habits like walking, gardening, or reading a book. These activities will help you overcome any snacking that has historically derailed your health goals.
What are my final thoughts about the military diet? Well, to be honest, it’s way better than the diuretics and laxatives my friends took to lose weight before being reweighed. The Military Diet, if approved by your physician, can help you safely lose weight. The key is to be upfront and honest with your doctor about your weight loss goals. They can keep or tweak the diet to fit your personal health status and can give you additional guidance to help you attain success.
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