The Military Diet

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on September 21, 2022
4 min read

If you want to lose weight quickly, you may think about the Military Diet (which has no real link to the branches of the military). Before you do, learn more about this diet.

No research has proven that it can help you lose weight. The diet may make you feel hungry, tired, and grumpy because it’s a low-calorie plan.

The plan claims that you may lose up to 10 pounds in a week if you follow it. It’s a very strict, low-calorie diet with some foods that seem healthy and others that don’t. There are set foods to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but that’s it. There are no snacks, and there’s no wiggle room about food choices based on your tastes.

The diet itself only lasts for 3 days. After that, switch to a normal, healthy diet for at least 4 days. If you’d like to lose more weight, you can repeat the program as often as you’d like, as long as you take 4-day breaks every time after you do it.

Never follow the diet longer than 3 days in a row.

Every morsel you’ll eat on this diet has been chosen for you ahead of time. You’ll need to follow the plan completely to get the best results.

It doesn’t include superfoods like salmon, almonds, or quinoa. Instead, you’ll find normal choices, like canned tuna, hard-boiled eggs, and cheddar cheese. Some meals have breads, but they aren’t the healthy whole grains you’d expect. At least one meal includes saltine crackers.

There’s a 3-day menu to follow, with a total of nine different meals. For example:

One breakfast menu requires you to eat:

  • 1/2 grapefruit
  • 1 slice toast
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 cup coffee or tea (no cream or sugar)

One dinner menu includes:

  • Two hot dogs without buns
  • 1 cup of broccoli
  • 1/2 cup of carrots
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream

You can drink water and black coffee or tea, but no soda, milk, juice, or alcohol. Stick to the menu as much as you can. You’re allowed to switch out some foods if you have food allergies or other dietary needs. But only make swaps that the diet approves. For example, you can have sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter or a tofu dog instead of a hot dog. But don’t switch the grapefruit to an orange or the vanilla ice cream to a scoop of mint chip or cookie dough.

There are no meetings to attend or packaged meals to buy. The food is easy to find in the grocery store, and there’s very little cooking or food prep needed. But you may feel very hungry on the diet, so you may need willpower to get through 3 days without cheating. You’ll only be eating about 1,500 calories daily, so you may feel more sluggish than usual. If you choose to exercise, it may make you even more tired.

The Military Diet doesn’t ask you to avoid carbs, dairy, or other food groups. You may not want to eat out when you’re on the program, though, because the food choices are very strict, and you probably won’t find them on a normal menu.

While it’s a good idea to exercise every day, don’t exert yourself by running or lifting heavy weights during the 3 days you’re on this low-calorie diet. Light exercise is best, like walking or gentle yoga.

With some tweaks, most adults can follow the diet:

Vegetarians and vegans: The plan lists easy swaps for the eggs, tuna, meat, and hot dogs: Have nuts, lentils, tofu, and soy/tofu dogs instead. Vegans can eat nut/tofu cheese instead of cheddar, plus soy ice cream and vegan cottage cheese.

Gluten-free diet: When the menu calls for toast or crackers, choose gluten-free options.

Low-salt diet: You can get low-salt versions of all of the processed foods on the menu. Swap saltines for rice cakes or low-salt melba toast.


There are no fees to pay or meetings to join. After you buy your food, you’re set.


There are no meetings or official online support groups. Many books and websites focus on the diet, and some offer recipes or give advice about what to eat during the 4 “off” days.