The 'Military Diet' Has Nothing to Do With the Military

It's not a military diet unless someone is shouting in your face before you eat. (U.S. Air Force/Johnny Saldivar)

If a veteran told you about a military diet that included ice cream, you’d probably think they were in the Air Force and used to take a PT test on a stationary bike.

While that may be true, it could also be someone who’s just ill-informed about what a “diet” is supposed to do.

But there really is a Military Diet. And while all of the items in it can be found at an Air Force dining facility, this isn’t a meal plan designed to form healthy eating habits over time. Instead, it’s designed to help users lose 10 pounds in three days.

Sound safe or healthy? Sure, there might be a benefit to losing a quick 10 before it’s time to tape your waist for the annual PT test, but that weight is coming back if you opt to try the “Military Diet.”

The Military Diet

Keep in mind: this is a crash diet and has never been proven to have any long-term efficacy. Doctors scoff at the idea of even trying this diet, as the focus is more on calorie-counting by any means necessary and less on actual nutrition.

This will test your willpower like anything short of BUD/S.

Day 1

Breakfast: 1/2 grapefruit, 1 slice of toast, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, and 1 cup caffeinated coffee or tea

Lunch: 1/2 cup of tuna, 1 slice of toast, 1 cup caffeinated coffee or tea

Dinner: 3 ounces of any type of meat 1 cup of green beans 1/2 banana 1 small apple 1 cup of vanilla ice cream

Day 2

Breakfast: 1 egg, 1 slice of toast, 1/2 banana,

Lunch: 1 cup of cottage cheese, 1 hard boiled egg, 5 saltine crackers

Dinner: 2 hot dogs (without a bun), 1 cup of broccoli, 1/2 cup of carrots, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream

Day 3

Breakfast: 5 saltine crackers, 1 slice of cheddar cheese, 1 small apple

Lunch: 1 hard boiled egg, 1 slice of toast

Dinner: 1 cup of tuna, 1/2 banana, 1 cup of vanilla ice cream

The closest you’ll get to the military on this diet is discipline, because no snacks are allowed.


It Has No Military Origin

Rumor has it that the diet started as a way for troops to get more fit in a hurry. That’s only a rumor. It’s one in a long line of low-carbohydrate diets designed to shed weight in a short period.

These series of diets actually originated with an obese English undertaker’s letter to the public on the dangers of “corpulence.” In the letter, he advocated giving up bread, butter, milk, sugar, beer and potatoes.

Sound familiar?

By the 1960s, the idea re-emerged as the Air Force diet, picked up by airmen and passed around the barracks like a tome of forbidden knowledge. The Air Force, however, never sanctioned the diet. No branch or military official has ever claimed the diet.

But the “Military Diet” name stuck.

There Are Other, Better Ways to Do It

There are probably hundreds of low-calorie, low-carb fad diets in America, as there have been for decades. Take your pick if that’s your fancy and you want your doctor to hate you.

Some of your friends may swear by the Cabbage Soup Diet, which involves eating nothing but cabbage soup for seven full days. Your friends from California might love the lemon detox diet, which involves an unhealthy dose of lemon juice and maple syrup. Or the best worst diet that people actually use: getting a tapeworm.

On the other hand, if you want to feel good about your crash diet, the Mayo Clinic gathered medical professionals to create a two-week diet that is designed to help lose weight, eat nutritious food all while creating healthy habits without eating like a Russian serf, with nothing but cabbage and water because the Tsar takes all the good stuff.

"The Tsar wants what's best for your gainz, Katya."

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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