According to registered dietitian Andy Yurechko, an outpatient GI dietitian at Augusta University Medical Center in Georgia, the military diet is a low calorie, (only 800-1,200 calories are recommended) a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, and moderate fat regimen type of diet that is observed for three days out of the week. You are restricted to 1,500 calories for the remaining four days of the week, Yurechko explained, and no foods are off limits.
However, it’s safe to say that no one really knows the origin of the military diet, Yurechko said, as it is certainly not approved by the military. But if you are still a tad bit curious about taking this diet out for a spin, we spoke to some experts on the subject to make sure you have all the ins-and-outs. Here are some takeaways to keep in mind.
INSIDER reached out to site claiming to belong to the creators of the Military Diet for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Experts say the meals on the military diet aren’t very nutritious.
According to registered dietitian Libby Parker, MS, RD, the foods in the military diet plan are not the most healthy or nutrient-dense, as processed foods like hot dogs and ice cream are definitely encouraged for consumption on this crash diet plan. Parker explained to INSIDER that other items like canned tuna, eggs, cottage cheese, and saltine crackers can also be eaten on the diet.
But even though these carefully-planned meals are designed to prevent you from overindulging, Parker said they are definitely not the most nutritious, as they are missing essential vitamins and minerals humans need to survive. This could cause unwanted complications to your body if the diet is done long-term, she said.
You may have to be careful with beverages, too.
Parker says there are rules for beverages on the military diet, as she explained that you can only really consume beverages such as water, caffeinated coffee, and tea. Sweeteners, she said, are also restricted, as the only sweetener you can use on the military diet is stevia.
Experts say people should think twice before exercising on this diet.
“The issue with exercising during the diet is that you are cutting a large number of calories (your body’s source of energy) out of your diet, which may make you feel less energetic and a little more sluggish than your typical self,” said Mike Mullen, a performance expert and certified strength and conditioning coach from the New York Sports Science Lab.
Exercising on top of this could make you even less energetic and more sluggish, he said.
The good news is that the military diet is shorter than most diet plans.
Pros are pretty hard to find when it comes to the military diet, as Parker suggested that it’s too low in calories and doesn’t encourage the most nutritious of foods. However, she did explain that the only positive aspect of the diet is that it’s not as long as other diet plans which can last weeks and months in comparison.
The bad news is that you’re supposed to severely restrict your calorie intake, which experts say isn’t very healthy or sustainable.
Because the military diet is such a low-calorie diet plan with such specific foods, Parker explained that it is neither healthy nor sustainable as it does not teach habits for maintenance or good general health.
You could also experience nasty side effects.
Given that your calorie intake is severely restricted, Parker said that there’s also a high chance you will experience nasty side effects like irritability, dizziness, fatigue, and headaches.
You may lose weight, experts say, but it will be mostly water weight.
Parker also suggested that you may be able to shed some pounds on the military diet given that it’s a calorie-restricted plan. However, most of the weight loss will actually be water weight and not fat, as your body’s glycogen stores depleted, she said.
You are likely to gain weight again once the restriction period is over.
“After a period of restriction, most people are likely to overeat,” Parker explained to INSIDER. This adds more weight on at best, she said, or develops into a cycle of yo-yo dieting or eating disorders at worst.
There is no research proving this diet even works.
Parker says the biggest takeaway to keep in mind about the military diet is that there have been no evidence-based studies on the military diet. In fact, it makes several false claims not based in science, she suggested.
Try to remember that severely low-calorie diets are very dangerous.
“Diets that contain fewer calories than our basal metabolism requires are dangerous,” Parker suggested. Adults need at least 1,200 calories a day just to cover basic body needs, she said, making this diet something you probably shouldn’t try at all.
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