What Is The New Military Diet, And Why Is It Going Viral? | Men's Health Magazine Australia

What Is The Military Diet, And Why Is It Going Viral?

If you’ve been internetting in the last week, you’ve probably seen the latest diet trend on the rise: The Military Diet.

The new fad-diet has been gaining a lot of media attention, based on its claim that it can help you lose up to 4 kilos in only 3 days of strict dieting, without strenuous exercise. For those looking to cut weight, it sounds like a dream, however the diet has been raising eyebrows in the health and medical communities based on safety issues surrounding losing such high amounts in short periods of time.

“This diet aims to help kick start your metabolism, which in turn can lead to weigh loss,” say Maxine Doyle and Fiona Willox, both qualified nutritionists from Body Catalyst and experts in healthy weight loss. “There are more stainable ways to achieve this without having such extreme contrasts. As with all fad diets, although they can show results quickly, they aren’t easily sustainable long term and don’t assist in the healthy approach to eating and healthy lifestyle.”

The new eating regime is essentially a calorie restriction diet, where the dieter follows a 1,100 – 1,400 calorie meal plan for 3 days of the week, returning to normal (although reduced) caloric intake for the remaining 4 days of the week.

While there are no scientific studies to back the effectiveness of the Military Diet, the theory behind its success makes sense. Reduced calorie intake equals weight loss. Particularly when the recommended calorie intake for an adult man is 2,500 calories, based on normal energy demands. And although this recommended figure is dependent on activity levels, metabolism, age, weight, and a whole host of other variables, it’s agreed universally that 1100 calories is an extremely low intake. And the harmful effects of crash dieting have been well documented.

Scientists from Oxford University in the UK conducted a study regarding the harmful effects of crash dieting, by analysing the effects on 21 obese volunteers with an average BMI of 37. The study placed the volunteers on a calorie-restricted diet, designed to mimic common popular diets being marketed to mass populations. Each participant was reduced to 600-800 calories per day (obviously even more extreme than the new Military Diet).

“Crash diets, also called meal replacement programmes, have become increasingly fashionable in the past few years,” said lead author Dr Jennifer Rayne.

Through MRI investigation, the scientists measured organ fat surrounding the abs, liver, and the heart at the one week and eight week marks. 

Unsurprisingly, at the one week mark, total body fat had dropped among the participants by an average of 6 per cent, with liver fat down a whopping 42 per cent. However alarm bells were raised when analysing the fat content in the heart, with results showing an average rise in fat surrounding the heart by 44 per cent, after only one week.

“The sudden drop in calories causes fat to be released from different parts of the body into the blood and be taken up by the heart muscle,” suggested Rayne.

According to the official Military Diet website, a typical day of dieting looks like this:

Breakfast

1/2 Grapefruit
1 Slice of Toast
2 Tablespoons of Peanut Butter
1 cup Coffee or Tea (with caffeine)

Lunch

1/2 Cup of Tuna
1 Slice of Toast
1 cup Coffee or Tea (with caffeine)

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

“The foods chosen in the diet for the ‘on days’ aren’t that nutritionally sound, and are quite high in sugar,” say Doyle and Willox. “Also, the diet doesn’t stipulate what types of foods, such as ‘toast’ could be anything from a high GI, refined carbohydrate white bread, or a low GI, dark seeded complex carbohydrate loaf, therefore giving differing results.”

And while the diet has faced opposition from those in the field, some principles behind it’s ideation have been validated (to an extent), which less extreme aspects deemed appropriate for healthy eating. “Everyone can benefit from eating less processed and refined foods, macronutrient intake should be balanced, and should have a good range of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, good fats and lots of plant based foods.”

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