Military Diet Substitutions: What to Eat

Supporters of this diet claim it was designed by US military nutritionists. However, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of this. It’s not officially connected to the US military or government.

vegetable salad on a white square plate topped with corned tuna

Do you want to lose weight fast? If so, you have many diet plans to pick from. They include the “military diet.” This is an extreme diet that involves cutting calories on a strict diet. You’ll still get three square meals every day like when you’re in the army, navy, air force, or marines. You can even use military diet substitutions if you don’t like the caffeine in tea/coffee or the sourness of grapefruit, for example. One of the best parts of this diet is it’s free since you won’t have to buy any special food, supplements, or book. This is a plus over other diet plans.

This diet plan is also known by other names like the army diet, navy diet, as well as “ice cream diet.” however, like other plans, the big question is: does it work? The diet claims that people can lose up to 10 pounds in one week. This is by following a cycle of eating a strict diet for 3 days than other low-calorie meals for 4 days. You continue this cycle until you reach your weight loss goals. As always there are people who claim this diet does what it says, and others who say there are question marks about whether or not it actually works. 

What’s the Military Diet?

Supporters of this diet claim it was designed by US military nutritionists. However, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of this. It’s not officially connected to the US military or government.

That said, the big question is whether or not the diet plan works. Here are the mechanics. The military diet includes two phases that you must complete within a 7-day period.

During the first 3 days, you’re required to eat low-calorie foods for all three meals during the day. If you’re a fan of junk food then this diet isn’t for you. There are no snack attacks!

The caloric intake during Phase 1 is 1100 to 1400 calories/day. This is quite low considering that adults usually consume 2,000 to 2,5000 calories/day.

Let’s move on to Phase 2. During the other 4 days of the week, you have to keep eating low-calorie meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The diet’s supporters say within the time you’ll reach your target body weight. You just have to repeat the weekly cycle until you reach your goal. 

One interesting part of the military diet is the total calories drop for days 1 to 3. Day 1 is 1400, day 2 is 1200, and day 3 is 1100. You’ll basically be halving average caloric intake by day 2 and 3.

Here are some of the foods you must eat when following this diet:


  1. Hard-boiled egg
  2. Toast/peanut butter
  3. Cheddar cheese (1 oz.)
  4. Saltine crackers (5)
  5. Apple
  6. Grapefruit (1/2)
  7. Banana (1/2)
  8. Coffee/tea


  1. Toast
  2. Tuna (1/2 cup)
  3. Boiled egg
  4. Cottage cheese
  5. Coffee/tea
  6. Saltine crackers (5) 


  1. Meat
  2. Hot dogs (2, no bun)
  3. Tuna (cup)
  4. Green beans
  5. Carrots/broccoli
  6. Apple
  7. Banana (1/2)
  8. Ice cream (1 cup)

The diet is generally healthy and balanced. You’ll get your protein, fruits/veggies, and even dairy. The tea/coffee will help speed up your metabolism and burn calories faster.

Military Diet Substitutions

When following this diet, you can use some substitutions.


Some people can’t eat grapefruit because of the high acidic content or don’t like the bitter taste. In both cases, you can mix baking powder (1/2 tablespoon) in water as a substitute. Make sure to use the regular stuff instead of high-sugar orange.

There’s also a caveat. You can’t swap out the grapefruit and swap in other citruses like oranges or tangerines. That’s because the grapefruit is low in calories AND sugar. This explains why citrus usually isn’t allowed in low-carb diets.


Other options include whole-grain cereals, protein bars, tortilla wraps, or even yogurt (1/4 cup).


If you don’t like the fishy taste of tuna you can pick other lean meats like skinless chicken or other fish. Just make sure you only eat a 200-calorie serving.

What if you’re vegan/vegetarian? In that case, you can pick other options like almonds, tofu, peanuts, or even cottage cheese. You’ll still get your protein.


Other options include kiwi, apricot, papaya, or any other similar-calorie fruit.


You can swap in other options like a chicken wing (1), milk, or seeds/nuts (1/4 cup).


You can swap out these drinks and swap in sugar-free hot chocolate. Maybe you don’t like the taste of coffee/tea or want to avoid the high caffeine content. 

When picking the chocolate drink try to pick dark chocolate since it’s healthier. You should also make the drink using water instead of milk.

Peanut Butter

Fun Fact: Peanuts are actually beans, not nuts. You can use other types of butter like almond, soy, sunflower, or pumpkin. There are different reasons why people don’t eat peanut butter. The main reason is peanut allergies.


If you’re vegetarian/vegan you can use beans, lentils, or tofu as in place of meat.

Benefits of the Military Diet

Here are some of the main benefits of this diet:

Faster Metabolism

When losing weight it’s not just about eating less. A faster metabolism will help turn your body into a fat-burning machine. The military diet achieves that through foods that are high in protein, fiber, and calcium.

This, in turn, will help you burn more calories during the day. When you do that you’ll burn more weight/fat. Fun Fact: 1 pound of fat equals 3,500 calories.

More Motivation

The hardest part of this diet is getting through the first three days. In a sense, it’s the “boot camp” of this diet. However, once you get through it the next four days will be a piece of cake.

Fewer Cravings

This is normal and especially if your diet was high-carb and high-sugar. However, the body is very good at adjusting. It might be tough to skip snacks in-between meals. You might experience some hunger pangs but you’ll be making calorie count during meals.

In addition, within the time it will get easier. That’s due to the diet being like an intermittent fasting (IF) style. Once you start detoxifying your body you’ll be eating less and the snack attacks will start to disappear.

Weight Loss

This is one of the main benefits of this diet. In fact, you can lose weight quickly and easily. The diet claims you can lose 10 pounds in a week and 30 pounds in one month. In theory, you could keep shedding pounds if you keep following the cycle if your goal is to drop 100 pounds.

One X-factor is how you eat during the last 4 days o the week. If you don’t maintain a low-calorie diet during that time you could offset any weight you lost during the first three days and then some. So, it’s important to follow the rules like military diet substitutions.

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