The 3-day diet – weight loss miracle or major fad?

 - The 3-day diet – weight loss miracle or major fad?
What do we do when we see a diet that claims you can lose 10lbs in 3 days? We (raise our eyebrows), look into it of course.

The 3-day diet is one of the few diets that has stood the test of time and is still around now. However, just because something has been around the block a bit, it doesn’t negate that it’s any good.

Also known as The Military Diet, the 3-day diet is unsurprisingly pretty hardcore. It states that you must follow an incredibly strict plan of under 1000 calories for 3 consecutive days at a time, with a 4-5 day break.

Now you could say this sounds familiar. Another more recent diet that has exploded onto our health radar is the 5:2 diet, which advocates intermittent fasting for 2 days with 5 day breaks.

So are the health benefits the same? Or is the 3-day diet just another fad? We looked into what this diet promises and asked the experts for their advice.

How it works:
By restricting your daily calorie count to under 1000 calories for 3 days straight, this diet claims that you kick-start your metabolism, burn fat and lose weight fast.

The thing to remember is that unlike the 5:2 diet, the 3-day diet has to be completed in 3 consecutive days. That means restricting your calorie count for quite a considerable time, unlike the 5:2 diet which says you can space out your ‘fasting’ days.

For these 3 days you follow a strict meal plan, which the diet advises you do not stray from at all to get optimum results. 

Unusually there is no diet book, no group, or a website on this diet to explain exactly how following this plan actually works and boosts that metabolism. So let's find out 

The 3-day diet meal plan:
One thing you have to know about the 3-day diet is that it won’t ‘work’ if you don’t stick to it exactly.

So that means following it to the letter, portion size is essential and the diet also recommends eating the food outlined, even if you do not feel hungry.

Day 1
-Black coffee or tea, with 1-2 packets artificial sweetener
-1/2 grapefruit or juice
-1 piece toast with 1 tbsp peanut butter

-5 oz tuna
-1 piece toast
-Black coffee or tea, with 1-2 packets artificial sweetener

-3 oz any lean meat or chicken
-5 oz green beans
-4 oz carrots
-1 apple
-4 oz vanilla ice cream

Day 2
-Black coffee or tea, with 1-2 packets artificial sweetener
-1 egg
-1/2 banana
-1 piece toast

-8 oz cottage cheese or 5oz tuna
-8 cream crackers

-2 beef sausages
-3 oz broccoli or cabbage
-2 oz carrots
-1/2 banana
-2 oz vanilla ice cream

Day 3
-Black coffee or tea, with 1-2 packets artificial sweetener
-5 cream crackers
-1 oz cheddar cheese
-1 apple

-Black coffee or tea, with 1-2 packets artificial sweetener
-1 boiled egg
-1 piece toast

-5 oz tuna
-4 oz carrots
-5 oz cauliflower
-6 oz melon
-2 oz vanilla ice cream

On top of your eating plan, dieters are also allowed 4 cups of water or non-caloric drinks daily.

What the experts say:
The idea of the 3-day diet in principal isn’t a bad idea, as we know from the 5:2 there are advantages to intermittent fasting but with the 3-day diet, there are a few major problems.

If you haven’t spotted them already from that meal plan (ice cream!?) then we’d be slightly worried, and so would the experts.

Unsurprisingly, most nutritionists or doctors do not advocate this diet as a healthy weight loss plan. In fact we spoke to Lorna Driver-Davies, Nutritionist for Nutri-Center, who gave us her opinion on the 3-day diet.

“There are a few things about this diet which seem rather odd. The first is that artificial sweeteners are recommended, the second is that the plan recommends ice cream every day,” she says.

Artificial sweeteners are known to be a bit of a question mark, and so including them on a weight loss plan does seem slightly alarming. Ice cream, on a fast? The mind boggles.

Lorna says: “The presence of tuna is also strange as oily fish is recommended for any weight loss plan, like salmon or trout, and tuna does not contain these essential oils."

So what about that all important weight loss then? Well Lorna agrees that it’s highly unlikely that a) you’d lose that much weight, b) it would be anything long term.

“The claim that you lose 10lbs in 3 days is very suspicious. I would imagine that this would be almost completely water weight which you would put straight back on, if not more, when you stop,” she says.

The restrictiveness and the intensity of the diet also rings alarm bells for Lorna who says that she would predict that fasting for 3 days straight would have bad side effects like headaches and dizziness but also could make you binge more on your 4-5 normal days. 

So would she recommend the 3-day diet?

“No I wouldn't. When the 3-day diet was originally around it would have made more sense. But nowadays the plan is incredibly old-fashioned, especially when you have more modern alternatives that work by intermittent fasting with scientifically proven results, like the 5.2 diet,” she concludes.

More Information: 
Find the right diet for you, including details of the 5:2 diet, from our huge selection of diet plans in our comprehensive Diet A-Z. 

Other diets to try...

Lemon diet Gluten free diet Baby food diet
Blood type diet Bikini diet Dukan diet 


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