The 'Military Diet' is the latest weight-loss trend that is seriously bad for your health
The internet is full of rabbit holes that can keep you occupied for hours, but also mislead you with a lot of false information. Health and fitness related content is particularly notorious for doing this. One article will claim something will give you killer abs, and then another will claim the same thing will kill you.
If you’ve been Internet-ing in the last week, you’ve probably seen the latest diet trend on the rise: The Military Diet. Usually consisting of small portions of meat, tuna, fruit and toast.
The new fad-diet has been gaining a lot of media attention, based on its claim that it can help you lose up to four kilos in only three 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.
Maxine Doyle and Fiona Willox, both qualified nutritionists from Body Catalyst and experts in healthy weight loss say, "This diet aims to help kick-start your metabolism, which in turn can lead to weight loss."
"There are more sustainable 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."
You'd think with history repeating itself so often people would finally learn. Fad diets don't work, simple as that. The odd person may get away with amazing results but it's most likely coincidence and good genes that got them there.
The new eating regime is essentially a calorie restriction diet, where the dieter follows a 1,100 – 1,400 calorie meal plan for three days of the week, returning to normal (although reduced) caloric intake for the remaining four 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.
This recommended figure, however, is dependent on activity levels, metabolism, age, weight, and a whole host of other variables. On the whole, 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 (even more extreme than the new Military Diet). 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 six 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 Dr Jennifer Rayne of the study. This is obviously not good. In the long run, settle for healthy food you enjoy, move a little more and you'll be okay.