All you need to know about the diet that came BEFORE the 5:2 phenomenon...
10 pounds in three days? Sounds good, or too good to be true?
We’re all familiar with the 5:2 diet, which exploded last year and put intermittent fasting on the health map. But what about the one that came before?
The 3-day diet’s been around for years, but we want to know if it’s any good (and most importantly safe). Here’s what we’ve learnt…
What is it?
Also known as The Military Diet, the 3-day diet is unsurprisingly pretty hardcore. It’s a three-days on, four-days off restricted diet where less than 1000 calories daily are consumed during diet days, but you are free to eat normally for the remainder of the week. A rapid weight loss of up to 10 pounds in three days is promised.
Does it work?
Restricting your daily calorie intake so severely for three days in a row will kick-start your metabolism, burn fat and help you lose weight fast. But it also requires extreme will power. Unlike the 5:2 diet, which advocates intermittent fasting for two days with five-day breaks, your restricted calorie days must be consecutive. It also won’t ‘work’ if you don’t stick to the diet exactly, which means following your meal plans to a ‘T’ and being seriously strict with portion size. Not for the faint-hearted.
Is it safe?
Even its advocates admit you are likely to lack energy whilst on the 3-day diet, and anyone with blood sugar imbalances will find it extremely difficult to cope. While your body is not in starvation mode long enough for the fasting to adversely affect your metabolic rate, eating so little during your ‘on’ days could lead to side effects like headaches and dizziness. You are also more likely to binge more on your four normal days. You have been warned…
Is it an effective route to weight-loss?
Expert nutritionist Saira Salmon is not convinced. ‘No, not for long term sustainable weight loss‘, she tells Marie Claire. ‘Many people fail on this diet as they complain of hunger and lack of energy. Any good weight loss plan shouldn’t be a ‘quick fix’, it should work with the individual to get the whole body back into balance and properly nourished, as well as changing long-term patterns and habits around how we think, shop, cook and eat food.
‘Unless you stick to it for the rest of your life, the minute you go back to normal eating habits you will end up back where you started.’
So should we rule it out completely? ‘If you are serious about achieving long term weight loss, pick a programme that teaches you how to eat healthily’, Saira advises. ‘You shouldn’t feel hungry, and it shouldn’t be about denial.’
If you’re still keen to give it a go, Saira recommends following the below meal plan, along with plenty of regular exercise.
3-Day Diet Basic Meal Plan
Breakfast: 2 eggs (scrambled, poached or boiled) with one rasher of bacon or smoked salmon and a full-fat live bio yoghurt with a handful of mixed berries.
Lunch: Chicken with avocado and carrot salad or Nori Wraps.
Dinner: Small grass-fed steak, French beans, broccoli, carrots and peas or Thai fish cakes with a crunchy Thai salad.
Dessert: Raw chocolate mousse (made with avocados) or baked apples or peaches with crème fraiche.
Snacks: Raw carrot and celery batons, a handful of nuts and seeds or a small punnet of blueberries.
Drinks: 2 -3 litres clean, filtered water daily (not tap water). Can include herbals teas, roibosch, green tea. One cup of coffee or tea daily, if you must.
Saira Salmon, DipNN, MFNTP, is a nutritionist at NewGen Superfoods. Check out her website here.