I became aware of this diet a few years back when a guy who was desperately trying to lose weight, would latch on to just about anything that he could find where the creator of it promised results that of course, were not backed up by any sort of real science. This friend also refused to do any exercise and really wanted to keep carbs in his diet as well (big mistake and you cannot succeed this way.)
When he told me about the "military diet" I was thinking that it would be something like the actual military where they load you up with calorie-rich foods and exercise the hell out of you. Obviously this was not what my very lazy friend was going to do so I had a bit of a look into it.
First off, you have to grow a mustache and ONLY a mustache.... Ok, I'm joking but let's get into what this fad diet is and why it doesn't and can't work.
The way the "military diet" works is that you have a restricted diet for 3 days in a row and then you have 4 days off per week to do whatever you want. This should be your first warning sign that there is no way this can possibly work because the entire idea behind losing weight is that you make a lasting change to your calorie intakes and not just for a few days a week. It is meant to be a "shock to the system" that increases your metabolism and chooses certain types of food that will "drastically increase the rate at which you burn fat" (their words, not mine.) For anyone that knows just a little bit about the human body this is obviously a bunch of hogwash but desperate people that still want to eat cheeseburgers and pizza all the time are probably going to believe that 3 days of healthy eating per week will be all they need to do!
Unfortunately it simply isn't true and can potentially be dangerous - just like a lot of fad diets
Look at that picture above. That would be ok for a meal right? Seems pretty nice. Unfortunately that is an entire day's worth of food on the military diet and as someone who actually was in the military I can assure you, that is not what we eat there. I can see our commanding officer coming up to all of us with a half of a banana and telling us all to tuck in before we head out for our 2nd 8 mile run of the day with 50lbs of gear on our backs.
Also, there is ice cream in there. Really? Ice cream in a diet? Ice cream is like one of the worst things that you can eat and is obviously in there to appeal to the folks with a sweet tooth.
Basically, this diet is the same a ton of other diets out there that obviously is going to work to some degree because you are starving yourself. Any diet that you are starving yourself on is a bad one. Getting a calorie deficit is important of course, but when you starve yourself your body actually compensates by going into "starvation mode" in one our body's amazing built in defense mechanisms. Your body responds to reduced calorie intake by actually slowing down your metabolism and this is never a good thing unless you are trapped somewhere and actually ARE starving.
Now if you actually did do this diet, and stuck with it (you wont, no one does) it would almost certainly result in you losing weight but then again, so would any diet where you are consuming 1/3 the amount of calories that you actually need in a day.
Because you are going to be hungry all the time, there is very little chance that anyone is going to stick to this diet and even if you are a strict disciplinarian and have tremendous self-control and are able to maintain this diet long enough to lose a substantial amount of weight (which you will, because you are starving) what do you think is going to happen once you achieve your ideal weight? You don't actually know how to eat responsibly: You merely know how to slowly starve yourself to death whilst still remaining hydrated. Good job!
So if you ever return to a "normal" diet or even worse, the diet that got you fat in the first place, now you have the added benefit of an artificially altered metabolism that will take time to adjust to the shock to the system in the other direction.
Therefore, not only will you gain the weight back quickly, but there is a better-than-average chance that you are actually going to end up weighing more than you did before you started this diet.
These "yo-yo" diets are never a good idea and none of them result in any sort of lasting change. Just ask Oprah Winfrey
In the 80's and early 90's Oprah was harping on about this diet and that, all of which conveniently involved a particular product that she claims she wasn't paid to endorse (bullcrap!) and lo' and behold, she gained it all back! This is one of the richest people in the world too, so what chance do you possibly have in the same situation.
Fact of the matter is that the "military diet" has nothing to do with how the military works and is just another diet in a long line of starvation diets that might look like it is working in the short-term, but in the long run you are almost certainly doing more damage than good.
You need to take small, manageable steps to overall diet change, not crash diets that completely shake up your life. You won't stick with it and it will not work for a vast majority of people. I do not know why people fall for these time and time again when the answer is so simple to all weight loss: You need to slowly but surely change your habits in eating and exercise... and you WILL succeed. I'm living proof.