Diet plan for fast weight loss should be based on your lifestyle, fitness needs and financial capabilities. By the way, do you know that sometimes changing only a single word in phrase can change its meaning entirely? Diet alone means medical treatment of someone who is slightly unwell. And when you want to lose weight, you want to be healthy.
Here are some of the most common diets that work to get you into a calorie deficit quickly…
1. High protein diet plan
High protein diets work fast – and more easily than others. Studies from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that a higher intake of protein increases the level of fullness you feel. This is because protein works to increase the hormones GLP-1, peptide YY and cholecystokinin and decrease the ghrelin hormone, which causes hunger. It also works to increase your metabolic rate while sleeping.
Foods that are high in protein are also easily-accessible, with plenty of high protein breakfast ideas out there. This diet doesn’t require a special plan either, other than the standard calorie deficit if you’re looking for optimum weight loss. Foods with a particularly high protein count include:
- Eggs (6g of protein per egg)
- Nuts, especially almonds (6g of protein per 28g)
- Chicken (53g of protein per chicken breast)
- Oats (11g of protein per 128g)
- Lean beef (25g of protein per 85g)
- Tuna (27g of protein per 142g)
- Lentils (18g of protein per 198g)
- Greek yogurt (17g of protein per 170g)
There are many diets that revolve around this idea with The Dukan Diet being one of the most popular high-protein plans out there.
2. Detox diet plan
‘Detoxing’ is a buzz word in the diet and wellness industry. While many people immediately associate detoxing with green juices, kale smoothies and a lack of ‘real’ food, it doesn’t have to be that way. The body naturally takes itself through a detox with processes in the liver and kidneys, but the addition of more macronutrients, vitamins and minerals in your diet will help the journey along. More fruits and vegetables have also been linked to better skin, an improvement in hair growth and more energy day-to-day – as well as weight loss.
Some of the best foods to eat on a detox include those that include high amounts of protein, B vitamins, vitamin E and C, magnesium, selenium and zinc. These include affordable, accessible and versatile foods such as potatoes, wholemeal toast, yogurt, eggs, green and fibrous vegetables, lentils and chickpeas.
As all these foods are also low in calories, you’re more likely to be able to get into your calorie deficit as well and stay full in the meantime. As the foods are lower in calories, you can have more of them without exceeding your target for the day.
3. The 5:2 diet
Just one of the ways to get into intermittent fasting, the 5:2 diet plan is one of the most popular diets that work fast out there. It involves fasting, which is eating a restricted number of calories for two days of the week and your maintenance calorie level for the other five. While some people have said that your calorie target on fasting days should be around the 600 mark, founder of the diet Dr Michael Mosely has also said that 800 calories on fast days is a good number to aim for to achieve results.
This comes largely from research on similar types of short-term, low-calorie diets of around 450 to 800 calories per day. One study from 2017 found that both rapid weight loss and long-term weight loss plans “caused reduction in waist circumference, hip circumference, total body water, body fat mass, lean body mass, and resting metabolic rate (RMR)”. They did find, however, that those who lost weight slowly over time retained more muscle mass than those who did it quicker.
Intermittent fasting may be difficult when you get going and the 5:2 diet should only be attempted for a limited amount of time before going into your maintenance phase. But, it’s a successful way to drop pounds quickly.
4. The 16:8 diet plan
A similar plan to the 5:2 but with a different time scale is the 16:8 diet plan, which uses similar theories of calorie restriction to create a diet that works to help weight loss quickly.
The 16:8 diet plan stems from the 8 Hour Diet book by author David Zinczenko and editor-in-chief of Men’s Health, Peter Moore. They suggest that a longer fasting time between eating gives the body the time it needs to process the food and burn away any extra fat. Also called the 8 Hour Diet, this type of intermittent fasting breaks the day up into two parts – a 16 hour period and an 8 hour period. For the larger portion of the day, you eat and drink nothing but water, coffee and other unsweetened drinks. Then for eight hours, you eat all your meals and snacks.
While the 16 hour period may seem like ages, this is stretched over your regular sleeping time so you’re only fasting for about eight hours in actuality.
A 2014 review into 16:8 fasting shows that it’s a good alternative to traditional methods of getting into a calorie deficit. It also helps to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and aids weight loss in people who are overweight or obese.
Another study from 2018 found that this 8-hour eating window could also help to reduce blood pressure in adults who are obese.
5. Palaeolithic diet plan
The Paleo diet plan is all about going back to the basics and has long been cited as one of the diets that work fast. This plan involves eating mainly whole foods, vegetables, fruit, lean meats, nuts and seeds, similar to how hunter-gatherers would have eaten all those millennia ago. Much like the detox, the Paleo diet also restricts particular foods, including processed items, grains, sugar, and dairy in some circumstances.
One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a Palaeolithic diet “resulted in greater short-term improvements in metabolic syndrome components than did guideline-based control diets.” This means that the diet was found to be better than standard portion and calorie-controlled diets at improving our metabolic rate, which helps us to burn calories outside of exercise.
Another set of research from 2016 on people with type two diabetes found that the diet improved fat mass and metabolic balance, improving insulin sensitivity, glycemic control, and leptin.
There’s also multiple studies that suggest the Paleo diet could be more effective for weight loss than similar ones, such as the Mediterranean diet or low-fat diets. One study from 2013 which looked at the difference between the Paleo diet and the diabetes diet suggests this might be because the Paleo diet is orientated around high-protein foods. These are more filling and help you feel satiated for longer.
6. Low-carb diets
It’s not recommended to cut carbohydrates completely from your diet. As Constantinos says, “you still need to be consuming the right foods to achieve your [calorie] deficit. Having a healthy balance of fats, proteins and carbohydrates is the essential backbone of your diet.”
However, there are plenty of low-carb diets that have hit the headlines over the years for being effective diets that work fast to help people lose weight. Our bodies break down carbohydrates and fat into sugar, which then gives us lots of energy. These diets are based around the idea that if we don’t eat carbohydrates then our bodies will used fat which has been stored for energy instead, allowing us to lose weight quickly.
The most popular ones include the Atkins diet and the ketogenic diet. However, these are two of the more drastic diets as they cut down carbohydrate levels to less than 10% of total calories. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, this should normally be a minimum of 45%. So while these diets may have their benefits, be sure to consult a health professional beforehand if you’re thinking of taking one on.
For a less restrictive version of the ketogenic diet, many prefer the Lazy Keto Diet which is significantly less restrictive and you don’t have to track all your macronutrients.
7. The Mediterranean diet
People living in Mediterranean countries, such as Italy and Greece, have traditionally followed a diet that’s mainly composed of:
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Red wine
- Fish and poultry
- Dairy and eggs
While all these components are high in macronutrients, including carbohydrates and protein, the main fat in the Mediterranean diet is extra virgin olive oil. Red meat also only plays a very minor role in the diet.
There are several studies which show that the rates of heart disease in these countries seems to be significantly lower than those living in the United States.
Further research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association(opens in new tab) in 2004 also shows, however, that the Mediterranean diet is an effective method of weight loss as well. In this particular study, almost 200 people with metabolic syndrome followed either a low fat or a Mediterranean diet for two and a half years. At the end of the study, 44% of patients who had followed the Mediterranean diet still had the condition – compared to a significantly higher 86% of the patients on the other diet.
The same group on the Mediterranean diet experienced an overall decrease in body weight as well, suggesting that over even just a short period of time, this is an effective weight loss method. This was by 4kg in the Mediterranean group and just 1.2kg in the low fat diet group.
In a similar study from 2008(opens in new tab) involved 322 people with obesity. Participants followed either a calorie-restricted low fat diet, a calorie-restricted Mediterranean diet or a unrestricted low carbohydrate diet. The group who followed the Mediterranean diet showed similar results to the earlier study with an average weight loss of 4.4kg over one year. This is compared to the low fat group who lost 2.9kg and the unrestricted, low carbohydrate group who lost 4.7kg over the same time period.
The Military Diet: All You Need to Know
The military diet is a fad diet that’s not actually associated with the military but rather commonly touted on social media to help you lose weight quickly — up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in a week.
It purportedly jump-starts your metabolism by encouraging 3 days of calorie restriction, which is achieved by following a set, low calorie menu, followed by a period of unrestricted feeding, all without taking any supplements or paying any fees or subscriptions.
While the diet may lead to rapid, short-term weight loss, it’s highly restrictive, and the results are unlikely to be sustainable in the long term. Plus, crash diets like this one may affect your relationship with food due to their restrictive nature.
This article explains everything you need to know about the military diet, including a meal plan, its risks, and whether it’s effective for weight loss.
What is the military diet?
The military diet, also called the 3-day diet, is a short-term, rapid weight loss diet that claims to help you lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in a week.
The diet plan involves a 3-day, calorie-restricted meal plan followed by 4 days off. Followers of the diet are told to repeat the weekly cycle for up to 1 month, or until they reach their goal weight.
Because it follows on-and-off calorie restriction, the military diet is a form of intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting diets are characterized by shifting between periods of reduced calorie intake and periods of unrestricted feeding.
Nevertheless, while you may supposedly eat anything you want during your days off, the diet prompts people to follow a less restricted but set meal plan during those days to continue losing weight.
The military diet is a calorie-restricted weight loss diet that claims to promote significant weight loss in just 1 week.
How does the military diet work?
The 3-day military diet is split into 2 phases over 7 days.
The diet provides a set meal plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the first 3 days, without snacks between meals.
During this phase, the total calorie intake comes out to roughly 1,100–1,400 calories per day, making it a low calorie diet — defined as a dietary pattern that provides 800–1,200 calories per day.
Importantly, this kind of calorie restriction falls well below the 2020–2025 United States Dietary Guidelines’ recommended calorie intake for adults, which starts with a minimum of 2,200–2,400 for men and 1,600–1,800 for women between the ages of 18–60.
To ensure your safety and adequate nutrient intake, you shouldn’t pursue the level of calorie restriction that the military diet requires without a medical professional’s recommendation or supervision.
For the remaining 4 days of the week, the military diet simply encourages people to follow a well-balanced diet.
Yet, as mentioned before, it does provide a less restrictive, 1,500-calorie meal plan for those who hope to continue losing weight for the rest of the week.
The first 3 days of the military diet have a set meal plan and involve extreme calorie restriction. The remaining 4 days involve fewer restrictions.
The military diet meal plan
Here’s a brief review of what a week on this diet looks like.
The 3-day meal plan
The 3-day meal plan on the military diet consists of a limited selection of foods — 16 total, to be precise — that is meant to be divided between breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Examples of breakfast foods include:
- toast or saltine crackers
- peanut butter
- grapefruit, apples, or bananas
- hard-boiled eggs or cheddar cheese
Examples of lunch options include:
- toast or saltine crackers
- canned tuna, hard-boiled eggs, or cottage cheese
Examples of dinner options include:
- any type of meat, hot dogs without a bun, or canned tuna
- green beans, carrots, or broccoli
- apples or bananas
- vanilla-flavored ice cream
As you can see, there isn’t much variety during the first 3 days of the diet.
Also, the recommended amounts of these 16 foods slowly decrease day by day. Your total calorie intake starts at about 1,400 calories on the first day and falls to roughly 1,100 calories on the last one.
Regarding the permitted drinks, the diet promotes water or herbal teas. However, the menu allows caffeinated coffee or tea twice per day — but advises you to avoid creamers and sweeteners.
Can you really lose 10 pounds in a week?
The military diet became popular because proponents claim that it can help you lose 10 pounds in just a week. However, everybody is different, so the diet won’t have the same effect on everyone.
Plus, most of the weight loss you experience will be due to the loss of water. That’s because severe calorie restrictions lead to a decline in the body’s glycogen stores — your body’s energy reserve.
When you eat sufficient calories, fluid accumulates easily because 3 grams of water are stored for every gram of stored glycogen. Consequently, when your glycogen stores are depleted, the related stored water is lost as well.
Thus, this shift in water balance is what leads to a weight reduction. You may just as easily regain any lost weight once you return to your usual eating pattern and your glycogen stores get replenished again.
If you intend to lose weight, remember that weight management consists of two stages: achieving weight loss and maintaining it.
Best practices advise aiming for a maximum weight loss rate of 1–2 pounds (0.5–1 kg) weekly to ensure fat loss rather than the loss of fluid or muscle mass .
Research describes a suitable diet as safe, healthy, nutritionally adequate, and sustainable in the long term. You can attain that by reducing your intake of added sugars and highly processed foods while increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products .
While you may lose 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in a week on the military diet, not everyone will. Plus, most of this would be water weight rather than fat, which you’ll regain when you start eating as you normally do.