These days, when even instant cereal isn’t fast enough, we want to lose weight now, not later. And who could argue with losing the weight of a large laptop in just one long weekend? The 3-Day Diet promises to do just that.
If you’re struggling with the scale and tempted to give it a try, here are the details you need to know.
The diet, which is aimed at people who want to lose a lot of weight, claims that you will lose up to 10 pounds if you follow it for three days.
The meal plan consists of three breakfast dishes, one lunch and one “dinner” – if you consider a cup of tuna or two hot dogs plus sides of fruit and vegetables as dinner.
One website marketing the diet claims it is “chemically and enzymatically balanced,” although that statement is not explained or supported.
One thing is clear: You won’t eat much. On Day 1, you’ll only get 870 calories. Days 2 and 3 are not much different.
What you can and cannot eat
For three days, you will eat extremely simple meals consisting of foods you may already have in your kitchen.
For example, breakfast on Day 1 consists of black coffee or water, half a grapefruit, and a slice of toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter. Lunch consists of half a cup of tuna, another slice of toast, and another cup of black coffee (or tea or water).
If you are looking for variety or culinary thrills, you won’t find them here.
Lunch on Day 2, for example, is just a cup of cottage cheese and some saltine crackers. Sauces, dressings and even condiments are not on the list. However, if you have a sweet tooth, you’ll be happy to know that vanilla ice cream is on the menu every day.
Effort level: Low
The biggest effort you will make during the diet will be to stop yourself from reaching for more food.
Limitations: The meal plan is what it is, leaving no room for different palates or food preferences, although some websites say you can swap tuna for cottage cheese and vice versa.
Cooking and shopping: This diet is about as low-effort as you can get, unless you have meals delivered to your home. The only cooking involved is steaming the vegetables, unless you want to eat them raw (both are possible).
Packaged foods or meals? No.
In-person meetings? No.
Exercise: is frowned upon because, as one website says, “you won’t feel very energetic” while on this diet.
Does the diet allow restrictions or preferences?
Vegetarians and vegans: this menu is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans. It is also not low in salt, carbohydrates or fat – just low in calories.
Gluten-free: This diet includes toast and crackers, which traditionally contain gluten in wheat. You can buy gluten-free versions if you want, but being gluten-free is not a part of this diet.
What else you should know.
This diet was most likely not developed by nutrition experts. A website offering the diet includes this warning, “Neither the staff nor management of 3 Day Diets are experienced, licensed or knowledgeable to evaluate or recommend the validity or safety of this diet. We do not necessarily endorse this diet and recommend that you consult a physician or licensed health care practitioner before trying this or any other diet. Use at your own risk.”
When evaluating any diet, including this one, keep in mind two important pieces of advice from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: First, if a diet sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Second, if you can’t see yourself sticking with the diet for the rest of your life, it’s not for you.
Cost: None, except for your groceries.
Support: None. You are doing this diet on your own.
What Dr. Melinda Ratini says:
Does it work?
You will probably lose weight on any diet if you eat less than 910 calories a day. But losing 10 pounds in 3 days is both unlikely and unhealthy. To lose just 1 pound of body fat, you need to reduce your daily calories by about 500 per day for an entire week. That’s 3,500 calories you’ll have to give up over the course of 7 days. To lose 10 pounds in 3 days, you would need to reduce your caloric intake by 35,000 calories in just 3 days! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a slow and steady weight loss of no more than 1/2 to 1 pound per week. Otherwise, you will lose muscle and water and also weaken your bones. You are also much more likely to gain it all back.
Is it good for certain conditions?
The 3-Day Diet is low in calories, but certainly not low in fat, salt or cholesterol, so it is not a healthy option for most people with certain conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and high cholesterol. If you are overweight, weight loss is key to managing these diseases. But it should be a healthy and sustainable weight loss that includes a healthy diet and exercise.
The final word
The 3-Day Diet is a very low-calorie diet that uses simple foods that cost little and are easy to find and prepare. Short-term weight loss is likely. But that’s where the good news ends.
During the 3 days of the diet, a balanced diet is missing. Some of the recommended foods contain a lot of salt and fat and are not suitable for people with certain medical problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol. You may not get enough vitamins, minerals, and fiber while on the diet. If you are taking medication for your diabetes and want to try the 3-Day Diet, you should first discuss with your doctor how to adjust your medication.
Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and helps prevent and treat heart disease and diabetes. However, the 3-Day Diet does not address this at all. Nor does it teach you how to change your diet so that you can eat healthy for life.
Finally, such a restrictive diet takes the joy out of eating. On the 3 days a week that you follow the plan, it might be very difficult to eat out or with others. Also, boring diets are very hard to follow through. The temptation to overeat on the other 4 days of the week when you are not dieting will probably be strong.
Remember that when it comes to losing weight, Slow and Steady wins the race.