Military Diet Substitutions – Simple 3-Day Diet Plan Swaps

The 3-day military diet program is a fantastic choice for losing or maintaining weight.

Finding Military Diet substitutions is easy.

The different foods on this diet menu are easily replaceable with other foods of equal calorie and nutritious value.

However, swapping one diet with another may not produce expected weight loss results. As far as possible, stick to the recommended diet menu.

But if you can find the right replacements for a few items on the menu, it is okay to substitute.

What Is the 3-Day Military Diet?

As you already know, this rapid weight loss diet may help you to lose up to 10 pounds within a week.

Unlike many other weight loss programs, you need not do strenuous workout sessions to lose weight in this effective weight loss program.

This diet program is also known as the 3-day diet plan as this menu plan is followed for 3 days and then takes 4 days off in a week.

“It’s also known as the Navy diet, the Army diet, and sometimes the ice cream diet because, in addition to hot dogs and tuna fish, you get to eat ice cream on all three days of the program.”

The name is misleading, but in reality, this diet program isn’t developed or followed by US Army Or Navy. It is not the best plan either.

Before we go into the details of the replacement options, let us once again be sure of the items on this diet menu.

The original list of food items included in the menu are:

Day 1


  • toast — 1 slice
  • peanut butter — 2 tbsps
  • coffee or tea — 1 cup
  • grapefruit — ½


  • toast — 1 slice
  • tuna — 1/2 cup
  • coffee or tea — 1 cup


  • meat – (chicken, lean beef, turkey, or fish) – 3 oz
  • apple — one small
  • green beans — 1 cup
  • banana — one half
  • vanilla ice cream — 1 cup

Day 2


  • egg – 1
  • toast – one slice
  • banana – one half


  • cottage cheese – cup
  • hard-boiled egg – 1
  • saltine crackers – 5


  • hot dogs – 2 without a bun
  • carrots – ½ cup
  • broccoli – 1 cup
  • banana – ½
  • vanilla ice cream – ½ cup

Day 3


  • saltine crackers – 5
  • cheddar cheese – 1 slice
  • apple – 1 small


  • hard-boiled egg – 1
  • toast – slice
  • vanilla ice cream – 1 cup


  • tuna – 1 cup
  • banana – ½

Some of these items may not suit your diet habits for reasons like allergic reactions, faith restrictions, medical interactions, unavailability, or taste preferences.

military diet substitutions

3-Day Military Diet Substitutions

The list of different foods on this diet menu is healthy and weight loss friendly. However, a few of the items on the list may not be liked by you or cannot be had due to dietary limitations.

The foods that replace the recommended diet should have an approximately similar count of calories and nutritional value. Here are the military diet substitutions that you can consider:

Military Diet Substitutions List


1. Cottage cheese replacements

There are several replacement options for farm cheese in the 3-Day Military Diet. They include both dairy and non-dairy alternatives such as:

  • Tofu – ½ cup
  • Soy milk – 1 cup
  • Soy cheese – ½ cup
  • Ham – 5 steaks
  • Cheddar cheese – ½ cup
  • Plain Greek yogurt – 1 cup
  • Eggs – 2.5
  • Ricotta cheese – ½ cup

2. Alternatives for cheddar cheese

It is possible to swap cheddar cheese with any of the different verities of cheese available in different brand names such as:

  • Roquefort – 40g
  • Chèvre – 40g
  • Feta – 60g
  • Mozzarella – 45g
  • Camembert – 35g
  • Cotija – 28g
  • Emmental – 28g
  • Gouda – 30g
  • Taleggio – 35g
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano – 25g
  • Manchego – 28g

If you do not prefer dairy products, you can substitute cheese with ham or eggs.


3. Replacement for canned tuna

Tuna fish is a fantastic weight loss diet because of its high protein content. These fish also contain amino acids necessary for muscle building.

The high thermic effect caused by this fish help in boosting metabolism.

If for some reason you cannot have the tuna fish there are other foods that can replace this diet on the food menu.

Best alternatives to tuna fish are:

  • Pollock fish – 4oz
  • Pork loin – 3oz
  • Lamb (lean) – 2.5oz
  • Beef (lean) – 4oz
  • Chicken breast – 3oz

In case you’re looking for a vegetarian substitute for tuna, then you can include:

  • Tofu – ¾ cup
  • Almonds whole – 1oz
  • Avocado – ½ plus 2 tbsp hummus
  • Cottage cheese – ¾ cup

4. Substitutes for eggs

Eggs are among the healthiest foods you can eat as it helps you to avoid other calorie-rich foods. However, many do not prefer eggs for dietary reasons.

The egg is replaceable with:

  • Milk – 1 cup
  • Seeds – ¼ cup
  • Nuts – ¼ cup
  • Bacon – 2 slices
  • Chicken Wing – one piece
  • Avocado – ½ cup
  • Cooked beans – ½ cup

5. Hot dog substitutes

A hot dog (without the bun) is a good diet for a weight loss diet; one serving of hot dog contains only about 150 calories.

For Non-vegetarians the best substitutes for the hot dog are:

  • Deli meat – 2oz
  • Turkey dogs/sausage – 1.5 portion
  • Bratwurst (German Sausage) – 1.5 portion
  • Luncheon meat – 2.5oz
  • Chicken sausage – 1.5 portion
  • Spam – 2oz

Vegetarians can use the following diets instead of hot dogs:

  • Vegan sausage – 1
  • Beyond sausage – ¾ link
  • Soy hot dogs – 1
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Black beans – ¾ cup
  • Tofu dogs – 1.5 portion
  • Lentils – 1/3 cup

6. Alternatives to lean meat

Eating meat helps to suppress appetite and reduce the intake of too many calories.

In the 3-Day Military Diet program, you can use any type of meat provided you do not exceed the calorie consumption limit per day.

Eating fish or eggs is also a good alternative to meat.

If you are a vegetarian, certainly you have to look for alternative vegetarian diets in place of meat. You can replace meat with any of the following vegetarian foods:

  • Lentils – ½ cup
  • Pinto Beans ½ cup
  • Portobello mushrooms – 1 cup
  • Tofu – ½ cup


7. Alternatives for toast

A single slice of toast offers 71 calories and 13 grams of carbs

  • Tortilla – ½ medium
  • Cereal, Kashi – 1 cup (19g)
  • Rice cake – 1 medium (28g)
  • Sunflower seeds – 16g
  • Protein bar – ½ bar (18g)
  • Plain yogurt – ½ cup

8. Substitutes for whole wheat bread

Whole grain bread is a health and weight-loss-friendly food.

You can substitute the whole-grain bread in the Military Diet with other foods such as:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Protein bar
  • Flaxseed
  • Whole-grain cereal
  • Yogurt
  • Tortilla wraps
  • Rice cakes.

9. Saltine crackers substitutes

Saltine crackers are low in calories, so they ideally fit into any low-calorie diet program.

You can swap Saltine crackers with other healthy diets like:

  • Rice cakes – 2 pieces
  • Wheat crackers – 2 pieces
  • Woven cracker – 3 pieces
  • Sea-Salt Cracker – 3 pieces
  • Couscous – ½ cup
  • Quinoa – 1/3 cup


10. Substitutes for grapefruit

Grapefruit, a citrus fruit, is very beneficial for weight loss. However, its taste may not be appealing to most people.

This citrusy fruit also interferes with certain medications.

Unfortunately, there are hardly a few diets that can substitute the grapefruit on the 3-day menu.

Some of the possible alternatives to it are:

  • Baking soda drink
  • Lemon juice without sugar
  • Hyuganatsu
  • Lime juice

11. Substitutes for apple

Instead of the apple (1 small), you can have other fruits like:

  • Peaches – ½ cup
  • Pears – 1 medium
  • Plums – 1 cup, sliced
  • Grapes – 1 cup
  • Dried apricots – ¼ cup

12. Replacement for banana

Banana is included in all three days of the military diet. However, bananas may not be suitable for people with health issues like diabetes or gastric.

You can replace bananas with other fruits like:

  • Kiwis – 1
  • Papaya – 1 slice
  • Plum – 1
  • Apple Sauce – 50 gm
  • Apricot – 3

13. Broccoli substitutes

Broccoli is a coniferous green vegetable. You can substitute this vegetable with any of the green vegetables in the same category.

There are many alternative vegetables to broccoli such as:

  • Spinach – 1 cup
  • Asparagus – ½ cup
  • Brussel Sprouts – 1 cup
  • Cauliflower – 1 cup
  • Cabbage – 1 cup
  • Garden Cress – 1 cup
  • Bok Choy – 1 cup
  • Kale – 1 cup
  • Komatsuna – 1 cup
  • Radish – ¾ cup

14. Alternatives to carrots

The carrot is a healthy vegetable with several essential vitamins and nutrients in it. Fortunately, most people love to eat carrots as their taste is palatable.

Some of the best substitutes for carrots you can think of are:

  • Parsnip – ½ cup
  • Bell pepper – ½ cup
  • Beets – ½ cup
  • Celery – ¾ cup
  • Squash – ½ cup

15. Replacements for green beans

The green bean is a versatile vegetable that is both high in dietary fiber and low in fat.

Most leafy vegetables are an excellent substitute for green beans. Some of the best alternatives are:

  • Lettuce – 3oz
  • Spinach – 1 cup
  • Tomatoes – 1 medium
  • Nopales – 4 pads
  • Asparagus stalks – 1 cup
  • Wax beans – 2oz

16. Alternatives to peanut butter

Many do not like to eat peanut butter for their taste or allergic reasons.

Fortunately, there are many diets that can substitute peanut butter on the 3-day food menu.

Instead of peanut butter, you can use 2 tablespoons from any one of the following:

  • almond butter
  • soy butter
  • cashew butter
  • bean dip
  • pumpkin butter
  • sunflower seed butter
  • sunflower seeds
  • hummus

17. Replacements for coffee or tea

Naturally, the best substitute for coffee is green tea.

Whether you take coffee or green tea, do not use sugar or milk in both of them.

Other healthy alternatives to coffee and tea are:

  • Sugar-free RedBull
  • Sugar-free hot Chocolate

18. Vanilla ice cream substitutes

Ice creams are tasty and relishing for most people. However, some may not like to have ice creams for dietary reasons or poor health conditions.

The best substitutes for ice cream in the 3-day diet are:

  • Apple juice – 1 cup
  • Favored yogurt – 1 cup
  • Almond milk – ¾ cup
  • Dairy-free ice cream – 1 cup

Advantages of Food Substitutions

It has a few advantages as well.

Diet replacements allow you to have foods that are appealing to your taste and health conditions.

In fact, substituting your diet occasionally helps you to carry on with the diet regimen for a long period without getting bored with repetitive food habits. After all, variety is the spice of life!!

Substitution diets give you enough room for enjoying some of the foods that you relish a lot. In fact, your weight loss diet’s motto should be, “substitute, substitute, and substitute.”

It is natural that on a fixed diet plan like the three-day eating plan, some of the items on the menu may not be appealing to you. But you can still follow this great diet program by finding suitable replacements for the foods that are not agreeable to you.

Does Military Diet Work?

For the sake of emergency weight loss, you can continue with the recurring diet schedule for three days every week till you achieve your weight loss goal.

For best weight loss results, on four off days in a week, it is important to maintain the daily calorie intake to a minimal amount though there are no restrictions on the choice of foods.

Some people may lose up to 30 pounds in a month by following the Military Diet plan. It is more of a temporary result that lasts only till you quit the program.

“With this type of low-calorie, lower-carbohydrate diet, you are losing mostly water and potentially some muscle,” said registered dietitian Elaine Magee.

The combination of foods used in the military diet menu aims at boosting metabolism, increased fat burning, and low-calorie intake for fast weight loss.

This meal plan doesn’t slow down your metabolism like other diets.
It contains healthy diets that supply the necessary energy for the body and control sugar swings.

Why Do You Need Food Substitutions?

Deviating from the original items listed on the Military diet, you may be keen to find alternative food options for many reasons.

Naturally, you may dislike one or more items on the list for reasons of taste or others.

Some might be following additional meal plans like vegan, paleo, or Ketogenic diets in tandem. All of them have a few restrictions on some of the foods listed here.

Your religion may have incorporated laws that forbid you from eating certain military diet foods. For example, Judaism allows only kosher foods and Mormon prohibits caffeinated beverages. Islam allows only halal foods whereas Hinduism adheres to lacto-vegetarian foods. Jainism and many Buddhist sects follow strict vegetarianism.

Some foods may need replacement as you may have food intolerances to certain foods, especially those containing lactose, gluten, or animal protein.

Vegans and vegetarians will certainly have to replace many items on the list.

You could have food allergies to one or more foods listed in this meal plan, like dairy products, peanuts, eggs, fish, wheat, or soybeans.

Medical interactions and health conditions might also compel you to find food substitutions. People with diabetes may have to avoid vanilla ice cream, bananas, and other carb-rich foods. Similarly, grapefruit interacts with several drugs like those used for blood pressure, anxiety, cholesterol, and more.

Points to be Noted while Substituting

The military diet is a calorie-restricted diet program.

If you have to substitute any of the recommended food items on the diet menu with other foods you should ensure that the calorie limit is not exceeded.

For example:
1 banana = 105 calories
1 kiwi = 42

So if you are substituting banana with kiwi, then you have to eat approximately two and a half kiwis instead of one banana.

It is not about the size and weight of the food but the number of calories contained in them that matters.
Secondly, it is good to pay attention to the nutritional value of the foods. As far as possible, choose the substitution foods that have similar nutritional value as the recommended food items on this diet program.

Lastly, some of the food items on the Military Diet like vanilla ice cream or meat may have an appealing taste that can make you eat more. However, you should never eat more than the recommended quantity of foods mentioned on the menu.

Military Diet

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you substitute an orange for a grapefruit on the military diet?

No. The diet plan specifically mentions avoiding oranges as a substitution for grapefruit due to the fruit’s high acidity. Instead of acidic foods, the diet plan encourages alkaline foods that are expected to encourage fat burning. In fact, baking soda is a high alkaline item that is included in the military diet meal plan.

Can you substitute chicken for tuna on the military diet?

Yes. The allowed substitutions of tuna are chicken or other lean protein foods such as another type of fish or chickpeas. As a rule of thumb, the substitute foods should have similar calories as the original food listed in the meal plan.

Can I use Splenda on the military diet?

It’s true that Splenda is sweet without calories but sweeteners, in general, are a restricted diet on the 3-day diet plan. Despite the prohibitions of sweeteners, stevia is the only sweetener that is permissible in the 3-day meal plan.

What is the closest fruit to a grapefruit?

Pomelo is a large Asian citrus fruit that's closely related to grapefruit. This fruit looks like a teardrop and with a thick, pale rind and green or yellow flesh. It’s the largest citrus fruit from the family Rutaceae and the principal ancestor of the grapefruit.

What is missing from the military diet?

Most dietitians are critical of the omission of dietary fiber from the military diet. This diet does not have the recommended daily intake of fiber. Dietary fiber is not only important for gut health but also needed for preventing coronary heart diseases and diabetes in the long term.

Can you drink diet soda on military diet?

The only drink permitted in the 3-day meal plan is plain water or herbal tea. Diet soda is strictly prohibited on the military diet meal plans.

Is drinking grapefruit juice equivalent to eating a grapefruit?

Eating whole fruit is healthier than fruit juices. The grapefruit contains some dietary fiber, less sugar, and fewer calories per serving than grapefruit juice, thus a more healthy option.

Can I skip ice cream on military diet?

You can skip ice cream on the military diet but it has to be replaced with something that has the same amount of calories. Frozen yogurt, apple sauce, and fruit yogurt are some of the best options to consider in place of vanilla ice creams.

Final Thoughts

The Military diet, also known as the three-day diet is a great weight loss program, especially in emergencies.
The name “Military” appears to be a strong approval for the diet. Some of the foods on the list like hot dogs and ice creams make this diet more appealing.

Some of the internet reports and videos even falsely term this diet program as the American Heart Association diet, the Cleveland Clinic diet, the Mayo Clinic diet, the Kaiser diet, and the Birmingham Hospital diet. All these claims are absolutely false.

Most of the recommended foods included in the Military diet menu are tasty foods appealing to most people.
You should opt for Military Diet substitutes only if it is strictly necessary for the sake of your health conditions. The original items recommended in the menu can help you lose maximum weight compared to the substituted or modified version.

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