The 3-Day Diet Substitutions

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Diets that promise to help you lose a lot of weight in three days should send up the red flag. The three-day diet, also known as Army diet, Navy diet or Cleveland diet, is such a plan. While the diet has very strict rules of what you should eat during the three days, it does offer some leeway for picky eaters. But before you start any diet plan, especially one that says it can help you lose 10 pounds in three days, talk to your doctor.

What You Eat on the 3-Day Diet

The three-day diet provides very specific instructions on what and how much you're supposed to eat at breakfast, lunch and dinner on each day of the plan. For example, on day one for breakfast, you eat half a grapefruit, one slice of toast with peanut butter and a cup of coffee. At lunch, you're instructed to eat 1/2 cup of tuna, one slice of dry toast and coffee. And for dinner, 3 ounces of lean meat, 1 cup of green beans, 1 cup of carrots and 1 cup of ice cream. Eggs, cottage cheese, hot dogs, crackers, bananas, melon, broccoli and cauliflower also show up on the plan on days two and three.

You're also encouraged to drink plenty of water, at least 4 cups a day. And some versions allow sugar substitutes and diet soda, while others don't,

Grapefruit Substitution

Grapefruit is believed to be a food that helps you lose weight. While some versions of the diet say it's OK to substitute oranges for grapefruit, other versions say you can't. If you can't eat grapefruit, it's suggested that you substitute water with baking soda.

However, don't worry if you can't eat grapefruit; it may not be as beneficial for weight loss as the proponents of the three-day diet suggest, according to a 2012 clinical study published in Metabolism. Participants in this study ate a regular or a regular diet with a half-grapefruit at each meal for six weeks. The researchers found that adding grapefruit to a regular diet doesn't help the grapefruit eaters lose weight.

Coffee Substitution

Like grapefruit, the coffee on the three-day diet has a specific purpose for helping with weight loss: its caffeine. A good substitution is a drink that also provides caffeine. Suggestions include tea, sugar-free energy drinks or sugar-free hot chocolate.

However, despite the hype surrounding caffeine and weight loss, it might not do you much good. While caffeine is a stimulant and does increase body heat and energy, it's not effective at helping people lose weight, according to the Obesity Action Coalition.

Alternate Protein Choices

Protein options in the three-day diet include tuna, eggs, cottage cheese, hot dogs and meat. You can substitute any of the protein choices already on the menu if you don't like one, for example, you can have eggs instead of tuna or cottage cheese for the "meat" component. Vegetarians and vegans can still follow the three-day diet, subbing out meat, eggs or dairy choices with beans, tofu, peanuts or almonds. You can also opt to eat bratwurst, bologna, deli meat, turkey dogs or soy dogs for the hot dog on the menu. Milk and yogurt are also alternate protein options allowed in place of cottage cheese or eggs.

Veggie and Fruit Options

The three-day diet plan includes a number of different vegetable choices. For green beans, you can have spinach, lettuce, tomatoes or other greens instead. Alternate carrot choices include parsnips, squash, celery or red pepper. And if you don't like broccoli, the diet plan says you can substitute cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, asparagus or spinach.

Papaya, pears, peaches, plums, grapes and apricots can be eaten in place of apples and bananas.

Is the Three-Day Diet for You?

Before you go out and stock your kitchen with coffee and grapefruit, it's important to understand exactly how this diet works. It doesn't help you lose weight by revving up your metabolism with its food options; instead, it helps you lose by severely restricting your calorie intake. While the diet includes a variety of different foods from all the food groups, you'll be eating fewer than 1,000 calories each day during the three-day diet. Plus, it's important to note that when you lose weight quickly, more than two pounds a week, you're likely losing water and muscle, not extra fat. So, ultimately, while you might drop a few pounds following this very low-calorie diet for a few days, the weight will come right back.