Updated date:

How to Meet Weight Requirements for US Military Enlistment

Author:
Soldiers must keep fit even when they are deployed.

Soldiers must keep fit even when they are deployed.

How to Lose Weight Before MEPs

It happens to the best of us. We get lazy and quit watching what we eat, or we become stressed and lose the time or motivation to exercise. However, if you have plans to join the United States Armed Forces, then those bad habits will only bring you grief.

I'm speaking from experience. I dropped thirty pounds in a few months for the Air Force, and I am still struggling to stay at weight while I'm in the delayed enlistment program.

If you are truly committed to joining a branch of the military, then from experience, I suggest that you lose the weight the right way. Otherwise if you cheat your way (by dropping five pounds overnight of water weight), it will only cause you more headaches while you wait to ship out to basic training.

So here I will explain how to lose the weight correctly. However, I will also talk about a few ways to drop a few pounds too quickly, because chances are if you are going to do that, then you've already made you mind up about it. The least I can do is to help you do it the healthiest way possible so that you do not cause yourself long-term bodily harm.

New sailors and soldiers are sworn in at MEPS Jacksonville Florida.

New sailors and soldiers are sworn in at MEPS Jacksonville Florida.

Can I Enlist or Join DEPs While Overweight?

It is up to a recruiter's discretion to allow overweight candidates join the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP). However, in my experience, if the recruiter knows that you are serious about enlisting, he or she will be happy to help you lose weight.

In the past (especially during war times), the military has allowed overweight individuals to join, and they went through a "fat boy program" during basic training. This is no longer the case. Every individual must be within the height and weight standards before signing a contract and on the day they leave MEPS to basic training. If you are overweight for your last MEPS appointment you will be sent home, even if you were within weight standards at previous appointments.

Step 1: Identify the Problem

The first step to forming healthy habits that will lead to a prosperous military career is to identify the problems that have caused you to become overweight. This is no time to make excuses. You have to be honest with yourself.

Some causes could be:

  • You have been overweight all of you life.
  • You have become lazy about your eating habits.
  • You have become lazy about exercising.
  • You have lost your motivation for exercising.
  • Unhealthy weight-loss habits have slowed down your metabolism.
  • You have over scheduled your life.

Any reason can be overcame. It will just take time, patience, and hard work, all of which will be required once you join the military.

Always remember that joining the military is an entire lifestyle change, and dropping those last few pounds the wrong way is not going to help you as much as losing them the right way.

Always remember that joining the military is an entire lifestyle change, and dropping those last few pounds the wrong way is not going to help you as much as losing them the right way.

Step 2: Set Your Goals

Contact Your Local Recruiter for More Information and Help

Find a US Air Force recruiter.

Look for your local Navy recruiter.

Locate an Army recruiter to learn more.

Request information about joining the Marines.

Each branch of military has different weight requirements. The weight requirement depends on your height and age. They also can do a body fat percentage.

Air Force Requirements:

A recruit must be 4'10" or taller to enlist, and at this height the minimum weight is 91 pounds and the max weight is 131 pounds. With each additional inch of height, increase the minimum weight by three to four pounds and the maximum weight by five pounds.

Under 30:

  • Males must have no more than 20% body fat composition.
  • Females can have no more than 28% body fat composition.
Height (inches)Max weight (lbs)

58

131

59

136

60

141

61

145

62

150

63

155

64

160

65

165

66

170

67

175

68

180

69

186

70

191

71

197

72

202

73

208

74

214

75

220

76

225

77

231

78

237

79

244

80

250

Source: Air Force direct height and weight requirements

Army and National Guard

Men must be five feet tall, while females can be 4'10". With each inch, the min/max weight increases by about four pounds, and with each age bracket the weight requirements change more so than most other military branches. The female weight max at 4'8" is 109 for recruits with prior military service, and the max is 112 for recruits who have not previously served with the Armed Forces that are between the ages of 17 and 20. For males of the same age group, the max weight at five feet is 132 pounds.

  • Females must not be over 30% body fat composition. (For a non-prior service member age 17-20)
  • Males must not exceed a body fat composition of 24%. (For a non-prior service member age 17-20)
Height (inches)Max weight (lbs) for women ages 17-20 yrsMax weight (lbs) for women ages 21-27 yrsMax weight (lbs) for women ages 28-39 yrs)Max weight (lbs) for women ages 40+ yrs

58

119

121

122

124

59

124

125

126

128

60

128

129

131

133

61

132

134

135

137

62

136

138

140

142

63

141

143

144

146

64

145

147

149

151

65

150

152

154

156

66

155

156

158

161

67

159

161

163

166

68

164

166

168

171

69

169

171

173

176

70

174

176

178

181

71

179

181

183

186

72

184

186

188

191

73

189

191

194

197

74

194

197

199

202

75

200

202

204

208

76

205

207

210

213

77

210

213

215

219

78

216

218

221

225

79

221

224

227

230

80

227

230

233

236

Height (inches)Max weight (lbs) for men ages 17-20 yrsMax weight (lbs) for men ages 21-27 yrsMax weight (lbs) for men ages 28-39 yrsMax weight (lbs) for men ages 40+ yrs

58

-

-

-

-

59

-

-

-

-

60

132

136

139

141

61

136

140

144

146

62

141

144

148

150

63

145

149

153

155

64

150

154

158

160

65

155

159

163

165

66

160

163

168

170

67

165

169

174

176

68

170

174

179

181

69

175

179

184

188

70

180

185

189

192

71

185

189

194

197

72

190

195

200

203

73

195

200

205

208

74

201

206

211

214

75

206

212

217

220

76

212

217

223

226

77

218

223

229

232

78

223

229

235

238

79

229

235

241

244

80

234

240

247

250

Source: Army and National Guard direct height and weight requirements

Coast Guard

The Coast Guard has a measuring system that, to be honest, I am unfamiliar with. They determine max weight by height and "frame size." The frame size is determined by measuring the circumference of the wrist where the two bones stick out like little "knobs." To be sure, just ask a recruiter.

  • Females under 30 years old can not have a body fat index of above 33%.
  • Males under 30 years old cannot have a body fat index of above 23%.
Frame size codeDominant wrist measurement (in) for women

N

< 5 1/4

P

5 1/4 - 5 1/2

Q

5 1/2 - 5 3/4

R

5 3/4 - 6

S

6 - 6 1/4

T

6 1/4 - 6 1/2

U

6 1/2 - 6 3/4

V

6 3/4 - 7

W

7 - 7 1/4

X

7 1/4 - 7 1/2

Y

7 1/2 - 7 3/4

Z

> 7 3/4

Height (in)Max weight (lbs) for women frame size code NMax weight (lbs) for women frame size code PMax weight (lbs) for women frame size code QMax weight (lbs) for women frame size code RMax weight (lbs) for women frame size code SMax weight (lbs) for women frame size code TMax weight (lbs) for women frame size code UMax weight (lbs) for women frame size code VMax weight (lbs) for women frame size code WMax weight (lbs) for women frame size code XMax weight (lbs) for women frame size code YMax weight (lbs) for women frame size code Z

58

122

126

130

134

137

141

145

149

152

156

160

164

59

125

129

133

137

140

144

148

152

155

159

163

167

60

128

132

136

140

143

147

151

155

158

162

166

170

61

131

135

139

142

146

150

154

157

161

165

169

172

62

134

138

142

145

149

153

157

160

164

168

172

175

63

137

141

145

148

152

156

160

163

167

171

175

178

64

140

144

147

151

155

159

162

166

170

174

177

181

65

143

147

150

154

158

162

165

169

173

177

180

184

66

146

150

153

157

161

165

168

172

176

180

183

187

67

149

152

156

160

164

167

171

175

179

182

186

190

68

152

155

159

163

167

170

174

178

182

185

189

193

69

155

158

162

166

170

173

177

181

185

188

192

196

70

157

161

165

169

172

176

180

184

188

191

195

199

71

160

164

168

172

175

179

183

187

190

194

198

202

72

163

167

171

175

178

182

186

190

193

197

201

205

73

166

170

174

178

181

185

189

193

196

200

204

208

74

169

173

177

180

184

188

192

195

199

203

207

210

75

172

176

180

183

187

191

195

198

202

206

210

213

76

175

179

183

186

190

194

198

201

205

209

213

216

77

178

182

185

189

193

197

200

204

208

212

215

219

78

181

185

188

192

196

200

203

207

211

215

218

222

79

184

188

191

195

199

203

206

210

214

218

221

225

80

187

190

194

198

202

206

209

213

217

220

224

228

Frame Size CodeDominant wrist measurement (in) for men

A

< 6 1/4

B

6 1/4 - 6 1/2

C

6 1/2 - 6 3/4

D

6 3/4 - 7

E

7 - 7 1/4

F

7 1/4 - 7 1/2

G

7 1/2 - 7 3/4

H

7 3/4 - 8

J

8 - 8 1/4

K

8 1/4 - 8 1/2

L

8 1/2 - 8 3/4

M

> 8 3/4

Height (in)Max weight (lbs) for men frame size code AMax weight (lbs) for men frame size code BMax weight (lbs) for men frame size code CMax weight (lbs) for men frame size code DMax weight (lbs) for men frame size code EMax weight (lbs) for men frame size code FMax weight (lbs) for men frame size code GMax weight (lbs) for men frame size code HMax weight (lbs) for men frame size code JMax weight (lbs) for men frame size code KMax weight (lbs) for men frame size code LMax weight (lbs) for men frame size code M

60

140

144

148

152

156

159

163

167

171

175

179

183

61

144

148

152

156

160

164

167

171

175

179

183

187

62

148

152

156

160

164

168

172

176

179

183

187

191

63

152

156

160

164

168

172

176

180

184

188

191

195

64

157

160

164

168

172

176

180

184

188

192

196

200

65

161

165

169

172

176

180

184

188

192

196

200

204

66

165

169

173

177

181

184

188

192

196

200

204

208

67

169

173

177

181

185

189

193

196

200

204

208

212

68

173

177

181

185

189

193

197

201

205

208

212

216

69

177

181

185

189

193

197

201

205

209

213

216

220

70

182

185

189

193

197

201

205

209

213

217

221

225

71

186

190

194

197

201

205

209

213

217

221

225

229

72

190

194

198

202

206

209

213

217

221

225

229

233

73

194

198

202

206

210

214

218

221

225

229

233

237

74

198

202

206

210

214

218

222

226

230

233

237

241

75

202

206

210

214

218

222

226

230

234

238

242

245

76

207

210

214

216

222

226

230

234

238

242

248

250

77

211

215

219

222

226

230

234

238

242

246

250

254

78

215

219

223

227

231

234

238

242

246

250

254

258

79

219

223

227

231

235

239

243

246

250

254

258

262

80

223

227

231

235

239

243

247

251

255

258

262

266

Source: Wrist measurements and Coast Guard height and weight requirements

Marines

Height (in)Max weight (lbs) for menMax weight (lbs) for women

58

132

120

59

136

124

60

141

128

61

146

132

62

150

137

63

155

141

64

160

146

65

165

150

66

170

155

67

176

160

68

181

164

69

186

169

70

192

174

71

197

179

72

203

184

73

208

189

74

214

195

75

220

200

76

226

205

77

236

211

78

238

216

79

244

222

80

250

228

Source: Marine Corps direct height and weight requirements

Navy

Height (in)Max weight (lbs) for menMax weight (lbs) for women

51

97

102

52

102

106

53

107

110

54

112

114

55

117

118

56

122

123

57

127

127

58

131

131

59

136

136

60

141

141

61

145

145

62

150

149

63

155

152

64

160

156

65

165

160

66

170

163

67

175

167

68

181

170

69

186

174

70

191

177

71

196

181

72

201

185

73

206

189

74

211

194

75

216

200

76

221

205

77

226

211

78

231

216

79

236

222

80

241

227

81

246

233

82

251

239

83

256

245

84

261

251

85

266

257

86

271

263

Source: Navy direct height and weight requirements

When training, make sure to run in similar conditions that you will experience in boot camp, such as: running on terrain, running in the heat, and long distance running.

When training, make sure to run in similar conditions that you will experience in boot camp, such as: running on terrain, running in the heat, and long distance running.

Step 3: Choose a Plan

How to Lose It Quickly

There are a ton of ways to quickly lose weight. Unfortunately, few of them are healthy or will keep the weight off long-term. Remember that, by enlisting, you are commiting to a lifestyle change.

However, if you are convinced that you want to lose the weight quickly, sign those papers, and worry about the consequences later, there are a few things you can do.

3 Day Miracle Military Diet

Three-Day Military Diet

The three-day military diet is a trick that is used to make weight. It's possible to lose up to ten pounds doing this. After completing the diet, it is possible to repeat it after a two day rest. The majority of the weight lost through this is only water weight, and will come back after stopping the diet. However, it is useful for the week before your MEPS appointment.

The diet works by severely limiting calories—it comes out to under 1,000 calories a day. Such calorie restriction is not healthy; neither is the lack of nutrients to be found in the all of the processed food.

DAY 1:

Breakfast

  • 1/2 grapefruit
  • 1 slice of toast
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 1 cup of coffee or tea (with caffeine)

Lunch

  • 1/2 cup of tuna
  • 1 slice of toast
  • 1 cup of coffee or tea (with caffeine)

Dinner

  • 3 ounces of any type of meat
  • 1 cup of green beans
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 cup of vanilla ice cream

DAY 2

Breakfast

  • 1 egg
  • 1 slice of toast
  • 1/2 banana

Lunch

  • 1 cup of cottage cheese
  • 1 hard boiled egg
  • 5 Saltine crackers

Dinner

  • 2 hot dogs (without buns)
  • 1 cup of broccoli
  • 1/2 cup of carrots
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream

DAY 3

Breakfast

  • 5 Saltine crackers
  • 1 slice of cheddar cheese
  • 1 small apple

Lunch

  • 1 egg (usually hard-boiled, but can be cooked however you like)
  • 1 slice of toast

Dinner

  • 1 cup of tuna
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup of vanilla ice cream

How to Lose It Correctly

Losing weight is a fairly simple process. You have to take in fewer calories than you burn during the day. Most people burn roughly 2,000 calories a day, so to maintain weight, a normal person would aim to consume about 1,850 calories a day. I generally aim for less calories than needed, simply because I know that I am bad about "secret calories," or consuming calories without realizing.

It's generally accepted that one pound of weight is about 3,500 calories. So to lose a pound, you would need a negative amount of 3,500 calories. To lose weight healthily, you should never consume less than 1,000 calories in a day.

To see the time that it would take you to lose the amount, multiply the number of pounds that you need to lose times 3,500. Then figure out your caloric goal. For example are you aiming for 1,500 calories a day? Then factor in the amount of exercise that you plan to do daily (running one mile=100 calories).

Depending on your current metabolism, if you cut your calories down to 1,500 a day and run/walk/jog five miles a day, then you will lose about two pounds a week. At first, you may lose slightly more, so as your body adjusts, you may need to add more exercise or eat slightly less.

If you cut your daily intake to 1,000 and continue to run 5 miles a day, then you should be losing about a pound every two days. I do not suggest eating less than 1,000 calories a day, especially if you plan to exercise vigorously.

Also, stay away from all soda, processed foods, and salt. Period. No arguing or moaning. These foods are only going to hinder your weight loss.

What Not to Do

Do not take pills or supplements to lose the weight. They check your urine and you have to tell them all of the medication that you have taken in the past week. I told them about a Midol that I had taken two days before, and I was disqualified for two weeks because the doctor said that it causes water weight loss.

You could always take the pills and just not tell them. However, this runs the risk of something funky coming up in the urine test, which will lead to you being disqualified for a lot longer (I believe 180 days).

A simple way to lose weight is to sweat. This will not be a permanent loss, and the weight will return as soon as you rehydrate, so this is done the night before. Don't start to dehydrate yourself too soon, because it will cause you to become weak and not perform as well at the MEPS station. There are a few wrestling/weightlifting techniques to lose this water weight.

The first is using plastic wrap. Any type of standard kitchen-grade plastic wrap will work. You wrap the plastic wrap around your body, touching your skin, on as many places as possible, especially your stomach and thighs. Then dress in layers of clothing to begin to overheat yourself. You can try just sleeping like this, or if you are farther away from you goal for the next morning, work out with the wrap on. This can also be achieved wearing multiple layers of clothing and a trash bag.

There are two other ways to quickly lose water weight: dry saunas and immersing your body in water that is as hot as possible without becoming burning. These two work the same in that they force your body to sweat. Do not combine the plastic wrap with the sauna or hot water; it can fuse to your skin and cause major burns.

You can also try taking ex-lax or other diuretics starting a few days before and only eat liquids for a few days to help clear out your bowels. I can lose five pounds in two days with this.

Always remember that these will not actually get you to your weight. You may be at weight when the nurse asks you to step on the scale, but the moment you begin to rehydrate and eat solid foods you will gain the weight back (and, normally, you'll gain a little extra).

Don't Forget to Study for the ASVAB

Make sure that you do not forget about your ASVAB scores while you focus on weight loss. Your weight can get you into military service; however, your ASVAB score determines your job.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Comments

Haley (author) from Baltimore, MD on April 08, 2019:

@Emily

Hey Emily, gaining weight (in a healthy manner) can be just as tough as losing weight. Keep in mind that at fifteen, you probably aren't done growing yet, so you may naturally get taller and fill out some more. The trick that's worked the best for my friends in the past is a high protein diet while working out, and adding a high-quality protein shake along to one meal a day.

As a teenage girl, it is also super important that you make sure that you're getting plenty of healthy fats (nuts, avocados, olive oil, etc.)

Best of luck!

Haley (author) from Baltimore, MD on April 08, 2019:

Hey Prince. What do you need help with?

Prince on April 07, 2019:

I'm Prince n I'm 20yrs want to join the Marines I'm 5'5" pls help me

Emily on March 16, 2019:

I am fifteen years old and I plan on joining the marines, but I'm really small for my age, only about 62 inches and I have a hard time gaining weight and keeping it, so I'm working out and trying to keep it in the muscle. Any idea on how I should go about this?

Leo on March 24, 2018:

So I am really interested in joining the military I told my recruiter that I was 182lbs now I'm 187lbs am I still good for meps or not?

Kevin on February 21, 2018:

I am scheduled for MEPS, and i currently stand at 5'11". is it a rule that says I have to be under my max weight by 7ibs? or is this just my recruiter saying so.

Tim Agosta on November 14, 2017:

Question for everyone or anyone that can answer

I'm 19 years old leaving Dec 4 for basic training I pass the ist and cft for the marines no trouble my problem is I'm a couple pounds over. I'm in the low 200 and my max weight requirement is 203 I seem to jump around a lot but I'm very close to the requirement. I am under it most days but sometimes not. I'm "big boned " and have always weight more than kids my size but by the tape my neck is 15.5 inches and my waist is 33inches and I down to skin and bones. What should I do but weight before I go to maps

Yesica on April 16, 2017:

I am looking to join the military I am 18 years old female I am 5'7 weigh 100 what should my first step be?

Jessica on March 28, 2017:

I'm a 5'6 female and weigh 186 what is the max weight to join the airforce for my height?

Onna on December 20, 2016:

I am 19 years old female and I weight 205 and I am 5'9. I want to join Air Force p,ease help me

rad on November 27, 2016:

Donovan try running it everyday for 2 weeks straight add 4 walking miles and jog for 3 half miles with the runs 2 weeks straight don't eat to much diet get your water . i tied similar for 2 weeks lost 35 pound but i had it to lose basic training's like this where you challenge yourself more for a period of time and diet work as long as it challenges you if not try making it more difficult

Donovan on October 18, 2016:

I am 18 and I'm 5'8 193 pounds I am trying to get into the airforce I went from 200 to 193 but I hit a wall and now even after running 2 miles every morning and push ups sit ups I still haven't lost it I have to be 180 is there any tips to help me lose this before the end of the year

river on May 20, 2016:

For your army weight, 17-19 year old females while in the DEP is 160. After BCT it needs to be at 155

dalia6259@gmail on April 19, 2015:

I'm a fourteen year old female And plan to join the military. And tips for me to start doing to be able to qualify. My height is 5feet right now. do You know Any long term ways to lower my weight And keep it that way.

Haley (author) from Baltimore, MD on April 10, 2014:

Yes James, the ASVAB is an incredibly important test. It is the main deciding factor in deciding which military jobs a person is qualified for.

James on March 31, 2014:

The ASVAB is an important test indeed. I'd check out this site before taking the test.

http://howtopasstheasvab.com