My Experience with Short-Term Diets
Like most people, I diet, or intend to diet, quite often. My motivations are mostly health-based along with a desire to not want to have to buy new clothes every time I horizontally outgrow them. Dieting used to be easy. I could drop a few pounds simply by cutting out junk food and taking an hour long walk each day.
As I neared the end of my 20’s, though, that regimen no longer worked for me. My metabolism has slowed down, and my need to stress eat or let myself go too long without losing a few pounds got out of control, at least to me. I have never been skinny or fat, but I have struggled to maintain my standard size my whole life. So, when I found myself gaining 20-25 pounds rather than my usual 5-10, I knew that I needed a different approach.
Below are three short-term diets that I have tried along with their results. Short term diets work for me because they are not a big commitment, they have very specific guidelines to follow, and they can help you boost a long term weight loss goal. I don’t believe that any strict diet should be followed for more than five days. It’s not healthy or realistic. These diets train your body to not need as much food so once you are finished with them, you should be a more disciplined eater and be able to maintain a regular exercise regimen.
Please note, I am not a doctor or nutritionist. I’m just a person who was healthy and willing enough to try these diets. Please seek a professional before trying these.
1. The Special K Diet
What You Do: Eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast and a bowl of cereal for lunch. Eat a snack with each of these meals and two additional snacks throughout the day. Kelloggs recommends their snack bars or chips. Fruits and vegetables are acceptable as well. Then, eat a healthy, low calorie dinner. Exercise each day. I usually walk, ride an exercise bike, or put on a work out video.
My Results: I’ve done this diet several times to jump start a diet after the holidays or after I’ve unexpectedly gained some weight. I typically lose 1-2 pounds in a week.
How I Felt: This is my favorite short term diet. It keeps me full enough so that I don’t starve, and it contains simple but specific eating guidelines, which I need. I’m good at following the rules but very bad at making them. So, the Special K Diet is a very easy diet to follow. They claim you can lose up to six pounds in two weeks. That’s probably true, but the diet gets bland after awhile, and I have never followed the plan for two week straight, only five days at a time.
I have to admit, I don’t always eat Special K as the breakfast and lunch cereal. It can upset my stomach by day five. So, I’ll use any cereal that I have opened that week. Sometimes i'll open two boxes to mix it up and keep myself from getting bored with the diet too soon. Cereal is a low calorie meal option versus bacon and eggs for breakfast and two slices of pizza for lunch. Keeping your snacks low calorie on top of that can help you burn off enough calories to lose a pound or two in a week. Exercise helps too.
The first few days can be difficult, especially when you have been binge eating around a holiday and are used to a constant stream of food intake, particularly sugar and junk food. I can get hungry in the afternoon, and I find myself rushing home for dinner, but by the end of the week, I can train myself to get through a day without my stomach growling.
2. The Slim Fast Diet
What You Do: Drink a Slim Fast Shake for breakfast, one for lunch, and eat three 100-calorie snacks between shakes. Then, eat a healthy, low calorie dinner.
How I Did: 0 pounds in 5 days.
How I Felt: This diet is not fun, despite getting to drink chocolate milk twice a day. The shakes are not as filling as they say. I used the powder mix and measured out my milk in a measuring cup. Each shake is about 200 empty calories. I would have rather eaten 400 calories worth of healthy food that would keep the headaches away and stop my stomach from growling all day.
Because I was so hungry, I had a hard time spacing out the snacks. I did not measure my food or try to calculate the calories too closely. I brought salad or boiled vegetables for lunch along with a yogurt, fruit cup, and two small apples. The lack of sugar in my diet gave me headaches. The only time my head didn’t hurt was after dinner. I didn’t meticulously count dinner calories either. I just tried to keep the portions small and the choices healthy.
Tylenol helped with the headaches, but they returned like clockwork. Having a slow week at work did not help me to keep my mind off of being hungry, and I was hungry a lot. When you're sitting at a desk all day, you can get bored, and that can make you feel hungry when you really aren't.
I did admire my will power on this diet, determined to at least see it through until Friday. Thanks to what I can only assume are the vitamins in the shakes, my energy level stayed high, and I was able to exercise safely and successfully and stay awake. Maybe too awake, though. I had a hard time sleeping while on this diet. It felt more like I was starving myself, and the fact that the number on the scale did not budge even half a pound in one week was enough to make me say that I will never try this diet again. However, I would like to know if it has worked for others the way it says on the packaging.
Please comment below if you have tried this diet.
3. The Three Day Military Diet
What You Do: I found this diet here on Caloriebee. Follow the diet’s meal plans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for three days. Exercise for 30 minutes each day. Take four days off and eat normally, but don’t binge, before starting over. They claim you can lose up to 10 pounds in three days.
How I Did: Both times that I tried this diet, I lost 1.5 pounds in three days.
How I Felt: I never knew how addicted I was to sugar until I tried this diet. I’ve never been a big junk food junkie. I prefer dinner to dessert, but we ingest sugar every day. This diet restricts your sugar intake and instead has you eating strange combinations of bland food three times a day and trying your best not to kill somebody while you go through sugar withdrawl.
The headaches start by the time I wake up on the second day, and they only go away after I eat the ice cream allowance that I’m afforded at dinner. About an hour later, they return. I felt weak and miserable on top of it, but at the end of the third day, I see results.
Surprisingly, I was not hungry between meals. I felt an urge to eat out of boredom or the fact that I didn’t like what I had for breakfast or lunch, but I cannot say that I was genuinely hungry. The meals are strange but bland. It disciplines me without making my stomach suffer.
After I finished the first round of this diet, I swore I would never do it again. Then, my weight loss hit a plateau, and I needed something to boost me again. So, I tried it again a few months later. It was no easier, but it was just as effective. I didn’t lose 10 pounds, but I’m not severely overweight so it would be difficult to lose 10 pounds unless I exercised for five hours a day.
I don’t like that I can’t exercise much on this diet due to the weakness I feel from eating so few calories. This diet feels more like a punishment than anything. It makes me feel terrible. The only two perks are the vanilla ice cream at dinner and the fact that it only lasts for three days. I feel like my willpower was made stronger due to this diet. If I were to try this again, I would alter it to make it higher calorie so that I can balance it with working out and not feel as sick or in pain. Even if I don’t lose as much weight, it’s a safer and more pleasant alternative.
Short-term diets have ultimately been a success for me. It proves that diets do work if you recognize them for what they are. They are tools to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. They alone are not a healthy lifestyle. There is no diet that will get you to and keep you at your goal weight forever. It’s something that you have to keep working towards. Pick a goal weight, get as close as you can, and just work hard to keep yourself healthy and fit.
I’ve learned that how you eat is the most important part of how well a diet will work. It is important not to over-eat. There are so many temptations out there. This is the most difficult aspect of dieting as well as the most important. I’ve fallen off the wagon many times, done what I said I wouldn’t do, and gone back to old, bad habits which resulted in a significant weight gain and a lethargic feeling that comes with being out of shape.
Short-term diets help me to stay on track, discipline myself, and be able to stick with them throughout their short life spans. I know that I will never be supermodel thin or body builder buff, but I also don’t want that. I don’t like the time and effort that it entails to stay at a goal weight or BMI, and that doesn’t suit my lifestyle. So, I’m happy balancing the scale as best I can and making sure that my weight doesn’t spiral and that I do everything that I can to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
What diets have you tried? Which ones worked? How long were you able to stay on them? How much weight did you lose? Leave your answers in the comments below!