3 Day Diet: Meal Plans, Substitutions, and Concerns

By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

tunatoast

The 3 Day Diet is one of the most popular short-term fad diets around today.

Many people adopt the diet to try and achieve short-term weight loss. However, unfortunately, most people simply gain the weight back again once they resume normal eating patterns.

The 3 Day Diet is simply a low-calorie diet consisting of not so healthy foods (as can be seen by the meal plan).
There is nothing magical – no mystical chemical reaction happens. Weight loss is due to restricted calories – some of this may be fat – but some will be from water loss.

A more nutritionally-balanced 3 day diet is the 3 day refresh from Beachbody. If you can afford it (retails for $60) it is a far more healthier option than the following menus.

3 Day Diet Meal Plan

Note: Calorie amounts are approximate and will vary depending on the exact brand of product chosen.

However you look at it, daily calories are very low. Try using the calorie calculator to find your optimum daily calories for weight loss.

DAY 1

Total Calories: 870

Breakfast
219 Calories
  • Black coffee or tea (Sweet & Low or Equal) or water (0 cal)
  • 1/2 a Grapefruit or 1/2 cup Grapefruit Juice (41 cal)
  • 1 slice toast with 1 Tbsp Peanut Butter (178 cal.)
Lunch
183 Calories
  • 1/2 Cup of Tuna (100 cal)
  • 1 slice toast (83 cal)
  • Black coffee or tea (Sweet & Low or Equal) or water (0 cal)
Dinner
468 Calories
  • 3 oz. any lean meat (94 cal)
  • 1 cup green beans (34 cal)
  • 1 cup carrots (52 cal)
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream (288 cal)
  • 1 medium apple
  • Black coffee or tea (Sweet & Low or Equal) or water (0 cal)

DAY 2

Total Calories: 1149

Breakfast
266 Calories
  • Black coffee or tea (Sweet & Low or Equal) or water (0 cal)
  • 1 egg (any style) (78 cal)
  • 1 slice toast (83 cal)
  • 1 banana (105 cal) 
Lunch
273 Calories
  • 1 cup 2% cottage cheese (203 cal)
  • saltine crackers (70 cal)
  • Black coffee or tea (Sweet & Low or Equal) or water (0 cal)
Dinner
610 Calories
  • 2 beef franks or hot dogs (300 cal)
  • 1/2 cup carrots (26 cal)
  • 1 banana (105 cal)
  • 1 cup broccoli or cabbage (35 cal)
  • 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream (144 cal)
  • Black coffee or tea (Sweet & Low or Equal) or water (0 cal)

DAY 3

Total Calories: 859

Breakfast
222 Calories
  • Black coffee or tea (Sweet & Low or Equal) or water (0 cal)
  • 5 regular saltine crackers (70 cal)
  • 1 oz.(slice) cheddar cheese (100 cal)
  • 1 small apple (52 cal)
Lunch
161 Calories
  • 1 hard boiled egg (78 cal)
  • 1 slice toast (83 cal)
  • Black coffee or tea (Sweet & Low or Equal) or water (0 cal)
Dinner
476 Calories
  • 1 cup tuna (200 cal)
  • 1 cup carrots (52 cal)
  • 1 cup cauliflower (23 cal)
  • 1 cup melon (57 cal)
  • 1/2 cup regular vanilla ice cream (144 cal)
  • Black coffee or tea (Sweet & Low or Equal) or water (0 cal)

Three Day Diet Additions Allowed

  • Lemon (and lots of it, if you like)
  • A dash of salt and/or pepper
  • Mustard
  • Cooking spray
  • Lemon Pepper seasoning
  • Splenda
  • Gum/mints (sugar-free)

Food Substitutions

Some people use the following food substitutions for the 3 day diet:

Instead of Grapefruit?
Any other piece of fruit in its place. i.e. orange or apple and Drink 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in water a half an hour before you eat.
Instead of Banana?
Two apricots, two kiwifruit, or a cup of papaya
Instead of Toast?
5 crackers, 1/8 cup of sunflower seeds (shelled), 1/2 a protein bar, 1/2 cup of whole grain cereal, or 1/2 cup protein shake.
Instead of Hotdogs?
1/2 cup lentils/beans = 1 hotdog. Bratwurst and veggie dogs are fine also.
Instead of Tuna?
The same amount of tofu, cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds, 2 ounces cooked chicken, or 30 whole almonds or peanuts.
Instead of Peanut Butter?
Any nut or seed butter is fine except for Nutella
Instead of Ice cream?
The same amount of flavored milk, frozen yogurt, or fruity yogurt.
Instead of Egg?
2 slices of bacon, 1 chicken wing, a cup of milk, or 1/4 cup of nuts
Instead of Broccoli?
The same amount of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, or beetroot.
Instead of Green Beans?
The same amount of lettuce, spinach, or tomatoes
Instead of Carrots?
A small salad or the same amount of beetroot, bell pepper, or spinach
Instead of Apple?
A pear, plum, grapes, peach, or nectarine.
Instead of Cheddar or Cottage Cheese?
These both can be used interchangeably or 2 ounces of ham cold cuts or 2 eggs.
Instead of Tea or Coffee?
Green tea, kombucha tea, yerba mate, or sugar-free hot chocolate made with water

Exercise Recommendations

Due to the low number of Calories in the 3 day diet, exercise should be kept to a minimum.

Common Questions

Can I do the 3 Day Diet for more than 3 days?
Any diet that recommends dieters eating less than 1200 calories a day is considered unsafe unless supervised by medical staff. Also, this diet is deficient in the nutrients required for good  health. Therefore, it is not recommended at all, but definitely not for more than 3 days.
How much weight will I lose?
This is highly subjective and almost impossible to answer. It depends on factors like metabolism, activity level, and so forth. All dieters following the plan to the T, should lose at least a few pounds of water weight and from having less digesting food material in their systems.
Can I substitute one food for another?
There is nothing “magical” about the foods in the 3 day diet meal plan. It’s about the calories. If you substitute the same calorie amount of a similar food you like for one you don’t, it won’t change the outcome. Just substitute a protein for a protein and a vegetable for a vegetable etc. For more clarification see the list directly above.
Can I drink as much water as I want?
It’s recommended that we consume around 2-3 liters of water a day through food and drink sources. While water doesn’t have calories, those only drinking when the diet tells them to will most likely experience more weight loss because they will have lost more water weight due to slight dehydration.
Is the 3 Day Diet safe for diabetics?
Diabetics should always consult their doctors before starting any new diet. Because of the very low-calorie amounts, this diet could be dangerous for diabetics.
Is this diet safe for children and teens?
No, for many reasons. First, a growing child needs adequate calories and nutrition for development. This diet lacks both of those elements. Secondly, the 3 day diet teaches children to “fad” or “crash” diet instead of to eat healthily and exercise in order lose weight. Also, highly restrictive diets can set children up for potential eating disorders.

Smartphone Apps

3 day diet smartphone app3 Day Diet is available as an iPhone app.

It includes a meal and weight tracker, and food substitutions.

iTunes

Pros

  • Rapid weight loss is possible
  • Simple and easy to follow
  • Meals easy to prepare
  • The 3 Day Diet has been around for many years

Cons

  • Low-calorie diets can be dangerous for some
  • Results are usually short term
  • Very low-calorie diets can slow metabolism
  • Includes fatty or sugary foods like hot dogs and ice cream
  • Not suitable for those sensitive to caffeine
  • Can lead to yo-yo dieting

Calorie Restriction is the Key

If you wish to follow a 3 day diet – ensuring you are meeting all your nutrient requirement – please use the 3 day refresh from Beachbody. The shake-based program contains all the optimal nutrients you need.

The 3 day diet has been popular for many years as a way to lose weight quickly by drastically reducing caloric intake.

However, this plan is not sustainable or healthy for the long term, and may lead to a “yo-yo effect”. The 3 Day Diet does not teach dieters how to eat healthily and how to choose smaller portions as a part of a lifestyle.

Research shows that slow, gradual weight loss is healthier than short term, rapid weight loss such as advocated by this diet.

39 Comments

  1. Nichelle 1 week ago

    What can i substitute melon for?

    Reply
    • Ted 1 week ago

      Just use some other type of fruit like apples or strawberries

      Reply
  2. Lynda

    I only drink decaf coffee or tea. Is this going to make a big difference?

    Reply
    • Ted

      No, but the caffeine helps with the sluggishness experienced by the low calorie nature of the 3 day diet.

      Reply
  3. Enola Williams

    Great information! I am motivated to START!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  4. Janet

    Can I drink the coconut coffee ?

    Reply
    • Ted

      No, it should be coffee that doesn’t have many calories. Black coffee has about 1 calorie per serving.

      Reply
    • teresa

      no! tea or coffee… but you can have green tea..i dont drink coffee…i just have water

      Reply
  5. al-amin

    Oh and its not chicken or tuna SALAD, just plain tuna, no mayo, relish, etc…plus tuna has more omega 3s than chicken..try a tuna steak or filet, an actual piece of tuna, not in a can..little more $$ but tastes much better..it’s already a low calorie diet, try to get as many nutrients as you can

    Reply
  6. Betty Brubaker

    I’m finally doing this diet to jump start me. I have gained 40 lbs from being 130 lbs at 5’3. I’m already finding it is putting me into a routine of eating (I’m on day 2). I am at stay at home wife/mom and I have a horrible schedule. Night owl, get up at 9 and have never been a breakfast person and so I don’t usually eat anything until 1:00 or after. Changing my routine up and getting up earlier than 9 a.m. so that by nine I have the breakfast listed. Have lunch around 2 p.m. and fix dinner to be ready by 6 p.m. I’ve be looking at recipes from the Paleo foods too, that way I will be able to fix things that are healthy. The thing is to have everything ready and bought for this diet ahead of time. I actually feel like I’m eating a lot more! I generally only eat once a day and snacks at night. No good I know. Body is probably storing fat saying: oh no she is starving me for hours hahaha. Anyhow, I hope I lose 10lbs but even if I just lose inches and my clothes feel better I will be happy. I’ve just finally made up my mind that enough is enough of me feeling yucky, and not pretty, and miserable etc, etc…. I am the only one that can change that. It nothing that I haven’t known–just couldn’t get motivated to change. I wish all of you the best and Jane don’t give up girl! You have the power 🙂

    Reply
    • jenn

      though im waaaaay heavier than you are lol we have very similar stories im also a stay at home mom who has the exact same out of wack sleep schedule and have finally said enough is enough. So many blessing to you on this journey to a better you, thank you for helping me to feel like someone else out there understands exactly where i am right now. Today is my first day. i dud it years ago with good success and a jump start to a renewed mindset and made better choices after it that lead me to loose nearly 90 pounds. Marriage and a child later lol i gained that back and then some because i honestly just gave up but recently ive hot that fire back to save my life because i now have a beautiful princess to live for and thats my plan!!

      Reply
  7. Jane

    Followed this diet to the letter. Took my dog out for a 2 hour walk on Day 2 and 2 1/2 hour walk on Day 3. When I weighed myself on Day 4 I had lost the grand sum of 3 lbs!! Big deal.

    Reply
    • Nicki

      How close are you to your ideal weight. That plays a factor

      Reply
  8. Kkkk

    Oh and its not chicken or tuna SALAD, just plain tuna, no mayo, relish, etc…plus tuna has more omega 3s than chicken..try a tuna steak or filet, an actual piece of tuna, not in a can..little more $$ but tastes much better..it’s already a low calorie diet, try to get as many nutrients as you can 🙂

    Reply
  9. Kkkk

    It’s true, the 3 day diet has been around many years..it originally came from a hospital to use for patients that needed to lose weight quickly for surgery..the foods are specific because fruits, fish, meats, etc., have different amounts of fat and certain nutrients, ie, grapefruit has citrus acid proven to burn fat…the diet should be done 3days on 4 days off for one month, eat in moderation, and it is designed to change eating habits and even shrink the sto mach so overeating is a no-no, and substitutions should be kept to a bare minimum as the foods work together to give maximum results. Good fortune! 😉

    Reply
  10. Marjhen

    Instead of melon?

    Reply
    • Ted

      Any other lower sugar fruit is fine. Berries, kiwi fruit etc.

      Reply
    • teresa

      you can have a banana

      Reply
  11. Esther Perez

    How soon do I wait to do the diet again after the 3 days?

    Reply
    • Ted

      Hi Esther, This really should only be used as a jumpstart to a healthy, sustainable long-term weight loss diet, not simply done over and over again. Consider flexible dieting to get you to your goal weight and it allows you to eat what you want. Learn more here: https://healthyeater.com/ebook

      Reply
      • Erin

        I know you say it shouldn’t be done over and over again but can you do it and still continue to see results?

        Reply
        • Ted

          This type of eating eventually stalls the metabolism because of the low-calorie levels and it’s nutrient deficient, so you’re better off to switch to something more sustainable long-term like Flexible Dieting. https://healthyeater.com/ebook

          Reply
        • Ang

          other sites say eat normally for 4 days then repeat

          Reply
          • laura kartsonis

            I thought this was a diet of 3 days on and then 3 days off. am I wrong? laura kartsonis thank you

  12. Karen.abrams

    Could I have chicken salad instead of tuna?

    Reply
    • Ted

      Yes, you can swap the tuna for chicken.

      Reply
  13. Lisa

    How much juice to drink

    Reply
    • Ted

      1/2 cup of grapefruit juice.

      Reply
      • Blessd6

        What can I substitute for grapefruit or grapefruit juice?

        Reply
        • Ted

          That’s listed above under the heading “substitutions”

          Reply
  14. Teresa

    What can I substitute for melon?

    Reply
    • Ted

      cantaloupe, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries

      Reply
  15. Nancy

    If you do not like coffee or tea is it okay to have a diet coke?

    Reply
    • Ted

      The coffee and tea are meant to be a caffeine source to offset the tired feelings of having a lot fewer calories. Diet coke will serve the same purpose.

      Reply
  16. Alice

    How much water can u drink?

    Reply
    • Ted

      Hi Alice, As much as you want.

      Reply
  17. Helge

    The problem is that you are supposed to keep your calorie intake below 1500 calories for the next 4 days and 1500 calories is not much more than you get each day during the first 3 days so you still risk developing a condition.

    Reply
  18. Tamika

    Can salmon be replaced for the tuna

    Reply
    • Ted

      Yes, that is fine. It will just add a few more calories.

      Reply

References

  • Wadden, T. A., STUNKARD, A. J., & BROWNELL, K. D. (1983). Very low calorie diets: their efficacy, safety, and future. Annals of internal medicine, 99(5), 675-684.
  • Wadden, T. A., Van Itallie, T. B., & Blackburn, G. L. (1990). Responsible and irresponsible use of very-low-calorie diets in the treatment of obesity. Jama, 263(1), 83-85.
  • Xydakis, A. M., Case, C. C., Jones, P. H., Hoogeveen, R. C., Liu, M. Y., Smith, E. O. B., ... & Ballantyne, C. M. (2004). Adiponectin, inflammation, and the expression of the metabolic syndrome in obese individuals: the impact of rapid weight loss through caloric restriction. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 89(6), 2697-2703.
  • Cifani, C., Polidori, C., Melotto, S., Ciccocioppo, R., & Massi, M. (2009). A preclinical model of binge eating elicited by yo-yo dieting and stressful exposure to food: effect of sibutramine, fluoxetine, topiramate, and midazolam. Psychopharmacology, 204(1), 113-125. Link