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Experimenting With Short-Term Diets

I am the author of three middle-grade children's books, and I blog on the side. My favorite topics are movies, writing, and pop culture.


Kickstarting a Diet

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 walking a few miles each day.

As I get older, though, I find that I have to eat less and exercise more in order to lose weight. The exercising part isn't as hard as the eating less part. So, I look for ways to help me keep my food intake low without starving myself. One of those methods is by implementing a short-term diet.

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. See a professional if you have any concerns about starting a diet.



1. The Special K Diet

The Rules

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, or fruits and vegetables.

Then, eat a healthy, low-calorie dinner.

Exercise each day. I usually walk, ride an exercise bike, or put on a workout 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, and this motivates me to keep at it.

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 a while, and I have never followed the plan for two weeks 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 eat any cereal that I have in my cupboard that week. Sometimes I'll eat a different cereal for breakfast and lunch to avoid getting bored with the diet too soon.

Cereal is a low-calorie meal option versus heavy meals like bacon and eggs for breakfast and 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.

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2. The SlimFast Diet

The Rules

Drink a SlimFast 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 to 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 steamed 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. 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 willpower 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 it has on the packaging.

3. The Military Diet

The Rules

I discovered 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 and 30 pounds in a month.

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 eater. 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 detox.

The headaches started by the time I woke up on the second day, and they only went away after I ate the ice cream allowance that I was afforded at dinner.

About an hour later, they returned. I felt weak and miserable on top of it, but at the end of the third day, I did 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 that much.

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. I 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 be able to consume more calories so that I can balance it with exercise and not feel as sick or in pain. Even if I don’t lose as much weight, it’s a safer and easier alternative.

How to Perceive Diets

Short-term diets have been successful for me for the most part. It proves that diets do work if you recognize them for what they are. They are tools to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. But they alone are not a healthy lifestyle.

There is no diet that will get 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. 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 bodybuilder 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!

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.


Winnie on November 12, 2016:

The Slim Fast diet sounds like a nightmare! I've heard from others that the Special K diet really helps though, and I'm glad it's worked for you! It seems like the healthiest as well. Very helpful!

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