3 Day Diet: Meal Plans, Substitutions, and Concerns

3 Day Diet: Meal Plans, Substitutions, and Concerns

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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.


Total Calories: 870

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.)
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)
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)


Total Calories: 1149

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)
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)
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)


Total Calories: 859

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)
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)
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 is available as an iPhone app.

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


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


  • 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.

By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

  • 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

Last Reviewed: July 29, 2019

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