3 Day Diet: Meal Plans, Substitutions, and Concerns


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.

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 smartphone app3 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

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

106 Comments or Reviews

Comments now closed
  1. Danielle

    Do I pick just 1 of the options in each meal or do I eat all 3 of the options etc???

  2. judy Davis

    Are you allowed to drink diet cokes.

    • qui

      How long should i wait before repeating the same diet

  3. Dineo

    Bread is not good for you?!!!

  4. Sandra blake

    I used this diet back in 1997 and it WORKED!!! I kept the weight off for many years

    • Rachel

      I’m going to try this diet. How long did you do the diet for? How much weight did you lose?

  5. Sandra

    Can I have diet soda?

    • Jason

      Diet soda is never good to drink

  6. Emma Danial

    What if I have the same diet for all 3 days?
    Breakfast: half cup milk in tea
    1 brown toast
    1 banana
    1 tbsp peanut butter

    1 slice brown bread
    1 boiled egg

    1 chicken breast or 1 cup chickpeas or red beans
    1 cup carrots
    1Small apple. (Or no apple)
    1 or half cup yogurt?

  7. Jackie Harrison

    What is the worst carb after 50?

  8. Donna Rushing

    I am taking coumadin. I can’t eat greens. What can I substitute for brocolli or cabbage on day 2? Also is will cauiflower affect the coumadin. If so what’s a sustitute for it?

  9. lou

    Hi I did the exact diet last week and today will start again for my next 3 days. My Q is this; I take juice plus whole food fruit, vege and berry capsules ( 2 of each in the morning). Im worried that this may interfere with the weight loss- any idea? It was hard to tell last week as scales were playing up

  10. Lisa ashe

    Have done this diet before, worked great for me

  11. Kay

    Is it important to eat the food as stated per meal or can you skip something in the meal and eat between meals. For instance if dinner calls for an apple, can you eat the apple in between lunch and dinner to decrease hunger?

    • Ted

      You can eat the apple between meals so feel free to space out the food as needed.

    • Vee

      I break up the majority of the meals so I can have snacks

  12. kolala

    A low calorie diet in combination with sports will safely lose weight

  13. Bettykuriakose

    How can diebetic patient have ice creams??

    • Ted

      There are some low sugar ice creams available. Artic Zero is one

      • Gilberto

        also there is no artificial sweetners allowed in the diet

    • Gilberto

      I would’nt recommend this diet for you if your a diabetic.

  14. Reece


    What should I eat after the 3 days are up? I’m worried about gaining the weight I lose.


  15. Rudolph Carter

    Great Post, Thanks. I may add that note that the military emphasizes on quality (and quantity) of food because of its implications in the morale of troops. Many service members do a lot of physically demanding work on the field and will require more calories than the average person. I hope this would help too. Thanks

  16. Santa

    What can I use instead of the saltine crackers which I can find nowhere?

    • Ted

      What? Where do you live? They are also called soda crackers or soup crackers.

  17. Kate

    What can I have instead of the lean meat? Could I have king prawns or salmon? Not really a meat fan. Everything else i can handle 🙂

    • Sucka X

      Salmon is meat. It can be in any form, just stick to the ounces specified.

  18. Ebony

    What can I substitute for the melon?

    • Ted

      You can eat strawberries instead or another lower sugar fruit.

  19. Lesha

    Is there a limit to the water Or can I have my reg 8 glass of water?

    • Ted

      You can drink as much water as you want.

  20. Lisa

    There are different versions of this diet seem like. I’m on day #3 and just realized I forgot my apple this morning. Will that have any affect? I was told this is a metabolic diet and all foods are crucial meal times suggested. Can I eat it with dinner?

    • Ted

      The combinations of foods or timing of those foods, makes no difference. This diet works by calorie deficit.

  21. Lillian

    I am trying this 3 day. Diet. I am having a problem with eating all the amounts of food alloyed per meal. I get full so quick and then feel sick to my stomach. Can I cut down on the amounts. I am 78 and have put on 25 lbs in 2 years.

    • Ted

      That wouldn’t be recommended. It’s already really low in calories.

  22. ©®¥

    Leave a message…i dont know what are those food

  23. Ruby B

    I just read that Diet coke is ok to drink. Is this true?

    • Ted

      You can drink any beverage that doesn’t contain calories.

  24. Christina

    Can I use a green tea tablet each day during the 3 days? 1 tablet equals 6 cups of green tea.

  25. Jennifer Morgan

    Can i have a snack in between meals

    • Ted

      No, not if you are wanting to follow this diets to the letter.

  26. bon

    Which measure device you use
    Plastic measure set or glass measure cup

    • Ted

      1 cup is 8 floz or about 250 ml.

  27. Rachel

    Can I completely just not eat some of the stuff rather than substitute it?

    • Ted

      That’s not recommended because the diet is already very low in calories.

  28. Ernest

    Can I take daily vitamins? Can I drink a pre workout drink before going to the gym? Thank you for your time sir.

    • Ted

      You can take vitamins, but you really shouldn’t be working out while on the 3 day diet as the calories are too low.

  29. Momina

    I wanted to ask if we could take the tea with skimmed milk or do we have to take it without any milk?

    • Ted

      You can use skimmed milk.

  30. Vivian Wilson

    If you substitute the grapefruit for 10oz of grapefruit juice are you still meeting that requirement??

    • Ted

      You would have to do the calorie equivalent amount and one that has no sugar added.

  31. Whitney

    Because dinner is so filling and breakfast isn’t for the first day, can I eat the apples in the morning and not in the evening?

    • Ted

      yes, you can eat the food in any order.

  32. Anna

    Hi I just had two questions, first could we drink lemon water and such while on this diet? And also can we use this diet until we get to our desired weight and then wean off of it and eat healthy or is it more of a one time diet?

    • Ted

      Hi Anna, You can drink lemon water but the diet should only be down for a short period of time. You should then consider a program like flexible dieting.

  33. Veronica

    So after day three do u eat normal? Or do u just go off this diet and eat whatever or restrict foods/ calories after day three??

    • Ted

      Well, many just go back to eating how they did before which is why they gain the weight back. You should then follow a sensible plan such as Flexible Dieting.

  34. Shelley

    Can I eat vegies if I feel hungry on this three day diet. I am 5.3 and my weight has gone through the roof and in the past 5-6 years I have managed to put on 35 kilos and I am tied of been tied and really need to loose weight seriously. I have done myself no favours in gaining that weight and now I need to do something about it. I believe this will kick start things for me. I wold be happy to loose at least 10-15 kilos to start. baby steps right even this three day diet is still going to take a bit of getting use too, and will still take time for me to loose the weight.

    • Ted

      You are supposed to only eat the amount of food listed, unfortunately. Good luck with your journey to get healthier.

  35. Norma Brena

    I really need to loose 30lbs cause I feel bad

  36. Nichelle

    What can i substitute melon for?

    • Ted

      Just use some other type of fruit like apples or strawberries

  37. Lynda

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

    • Ted

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

  38. Enola Williams

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

  39. Janet

    Can I drink the coconut coffee ?

    • Ted

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

    • teresa

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

  40. 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

  41. 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 🙂

    • 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!!

  42. 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.

    • Nicki

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

    • Shelley

      Hi Jane,

      That is about 6 kilos that is impressive.

      Regards, S (Shelley)

      • Anne

        more like 1.36 kilos….. not 6.
        1 kilo = 2.2 pounds

    • Cammie Price

      Sweetie 3lbs. is good……try not to go to your scales…..Throw them away….everyone’s body is different. Go by your body. Not those horrible scales. I threw mine out 20 years ago…..I do not even let my nurse tell me. I stay slimmer….without knowing. Try this I promise you will finally be ok! Just someone you understands and cares….God Bless you girl!

    • Jason

      Sorry but 3lbs weight loss in a week is good not sure what you are expecting ? Like many people put weight on I’ve months or even years then think in 3 days they can undo a long period of either poor eating or lack of exercise or both. Weight loss is a slow journey and a life style change not a 3 day quick fix.

  43. 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 🙂

  44. 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! 😉

  45. Marjhen

    Instead of melon?

    • Ted

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

    • teresa

      you can have a banana

      • Misti

        Bananas have more calories than some other fruits such as Apple’s and oranges. A banana is actually 2 servings of fruit.

  46. Esther Perez

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

    • 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

      • 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?

        • 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

        • Ang

          other sites say eat normally for 4 days then repeat

        • laura kartsonis

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

  47. Karen.abrams

    Could I have chicken salad instead of tuna?

    • Ted

      Yes, you can swap the tuna for chicken.

  48. Lisa

    How much juice to drink

    • Ted

      1/2 cup of grapefruit juice.

      • Blessd6

        What can I substitute for grapefruit or grapefruit juice?

        • Ted

          That’s listed above under the heading “substitutions”

  49. Teresa

    What can I substitute for melon?

    • Ted

      cantaloupe, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries

  50. Nancy

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

    • 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.

  51. Alice

    How much water can u drink?

    • Ted

      Hi Alice, As much as you want.

  52. 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.

  53. Tamika

    Can salmon be replaced for the tuna

    • Ted

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

      • Shilanda

        Can I use bacon season my vegetable