The 3 Day Diet Plan: Will It Really Help You Lose Weight?

The 3 day diet plan is a fad diet that has been around since 1985. It is based on dieting for 3 days. Proponents claim that you can lose up to 10 pounds in 3 days. However, due to the nature of this diet, it is admitted that most of these lost pounds consist of water weight.

3 day diet planWhen I first started researching it, I was immediately turned off by the fact that it’s a fad that encourages binge dieting and eating, and does not promote weight loss in a healthy manner. However, I continued my research and here’s what I found out…

The fact that this diet has been around for so long makes you wonder that maybe there’s something to it. It is often called the Cleveland Diet, but is not related in any way to the Cleveland Clinic.

During the three days that you are meant to be on this diet, you can only eat certain prescribed foods in certain quantities.

Dieters are also advised to drink 4 cups of water or diet soda. They are allowed a half-cup of vanilla ice cream each night as a reward for sticking to the diet!


The 3 Day Diet Plan

This diet is very specific about what you can eat. Dieters must have exactly the item mentioned, in the exact quantity that is mentioned.

If you go on this diet, you cannot eat more than what is stipulated. If you do, you may not enjoy any weight loss. Similarly, you are required to eat all that is mentioned, even if you do not feel hungry or don’t feel like eating.

The diet doesn’t mention anything about exercise.

The 3 Day Diet Menu


Day 1


  • Black coffee or tea, with 1-2 packets Sweet & Low or Equal
  • 1 piece toast with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1/2 grapefruit or juice


  • Black coffee or tea, with 1-2 packets Sweet & Low or Equal
  • 1/2 cup tuna
  • 1 piece toast


  • 3 ounces any lean meat or chicken
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 1 apple
  • 1 cup regular vanilla ice cream


Day 2


  • Black coffee or tea, with 1-2 packets Sweet & Low or Equal
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 piece toast


  • 1 cup cottage cheese or tuna
  • 8 regular saltine crackers


  • 2 beef franks
  • 1 cup broccoli or cabbage
  • 1/2 cup carrots
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup regular vanilla ice cream


Day 3


  • Black coffee or tea, with 1-2 packets Sweet & Low or Equal
  • 5 regular saltine crackers
  • 1 ounce cheddar cheese
  • 1 apple


  • Black coffee or tea, with 1-2 packets Sweet & Low or Equal
  • 1 boiled egg
  • 1 piece toast


  • 1 cup tuna
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1 cup cauliflower
  • 1 cup melon
  • 1/2 cup regular vanilla ice cream


How is the 3 Day Diet Plan Meant To Work?

The 3 day diet plan claims it creates some kind of metabolic boost because of the combination of foods that you eat.This is not scientific and has not been proven in any way.

Of course – in addition, you might lose a bit of weight because you consume 1000 calories each day, creating a caloric deficit.

After the 3-day diet, you are meant to return to eating in a healthy way. This means that after the diet is over, you should limit your calories, eat lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc.

The 3 day diet can be repeated when necessary.


Does The 3 Day Diet Work?

The reports are in and they are pretty much negative (as you’d expect).

First of all, the scientific community seem quite displeased with the diet. This could stem from the fact that the diet claims a “metabolic boost” which is not backed up in any way – ie a claim without research or proof.

Cindy Moore, the former director of nutrition therapy at the Cleveland Clinic, says that the diet could be dangerous because people semi-starve themselves for three days and when they stop the diet, they are more likely to overeat as a “reward” for doing the diet.

As I mentioned in my earlier post (here) dieting will reduce the size of your fat cells, not get rid of them completely (that’s what exercise does). So if you go on a three day diet and then overeat even a little bit, you will put the weight back on really quickly. That’s why it’s important to learn how to naturally eat well for weight loss, instead of doing a yo-yo diet.

Cindy More also says, that this diet, “sets up a vicious cycle of being hungry during the restrictive three days and most likely overeating on the off days.”

Nutritionists criticise the diet for its lack of variety which means that people will get bored and revert to their old unhealthy eating habits. Also, this diet does not teach any good lifestyle habits and incorporating a healthier lifestyle is essential to long term weight loss (see my story).

Finally, because the three-day diet works by cutting out most carbs, the majority of the weight loss is from lower water retention; ie you lose water and not fat.

However, some people do claim to have lost weight with the three day diet. One thing to keep in mind is: most of these people will post their results on the day the diet ends or the day after. So they are still enjoying the benefits of water loss. If you met these same people a fortnight or even a week later they would probably be at the same or greater weight, if all they did to lose weight was the three day diet.


The 3-Day Diet Plan: Yay or Nay?

Well, the evidence points towards the three day diet not working.

However, I remain ambiguous about this diet. There seems to be no real side effect to it, so I suppose you could try it. I mean, it doesn’t seem harmful.

However, this doesn’t seem like a long-term solution, unlike other fast acting diets. If you do this once, you might lose a pound or two of fat, which isn’t much in the long run. And due to the nature of the diet, you are likely to put that weight back on. The diet isn’t even of the kind that you’d want to do each day – simply put, the Eat Stop Eat diet that I follow is much easier and shows great results, so why suffer needlessly?

At the end of the day, I suppose you could try this diet if you like. However, in order to maintain the benefits, you cannot overeat after the diet is over, you need to start eating healthy and follow a more realistic diet if you want to continue losing weight. In addition, you will also need to do some exercise to maintain your weight loss. Finally – even if you do this diet, you really need to get on track with a healthy lifestyle.


Have you tried this diet? If so, please let me know how it went for you in the comments! :)




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Category: Diets, Weight Loss

About Alisha: Alisha is a Melbourne-based blogger who is happy to have lost a lot of weight recently! She is now trying to be more fit and lead a more healthy lifestyle. In this blog she shares tips for losing weight quickly and easily. You can read more about her on the "My Story" page.

Comments (5)

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  1. Sharon says:

    I am currently in the proccess of trying to lose 45 lbs. I’m 5’6 and my starting weight was 186 about a week ago. I did this diet and lost 8 lbs.

    Today is my second time around and hopefully I lose about the same amount.
    I can truly say “I love this diet” I have been struggling with my weight for 4 years. I have tried everything healthy and unhealthy and nothing worked.
    I am truly amazed at how easy the 3 days
    have been for me. I understand how low the valorie intake is so I visited my Dr. and had blood work done, I did not tell him I was on this type of diet because I wanted to see for myself so I had everything checked, my results
    were geat he said I was 100% healthy.

    So good luck to anyone who decides to try it out :) .

    • Alisha says:

      Hey Sharon thanks for updating me on your results. However a few other people have commented or emailed me since to let me know that they lost mostly water weight on this diet! I’m going to have to update this post… I don’t want people wasting time and energy on something that doesn’t work… :(

  2. Madeline says:

    I did a 3-day very similar to this about 20 years ago and only lost about 6 lbs…entirely water weight. I am certainly game to try this one! We can do just about anything for 3 days, right?

    • Alisha says:

      Yeah, 3 days is nothing.

      But thanks for updating me with the fact that it was just water weight!

      I don’t recommend you do it again if it was just water weight – I guess it’s a better idea to make a lifestyle change with healthy eating and exercising. That’s what worked for me, and I’ve found that’s what most people who successfully lost (and kept off) weight do :)

  3. KATHLEEN says:

    I’ve tried the 3 day diet and see tremendous results,I am following the diet as is ,and on the fourth day I eat special k cereal ,skim milk and a n half banana for b/fast
    lunch a large green salad with romaine lettuce,carrots,diced apple, raw almonds,raisans, and cucumber w/ low fat ranch dressing
    dinner the same salad with 3 oz baked chicken,tuna or turkey.haven;t weigh myself yet but i have lost more than water weight ,,,and on the 4th day I walk for 30 mins a day,feeling goodddddddddddddddddd
    hope this encourage someone ,please try the diet and see the weight come off

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