The new 3-day diet

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The 3-Day Diet is a quick-fix diet that’s referred to as the Mayo Clinic Diet, the Cleveland Clinic Diet, and the Ochsner Diet, the 3-Day Cardiac Diet, and also recently on Pinterest as the 3-Day Military Diet – none of these names/claims are legitimate.

Black coffee and vanilla ice cream are common themes, along with hot dogs and saltine crackers.

The result: a diet high in sodium & saturated fat, with an average of more than 70 grams of sugar daily.

So while I’m not a fan of fad diets, I also know that many people are looking for a fast way to drop the holiday pounds. So here’s my better-for-you alternative to the 3-Day Diet, with 80% less sugar, 60% less saturated fat, 38% less sodium, & 33% more protein than the original diet.

People who have used this version of the 3-Day Diet have lost three to eight pounds over the course of the three days, and maintained most of the weight loss when they resume their balanced, nutritious diet.

Throughout all 3 days:

Only use salt-free, sugar-free seasonings. My favorite: Paul Prudhomme’s No Salt/No Sugar Magic Seasoning Blends.

Only use zero-calorie sweeteners. My preference is a natural plant-based sweetener like Swerve Sweetener.

Unlimited low/no-calorie drinks (e.g. water, sparkling water, Crystal Light, Sprite Zero, Coke Zero, black coffee, unsweetened tea, etc)

Optional daily mid-morning snack (approximately 100 calories each): EAS AdvantEDGE Carb Control Ready-to-Drink protein drink, Chobani Greek Yogurt (Plain, zero fat; can add a no-calorie sweetener if desired), or two to three ounces of lean meat.

Optional nighttime snack, any night: half-cup berries (any type) with 2 tbsp whipped cream

Day 1

Breakfast: One La Tortilla Factory Smart & Delicious High Fiber/Low Carb 50-calorie tortilla (or any 50-80 calorie whole grain tortilla), topped with a quarter-cup shredded 2 percent cheese, melted, plus 10 strawberries

Lunch: One link of chicken sausage dipped into yellow mustard or Dijon mustard, with six Triscuit Thin Crisps (triangles, not squares; any flavor); plus a half cup cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, or red or yellow pepper sliced into strips

Snack: A half-cup low-fat cottage cheese with a quarter cup blueberries (with optional no-calorie sweetener)

Dinner: Meat sauce of three to four ounces extra-lean ground beef in red sauce with less than 55 calories and 270 mg sodium per serving (my favorite: Sal & Judy’s Heart Smart pasta sauce); serve over one cup spaghetti squash (See recipe below)


Day 2

Breakfast: One egg with one slice of Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat 50-calorie bread (can add spray butter if desired)

Lunch: Tuna or chicken salad (made with four ounces of tuna/chicken with Dijonnaise), over mixed greens. Can add extra vegetables to salad (e.g. broccoli, asparagus spears, mushrooms, onions, etc).

Snack: Caprese salad of one tomato, sliced, with an ounce (two very thin slices) mozzarella. Top with fresh basil (shredded or chopped), and balsamic vinegar (not vinaigrette) and/or olive oil spritzer (approximately $10 at kitchen and home stores)

Dinner: Three to four ounces of filet, flank steak, or whitefish (e.g. tilapia/speckled trout); a cup of roasted broccoli (steam first roasted in broiler with low-salt seasoning blend & olive oil spritzer (not poured oil)


Day 3

Breakfast: Omelet made with one whole egg and three egg whites, filled with vegetables (e.g wilted spinach, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms).

Lunch: Hamburger steak made from a homemade three-ounce patty of 90 percent lean ground beef and no-salt seasoning; a cup of cauliflower mashed ‘potatoes’ (See recipe below.)

Snack: Chobani Greek Yogurt – Plain, 0% fat. Can sweeten with no-cal sweetener if desired.

Dinner: Three to four ounces of skinless chicken breast or grilled fish (baked or grilled); asparagus or green beans (fresh or frozen, not canned; at least one cup), steamed then roasted with no-salt seasoning and squeeze of lemon.


Pasta Swap: Spaghetti Squash

By Chef Marc Gilberti of Ochsner Health System


One 3-pound spaghetti squash

Cut squash in half lengthwise, discarding seeds. Place squash halves, cut sides down, in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish; add water to dish to a depth of ½-inch. Bake at 350; for 45 minutes or until squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Remove squash from dish, and cool. Scrape inside of squash with a fork to remove spaghetti-like strands. Season as desired.

Nutrition Facts per cup:

45 calories

0.4 grams total fat

0 grams saturated fat

10 grams carbohydrate

2 grams fiber

1 gram protein


Potato swap: Whipped Cauliflower

By Chef Marc Gilberti of Ochsner Health System


4 cups cauliflower (fresh or frozen)

1 Tbsp. sour cream

1 Tbsp. half & half

1 Tbsp. butter

Seasonings as desired

Steam or microwave cauliflower until soft. Drain and press out any excess water. Add sour cream, butter half & half, and seasonings to taste. Blend in a food processor or blender until smooth, with consistency similar to mashed potatoes. Garnish with seasonings as desired. Serves 4.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 45

2.5 grams total fat

1 gram saturated fat

7 grams carbohydrate

4 grams fiber

2 grams protein