Is the Alabama 3-Day Diet Right for You?

Vilma Ruddock
3 Day Diet

The Alabama 3-day diet is appealing to people who are struggling to lose weight and want a diet that promises quick, encouraging results. This version of a fad diet promises a quick 10 pound weight loss if followed precisely for three days. However, experts agree that this is not a healthy or sustainable way to lose weight.

The Basics

The Alabama 3-day diet is a calorie-reduced diet with an estimated 800 to 1000 calorie intake per day. The diet is strict, and you have limited choices in what you can eat. Follow the diet for three days, then for the next four days you eat your normal diet. Repeat the diet for another three days and so on if you want to lose more weight.

The combination of foods and the sequence of eating them is said to cause "a unique metabolic reaction" that causes a "chemical breakdown" which makes you burn calories and lose ten pounds in three days.

The rules of the diet include:

  • You must follow the meal plans exactly as outlined for three days; eat no more or less.
  • You are allowed to eat only the foods on the plan; there are no substitutions.
  • You can drink black coffee or tea with sweetener.
  • You can add only salt and pepper as seasonings.
  • You may use any method to cook your meats and vegetables.

There is no mention of drinking water, but you should drink enough to stay hydrated. There is also no exercise advice included in the plan.

A Diet by Many Other Names

The origin of the Alabama 3-Day Diet is a mystery, for no institution will claim it. It is said to have originated in the 1980s at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Cardiac Unit, but they deny ownership. Multiple versions of the Alabama 3-day diet all follow a similar diet plan for three days.

Several other respected institutions have had their names attached to this immortal diet as well. The following titled versions float around on the Internet, but none of the named institutions have any association with or sanction this diet.

  • American Heart Association 3 Day Diet
  • Baptist Hospital 3 Day Diet
  • Birmingham Cardiac Diet
  • Birmingham England Cardiology 3 Day Diet
  • Bubba's 3 Day Diet
  • D. Pericone's 3 Day Diet
  • Florida 3 Day Diet
  • Hershey Medical Center 3 Day Diet
  • Hospital 3 Day Diet
  • Hot dog and ice cream diet
  • Kaiser 3 Day Diet
  • Mayo Clinic 3 Day Diet
  • The Military Diet
  • Ochner's 3 Day Diet
  • Oregon Health and Science University(OHSU) diet
  • 3 Day Army Diet
  • 3 Day Cardiac Diet
  • 3 Day Chemical Breakdown Diet
  • 3 Day Heart Diet
  • 3 Day Navy Diet

Analysis of the Diet

Medical professionals do not sanction the Alabama 3-day diet because there is no science to back up the promise of a 10 pound weight loss in three days. Because you will be eating fewer calories than your normal intake you may lose some weight in three days on this diet, but it is unlikely to be the promised 10 pounds.

Suppose you eat 1000 fewer calories a day than you are now eating. In three days you will have eaten 3000 calories less, which is less than a pound of weight loss (one pound is 3500 calories).

Medical Concerns

If you do lose weight, what you lose is mostly water and lean muscle mass as the body starts to use protein for fuel. In addition, with a low-calorie diet your resting metabolic rate slows down as your body tries to conserve energy. This makes it harder for you to burn fat and lose weight.

Analysis of the diet raises several other concerns related to the use of calorie-reduced diets of 800 calories or less if followed long-term:

  • Long -term use of restricted-calorie diets are unsafe and unhealthy unless medically supervised by trained health professionals.
  • It does not follow the principles of healthy eating, which includes eating a variety of foods daily and no less than 1200 calories for women and 1800 calories for men.
  • Standard healthy weight loss recommendation is to lose no more than one to two pounds a week instead of the suggested ten pounds on this diet
  • People who lose weight on low calorie diets tend to regain the weight after they stop the diet.
  • Because of the restrictions in calories and food variety, the diet is deficient in protein, vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin D, iron and calcium, especially if followed for more than three days.
  • This diet could have unwanted effects on your heart, kidneys, liver, gallbladder and bones.
  • It contains unhealthy foods such as hot dogs that are high in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, making it not heart-healthy.
  • The lack of food variety and the restricted calories makes the diet boring and difficult to sustain.

A Simple Diet Plan

There is simplicity to this diet which makes it attractive to some people who don't want to bother with the work of a more difficult diet plan:

  • Though hard to sustain, over the short of three days the diet is simple and easy to arrange.
  • It takes the hard work and guess work out of designing your own weight loss plan.
  • There is very little food preparation involved.
  • Foods on the plan are inexpensive.

The Three-Day Diet Plan

The 3-day meal plan of the Alabama diet is simple and easy to follow if you can stay on it. Each meal has a source of protein and sources of carbohydrates and fat.

Day One

Breakfast Lunch Dinner

1/2 grapefruit or juice
1 slice of toast
1 tbsp. peanut butter
Black coffee or tea

1/2 cup tuna
1 slice toast
Black coffee or tea

2 slices (3 oz.) of any meat
1 cup string beans
1 cup carrots or beets
1 small apple
1 cup vanilla ice cream

Day Two

Breakfast Lunch Dinner

1 hard-boiled egg
1 slice of toast
1/2 banana
black coffee or tea

1 cup cottage cheese or 1/2 cup tuna

5 saltine crackers

2 hotdogs
1 cup cabbage or broccoli
1/2 cup carrots or turnip greens
1/2 banana
1 cup vanilla ice cream

Day Three

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

1 hard-boiled egg
1 slice toast
Black coffee or tea

1 slice cheddar cheese
5 saltine crackers
1 small apple
Black coffee or tea

1 cup tuna
1 cup carrots or beets
1 cup green beans or cauliflower
1 cup cantaloupe or 1 small apple
1 cup vanilla ice cream

Healthy Weight Loss

The Alabama 3-day diet is not considered by medical professionals to be a healthy or effective way to lose weight. You could develop serious nutrient deficiencies with risks to your health, especially if you follow this diet for more than three days.

Speak with your doctor about the principles of healthy eating and the basics of creating a diet and exercise plan that is safe and effective.

Is the Alabama 3-Day Diet Right for You?