Average Weight Loss in Marine Corps Basic Training

Man standing over group of people doing pushups, side view
Boot camp will whip you into top shape and rid you of excess body fat. (Image: Mike Powell/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Basic Training for the United States Marine Corps, also called boot camp, is the initial 13 weeks of training all recruits must complete before they can go further in the Marine Corps. Out of all of the United States military divisions, the Marine Corps has the strictest standards when it comes to height and weight, as well as the hardest physical fitness test. While there are no statistics available to the public to reflect average recruit weight loss, there are certain elements of training that will give you an idea of what you can expect.

Calorie Deficit

Weight loss is a result of burning more calories than you consume. One way to increase the deficit is through physical activity. To burn one pound of fat, you must increase your caloric expenditure by 3500 calories. During basic training, you participate in physical training classes six days a week. This activity is more than some recruits are used to, and so increases the calories burned each day. Food rations are also quite different than most recruits are used to consuming. This plays a large part in weight loss at basic training.

Physical Training

Physical training classes at boot camp consist of a run and calisthenics -- pushups, situps and jumping jacks, for example -- every day except Sunday. If each class involves a 40-minute run at a pace of 6 mph, an 180-lb. recruit will burn 544 calories. Add in 20 minutes of intense calisthenics, and that same recruit burns another 218 calories. That's 762 calories being burned, six days a week. Plus recruits may also take martial arts classes, self-defense classes and other physically active classes that will burn even more calories every day.

Change in Diet

Recruits get only three opportunities to eat each day during basic training. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are placed at set intervals and no snacks are offered. Recruits are not allowed to have food in barracks, or outside of mess hall. This is quite a challenge for some recruits that may be used to eating when and where they want. At the beginning of basic training, all recruits are weighed and measured. Recruits considered underweight by Marine Corps standards receive double rations for the remainder of the course. Overweight recruits receive reduced rations.

Expected Weight Changes

Changes in your body weight will depend on the shape you are in when you enter basic training. Some recruits will actually gain weight because they will increase their lean muscle mass. Many recruits will lose weight due to decreased calorie consumption and increased physical activity. Remember that body weight is not an accurate predictor of fitness, because it does not distinguish between fat and muscle. Increased physical activity also increases your bone mass, which can result in healthy weight gain.

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