The Slim Fast diet is one of the most popular weight loss plans in several countries including the United States, United Kingdom and France. It is based on the consumption of various Slim Fast products including shakes, packaged meals and snack bars for portion control coupled with sensible meals and moderate daily physical exercise.
How The Diet Works
The Slim Fast weight loss diet is a low-calorie diet similar in many respects to the Nutrisystem and Medifast diets in the United States. The products’ manufacturer – Unilever – claims that individuals religiously following the diet can lose 1 to 2 pounds of bodyweight on a weekly basis.
The theory behind the Slim Fast diet is simple: Exercise calorie restriction and portion control. The Slim fast products are formulated to provide for the right number of calories and nutrients so that the body continues to function at a normal pace while limiting the amount of portions consumed each day. Individuals on the diet still enjoy a 1,200-calorie intake per day.
Basically, the shakes, packaged meals and snack bars replace the solid food found in conventional breakfasts, lunches and snacks. Dinner is usually a 500-calorie meal consisting of healthy food choices like fruits, vegetables and lean meat, among others. Nowadays, flexible meal plans are also offered to accommodate lifestyle habits that may not coincide with the typical Slim Fast diet plans.
The typical Slim Fast weight loss diet consists of:
• 3 snacks, which can either be a Slim Fast snack bar or a piece of raw fruit
• 2 Slim Fast meal replacements, which can either be in its bar or shake form
• 1 500-calorie meal, which can be salads, burgers and tacos with recipes provided by the official website
Yes, you can dine out but you must still follow the 1 500-calorie meal a day rule so as to stay within the diet.
Let’s take a look at a sample menu in the Slim Fast diet. For breakfast, you can have a Slim-Fast French Vanilla Shake followed by a mid-morning snack of just ½ of a piece of banana. Lunch is composed of a single serving of Slim-Fast Chocolate Cookie Dough Meal Bar followed by a mid-afternoon snack of a whole apple. Dinner is a delightful affair with an Asian-style beef salad followed by a mid-evening snack of a Slim-Fast Chocolatey Vanilla Blitz Snack Bar.
It is strongly suggested that dinner should be a relatively light affair – no heaping meals beyond 500 calories. This is because portion control is a must on the Slim Fast weight loss diet.
The Slim Fast diet conforms to most, if not all, of the generally-accepted dietary guidelines in the United States. For comparison purposes, let’s take a look at the nutrients found in Slim Fast products and how these compare to the nutritional guidelines.
The recommended macronutrients are in parenthesis and the percentage relates to the total number of calories consumed per day.
• Fat – 30% (20-35%)
• Proteins – 20% (10-35%)
• Carbohydrates – 50% (45-65%)
Indeed, the Slim Fast products provide for sufficient amounts of macronutrients by themselves but the 500-calorie meal is still necessary to make up for any deficiencies in amounts.
In terms of micronutrients, Slim Fast products also fare well although certain fruits and vegetables must be eaten to make up for small deficiencies. To be more specific, the Slim Fast diet provides for:
• Fiber – 25 to 35 grams daily, in accordance with government guidelines
• Calcium – 500 milligrams for each serving of shake and 300 milligrams for each bar. The recommended amount is 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams, which means that it is easy to meet calcium requirements with Slim Fast products.
• Potassium – 140 to 600 milligrams per serving, which is far short of the 4,700 milligrams recommended amount. Load up on fruits and vegetables.
• Vitamin B12 – 35% for shakes and 20% for meal bars of the daily recommended amount of 2.4 micrograms.
• Vitamin D – Same as for Vitamin B12 with the daily recommended amount at 15 micrograms. Eat 3 ounces of sockeye salmon or other fishes for your dinner, which will provide for 20 micrograms, to meet the requirement.
Salt – or sodium, as it is called in nutritional labels – is a thorny issue in most diets and the Slim Fast diet is no exception. It is a necessary nutrient but it can lead to numerous health complications if and when taken in large quantities.
Health experts recommend a limit of 2,300 milligrams for healthy adults with a lower limit of 1,500 milligrams for certain cohorts in the population (i.e., individuals 51 years old and older as well as persons with chronic kidney disease and with diabetes). Slim Fast products are well within the healthy limit – the 3 snack bars and 2 meal shakes amount to just 560 milligrams while the single solid food meal makes up for the rest of the requirement.
We must emphasize a demerit to the Slim Fast diet meal plans at this point. It does not allow for certain preferences in diet habits mainly because of the ingredients used in the products.
For example, vegans will find the dairy ingredients to be unsuitable for their lifestyle although vegetarians will find these to be acceptable. The products are also not gluten-free and Halal-certified although there are no animal-based ingredients except for cow’s milk. The good news is that many of the Slim Fast products conform to kosher standards.
The Slim Fast diet is relatively easy on the pockets. A pack of shakes consisting of 24 servings cost approximately $35 while a pack of 24 snack bars retail for about $17.
Let’s assume that you will be consuming 2 meal replacements in shake form and 2 snack bars per day. Your daily consumption cost for Slim Fast products will then be:
$35/24 = $1.45 per meal replacement X 2 = $2.90 per day
$17/24 = $0.58 per snack replacement X 2 = $1.16 per day
$2.90 + $1.16 = $4.06 total per day
Since the recommended weight loss plan minimum period is 8 weeks – 56 days – you will then be spending $227.36 for the entire duration. Keep in mind that this amount is only for the Slim Fast products so you must also add the cost for the solid food for the snacks and dinner. You must also add the cost for maintenance since you will want to stay on the Slim Fast diet to maintain your healthy weight.
Pros and Cons
From the abovementioned discussion, we can surmise the pros and cons of the Slim Fast weight loss diet in the following terms:
• Ease in Adopting on a Daily Basis – Many individuals finds it hard to adapt to the meal replacements, shakes and bars of the diet. Most weight loss diets advocate eating solid food albeit in controlled portions, which is not so with the Slim Fast diet. Still, when you have adapted to the diet, sticking to it becomes easier especially with the light dinner and fresh fruits.
• Convenience – Just grab a can or a bar and your meal or snacks are ready – that’s how easy the Slim Fast diet is in terms of being a time-saving diet. You only need to cook once a day for the dinner portion. Or you may choose to eat out although portion control must be exercised. The official website for the diet also provides for easy-to-do healthy recipes including salads, tacos and cheeseburgers.
• Taste – Although the Slim Fast products come in many flavors including chocolate cookie dough, French vanilla, and strawberry, you may eventually get tired of consuming these bars and shakes. Then again, the Slim Fast diet demands dedication and commitment just like any other weight loss diet.
So, is the Slim Fast diet effective in weight loss? Research strongly suggests that it is, indeed, an effective way to lose excess weight and to maintain healthy weight, too. Over a period of 4 weeks, dieters lose an average of 6 pounds – an impressive number considering that the weight loss plan only calls for 30 minutes of moderate cardio activity each day.
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