SlimFast Diet Plan Pros and Cons

Using SlimFast Shakes Has Benefits and Drawbacks

SlimFast shakes pros and cons
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Many consumers are familiar with SlimFast diet products because they've seen them on grocery and drugstore shelves for years. But the products have changed over the years and the newest version of the SlimFast diet offers more variety.

What Is the SlimFast Diet Plan?

If you follow the SlimFast diet plan, you'll eat six times every day. Your eating schedule includes one full meal of your choice (500 calories for women, 800 calories for men), two shakes or smoothies, and three 100-calorie snacks.

You can purchase SlimFast snacks or make your own snacks at home. The plan allows you to eat out for your main meal or cook at home and enjoy alcohol in moderation.

According to SlimFast, women on the diet consume approximately 1,200 calories per day on the plan and men consume 1,600 calories per day. This allows for weight loss at a safe rate of approximately 1 to 2 pounds per week.

The cost of the SlimFast plan will vary based on the amount of weight you have to lose and the number of products you buy. For example, if you make your own snacks, the plan is likely to be less expensive.

A 30-day supply of SlimFast shakes (two shakes per day) will run about $60 to $70. Snacks range in price but generally cost around $1 per snack pack when you buy them in bulk. So a 30-day supply (3 snacks per day) would cost about $90. An estimated monthly cost of the SlimFast diet would be roughly $150 plus the cost of one main meal per day.

What's in SlimFast Shakes?

The ingredients in the SlimFast shake you consume will depend on the variety that you buy. The newer Advanced Nutrition Shakes and Smoothies provide more protein and less carbohydrate than the original shakes.

  • Original SlimFast Chocolate Royale Shake Mix Nutrition Facts (with eight ounces of skim milk): 200 calories, 4 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 30 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 22 grams sugar, 10 grams protein.
    Ingredients: The primary (first) ingredient in Original SlimFast Chocolate Royale shake mix is sugar followed by cocoa, sunflower oil, and aspartame among other ingredients.  Other flavors of Original SlimFast Shake Mix have nutrition facts that are similar but not identical to these numbers.
  • Original SlimFast Chocolate Royale Shake Nutrition Facts: 190 calories, 6 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 24 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 18 grams sugar, 10 grams protein.
    Ingredients: The primary ingredient in Original SlimFast Chocolate Royale shakes is fat-free milk, followed by water, sugar, cocoa, canola oil, and other ingredients including hydrogenated soybean oil and a mix of nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners. Other flavors of Original SlimFast Shakes have nutrition facts that are similar but not identical to these numbers.
  • Advanced Nutrition SlimFast Creamy Chocolate Shake Mix Nutrition Facts: 180 calories, 8 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 6 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 1 gram sugar, 20 grams protein.
    Ingredients: After water, the primary ingredients in the Advanced Nutrition Shakes include calcium caseinate (a protein derived from milk), milk protein concentrate, canola oil, cocoa, thickeners and sweeteners. Other flavors of have nutrition facts that are similar but not identical to these numbers.
  • Advanced Nutrition SlimFast Creamy Chocolate Smoothie Mix Nutrition Facts (mixed with eight ounces of skim milk): 190 calories, 3.5 grams fat, .5 grams saturated fat, 20 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 13 gram sugar, 20 grams protein.
    Ingredients include whey protein isolate, soy protein isolate, cocoa, sunflower oil, thickeners, and sweeteners.

    If you compare the ingredients and nutrition for these products with a typical smoothie that you make at home from scratch with fresh fruit, fiver-rich seeds and other healthy ingredients, you're likely to be disappointed. It would be unusual to find oil, trans fat (partially hydrogenated oils) or artificial sweeteners in most traditional smoothie recipes. But many people who buy SlimFast, enjoy the convenience of the products. So making a nutritious smoothie at home is not an option.

    What Are SlimFast Snacks?

    One hundred calorie snack packs are part of SlimFast's Advanced Nutrition program. There are a wide variety of foods to choose from so you're likely to find something to satisfy your sweet or salty cravings.

    For example, you can buy savory Sour Cream and Onion Baked Crisps when you want something salty and Cinnamon Bun Swirl Drizzled Crisps when you need to satisfy your sweet tooth.

    Nutrition facts vary for each snack, but each flavor provides both protein and fiber. You're likely to feel satisfied after eating (and eat less as a result) when you fill up on foods with fiber and protein.

    SlimFast Diet Benefits

    If you're not sure if this diet plan is right for you, consider some of the SlimFast diet pros.

    • The diet plan is easily accessible. You'll find the products in almost every supermarket, grocery store and pharmacy around the country.
    • SlimFast may be less expensive than other diet plans that you consider. Some diet plans, like Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem and Weight Watchers require you to commit to a longer-term program in order to get the lowest price. SlimFast requires no commitment at all. You can try it for a day or a week or a month without having to cancel a subscription meal service or plan.
    • This plan is very easy to follow. No foods are off limits and portion control is built in when you buy the packaged snack products.  In addition, the one meal per day that you enjoy allows you to consume more calories than some other diets that recommend 300 or 400 calorie meals.
    • Calorie counting is built in so there is no need to download an app, keep a journal, or log foods. Almost all of the math is done for you, except for the one daily meal.
    • Exercise is encouraged on the plan, although no formal program is provided.
    • Some scientific studies have demonstrated successful weight loss with meal replacement programs like SlimFast. Although many of the studies included guided support or education programs as part of the trial.

    SlimFast Diet Drawbacks

    Every diet has drawbacks. Before you invest in SlimFast, consider some of the diet's cons.

    • The program is built primarily on processed foods. Most health experts recommend that you decrease the amount of processed food that you consume and increase your intake of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, lean meats, seafood and whole grains for optimal health.
    • You may not learn healthy cooking methods on the SlimFast diet plan. Cooking is not required on the program. And since you are able to consume a hearty 500-800 calories at your main meal, you could easily eat out or buy more processed food.
    • You may not learn important portion control or calorie counting skills. If you reach your goal weight on the SlimFast diet, you're going to have to eventually wean yourself off the program and maintain your weight loss. Since the diet products are already portion controlled, you may not develop the skills you need to make it through this important transition without weight gain.
    • Once you reach your goal weight, you are advised to slowly decrease your use of SlimFast and increase your intake of typical foods. But beyond that, there is no structured transition or maintenance plan that weans you completely off the products.  And if you get used to eating chips and chocolate snacks on the diet, you may be tempted to eat these foods after the diet is complete. If you eat typical chips and shakes (those that are not calorie-controlled) you're likely to gain back the weight.
    • There is no face-to-face or personalized support. However, the program does offer a Facebook page, recipes on the website and many large diet forums (like SparkPeople) have groups dedicated to those following SlimFast.
    • The taste of SlimFast shakes has been criticized online.  But sometimes it important to keep the reviews in perspective. Consumers are often more highly motivated to post online reviews if they don't like a product. But to stay on the safe side, you might want to invest in just a few products until you are sure that you enjoy the products enough to stay on the diet long enough to reach your goal.

    Remember that the best diet for you isn't necessarily the easiest diet to follow or the cheapest diet on the market. Ask yourself important questions before investing in any weight loss program to stay healthy and save yourself time and frustration.

    Sources:

    Brindal E, Hendrie GA, Taylor P, Freyne J, Noakes M. Cohort analysis of a 24-Week Randomized controlled trial to assess the efficacy of a novel, partial meal replacement program targeting weight loss and risk factor reduction in overweight/obese adults. Nutrients. 2016;8(5):265. doi:10.3390/nu8050265. http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/8/5/265/html. 

    Ditschuneit HH, Flechtner-Mors M., et al Metabolic and weight-loss effects of a long-term dietary intervention in obese patients. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1999;69(2):198–204. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/69/2/198.

    Lowe MR, Butryn ML, Thomas JG, Coletta M. Meal replacements, reduced energy density eating, and weight loss maintenance in primary care patients: A randomized controlled trial. Obesity. 2013;22(1):94–100. doi:10.1002/oby.20582.

    Noakes M, Foster PR, Keogh JB, Clifton PM. Meal replacements are as effective as structured weight-loss diets for treating obesity in adults with features of metabolic syndrome. The Journal of Nutrition. 2004;134(8):1894–1899. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/8/1894

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