The Special K Diet was created by the Kellogg’s breakfast cereal company.
Basically, it involves eating a bowl (45g) of Special K with ½ cup of low-fat milk for breakfast then another for lunch OR dinner for two weeks.
Kellogg’s quotes the results of a scientific study supporting their diet, which showed that 3 out of 4 dieters achieved a slimmer waist and hips and lost up to six pounds over a two-week period.
Scientists at the university reached the conclusion that most of this was due to fat loss.
The diet is recommended for adults with a BMI greater than 25 and is not designed to be followed for any more than two weeks.
Special K Diet Basics
- Eat two servings of Special K cereal a day and ½ cup low-fat milk for breakfast and either lunch or dinner.
- The third meal should be a low fat and nutritionally balanced meal.
- Snacks may include fruit, vegetables, low-fat yogurt or a Special K bar.
- Beverages may be consumed as normal with no strict limits required as long as alcohol is avoided. Water and diluted fruit juices are recommended.
Although calorie counting is not required the actual calorie intake is in accordance with requirements for weight loss for most individuals.
The participants in the study mention above consumed an average of 1590 calories per day. This was calculated to be a reduction of their normal calorie intake of 27% and of fat intake by half.
Sample 1 Day Meal Plan
1 bowl of Special K Bliss Strawberry and Chocolate with 125 ml skimmed milk
Bowl of Special K Red Berries with 125 ml skimmed milk
Carrot sticks, sugar snap peas or a Special K Bar
Grilled salmon, boiled new potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and peas
Banana and low-fat yogurt or
Exercise is mentioned as being important as part of a healthy lifestyle with 30 minutes of daily activity recommended in accordance with government recommendations.
Costs and Expenses
There are no costs involved as all the details of the Special K Diet along with menu plans, meal suggestions and recipes are available on the Special K Challenge website.
The Catch? You have to buy plenty of Special K Cereal, bars, and shakes from your grocery store!
Individual results will vary, but this diet works using the meal replacement technique. You’re replacing your usual higher calorie meals with lower calorie ones. There’s nothing magical about the cereal, but it’s all about calorie reduction. This type of diet would work with just about any cereal.
Can I do this plan for more than 2 weeks?
Kelloggs would love that, but hopefully after two weeks you will have learned to eat less and control your portions better. Doing this diet for more than two weeks can lead to boredom and the potential of binge eating. Special K Cereal isn’t exactly the best thing to be putting into your body after all.
How much weight will I lose?
Results will vary and will depend on a number of factors including how well you stick to the plan.
Does it matter which Special K I choose?
Yes and no. The original diet was based on the original cereal. For the chocolate and other sweeter varieties the serving size is smaller. 3/4 cup instead of 1 cup for the calories to be the same. There is also more refined sugars in the sweet varieties which can spike insulin levels. Dieters would be wise to choose the less dessert-like cereals.
Do I have to use milk?
Milk alternatives are fine, but watch out for the ones that have a lot of added sugar.
- No calorie counting necessary.
- Simple and easy to follow.
- Scientifically proven to be effective for 75% of people.
- Breakfast has been shown in many studies to produce a wide variety of health benefits including lower cholesterol levels, improved memory and concentration and a higher intake of certain vitamins and minerals.
- One large study showed that people who ate cereal for breakfast had a lower body mass index than those who skipped breakfast or had eggs for breakfast.
- The lack of variation in this diet may lead to boredom as well as potentially compromised nutrient intake. Even though the breakfast cereal is fortified with vitamins and minerals it is questionable as to the degree that this can make up for nutrients that would otherwise be obtained from a wider range of whole foods.
- Special K is not based on whole grains and is not a particularly good source of fiber. It is necessary to consume an abundance of fruit and vegetables during the day as well as to include a source of whole grains such as brown rice or legumes in the other meal in order to meet daily minimum fiber requirements.
- Hunger is likely to be a problem for most people. Special K is high GI and high sugar which can actually trigger an increased appetite for many individuals.
- The weight may be regained easily when a normal diet is resumed after the two week period.
Good or What?
Personally, I think incorporating some cereals into your diet can be good – but there are some caveats here:
Satiety – From experience, I’ve noticed that wolfing down a bowl of cereal doesn’t always curb the hunger pangs. However having a bit more protein in the mix does keep the pangs at bay.
Nutrition – The simple truth is – Special K is better than what most people eat, but it still contains such gems as High Fructose Corn Syrup. Serving for serving, it has less potassium and fiber than oats and more sugar. Compare here and here.
“Lose 6 Pounds in 2 Weeks, but is this typical?
“If you currently have a poor diet, but substitute it with our cereal – you may lose 4.4 pounds over the first two weeks. You will probably feel very hungry while restricting your calories and may find eating cereal for dinner or lunch to be untenable after a while. Boredom could well set in. History shows that a low-fat, higher-carb diet can work, but in the long run, it may backfire”.
That said – you could do a lot worse than eating cereal, skim milk, and fruit – it’s a lot healthier than the average American meal…
We also look in depth at the nutrition of Special K Cereal here.