Special K Diet: Cereal for Weight Loss?

By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

2999-special-k-diet.jpgThe 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
Coffee or tea




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
Fresh fruit salad

Exercise Recommendations

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!


Will I Lose Weight With Special K?
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.

The Claim

“Lose 6 Pounds in 2 Weeks, but is this typical?

The Interpretation

“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.


  1. Laura

    I just want to say that your new commercial about how “women eat” is SO STUPID. Everyone eats including men, and (of course) we eat or we die. Eating isn’t something no one knew women did. Epic fail on this ad campaign.


    Thnx.sure I vil try this.

  3. Kelly

    I did this diet back in 2007 after i had my son and i was a size 17 jeans.. A month later i was in a size 14. Another month after that, i was in a size 11. This diet works and it’s easy. You just need to set your mind into thinking you can do it and ignore your cravings. You can also replace cereal at lunch for a special k shake!! Good luck everyone. You can do it.

  4. mary e. sheppard

    i`am a diabetes can this diet help me

    • mary e. sheppard

      will this diet help people with diabetes i have a friend want to no

  5. natalie

    willing to give a good try

  6. Patricia Ann

    I just want to thank you company for your cereal helped me with my wt. I went from 325. To 180

  7. keneilwe Bonno

    I dont eat fosh(salmon)what can i substitute with

    • Ted

      Just eat chicken breast instead.

  8. emimi45

    thanks i will try it

  9. Silvia Da Gama

    I have not been able to find special
    K in stores like pick n pay. OK ,
    Spar, shoprite. Checkers. Makro or trade centre – WHAT IS GOING ON ?????? It’s the only cereal I can digest please help

  10. Ashley

    I’ve have this diet but with shakes instead and fruit and dinner a normal meal with exercise. It helped me lost 15 lbs in a month. But gained it back after I had a baby so doing this diet again. It helped the cravings if not I ate nuts or fruit especially when I was working. It really varies for every one. So I hope I can get the results I want again.

  11. Jenn

    I do this when I need to lose a few pounds or my current diet has caused me to plateau. It works but I use Cracklin OatBran. It’s got the Fiber and Whole Grain and keeps me full until the next time I eat. Don’t forget to exercise…20 minutes on the treadmill always does the trick for me!

  12. M. Jayashree

    Can we have special k when in periods also??

    • Ted

      I wouldn’t see why not.

  13. Esmeralda

    Works for me too! The last time I did it I lost 8 pounds in2 wks

  14. Anita

    Can we have special k while breastfeeding

  15. Stephen

    This is a con and rip off. I just looked at the packet. For every 30g serving, 10g of that is sugar. This is why it ‘tastes good.’ I fail to see how this comprises a ‘slimming’ food.

  16. k d singh

    I am26 year old and my weight is 90aproxx I want to my body is muscular and fit how can I do this for myself

  17. Nokuthula Vuyani Sithole

    Special K does work for me , though difficult in my country. I went without it for because it. I started bad eating high calorie diet. During that time after restarting I now find it difficult to lose instead I’m gaining. Please help

  18. Michael Chivers

    Can I have the 2 week diet plan

  19. Roberta

    Like to get the newsletter on the special k diet.

  20. Jen

    some of you are saying that Special K is a “load of crap” because you could eat other cereals and still lose that weight, or that no matter what, replacing 2 meals a day with cereal is going to produce results. but Special K isn’t necessarily saying that it makes you lose more weight, or drop the pounds faster. the cereal simply makes it easier to replace meals, seeing as it tastes fricking AMAZING, rather than eating… oats or something.

  21. Jeanna

    Hey I just wanted to say every diet is not for everyone!! Ive just started Jenny Craig and just like any diet or weight loss program it’s hard. Im on the list of “tried every thing” because I kept listening to what worked for everyone else and never found out what worked for me! I encourage each and everyone of you to find what’s good for you and stick with it! You’ll get what your looking for with patience and perserverance! Peace

  22. Madison

    Hey Guys…I recently saw a commercial for the Special K challange. I’m 16 and my mom and I are thinking about starting it. Right now, I’m right around 130 pounds, but not very tall, so I look a little packed in. =]
    I work out 2 times a week, and am looking for a way to shead a couple pounds, and look healthier.
    Do you think the Special K challange will help me?

    • Tara

      It did for me at your age I did a few times when between 16-18 and time lost about 5 lbs

  23. lynnessa

    after reading everyones posts i thought i would write. you have to look at dieting as a lifestyle change instead of a diet. and it doesnt matter what you eat just the amount. you have to burn more calories than you take in. if you go out to eat share your meal or ask for a box for half of your meal. most meals contain a full day of caloric needs. ive learned that by counting calories eventually you can stop because you will know approximately the amount to intake. good luck to everyone! ~40+ lbs to go

  24. Nichole

    you dont. im a nursing student and that will back fire on you majorly.

  25. janak

    su su

  26. Susan

    if you want to lose 20 lbs in 2 weeks get lypo hun it works wonders

  27. lolly

    i’m 5’10 and weigh 200.5 lbs I’ll trade with you lol.
    nothing seems to work for me either. i walk 3 miles every morning after working a 12 hr shift w.o.w so i’m going to give this special K a try and i’ll get back at you.

  28. haha

    98 pounds is actually a reccommended weight for my height [4’11”]. I’m fourteen and now like..117, and my doctor said I’m getting overweight so I’ll probably do this diet, and then continue with my usual exercise.

  29. Marcus

    I’m starting this diet and I hope it works for me I’m 195 and most of it is fat, very little muscle.

  30. elian

    i like special k it really good for you and your body

  31. Richie

    well ive tried this diet…and personally i think it did work…there are other products other than just the cereal…theres protein bars…protein waters…and stuff like that…the protein water and bars helped me not get hungry throughout the day…i lost the weight that i wanted…good luck to anyone else who is going to try it

  32. CC

    I just had a baby in june and have been trying to find a way to lose the 40 lbs of baby weight i gained during my pregnancy instead of going to the gym (which i have no time for anyways). Does this diet really work? If so, will it help me with losing this baby weight? I believe I weigh 175 right now and I’m trying to get down to 130. Will this help?

  33. Trinette Terry

    You don’t have to exercise in the mornings, I use to work out at night, but now I find mornings more suitable for me.

  34. Trinette Terry

    Shirley, one more post and I’m done. What happens with consistent exercise is your metabolism increases. The combination of aerobics and lifting weights are both very important in increasing your metabolism. What your your body actually burns off while exercising is not so important. Increasing your metabolism is very important and with consistent exercise it will happen. Once your metabolism increases, the exercise you did in the morning, will cause you body to burn fat every day, even at rest. However, the body doesn’t like fat as a source of nutrition. This means, you have to be patient, because it is only going to burn so much fat in a day. Maybe a couple of pounds a week. It uses stored fat because it need a extra calories to maintain itself. Your increased metabolism demands extra calories. Nutrition is your body’s main source for nourishment. Stored excess fat is not a good source of nutrition. That means you need to eat good nutritious foods and enough. Starving yourself is defeating because you body still is only going to burn so much fat in a given day. If you don’t eat enough..your body will start burning up muscle tissue for nourishment. You will be losing weight, but a good portion of that weight, will be your muscle tone. This is not good. People who choose bypass surgery are basically half starving themselves. They lose fat, but also a lot of muscle tone. Usually, they become very flabby and need surgery to remove the leftover hanging flab. The scales only measure weight…not what kind of weight you are losing. I am not knocking bypass surgery, because some people feel like it is their only option. It works like this. Your body has had it’s nutritional needs to maintain it’s inner functions met, by the food you ate, but it burning efficiently, because the exercise has caused your metabolish to increase and exercise uses up calories as well, the body needs more calories than you consumed. So, it says’ “no problem”, we have this stored fat over here, we’ll just use some of that. You exercise everyday and eat nutritiously everday and this same scenario goes on everyday until eventually, your body has used up all of that excess fat. That is how it works.

  35. Trinette Terry

    Shirley, you need to move. Don’t tell yourself you can’t exercise. It is almost impossible to lose fat and maintain your loss without exercise. The body needs movement, which is what exercise is. If you start with just 20 minutes everyday, you will see results. You need aerobic and weights. Building muscle tone helps to burn fat, even whlle you are sleeping. Shirley, the body only responds to consistency. It is just the way we are made. You have to be consistent to get results. The body is marvelous. If you are consistent after a couple of months or so, you body will get into a fat burning mode, and it will burn that excess fat up. I don’t care how much you need to lose. Your body will get the job done. Your job is to follow a good nutritional plan from your MD. and to exercise EVERDAY and be PATIENT. Weighing yourself once a month is enough. When you start weight training, you may gain a couple of pounds. This is good, because is will be muscle weight. The scales can be your enemy, if you are constantly weighing yourself. Unfortunately, the scales don’t distinguish fat, water and muscle weight. If you are working out for 20 or 30 minutes daily, you don’t need a day of rest. Walking should be everyday..BREAK A SWEAT and weights; every other day. A Cereal diet is a diet and generally diets just don’t work. I really don’t think this Special K diet has enough protein. Also, if you have 100 pounds of excess fat to shed, you need a good eating plan, not some quick fix stupid diet. Shirley, I lost over 100 pounds….you would never know it by looking at me. The beauty of exercise is it tones you up, helps control your appetite and cravings. One word of caution…Just doing aerobics and half starving yourself, will leave you looking for a plastic surgeon to remove the flab. If you don’t want to be flabby, you have to lift weights and develop muscle tone. That is just the way it is.

  36. Trinette Terry

    Is losing 5 pounds realistic? You may already be at your proper weight for your height and body type…but if you insist, then don’t give up. Are you consistent? Make sure you are lifting weights every other day, in addition to aerobics. Work your arms, shoulders, legs, back, and stomach with weights. Change your workout intensity…if you walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes at 4mph, increased the speed to 5.0 mph every 5 minutes for 45 seconds throughout your workout. This is very effective.You need to place a greater demand on your body, because it will adapt to workout routines over time. You have to give your body a “mild shock” every so often. You made need to eliminate a couple of hundred calories per day. You can also workout twice a day. Do your main workout first and a mini workout later. A simple workout. An additional 20 minute treadmill walk or jog per day will yield results.

  37. Candice

    I tried this diet twice. The first time I was really dedicated and lost 4 pounds in 2 weeks without really feeling hungry. A couple months later I tried it again, and that time I was so hungry all the time and I lost about 4 pounds in a week, but gained 3 back. So, I guess this diet can work if you do it right but it is definitely not the most enjoyable diet to be on. Cereal can get extremely boring.



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