Special K Diet
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 serves 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 125mls skimmed milk
Bowl of Special K Red Berries with 125mls 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.
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 in your body after all.
Results will vary and will depend on a number of factors including how well you stick to the plan.
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.
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.
This diet is obviously a very clever marketing ploy created by Kellogg’s in order to sell more cereal. However, there is scientific support supporting the benefits associated with consuming breakfast and the reduction of fat intake in the diet.
The Special K Diet may also help people make the adjustment to a healthier eating plan and does promote integration of healthy habits as a lifestyle. It is however very likely that the majority of people will experience hunger due to the high glycemic index content of Special K cereal and there is also a high possibility of weight gain when the diet is concluded.
- Hooper R. Body Shape and clothing size changes following Kellogg’s “Slimmer Waist this Summer” (internal report). Dept Human Sciences, 2002. Loughborough University
- Ruxton CH, Kirk TR. Breakfast: a review of associations with measures of dietary intake, physiology and biochemistry. Br J Nutr 1997;78(2):199-213
- Cho S et al (2003) The effect of breakfast type on total daily energy intake and body mass index: Results from the third national health and nutrition examination survey. J Am Coll Nutr 2003; 22(4):296-302
- Englyst, K. N., Vinoy, S., Englyst, H. N., & Lang, V. (2003). Glycaemic index of cereal products explained by their content of rapidly and slowly available glucose. British Journal of Nutrition, 89(03), 329-339. link
- Heymsfield, S. B., Van Mierlo, C. A. J., Van der Knaap, H. C. M., Heo, M., & Frier, H. I. (2003). Weight management using a meal replacement strategy: meta and pooling analysis from six studies. International journal of obesity, 27(5), 537-549. link
- Flechtner‐Mors, M., Ditschuneit, H. H., Johnson, T. D., Suchard, M. A., & Adler, G. (2000). Metabolic and Weight Loss Effects of Long‐Term Dietary Intervention in Obese Patients: Four‐Year Results. Obesity Research, 8(5), 399-402. link