The Special K diet was first launched back in 2004 with the enticing promise that women could 'drop a jean size in 2 weeks'.
An extreme diet (opens in new tab) for people hoping to shed a few pounds quickly. The Special K plan is a calorie-cutting diet that works fast (opens in new tab) to deliver results by asking individuals to swap certain meals for a bowl of the cereal with milk instead. Whilst it sounds simple enough, many health professionals would not recommend the Special K diet as a long-term plan. With there being much healthier and more sustainable ways to lose weight should you like to.
"Special K is relatively low in fat and complex sugars, making it a go-to healthy cereal (opens in new tab) for a low-calorie breakfast," says clinical nutritionist Marina Abdalla (opens in new tab). "Although fortified in vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A, C, E, B vitamins and potassium it doesn't provide all the nutrients an individual would need to make the Special K diet a sustainable, long-term meal replacement."
What is the Special K diet?
The Special K diet is a 14-day program that sees people eat the cereal for two of their three meals a day. It's suggested that by swapping out meals with Special K portions will encourage weight loss.
Dieters tend to eat Special K with low-fat milk for breakfast and lunch. Followed by a healthy evening meal thats packed with fat-burning foods (opens in new tab) like oily fish, lean protein and fruit and vegetables.
It proved popular when first introduced back in the early 2000s, for being cheap, convenient and easy to follow. Those on the plan also wouldn’t have to starve themselves - as the cereal worked as a replacement meal that could actually be eaten. This seems much more satisfying than having a shake or something similar.
Special K diet plan
- Breakfast: One serving of Special K cereal with skimmed milk and fruit.
- Lunch: Repeat your breakfast meal or substitute with a Special K Protein Meal Bar or Protein Shake.
- Dinner: Tuck into an evening meal of your choice.
Whilst the evening meal is up to you, the idea is that individuals will choose a healthy low-calorie meal (opens in new tab) that includes some five-a-day portions (opens in new tab). Whilst on the diet, Kellogg's recommend healthy foods such as fruits, greek yogurt, low-fat milk, fish, chicken, vegetables and dairy that are low in carbs and fat content.
Looking for inspiration? The old Kellogg's Special K online plan (which is now unavailable) suggested dinners like grilled salmon and veg, a tasty prawn stir fry or a spring chicken tray bake.
Dieters are also encouraged to enjoy two healthy snacks (opens in new tab) throughout the day. Be that fruits and vegetables or the Special K cereal bars (opens in new tab).
- Snacks: Try Special K Protein Meal Bars, Protein Shakes, Breakfast Shakes, Protein Granola Bars, Crackers, Cracker Chips, or Popcorn.
Kellogg's have also shared a number of low-calorie snack ideas (opens in new tab) on their social pages. And these can definitely be enjoyed as part of the Special K diet plan. We especially like the look of this crunchy banana popsicle which you can whip up with just 3 ingredients. And you can find more Kellogg's recipes (opens in new tab) like this to try on their official website.
A photo posted by on
How does the Special K diet help you to lose weight?
"The Special K diet helps you lose weight by restricting your calorie consumption," explains Nutritionist Marina Abdalla at Express Pharmacy. "By swapping two meals with a bowl of Special K slashes your calorie intake significantly, causing the body to be in calorie deficit.
A calorie deficit - Abdalla explains - is when "a person loses weight as they burn more energy than the energy consumed."
According to the NHS website (opens in new tab), the daily calorie intake for a woman is 2,000 and 2,500 for a man. If you do the maths - two bowls of Special K a day is less than 400 calories (depending on your portion size and choice of milk) - and that's also half the number of calories recommended on another popular regime, the Fast 800 diet (opens in new tab). So unless you're eating a huge greasy takeaway for tea, you'll definitely be under your daily calorie allowance.
Special K is also low in fat (1.3g in an 100g portion). And so swapping otherwise fatty meals for two bowls of this cereal will also benefit your body.
Indeed, the results of a 2002 study done at Purdue University (opens in new tab) (funded by Kellogg’s) showed that replacing regular meals with calorie and portion controlled cereal meals could result in weight loss. Study participants took in an average of 1,590 calories per day and cut their fat intake in half.
"Substituting cereal for higher-calorie meals can help people trim calories and fat," said study author Rick Mattes, PhD. "In the study, we found those reductions were doable and resulted in about a 4.4 pound weight loss over a two week period."
How much weight could you lose with the Special K diet?
According to Kellogg's, individuals can lose up to 6 pounds in 14 days on the Special K diet. The brand also had the famous slogan that you could 'drop a jeans size in 2 weeks' whilst following the plan.
This may sound too good to be true but science actually supports this statement. One 2015 study (opens in new tab) - funded by Kellogg’s - found that those on the Special K diet lost between 0 and 13 pounds at the end of two weeks. Some of these participants even lost up to 10 percent of their body fat. And as for average weight loss, the total after two weeks was around 3.5 pounds.
Of course, weight loss differs from person to person, being dependent on factors like age and genetics.
It's also important to note that whilst the Special K diet specifies the bowl servings (140g with 100ml milk), it does not provide details on content or portion control of your chosen third meal. As such, if your meal is loaded with fat and calories, the calorie savings from the rest of the day could be negated - and you won’t lose weight.
How many calories are there in a bowl of Special K?
There are 120 calories in a 140g bowl of Special K. This is Kellogg's recommended serving size which equates to about the size of the palm of your hand.
Obviously, you'll be enjoying the cereal with some milk and this adds additional calories to your meal:
- Skimmed milk (100ml) + Special K (140g) = 155 cal (an extra 35 calories)
- Semi-skimmed milk (100ml) + Special K (140g) = 167 cal (an extra 47 calories)
- Whole milk (100ml) + Special K (140g) = 188 cal (an extra 68 calories)
Special K diet pros and cons
✅ Easy: The Special K diet is straightforward without too much weighing and measuring (once you’ve measured the serving size a couple of times you’ll know what to do without scales).
✅ Cheap: Replacing a meal with cereal and milk is far cheaper than buying in specialist meals or lots of fruit, veg, lean protein and grains. "It can therefore reduce the cost of weekly shopping," says Marina.
✅ Accessible: "Special K can be purchased in any supermarket," says Marina.
✅ Fast: No need to learn any new recipes and your bowls involve "no cooking preparation or cooking appliances required".
✅ High in fibre: Helping you to feel full and less prone to snacking. "The fibre within Special K provides a slow release of energy keeping your blood sugar levels stable," Marina tells us.
✅ You can still eat what you love: Well, to a certain extent. No one’s advocating tucking into a giant pizza or a tub of ice cream. But within reason, dieters can enjoy a good meal at the end of the day, as long as it doesn’t contain too many calories or too much fat.
✅ There’s some variety: There are 10 different types of Special K cereal to choose from, including Original, Red Berries, Chocolate, Peach & Apricot, Creamy Berry Crunch, Oats & Honey, Fruit & Nut, Nourish Berries, Nourish Seeds and Nourish Cranberry & Apple to help mix things up a bit. Kellogg’s have also increased the range of snacks available since the diet first launched to add more choice for followers of the plan.
✅ Free: There are no weekly diet club fees to pay and the ingredients are cheaper than buying a ‘normal’ lunch or say, a continental breakfast.
❌ The weight lost is most likely to return: "The Special K diet is not a long-term solution and there's a risk of weight gain once finished," says Marina.
❌ It's nutritionally limited: Eating cereal and milk twice a day is a lot less nutritional than eating eggs, fish, salad, fresh fruit and vegetables. "Nutritionists wouldn't recommend that this would be the best way to lose weight due to the lack of variety and consumption of key vitamins and minerals required for optimum body performance," she adds.
❌ Dangerous for people with certain conditions: If you are at all concerned, you should not do the diet, and instead eat a healthy, balanced diet combined with regular exercise.
❌ Third meal rule: "Little guidance is provided on what meals should be consumed for dinner, which may result in overeating," she tells us.
❌ It could get boring: Eating the same thing 14 times in one week could start to grate after a while. Dieters may find themselves desperate for a change on day three.
❌ Mood swings: We've all heard of being hangry. "Reduced calorie consumption may affect mood and concentration," points out Marina.
❌ May be difficult to follow in social settings: As Marina puts it: "Who wants to whip out a bowl of cereal at a social gathering?!"
The Special K diet: A Nutritionist's verdict
Nutritionists like Marina Abdella would not recommend the Special K diet.
"I'll pass," she tells us. "A good Nutritionist would always encourage a healthy balance of different food groups. Food should still provide a sense of enjoyment, nourishing you with the energy and calories you need to attain your weight loss goals.
"There are millions of healthy swaps that can be made in replace of your regular meals that will achieve the long-lasting weight loss results that you want. Swap your chocolate bar snack for sliced apple and peanut butter; high in protein and super tasty."
Marina is a Registered Nutritionist with the Association for Nutrition (AfN). A graduate of the London Metropolitan University, she has over 5 years’ experience in the industry, having worked with multiple private clinics in London, as well as several other renowned corporations and top Gastroenterologists in Harley Street, London.
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Video of the Week:
The Special K Diet - can you really drop a jeans size in two weeks? ›
"Drop a jeans size in 2 weeks." It sounds too good to be true. But according to the Special K Challenge, you could lose up to 6 pounds in 14 days if you eat cereal or other Special K products for breakfast and lunch, plus a regular dinner.What is the Special K 2 week challenge? ›
The essence of the Special K Diet is that it's a portion-controlled, two-week challenge that recommends substituting two meals per day with Special K cereal. In addition, the diet allows for portion-controlled snacks, vegetables, and fruits to support short-term weight loss or weight maintenance goals.How much weight do you have to lose to go down a size? ›
The rule of thumb, Fernstrom says, is that losing 8 to 10 pounds translates to going down one size. Still, if you lose "up to 15 pounds, you may be OK in your old size," she says.What is the drop a jean size challenge? ›
What is the Drop a Jeans Size Challenge? The Challenge is a 6-12 week plan of activities designed to boost your motivation and keep you on track to lose weight and drop jeans sizes.Can I lose weight by only eating Special K cereal? ›
One study funded by Kellogg's Co. Ltd showed that participants on the Special K diet lost between 0 and 13 pounds at the end of two weeks. Some people in the study lost up to 10 percent of their body fat, and the average weight loss was around 3.5 pounds.How fast does Special K work? ›
But according to the Special K Challenge, you could lose up to 6 pounds in 14 days if you eat cereal or other Special K products for breakfast and lunch, plus a regular dinner. The Special K Challenge promotes quick weight loss through portion control at snacks and two of your daily meals.Does the 14 day boiled egg diet work? ›
In conclusion, the 14-day boiled egg diet can help to trim off unwanted pounds, it is easy to follow, and it includes simple and healthy foods. However, it is still overly restrictive, and you can gain weight once you go back to your regular eating habits.How many pounds does it take to drop a jean size? ›
How much weight do i need to lose to drop pants size? On average, every 10 lbs of weight a person loses will equate to 1 pant size smaller. So, for example, if someone lost 25 pounds, they would likely drop 2 and a half sizes in pants.How can I reduce my pants size in 2 weeks? ›
- Playing sports.
The volunteers reduced their waist sizes by an average of 1 inch for every 4lb (1.81kg) they lost. So if you lose 1lb (0.45kg) a week you could hope to reduce your waistline by an inch after four weeks.
How do you go down a jean size fast? ›
- Find a Healthy Food Obsession.
- Play in the Park.
- Extend Fido's Walk.
- Get It On.
- Do Random Acts of Kindness.
- Take a Pre-Dinner Stroll.
- Take Daily Selfies.
- Play With Your Kids.
Because clothing sizes don't always correlate to specific weights, there's no straightforward timeframe for how long it will take you to downsize pants. But in general, experts recommend losing weight at the safe and sustainable pace of 1 to 2 pounds per week, according to the Mayo Clinic.What is the drop two sizes challenge? ›
The Drop 2 Sizes Challenge was created to help participants ditch dieting or temptations of dieting to learn how to create a healthy lifestyle through small, stepwise changes that will last beyond the 10 week program. While is DOES include specific workouts, healthy eating tips are more general.Will I lose weight if I eat one bowl of cereal a day? ›
As any dietitian will tell you, if you cut enough calories, virtually any diet can lead to weight loss — at least in the short-term. And by eating a low-calorie bowl of cereal such as Special K, plain Corn Flakes, Shredded Wheat, plain Cheerios, or Rice Krispies, you most likely will lose weight.Will I lose weight if I only eat a bowl of cereal a day? ›
You may lose weight on the cereal diet as a result of calorie restriction. Still, you may not be able to keep the weight off long term due to some of the effects that calorie restriction has on your metabolism.Is Special K actually healthy? ›
Kellogg's Special K Protein is one of the cereals that patients ask about when looking for healthy options. Although this cereal is higher in protein than the average cereal, which is good to help maintain body mass, it is still fairly high in carbohydrates.What does Special K do to the brain? ›
Mental health risks
The longer term effects of ketamine use can include flashbacks, memory loss and problems with concentration. Regular use can cause depression and, occasionally, psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations. Ketamine can also make existing mental health problems worse.
Note: Contains partially hydrogenated oils, sorbitol (a sugar alcohol often found in diet foods. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has deemed it safe, but notes that it may cause bloating, gas or diarrhea in large quantity) and corn syrup.Is Special K good for blood pressure? ›
Potassium's primary functions in the body include regulating fluid balance and controlling the electrical activity of the heart and other muscles. Potassium is an electrolyte that counteracts the effects of sodium, helping to maintain a healthy blood pressure.Can I lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks? ›
It is truly possible to lose 20 pounds and more in just two weeks. If you have a lot of excess weight, losing only twenty pounds may seem doable. It will indeed be difficult and unhealthy if you have only a few extra pounds (6).
What happens if I only eat eggs for 2 weeks? ›
Although eggs are nutritious, the egg diet doesn't have enough variety or calories to be considered a healthy or sustainable way of eating. With such restriction, weight regain is likely. You'll also miss out on fiber, calcium, and other essential nutrients by sticking to the egg diet for more than a few days.Can 3 boiled eggs a day help you lose weight? ›
Three large boiled eggs contain less than 230 calories. By adding a generous serving of vegetables, along with a source of fiber and fat like sliced avocado, you're able to have a complete meal for 500 calories.What size does a 200 pound woman wear? ›
|Medium||145 - 175 lbs||5'8" - 6'0"|
|Small||120 - 150 lbs||5'4 - 5'9"|
|X-Large||190 - 210 lbs||5'10" - 6'2"|
|XX-Large||210 - 235 lbs||5'11" - 6'4"|
|6-8||40 - 50 lbs|
|8-10||50 - 60 lbs|
|10-12||60 - 75 lbs|
|12-14||70 - 90 lbs|
A size 10 dress typically weighs between 8 and 12 pounds. The weight of a dress can vary depending on the materials used, the style of the dress, and other factors.How can I lose an inch off my waist in 2 weeks? ›
- Include tart cherries in your diet. ...
- Increase calcium intake. ...
- Include more vegetables in your diet to lose weight fast. ...
- Add some acidic foods to your meals. ...
- Include more grains in your diet. ...
- Consume more fish. ...
- Add more garlic to your food.
- Start Your Day Early. Woman at window. ...
- Bring on the Berries. Blueberries in bowl. ...
- Skip the Hydrogenated Oils. Cronut. ...
- Switch to Sprouted Bread. Sprouted grain bread. ...
- Lift. Weight training. ...
- Say So Long to Sweeteners. ...
- Make Fiber Your Friend. ...
- Swap Out Ketchup For Salsa.
- Walking Lunges.
- Judo Pushups.
- Side Plank Leg Raise.
- Janda Situps.
Multiple regression tells us that on average, for every 8.5 pounds lost, people dropped an inch off their waist. (And for every 1.5 kilograms lost, people dropped a centimeter off their waist.) Every 10 pounds lost was accompanied by 1.18 inches of waistline reduction.Is having a 30 inch waist fat? ›
What should your waist measurement be? For men, a waist circumference below 94cm (37in) is 'low risk', 94–102cm (37-40in) is 'high risk' and more than 102cm (40in) is 'very high'. For women, below 80cm (31.5in) is low risk, 80–88cm (31.5-34.6in) is high risk and more than 88cm (34.6in) is very high.
What is the fastest way to lose inches off your waist? ›
Eating a healthy, varied diet that is high in fruits and vegetables — including soluble fiber, vitamin D, and probiotics — is the best plan for losing weight from your waistline. Avoiding refined carbohydrates, sugar, and processed foods whenever possible will help you cut calories and get rid of fat more quickly.Does the 28 day challenge cost money? ›
What Is The SkinnyFit 28-Day Challenge? The SkinnyFit transformation challenge was designed to throw out all the guesswork that comes with weight loss and help you live healthier and achieve your goals faster, smarter, and better than ever. (Oh, and it's completely FREE!)Is Kellogg's Special K good for diabetes? ›
Rice-based cereals, such as Kellogg's Special K, tend to affect blood sugar levels slightly less than Muesli. Special K has a GI rating of 69 and a glycemic load 14. There are numerous varieties of Special K including, Red Berries, Fruit & Yogurt, Multigrain, and Oats & Honey.What's the 21 day challenge? ›
WHAT IS THE 21 DAY WORKOUT CHALLENGE? It is estimated that it takes people 21-28 days to form a new habit. This 21-Day Workout Challenge is a commitment to making physical health a priority by moving your body for 30 minutes each day for the 21 days in efforts to form a new healthy habit.