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Does Slim Fast Work?

Updated on November 14, 2010

Obesity is an epidemic in the United States. The percentages of overweight Americans increases year after year: as of 2007-2008, the CDC estimates that a full 34% of Americans over the age of 20 are obese, with another 34% overweight. Being overweight or obese correlates with many serious health problems, including heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Aside from the health issues, being overweight is aesthetically unpleasing. Many people would like to look physically healthier, to feel less embarrassment at the beach or pool, and to generally just feel better about themselves. To this end, many embark on various diet schemes and “fast weight loss” methods to try to lose the weight as quickly as possible. Many fail; some succeed. One popular weight loss aid is Slim-Fast. Before deciding to use Slim Fast as a weight loss aid, many ask: does slim fast really work? This article seeks to answer that very question.

What is Slim Fast?

Slim Fast is a series of food products, including shakes, bars, snacks, meals, and other items, that helps people to lose weight. Slim Fast was started in 1977 by S. Daniel Abraham and the company Unilever, becoming famous for the phrase, “a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, then a sensible dinner.” Recently, the new series of bars and snacks has tried to make this type of diet scheme more flexible, allowing people to incorporate whatever special aspects they need into their daily diet without being tied into a strict, daily system.

Besides the chocolate, vanilla and strawberry shakes, Slim Fast offers low-carb options for those caught in the Atkins craze, as well as a new “3-2-1” plan. In this plan, a dieter is allowed three snacks (100 calories each), two meal replacements (200 calories each), and one “sensible” dinner (approximately 500 calories). More frequent eating (“grazing”) is an attempt to control hunger pangs and keep dieters more focused and locked in to the plan. In addition, the bars, shakes, and other snacks are often enriched with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to prevent a dieter from suffering from malnutrition.

How Does Slim Fast Work?

The main theory underlying the slim fast diet is “calories in, calories out.” According to this theory, if the dieter takes in fewer calories than he or she burns, the body will burn fat to make up the difference. On the other hand, if the dieter takes in more calories than are burned, fat will accumulate. Following the 3-2-1 plan exactly, a dieter will consume approximately 1200 calories (though there is some flexibility in this number given particular cases), far below the daily calorie allowance for almost everyone. How many calories are burned in a day depends on age, sex, weight, and activity level, but on average following this plan would burn anywhere from 300-1500 calories a day. Because there are approximately 4000 calories in a pound of fat, this would, in theory, convert into about 1-3 pounds a week.

Does Slim Fast Actually Work?

Many anecdotes abound about weight loss. Anecdotal evidence is very weak, as cases may vary. What is needed is a more statistical outlook on diet plan efficacy, and this kind of data is often produced by scientists and other researchers. Some studies have indeed shown that Slim Fast is a successful diet plan for helping people to lose weight long-term. In 2003, the North American Association for the Study of Obesity revealed data showing that a group that followed the Slim Fast diet lost more weight than a control group (one that did not use the products). Over a long time span, those who used Slim Fast were found to weight on average thirty (30) pounds less than those who did not use the program.

Slim fast does work, at least in theory. The big variable is, of course, commitment and focus. Many people may give up too soon, thus annihilating any success they had or may have had. This is perhaps where Slim Fast shines: because it is so simple to use, with all meals planned out and easily portionable, requiring no massive amounts of preparation time, many may find it easier to stick to. In addition, the calories are counted out more or less exactly. This is an important feature, as researchers have shown that people are generally poor at estimating the calorie content of their food. On the other hand, this is not a cheap diet, as all the Slim Fast products needs to be bought every week. In addition, after many weeks the monotony of the diet could cause some to cheat or give up totally.

So, does slim fast work? Yes, as long as it is followed smartly. With the right commitment, it is clear that the Slim Fast diet does work for those who implement it to the letter. Including exercise and making sure one gets the vitamins and minerals needed for healthy body functioning are also important parts of this diet, and will only increase the success a dieter may find.

NOTE: This article is provided for informational purposes only. Consult with your doctor before starting any diet or weight loss plan.


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    • lahoriamplifier profile image

      lahoriamplifier 7 years ago from Lahore

      Nice hub