The Special K Challenge
The Special K Challenge: How it Works continued...
It's also easy to follow. Like a meal replacement diet plan, the Special K
Challenge eliminates the guesswork for all snacks and most meals. The freedom
to self-select a third meal makes the Challenge more acceptable to most
Results of a 2002 study done at Purdue University (funded by Kellogg) 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. … In the study, we found those reductions were doable and
resulted in about a 4.4 pound weight loss over a 2-week period," says study
author Rick Mattes, PhD.
Be warned: You may be very hungry on the Special K diet, depending on what
you're used to eating. It's high in carbohydrates and relatively low in fiber
The Special K Challenge: What the Experts Say
The Special K diet is simple, uses foods that are readily available, and is
doable for most people. But experts don’t give it a total thumbs-up: It's too
low in protein, fiber, fruits, and vegetables. It also lacks an exercise
component and the kinds of sustainable changes that are the foundation for
healthy weight loss plans.
There certainly is no harm in following the Special K diet plan for a few
weeks and using it as a springboard to a more balanced weight loss plan that
includes exercise, the experts say.
"While it may be an overly simplistic plan … it is a great way to start
focusing on the things that need to change to get your diet a step in the right
direction," Mattes says.
Keep in mind that most dieters lose a little water weight when starting a
weight loss plan. You may lose a little more than the usual 1-2 pound weight
loss per week on this plan at first, but you can expect slower weight loss
after the first few weeks.
One expert says the Special K diet could be a good choice for people who
tend to skip meals during the day.
"This may be a useful option for anyone who routinely skips meals or who
eats fast foods or meals loaded with calories," says Lynn Grieger, RD.
This is especially true for those who tend to overlook breakfast, another
"One of the best aspects of the [Special K] Challenge is getting people
to eat breakfast because breakfast has been shown to produce a whole host of
health and cognitive benefits, including weight control," says Marisa
Moore, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
Hunger is likely to be an issue, though. Grieger cautions that cereal with
skim milk and fruit is a great meal or snack, but unless you choose a
high-protein, high-fiber cereal, you may be hungry in an hour or two.
"Eating foods low in fiber and protein causes hunger sooner and may
trigger overeating of the wrong kinds of foods," Grieger says.
Moore suggests that dieters reduce the boredom of eating so many cereal
products by adding plenty of fruits and vegetables to the Special K diet.
"Aim for 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day, which will lower your
calorie intake naturally and provide a wealth of disease-fighting antioxidants
and phytochemicals," she says.