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The Promise

The Slimfast of today is different than you may remember: Gone are the days of shakes alone. The plan promises you can drop pounds with tasty snacks, meal replacements (shakes or bars), and one sensible meal a day.

Slimfast calls it the “3-2-1 Plan.” Every day, you eat two Slimfast meal replacements, three 100-calorie snacks (Slimfast snack bars, fruits, veggies, or even nuts), and one 500-calorie meal that you provide.

The program says you can lose a safe 1 to 2 pounds per week with this strategy.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

Meal replacements include six flavors of 200-calorie protein meal bars, 8 pre-made protein meal shakes, and six flavors of powdered protein shake mixes (to be mixed with skim milk).

For 100-calorie snack options, choose among four different Slimfast snack bars, including peanut butter crunch and double-Dutch chocolate, or fruit (an orange, cherries, banana, grapes, or pear), carrot sticks, pistachios, pretzels, sorbet, or nonfat yogurt.

For the meal you provide, Slimfast recommends filling half of your plate with vegetables (such as green beans, carrots, eggplant, spinach, or broccoli); a quarter with lean protein (beef, poultry, pork, tofu, or fish); and the remaining quarter with starch (whole wheat pasta or bread, brown rice, potatoes, or corn).

Nothing is totally off-limits with Slimfast, including alcohol. The Slimfast web site features recipes for alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks made with its shakes.

Level of Effort: Medium

You'll need Slimfast’s snack bars, meal bars, and shakes for most of your food, but you have some flexibility for the meal that you provide.

Limitations: Slimfast’s selection of meal replacement bars and shakes is limited to about 20. You have more flexibility with snacks and with the meal you provide, which includes lean protein, vegetables, and a starch.

Cooking and shopping: Snack bars, meal replacement bars, and shakes are grab-and-go. You only plan and prepare one meal a day, which cuts down on trips to the grocery store.

Packaged foods or meals: Required.

In-person meetings: None.

Exercise: Daily exercise, including walking and strength training, is encouraged. The program doesn’t offer a specific workout plan.

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