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The Special K Challenge: How it Works

The Special K Challenge works in the short term because it slashes calories. When you have a meal containing 100-250 calories instead of a meal made up of bacon, egg and cheese croissant, or a triple cheeseburger and fries, you will certainly lose weight. Special K products are all low in fat and calories.

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 dieters.

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 and protein.

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.

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