Slim-Fast is more than a line of diet shakes. In recent years, the company has developed soups, pasta, meal-in-one bars, and snacks -- all based on the premise that meal replacement products help people lose weight.
Stick to the plan, and you will lose 10% of your body weight in the first six months -- at a rate of one to two pounds a week, says the web site.
It's certainly true that Slim-Fast's approach is backed by research. Controlling portions -- and using meal replacement products to do it -- has been shown to help with weight loss.
The plan involves six small meals/snacks every day. You are advised to use Slim-Fast products for two meals and one snack daily.
The rest of the day, you're on your own -- to choose healthy meals when eating out or cooking at home. No calorie counting is necessary, says Slim-Fast. No foods are forbidden; you can still eat your favorites. However, lean protein, fruits, and vegetables are emphasized.
It's not a new principle: By controlling portions, you control calories. By controlling fat and starches, you control calories. By burning more calories than you eat, you lose weight.
The Slim-Fast products purportedly make it easier to stick to the program. And the meal plans help provide structure to keep you on track. By giving you options in your meal plans, there's enough flexibility to satisfy your own personal tastes and lifestyle.
Other positive points:
- The weight-loss goals are in line with government safe weight-loss guidelines -- to lose 10% of body weight in the first six months, at a rate of one to two pounds a week.
- The exercise aspect of the program is workable, just 30 minutes a day of moderate activity.
- For doctors whose patients are following the Slim-Fast plan, the web site provides medical guidelines.
- Message boards, online chats, success stories, "Ask the Dietitian" -- these all are designed to provide encouragement.
The Slim-Fast plan provides balanced nutrition in its products. Also, the plan has been shown to be effective for long-term weight management in published studies of one, two, four, and five years' duration, according to the web site.
"It's a very user-friendly web site," says Sheah Rarback, MS, RD/LD, of the University of Miami School of Medicine and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. She offered her opinion of the Slim-Fast weight-loss plan.
Among the pluses: "The products take the guesswork out of portion control," Rarback tells WebMD. "The web site has registered dietitians to answer questions. It offers activity logs and a support group. It's a good program for someone who likes doing things online. It's also good for someone who wants everything spelled out for them, who doesn't want to make a lot of decisions on their own. It's a very structured plan."
"The key element here is the Slim-Fast products," she notes. "You have to like the way the products taste, or you won't stay with the plan."
Reviewed By Charlotte E. Grayson, MD February 2004.
SOURCES: Slim Fast.com. The American Dietetic Association. Sheah Rarback, MS, RD/LD, University of Miami School of Medicine.
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