The two-week Kellogg's weight loss plan, also called the Special K diet, is a version of a meal-replacement diet, meaning you replace two regular meals with this Kellogg's cereal. While this type of diet may help with weight loss, there are some potential drawbacks that should be considered before starting the weight loss plan. Addressing these issues will help make it easier to follow the plan or a variation of it.
Two-Week Kellogg's Special K Plan Basics
For this diet, every day for two weeks you'll start off your day with a cup of Special K topped with 1/2 cup of low-fat milk and then eat this combination again for either lunch or dinner. The remaining meal should be a balanced, low-fat meal containing each of the four food groups, and dieters may snack on Special K bars, vegetables, fruits or low-fat yogurt. It isn't recommended that you follow this diet for more than two weeks, as it can get monotonous, might not provide all the necessary nutrients and restricts the variety of foods you can eat. For an even more balanced diet, consider eating Special K just for breakfast, along with skim milk and a serving of fresh fruit to make the meal a bit more filling and nutritious. Then eat a nutritious, reduced-calorie lunch and dinner.
Types of Special K and Weight Loss
The variety of Special K cereal you choose to eat can affect the results of the diet, as any flavor other than original will be higher in sugar. The sweeter varieties also have smaller serving sizes, making them less filling, and the granola versions are higher in calories, with about 260 per 2/3-cup serving with milk for the cranberry variety and 240 calories per 1/2-cup serving with milk for the touch of honey flavor. Varying the type of Special K cereal, however, may make it easier for you to stick to the diet for the whole two weeks. Choosing one of the varieties higher in protein or fiber -- such as Special K Protein with 10 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per 3/4 cup -- may make the diet more filling because both fiber and protein increase satiety.
Special K and the Glycemic Index
The glycemic index estimates the effect of a food on blood sugar levels, with lower glycemic index scores indicating less of an effect on blood sugar levels. Foods lower in glycemic index, with scores of 55 or below, may help people increase feelings of satiety and eat less throughout the day, according to a review article published in Clinical Diabetes in October 2011. Because Special K is a very processed cereal and doesn't contain much fiber, it has a glycemic index of about 69 for the lower-sugar original variety and most likely a higher GI for the other flavors, as more sugary foods tend to have higher GI scores. That means it might not be ideal for feeling satisfied for long between meals. Including foods that are lower on the glycemic index with your Special K cereal, such as low-fat milk, low-fat plain yogurt, an orange, a serving of strawberries or an ounce of nuts, will help lower the overall glycemic index of the meal and make it more filling.
People who follow this diet may wind up eating too few calories during the day to get the nutrients they need and to prevent decreases in their metabolism. A woman should eat at least 1,200 calories each day, and a man should consume at least 1,800, even when on a diet. A 1-cup bowl of original Special K cereal with 1/2 cup of skim milk only has 160 calories. Even if you add fruit to make it more filling and increase the fiber of the meal and eat a sensible dinner, the total calories for the day may be too low for good health if you don't get some extra calories through eating the approved snacks.
A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in June 2011 found that a meal-plan-based diet along with a supervised exercise program was more effective for weight loss than a meal-replacement-based diet program like the Special K diet along with instructions to increase exercise.
A potentially more filling alternative to Special K would be a bowl of oatmeal, as oatmeal cooked with water has a similar number of calories, with 166 per cup, but a much lower energy density of 0.7 and a lower glycemic index of around 50. For a more nutritious and complete meal, use skim milk instead of water to cook your oatmeal or stir in a small amount of fat-free Greek yogurt after cooking to increase the protein. Top your oatmeal with fresh fruit or an ounce of chopped nuts to add flavor and nutrients.
- DietsInReview.com: Special K Challenge
- EveryDiet: Special K Diet
- Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: A Structured Diet and Exercise Program Promotes Favorable Changes in Weight Loss, Body Composition, and Weight Maintenance
- Special K: Original Cereal
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Can Eating Fruits and Vegetables Help People to Manage Their Weight?
- Advances in Nutrition: The Influence of Food Portion Size and Energy Density on Energy Intake: Implications for Weight Management
- Diabetes Care: Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) Values Determined in Subjects With Normal Glucose Tolerance: 2008
- Clinical Diabetes: The 3 R's of Glycemic Index: Recommendations, Research, and the Real World
- American College of Sports Medicine: Metabolism Is Modifiable With the Right Lifestyle Changes
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cereals, Oats, Regular and Quick and Instant, Unenriched, Cooked With Water (Includes Boiling and Microwaving), With Salt