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Special K Diet: What You Need to Know

A bowl -- well actually two - of Special K a day just might keep unwanted pounds away. See more weight loss tips pictures.
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Whether it's referred to as the Special K Diet or the Special K Challenge, the point of this diet plan is to limit the dieter's caloric intake in order to kick start weight loss. Reportedly, people who make time for cereal every morning consume less fat and cholesterol while taking in more vitamins and minerals. The Special K Diet aims to take advantage of this and lower a dieter's body mass index.

The general Special K Web site provides a good introduction to the Special K Diet. You can choose a link called "Design Your Plan" and the page will pop up with the first in a series of questions. The first question gets at what you think is most important in a diet routine. The second question asks you what you think is the worst part of a diet, and the third question asks what you like about the diet Special K proposes. The fourth question asks you to select your favorite Special K foods. You can select from cereals, waffles, snack bars, protein meal bars, cereal bars, protein water mix and protein water. The last question asks you to select what day you want to start the challenge.

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All these questions lead up to a specially designed menu plan that reflects some of your answers. If you don't like what you see, you have the option of modifying the diet by clicking on each meal item. The page also gives you tips on how to satisfy your late-night cravings and what to do when you feel like abandoning the diet [source: Special K].

Read on to find out how to follow the Special K Diet plan.

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Let's boil the plan down to what it does. If you follow the diet recommended by Special K, you will eat two meals each day with Special K brand foods and have your third meal of the day open to whatever you choose. According to the Special K Web site, if you follow this plan, you could lose up to six pounds in two weeks.

There are only a few restrictions on the diet as a whole. In order to stick to the low-fat idea, the milk you use on your cereal should be skim milk. And as for calorie counting, you can't eat more than your allotted serving size when it comes to the Special K products - so that limits your calorie consumption up to a certain point. However, there are no restrictions regarding fat content or calories when it comes to your one "free" meal each day. During that meal, you are allowed to eat whatever you want. Of course, it would be in your best interest to make healthy choices at this time. For example, you might want to opt for items that you're otherwise missing, like fiber. Some fiber-rich foods include fruit, brown rice and beans [source: EveryDiet.com]. .

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As with any diet that focuses on a particular brand or type of food, one of the potential negatives of the Special K Diet is boredom. For some, the thought of eating the same type of cereal or cereal bar for breakfast, lunch and snacks every day for two weeks is unthinkable. But for others, there might just be enough variety within the Special K food line for them to make it. Currently, the cereal comes in a variety of flavors, including Red Berries, Cinnamon Pecan, Fruit and Yogurt and Vanilla Almond [source: Special K.com ].

If you are having trouble imagining what a sample day would look like on the Special K Diet plan, consider this:

  • Breakfast - Fruit and Yogurt cereal and skim milk
  • Morning snack - Mixed Berry protein water
  • Lunch - Double Chocolate protein meal bar
  • Afternoon snack - Chocolate Peanut snack bar
  • Dinner - Baked or grilled chicken or fish accompanied by two vegetables

[source: Choose Your Diet].

Keep in mind that the overall plan is to have two snacks, two cereal meals and one "your choice" meal, so any one of your three meals can be your choice; it doesn't always have to be dinner.

Will this plan help you lose weight? Keep reading to find out if the Special K Diet really does work.

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The questions that are probably running around in your head are, "Will I really lose six pounds in two weeks if I follow the Special K Diet plan? Does it really work?" The quick answer to these questions seems to be maybe. According to the study Kellog's cites, you will lose weight. However, how much weight you will lose might be a better question to ponder. The answer there isn't quite as simple. A Purdue University study found that the 28 participants lost up to six pounds over the two-week time span [source: Grieger]. Pay attention to the language, "up to six pounds," since this implies you might not lose that much. It's also important to remember that this plan is essentially designed to jump start weight loss and encourage limited-calorie, low-fat eating habits. But it really shouldn't be followed for more than the initial two weeks. If you do decide to drop the diet after two weeks and return to your pre-diet habits, it's likely you'll regain the weight you just lost [source: Zelman]. Another potential problem you may run into is constant hunger. This is a low-calorie diet, and much of the foods you'll be consuming are actually high in sugar. Check the labels on the cereal, protein bars and snack bars and you'll find that sugar is often the third ingredient listed. Foods like these with a high glycemic index typically equal hunger for those consuming the food [source: EveryDiet.com].

On the plus side, though, as mentioned, the plan can encourage healthier habits among its followers. Many people agree that skipping breakfast is a bad idea. So, at the very least, following the two-week Special K Diet can get you in the habit of having something for breakfast, which is a step in the right direction. In fact, while conducting a survey of several studies, two researchers concluded that, "breakfast eating may prevent obesity and related chronic conditions through a number of behavioral and biological mechanisms, including being part of an overall healthful eating pattern … aiding in appetite control throughout the day" [source: Timlin and Pereira].

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Now that you know a little more about the Special K Diet, you can think about this information and determine if the diet is right for you.

Be sure to check out the links on the next page for more information on dieting and related topics.

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Related HowStuffWorks Articles

Sources

  • EveryDiet.com. "Special K Diet" (Accessed 3/23/09) http://www.everydiet.org/diet/special-k-diet
  • Got Diet. "What is the Special K Diet?" (Accessed 3/4/09) http://www.gotdiet.com/special-k-diet.html
  • Grieger, Lynn. "Special K Diet." NBC and iVillage. (Accessed 3/4/09) http://yourtotalhealth.ivillage.com/diet-fitness/special-k.html
  • Special K. "Design Your Plan." (Accessed 3/4/09) http://www.specialk.com/#/DesignYourPlan
  • Special K.com "Products" (Accessed 3/23/09) http://www.specialk.com/#/Products
  • Timlin, Maureen T.; Pereira, Mark A. "Breakfast Frequency and Quality in the Etiology of Adult Obesity and Chronic Diseases." Nutrition Reviews; Jun2007, Vol. 65 Issue 6, p268-281 (Accessed via Health Source - Consumer Edition 3/23/09) http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hxh&AN=25310009&site=ehost-live
  • Zelman, Kathleen. "The Special K Diet Review." February 3, 2009. (Accessed 3/4/09) http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-special-k-challenge

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