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Special K…Ain’t so Special

If you watch TV at all, you’ve probably seen the commercials for Kellogg’s special attempt at a special diet with their famed Special K products.  Basically, they claim if you eat two 1 cup bowls of their cereal a day, you will lose six pounds in two weeks.*  In short, the program instructs you to start your day with a piece of fruit, a cup of their cereal and skim milk.  And then at lunch, you get to do the same thing.  And then at dinner, you get to eat normally.  Oh, yes, and you get two snacks a day that are Special K branded.

Argh! This kind of marketing ploy makes me crazy!  Why?  Well for one, this is a very unhealthy, unbalanced diet approach.  You aren’t getting all the nutrients that you need to keep your body functioning properly.  This is what you are getting:

  • Little to no fiber. Fiber is important in that it makes you feel fuller longer.  Further, it prevents or relieve constipation, as well as lowers risk of diabetes and heart disease. Without it, you can experience constipation, infrequent and hard stools and abdominal pains.
  • Little to no healthy fat. Why is this a problem?  Fat is bad, right? Wrong.  Fat is essential for lubricating your joints and manufacturing hormones, and actually making you feel satisfied.  Also, healthy fat (unsaturated fats and essential fatty acids) is important in keeping your cholesterol levels in check and your body systems functioning properly.
  • High in Saturated fat. Special K non-cereal products tend to be high in saturated fat, which raises LDL, the bad type of cholesterol and therefore increases your risk of heart disease.
  • You are getting a lot of sugar. Sugar is an enemy of a healthy diet.  It is digested quickly and contains few essential vitamins and minerals.
  • You get a decent amount of protein. This is a good thing…but when combined with all of the factors above, it isn’t.  You need fiber and healthy fat too.

Second, the Special K Diet doesn’t teach the consumer (you) what is a healthy diet.  It tells you what to do and doesn’t explain the importance of a balanced diet and why eating right is the best, long-term strategy for reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.

Third, you are consuming a good amount of processed foods throughout the day.  Processed foods tend to have tons of additives, preservatives and chemicals…all bad for you.  Our bodies are not designed to process these, and as a result, it is detrimental in the long duration.

And lastly, well, it is all self-serving and about market share…corporate America finding a way to make more money while sacrificing the consumer’s best interest…not something I’m all too fond of.

Look, resorting to quick fix strategies, where no thought is involved, is just not sustainable…in any way.  It is more detrimental than anything.  If you see a gimmick on TV about losing weight….there is a good chance it is just that…a gimmick.

* Weight loss may vary.
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Posted in Brett's Blog, Nutrition, Reviews Tagged with: , , , ,
  • Al

    Great little article, but are you sure special k contains sugar?
    I did a quick browse through the supermarket to see what foods contains things that were damaging (before deciding to shop exclusively at Whole Foods) and I remember distinctly seeing aspartame/sucralose in their so called special mix. I remember this because I was recently poisoned by aspartame, and I took an angry walk through the supermarket to see just how much this toxin/poison has filtrated our lives.

    Do not, i repeat, do not trust the FDA, use your instincts, and eat whole foods as much as you can.
    Aspartame has many side effects and mimics some diseases, so you may be misdiagnosed; but sometimes they just have no answers for your symptoms, because tests show up ok.

    High Fructose Corn Syrup, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Partially Hydrogenated or fully Hydrogenated Oils, Aspartame/Sucralose are some of the few, yet most deadly things to look out for.

  • me

    A huge part of why people lose weight on the “Special K” diet is because their caloric intake is very restricted. So aside from being not-so-healthy, you’re only losing weight because you’re eating a lot less.

  • Amanda

    I am glad that you took the time to argue the method behind the Special K method but your energy may have been better served by offering a healthy alternative sample diet. Many people are just uneducated about what is and is not healthy. And most people are over worked, over stressed and on the go, a quick fix might seem to be their best choice. Maybe you could have put a better choice out there instead….

    • Brett

      Amanda, that is truly a great point. We have started a review section to talk about various products and we will start adding alternatives into those products we don’t like. Thank you again!

  • Angelicaa

    I read dietblog and it posted a similar article about how Special K is not that special. Personally, I have eaten Special K Red Berries for a number of years and always found it a delicious cereal, and even though i saw the box for weight loss, I was not interested on how it works because I knew it was going to require you to replace meals with tiny bowl of the cereal. While this cereal does taste really good (imo), the nutritional value is low but that never stopped me from eating it. The only reason why I stopped was because Costco did not have it in stock when I was shopping.

    I am not trying to be judgmental to anyone else who has tried the Special K diet, but from my standpoint, it is not special, there is no magic and the claims are obviously going to include some catches. One catch is the fact that you have to replace two meals (from what I remember, sorry if I am wrong), breakfast and lunch with a SERVING of Special K with skim milk and some sort of fruit. If this can really keep you satisfied, then awesome! But 1 cup of cereal does not exactly fill every person up for the next few hours, unless you snack, then it’s fine. From my experience, I had to eat at least 2.5 cups of Special K to be satisfied (not overstuffed or very full.)

    Also, there is no other weight loss magic because all “weight loss” products have claims, but they will have small prints saying something like “including a caloric restricted diet and exercise.” It’s obvious if you replace your usual meal with such a small serving of cereal, and you exercise and restrict your calories, you can obviously lose weight in two weeks.

  • Injektilo

    Special K Red Berries contains high fructose corn syrup, its a listed ingredient on the side of the carton….

  • Ed Chainey

    Special K NOW OKAY! Special K Red Berries contains NO high fructose corn syrup ANYMORE , Its NOT a listed ingredient on the side of the carton, just cane sugar and the natural sugar in the berries. Confirmed again today 1/2/2013 with thre manufacturer. Keep reading those ingredient labels!.

  • Lara Eleni Kazakos
    • brettblumenthal

      Just did!

  • Ana Krivo

    All you have to do is eat more natural less processed foods. when i think of the special K wrapped up boxed up packaged foods I dont think “healthy” Bottom line, eat more raw fruits veggies, and less processed grains/nuts. you will loose weight and be healthy.

    • brettblumenthal

      That is exactly right Ana!