Two weeks ago I blogged about taking part in the #SlimFastChallenge* in a quest to lose weight and kick start my way to feeling as healthy and happy as I can, just in time for my friend’s wedding. I thought I’d give you a little update to tell you how I got on, how I felt about the SlimFast 321 Plan, and – most importantly – whether I saw results!
The concept of the 321 Plan is super simple – have up to 3 healthy snacks a day, 2 meal replacement bars/shakes and eat one healthy 600 calorie dinner a day. SlimFast kindly supplied me with enough of their meal replacement bars / shakes and snacks for me follow the plan for 14 days. Have a read of my original post to learn a bit more about it and what food I was given to help me complete the challenge. Let’s see how I got on….
The 321 Plan is so simple to follow, with calories mostly all calculated for you and everything already prepared for you. Even if you find regular calorie counting tricky you could follow the plan by just knowing how many of each things you’re supposed to have. The only thing you really need to worry about is what to have for dinner but there are loads of 600 calorie recipes on the SlimFast website for you to use. I found that I ate the same evening meals as I normally would as, having used MyFitnessPal to calculate the calories, discovered they all come in between 500 and 600 calories. Hurrah!
I work full time as well as often running around catching up with friends and attending blogging events. I loved that the #SlimFastChallenge could be tailored to my needs and didn’t need any special treatment / looking after. The pre-made shakes don’t need to be kept in the fridge and the bars were great for slinging in my bag and eating between meetings.
I tended to have a Rich Chocolate flavoured shake powder for breakfast (whizzed up with ice and milk in my blender – YUM), a Meal Replacement Bar for lunch and a healthy dinner in the evening so I could eat with my boyfriend. However on days when I was busy in the evening I liked that I could switch this around, having my main meal at lunch and eating my Meal Replacement Bar in the evening before I met up with friends. I also liked that I was able to go on a date night with my boyfriend and still stay within my daily calories. We went to Pizza Express so I could have a 500 calorie Leggera pizza and I saved one of my snacks so I could have a chocolatey treat at the cinema afterwards . SlimFast fits really easily into “normal” life and schedule, which I always finds keeps me on track better when dieting as I don’t feel like I’m missing out.
Overall I found the SlimFast products delicious! I certainly didn’t dread eating any of it like I have on previous plans (hello juice cleanse!) the SlimFast products offer a huge amount of choice both in flavours and product so you can pick and tailor your days food to suit you. I loved the Rich Chocolate flavoured shake powder in the mornings before work as when whizzed up with ice and milk they turned into a beautiful fluffy, cold milkshake – the perfect replacement for my totally non-nutritious Starbucks iced mocha I get addicted to! The thing I missed most when completing my juice cleanse was the fact I couldn’t chew and crunch food (I’m all about the textures!) so a Meal Bar was great for me – and the Chocolate Peanut one was INCREDIBLE! Literally like a giant Snickers! The snacks are all so tasty (especially the Sour Cream & Chive Pretzels) and the SlimFast website gives heaps of suggestions for non pre-prepared snacks too (mostly including fresh fruit, veg and nuts) so there really are options for every taste and need.
The structure of the Plan made it really easy to keep up with the diet. You actually eat quite a lot, fairly frequently and get to eat crisps and chocolate so it doesn’t feel like a diet at all! I like following a calorie based diet as I find it easy to work out what I can / can’t have and knowing I was doing the Plan meant I stopped needless snacking (mostly as I’d had plenty of food during the day!) When my boyfriend reached for the biscuit tin in the evening I confidently turned it down knowing it wasn’t in my Plan, where as had I simply been “eating healthily” to lose weight I’m pretty sure I’d have had one and told myself that was ok. My greedy mind needs strict rules to follow! The structure of the Plan means you eat frequently which I found quite good for me. Often when dieting I find I inadvertently eat too little by cutting out all snacks and unhealthy food. From taking part in the #SlimFastChallenge I realised that I was definitely eating less calories in the lead up to the Challenge than I was on it, which is not good as it is advisable to eat no fewer than 1200 calories a day (which is the minimum you’ll consume following the Plan). By eating less I was actually probably making it harder for my body to lose weight and I certainly wasn’t kick starting my metabolism every morning by preparing a Shake as soon as I got up, but rather saving breakfast until about 10:30am (which on the Plan is when is have my mid morning snack) I think the calorie split of the 321 Plan was a healthy way to structure my calorie intake throughout the day and helped ensure I was eating enough. It also meant I was definitely getting my daily nutrients too as each Meal Bar / Shake contains a third of what you need.
I liked that the #SlimFastChallenge encourages you to do at least half an hours exercise each day as I think getting fit and healthy can’t really be done without exercise and lots of other diet plans I’ve seen never really explicitly mention exercise. I went power walking every lunch time for half an hour and made sure I reached my 10,000 steps each day as well. This combined with following the Plan made me feel a lot better and lighter over the 14 days 😀
So as you can probably tell – I really enjoyed following the 321 Plan! There were a couple of concerns I had throughout the process however…
It was great being able to get a chocolate fix whilst taking part in the #SlimFastChallenge but I did find that I ate a lot more sweet treats than I usually would. The Shakes I had were all sweet flavours (and the vanilla was particularly saccharine – a bit like drinking melted milky bar eggs!) and I also alternated between having the Chocolate Crunch and Chocolate Peanut Meal Bars. To be fair there is a third flavour of Meal Bar – Summer Berry – but I asked not to be sent this as I’m not really a fan of fruity things. The Chocolate Crunch bar was so sweet that I didn’t really enjoy eating it and definitely craved a salad at lunch time! The flip side to this however was deliberately choosing lots of lovely vegetables and nuts for my snacks and main meal to get a good savoury fix!
Leading on from the above, one thing I worried about a lot during the #SlimFastChallenge was how much sugar I was consuming. Potentially having two sweet Shakes / giant chocolate Meal Bars and fruit and chocolate snacks in the day could mean I was eating a LOT of sugar. MyFitnessPal certainly freaked out a good few times about the sugar I was consuming. The first time I ate a Meal Replacement Bar I actually had a bit of a dizzy head and the shakes which I’m sure is due to the amount of sugar I had all in one go when usually I’m a salad for lunch kinda gal!
As I’ve said above, my favourites to have were the Rich Chocolate Flavoured Shake Powder for breakfast. I found making my own shake tasted so much nicer and more decadent than drinking the pre made bottles (though obviously they’re much more convenient). The Chocolate Peanut Bar was delicious too, as were all the chocolate snack bars (the Chocolate Caramel one taste just like a Mars Bar but a much nicer size!). I liked all the savoury snacks too but found the BBQ Flavour Tortillas pretty tasteless and a waste of 95 calories! I tended to have only 2 snacks a day and tried to use my own as much as possible to keep them healthy. I don’t eat much fruit usually but have a banana every afternoon so I made sure I kept this as one of my snacks. and I also really liked having a boiled egg and Ryvita in the mornings or 30g of shelled pistachios to get my protein / savoury fix, both of which were suggested by the SlimFast website. For my main meals I ate lots of salad and chicken, stir fries, salmon and vegetables, sausage pasta and even a couple of low cal ready meals. Delicious! I think I will do some recipes on my blog of some of my favourite low calorie meals so let me know if that’s something you’d like to see.
Overall I felt pretty good from doing the #SlimFastChallenge and certainly felt lighter. I said in my original post that I would be happy with at least a 2 lb weight loss as the 321 Plan says that if followed correctly you should see at least a 1-2 lb loss a week. It definitely was true as I lost 4 lb overall hurrah! It may seem quite small and I have seen some people say they lost 8 lb in the first week but I’m happy with it! I think a 1-2 lb weight loss a week is quite a healthy rate to lose weight and hopefully keep it off too.
Yes and no! I am going to keep having a Shake for breakfast to encourage me to eat as soon as I wake up, kick starting my metabolism, and also giving me a good dose of nutrients which my Starbucks definitely doesn’t do! I’m also going to continue with the calorie allowance and splits of the Plan but will replace my lunch time Bar with a salad or other healthy foods as I do not want to have as much sugar as is in the Meal Bars. Fingers crossed this, combined with continuing exercise, will mean I continue to lose weight to reach my goals! I’ll keep you posted!
SlimFast products are currently on a 3 4 2 offer at Superdrug so it’s definitely worth heading there if you’d like to try out the 321 Plan for yourself
*Thank you SlimFast for inviting me to take part in the #SlimFastChallenge. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.