Over the course of this post I’m going to set out how Slimming World works for you so that you have everything you need to start losing weight in a healthy, happy and sustainable way! Before I get started I obviously want to stress that I’m not an official Slimming World consultant, however I have been doing this now for almost two years and like to think I know my way around the plan pretty well. I was really thrilled to sit through the new member talk at my Slimming World group last night, as it has given me a whole new determination, and I therefore wanted to help anyone who doesn’t have the luxury of going to group, or maybe just needs a refresher from time to time, have that same feeling! This article is set out in the following sections:
- The Basics
- Free Foods, including:
- Speed Foods
- ‘P’ Foods
- Healthy Extras
- Easy Extra SP
I really hope that this guide to Slimming World is helpful for you but if you have any queries just ask in the comments below! You can of course always contact Slimming World too for any queries and there is a wonderful online Slimming World community who are always happy to help! More than anything I wish you every success on your Slimming World journey, this plan has totally changed my life and I really hope I can help some others change theirs too!
The Basics of Slimming World
Slimming World really isn’t complicated and works on three very simple principles. You have unlimited ‘Free Foods’, measured ‘Healthy Extras‘ and 5-15 ‘Syns‘ every day. Once you understand which foods fit into these categories, explained below, Slimming World is easy peasy! The plan works on a pyramid really and is all about filling yourself up on the unlimited free foods, before digging into your syns and in addition to your Healthy Extras… something like this:
What Are Free Foods?
Free Foods are the foods which you can eat in unlimited quantities to keep you full and satisfy your appetite. This includes vegetables, fruit, lean meat, fish & poultry, vegetable proteins, meat replacements, fat free dairy, rice, grains, eggs, potatoes and pasta! That’s a lot of different food to pick from so you can already see that Slimming World is really non-restrictive! Free Foods as a category are broken down into three further categories, ‘Speed Foods’, ‘Protein’ with everything else simply falling under the general ‘Free Foods’ banner. Free Foods are the foods which are lower in calories but high in density so they fill you up without putting too many calories in your system. Whilst we never count calories on Slimming World, it is essential to realise that if we are trying to lose weight we can’t continue consuming the same amount of calorie rich food as we have been…otherwise nothing changes! We will come to ‘P’ foods later, but one key thing to remember on Slimming World is that most meat and fish are ‘Free Foods’ no matter how you cook it, as long as you cook it without the fat! Poultry can be cooked with the fat on as long as it is removed before eating! If you eat the fat it must be synned (something else we’ll cover later!).
What Are Speed Foods?
Speed Foods come under the free food category and are made up of fruit and vegetables. Whilst all fruit and veg is ‘Free’, apart from Avocado (sorry!) some have lower calories and less sugar than others and are therefore classed as ‘Speed Foods’. Slimming World recommends for the plan to work best that you fill up 1/3 of your plate at every meal with Speed Foods! This means that you are replacing a third of your plate with lower calorie, lower sugar but high density filling food, perfect for boosting weight loss without ever needing to be hungry! The key is not to just add a helping of Speed Foods onto the side of an already packed plate (for instance as a side salad), but is to actively replace a third in order to get the best possible results. You can find a list of all the Speed Foods on Slimming World here in my Speed Food Shopping List.
What Are ‘P’ Foods?
On Slimming World ‘P’ stands for protein! This is therefore made up of all of the highest protein foods, from meat and fish to vegetarian substitutes and vegetables like peas. Although Slimming World don’t specifically say that you have to fill up a third of your plate with protein, it is incredibly important to get lots in your diet so it’s a good principle to work to anyway. ‘P’ Foods are made up of the foods which are highest in protein, and does in fact cover the vast majority of meat and fish as well as the other categories I’ve already mentioned. You can find a full list of ‘P’ foods on my ‘P’ Food Shopping List here.
What Are Healthy Extras?
Healthy Extras are the only part of the plan that you have to measure, and they are made up of your Healthy Extra A choices and Healthy Extra B choices. You get two Healthy Extra A choices (often referred to as ‘HexA’) and these are made up of dairy foods which are highest in calcium. It is incredibly important to maintain a high intake of calcium in order to maintain your bones, vitamin D levels and general good health, and it is also important for weight loss. Depending on the fat content of the dairy your eating (fat free dairy is generally syn free, although you should always check to make sure), this will effect the amount of it you can have. For example you can have 350mls of skimmed milk as your Healthy Extra A but just 175mls of whole milk! There are plenty of resources available to find out what counts as your Healthy Extra A choice (I’ll put one together soon) and they are always clearly marked on the Slimming World app if you’re a member. If you’re on the go or looking for options for a lunch box there are a number of ‘grab and go’ options, for instance you can have four Dairylea Light triangles as your A choice for the day.
Healthy Extra B choices are your fibre intake for the day, and are made up of bread and cereals. You get one Healthy Extra B choice and again there are plenty of resources out there for Healthy Extra B choices but many high-fibre wholegrain cereals are (both branded and supermarket own) and probably one of the most generally used B choices is 40g of oats. Similarly, many people use their B choice for wholemeal bread, where you can have either one slice from an 800g loaf or two slices from a 400g loaf (or 60g of any wholemeal bread if you have scales to hand!). You can also pick up quite a few breakfast bars which count as your Healthy Extra B choice which is handy if you’re on the go!
Although not eating your Healthy Extras on any given day won’t cause you to gain weight, it is important to eat them for long term weight loss…because let’s face it, what is life without bread and cheese! You can’t carry over your Healthy Extra choices to another day, so if you haven’t had them you still only get one of each the next day (providing you’re following the standard plan). If you have already had your Healthy Extra As or B, you must syn any additional ones that are eaten.
What Are Syns?
Syns are the final part of the plan, and essentially anything that isn’t a ‘Free Food’ has a syn value. You can have between 5 and 15 syns every day on Slimming World, and different things have different syn values. For example a teaspoon of oil contains 2 syns whilst a chocolate bar might contain 12. Syns are built in to allow you to have the things that you just can’t live without, like chocolate, wine and higher fat foods, and are the main reason that Slimming World is such a maintainable lifestyle plan! Nothing is off limits, it’s just a case of enjoying them in moderation, i.e. within your syn allowance for the day. Syns also allow you to be flexible, for instance if you over indulge one day you know you can account for it in your syns the next day…it’s wonderful! It’d be rather tough to create a list of all of the synned foods in the world, however if you are a Slimming World member you can always check the website or app and if you’re not there is a whole community of people who can help you out! A good rule to bear in mind is that as long as there is no ‘Free Food’ allowance in something then 20 calories is equal to one syn, a handy rule for things like chocolate and sweets.
What Is Easy Extra SP?
Easy Extra SP is an additional plan on Slimming World, to help boost weight loss even further. It’s great if you’ve got an event or holiday coming up and you just want to shift an extra few pounds beforehand, or if you find your weight loss slowing down to give you a kick start. It is not recommended for anyone who has been doing Slimming World for less than a month as you need to get your head around the general plan first, but it can be a great resource! I cover all of the details of Easy Extra SP here.
I really hope that this guide has been useful, and given you everything you need to start your weight loss journey with Slimming World! I can’t recommend enough the benefit of going to a Slimming World group (I wouldn’t have lost my weight without it!) but I know that’s not possible for everyone, so fingers crossed this has been helpful if that’s the case for you, or if you just wanted a bit of a refresher!