I’ve started this thread to cover many of the most common questions from people starting or considering starting the Slim and Save diet. It’s not intended to cover everything and not everything here will cover your individual situation but hopefully it should prove to be useful as a guide.
What is Slim and Save?
Slim and Save is a total food replacement Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) that uses meal replacement packs as a substitute for food.
Where can I buy Slim and Save?
Slim and Save products are available from the Slim and Save website:
Slim & Save
What products are available in the Slim and Save range?
The Slim and Save range consists of a variety of different shakes, soups, bars and meals. You can have whatever combination of products you prefer when following the VLCD but you can only have a maximum of 1 bar per day to ensure that your nutrition levels are balanced as the nutritional content doesn't support having 2 per day and Slim and Save advise that you don't get too dependent on chocolate treats on the diet. Slim and Save also sell water flavourings that can make drinking the amount of water needed on this diet easier for some people.
What is the nutritional content of the packs and are they suitable for vegetarians
Yes, the packs are all suitable for vegetarians, even the meals such as spag bol as they're based on soya, not meat. The nutritional information is available here:
What is a VLCD and how can I find out more?
There are details on the Slim and Save website and answers to the most common questions here:
All About VLCD and how to choose the correct VLCD Programme for you!
This will also tell you about the very important medical stuff so it’s essential to read this before you decide whether the Slim and Save diet is right for you. The owner of Slim and Save, Rob, is also very helpful if you want to drop him an email or give him a ring, and talk about your specific circumstances or ask additional questions.
Some answers to some of the most common questions put to Slim and Save are here:
How do I know if I’ll like the meal replacement products?
Slim and Save allow you to purchase as many or as few products as you like so the best idea is to order a variety of different samples and see which ones you prefer before ordering a large batch. Everyone has different tastes and what suits one person may not suit another. Samples are available on the website and you can order as many flavours as you like. Just keep adding flavours to your basket. You can only order samples once though so make sure you order all the ones you want to try. In addition Slim and Save also sell a sample pack that contains one of each flavour to make things easy. There is a great variety and you should be able to find enough products to incorporate into your diet.
How does it compare to other VLCDs
Essentially all VLCDs are pretty much the same and use meal replacement packs to provide all the food you will need. Weight losses are largely similar between different VLCDs too. There is no counsellor on this diet though so if you need the support of a counsellor you may wish to choose one of the other VLCDs, however that will cost you more and Slim and Save is one of the most cost effective ways of following a VLCD. There is good support from other members following the Slim and Save diet via this forum though. Slim and Save also allows you to substitute one of the packs with 100g of certain proteins so it is very flexible if you want to have a meal out and stay on plan.
How can I make up the shakes when I’m at work?
The shakes are easy to make up in a shaker bottle. You can purchase these from Slim and Save or you can also buy a shaker with a metal ball in the bottom of it that mixes the shakes up well.
Many people enjoy the shakes made up with more water than specified and others prefer them mixed up with only a little water to make a sort of mousse. Play around with the amount of water to find what suits you.
How can I make the shakes up hot?
Many people like some of the shakes hot. The favourites seem to be cafe latte, caramel, hazelnut, chocolate and vanilla with a spoonful of coffee (coffee can be added to any of the shakes to change the flavour). The shakes are easy to make up hot at home with a blender or microwave but if you are at work and only have a shaker don't shake them up hot or the steam will build up and the top of the shaker will blow off. Add a little cold water in the bottom of the shaker, shake, and then top up with hot water from the kettle and stir well. The drink will be hot (but not boiling) and can be consumed straightaway.
What else can I eat other than the mealpacks while on Slim and Save?
The Slim and Save programme allows you to have up to 200g of certain vegetables and salad in addition to your foodpacks and up to 150ml of skimmed milk. These are optional and not everyone decides to include the additional vegetables however they make the diet much easier for some people. The best idea is to have a variety of the vegetables each day rather than 1 particular type, and don't have 200g of olives every day because they are quite high in calories! A few olives and lots of green veggies is best if you are an olive lover.
In addition to this if you have 3 packs per day (4 for men) you should include 100g of certain protein to ensure that your daily intake includes enough protein.
All of this is detailed on the information sheet you will receive with your order:
The plan is very flexible and you can choose to do 4 packs (5 packs for men) one day, and 3 packs (4 for men) plus protein another. Some people like to use the protein option as a weekend treat or when they have a meal out but want to stay on plan.
What can I drink whilst on Slim and Save?
The official line is that you can only have the drinks noted on the Slim and Save website however there is a really useful thread on the Exante forum that details some different options:
http://www.minimins.com/exante/19721...nk-exante.html (What can you drink on Exante)
Do steer clear of drinks containing carbs and citric acid though as these will affect ketosis. Slim and Save also sell a number of different water flavouring that are ok to use when on the plan.
In addition to this you have an optional daily milk allowance of 150ml of skimmed milk that you can use in tea / coffee, use in the shakes / porridge, or drink on its own.
Do I have to take a vitamin and mineral supplement?
If you are on the female 3 items per day programme then yes. You can buy a suitable supplement from Slim and Save or they are widely available from the supermarket. All of the other programmes containing 4 or more mealpacks contain adequate levels of vitamins and minerals.
How do I get weighed?
Most people weigh themselves weekly in their own homes but some people go to Boots for their official weekly weigh in or get a friend or relative to record it for them. The Slim and Save diet does not include the support of a counsellor. If you feel that you need this then perhaps consider one of the other VLCDs such as the Cambridge Plan or Lighterlife, although these will be more expensive. You can use the Slim and Save forum on Minimins to track your weight, create a weight 'ticker' and share your losses with others following the diet. The S&S community on Minimins is very supportive.
Any tips before I start?
Without doubt the hardest phase of this diet is getting into ketosis which for more people will kick in within about 4 days, but everyone is different. It really helps if you can cut down on the levels of carbs in your diet in the days before you start as it makes getting into ketosis much easier. Once you’re in ketosis hunger is supressed and it’s much easier. The first few days will be hard though and you just need to tough it out. Keep in mind that it does get easier . If you do feel tempted to cheat bear in mind that it will set you back and take even longer to get into ketosis than if you stay on track. If you really, really need something else have an additional mealpack and definitely stay away from carbs as it will just prolong the agony of getting into ketosis. Remember - "Don't crack, have an extra pack"
If you’re a female who usually suffers at time of the month (TOTM) it may be an idea to avoid starting at that time as dealing with TOTM and getting into ketosis may be a double whammy!
Many people do find that TOTM makes an appearance soon after starting a VLCD even if they haven't had one for a while, and the thought is that oestrogen is stored in fat and the sudden loss of fat can start TOTM. Losing weight can also be very good for fertility and people who have had trouble conceiving may find they become pregnant after being on a VLCD. And of course it's much easier to go through a pregnancy with a lower BMI. TOTM can be quite erratic on a VLCD too but things should return to normal once you stop. Lots of people follow this plan in order to lose weight to help them start a family.
Line up different things to do when other family members are eating if you find watching them difficult. Take a long bath, go and read a book, go for a walk, do your nails, surf the internet, come onto the forum and contribute – anything to take your mind off feeling hungry.
It really helps to understand the science behind the diet, and what ketosis means and why you can’t have carbs. Reading up on this before you start will really make things make sense and understand how the diet works and how you can exist on so few calories without feeling permanently hungry.
Some people like to take a ‘before’ photo and measure themselves to provide motivation. It’s fantastic to look back on how far you’ve come once you’ve lost a couple of stone or more as you often can’t see it by looking in the mirror.
Set yourself some goals, such as ‘losing half a stone’, ‘getting below 14 stone’ or whatever. If you have a lot to lose it’s better to focus on some nearer goals initially as the end goal can be a bit daunting. Once you start to tick the goals off the end goal will be ever nearer.
Line up some non-food treats for yourself to keep you motivated. Maybe treat yourself to a manicure or a facial when you’ve got through the first week, and maybe a piece of jewellery when you’ve lost a stone or 2, although bear in mind your fingers and wrist will decrease in size as your weight drops.
Sort out all of your too small clothes (we’ve all got them ) into sizes and try on the clothes that are just too tight each week and before long you will be wearing them. Give away your too big clothes to a charity shop or put them on Ebay. They belong to the old you that you’re not returning to. Tempting though it is it’s best not to invest in too many new clothes before you reach your goal as you lose weight on this diet so quickly they will be too big before you know it so try to recycle your old clothes if you can. Wearing clothes that you have not worn for many months as they’ve been too tight will feel like a new wardrobe anyway . Also bear in mind that as well as clothes your shoes / jewellery may feel looser and you may find you take a smaller size once you reach goal.
Everyone will find their own particular way of spreading their mealpacks out throughout the day. My own advice is not to have the first one too early as then you may be hungry later on in the day. I generally have my first mealpack at about 10am and have the other 3 from lunchtime onwards. I divide my bars up into very small pieces as this makes them last longer. Gone are the days of chomping a chocolate bar down in 3 bites . Some people chop their bars up and freeze them as they then take longer to eat. Some people find that it helps to halve their shakes and bars in order to space the items out more evenly throughout the day. If you feel a little faint during the first few days (some people do) it may be advisable to split the packs in half so that you are eating more regularly throughout the first few days. Everyone is different and it’s about finding out what works for you.
Do I have to have all the mealpacks if I’m not hungry?
Yes, the mealpacks contain the nutrients you need and skipping one is not good for you.
How can I tell if I’m in ketosis?
Many people use Ketostix to check whether they’re in ketosis but there are some other tell-tale signs; the feeling of constant hunger will go away, you’ll get a strange, somewhat unpleasant taste in your mouth (you can use a breath spray or breath strips to help with that) and you may feel colder than you did before. Some people also find they have more energy than they did before or don’t need as much sleep but again everyone’s experience is different. If you do use ketostix be aware that any sign of pink means that you are in ketosis, don't get hung up about how deep the pink colour is. Also, some people never show as in ketosis using ketostix even if they've stuck to plan. There is quite a good article here that explains why your stick might not turn pink!
How much weight can I expect to lose?
This will be different for everyone but you can expect to lose on average around a stone per month if you stick to the diet. If you’re a man or you have a lot to lose your losses may be even higher initially. People usually have a pretty good weight loss in the first week and between half a stone and a stone is not uncommon. This is because in the first week your body will use up its glycogen stores and you will lose the water that’s associated with those stores. The first week’s loss is always a good motivator . Us girls can find that weight loss is slower just before and during time of the month due to water retention. That’s just one of the delights us females have to put up with I’m afraid .
How can I make the packs taste nicer?
There are a number of things you can do to help with this such as:
Shakes – try them hot as well as cold, make them up with different amounts of water to suit your personal preference, add coffee, cinnamon or nutmeg to them, make them up with ice in a blender, freeze them, or make a shake into a mousse:
http://www.minimins.com/slim-save/23...ve-mousse.html (Slim and Save Mousse!)
Soups – Whilst many people like the soups as they are you can experiment with adding herbs and spices, tabasco, chilli powder or anything to increase the flavour and provide a bit of variety. Or you can use some of the allowed vegetables to add to the soups to provide more texture and taste. Ensure that what you add doesn’t contain more than negligible amounts of carbs though.
Meals – whilst the spag bol and chilli are quite spicy already many people find the cottage pie a bit bland so spice it up with a bit of chilli powder, tabasco etc. as per the soups. The mac cheese and the mushroom pasta are quite small portions but are lovely poured over some of the allowed vegetables. Cauliflower and broccoli with mac cheese or Mushrooms, green peppers and shallots with mushroom pasta - Mmm!
Porridge – There are 2 types, oatmeal (that's quite sweet) and sweet porridge (that's not very sweet in my opinion!). Some people like 1 type and some people like none. It's a bit of an acquired taste. They can be made up with the skimmed milk allowance or with water but they taste just the same with water in my opinion leaving the milk allowance for tea / coffee.
Bars – everyone has their own favourites. Best idea initially is to buy a variety so that you can choose your own favourites . The bars are quite small but once you are in ketosis you will also find them quite filling. Remember though, only 1 bar per day.
You may find that once your tastebuds start to change you may start to like the mealpacks that you didn’t like to start with (or sometimes you can go off things) so it’s worth giving the packs you didn’t like another try after a few weeks, and don't buy a mountain of one flavour only to go off them after the first week. Slim and Save are not allowed to accept returns of food items and you are not allowed to swap packs on Minimins so if you do have a stack that you need to get rid of Ebay may be your friend .
I have a night out coming up, what should I do?
Well you can decide to stay on track and not deviate from plan when you’re out, or if you really want to have a meal but remain in ketosis you need to choose something that’s pretty low carb like a protein based meal such as grilled fish or chicken and combine it with some salad from the Slim and Save allowed vegetables. Watch out for the carbs and calories in any dressing though, and to be on the safe side either have the salad without dressing or take a little pot of dressing from home containing the lowest calories and carbs you can find.
If you decide to include alcohol too then you should not do that without coming out of ketosis as it can make you quite ill so having a sandwich at lunchtime will do that for you.
If you decide not to drink alcohol there is a useful list of ketogenic foods on the Exante forum so that you can plan what to have on your night out that will keep you in ketosis:
Or you might just decide to have a night off and to come out of ketosis altogether. Do be aware though that you will need to go through the difficult few days whilst getting back into ketosis afterwards in order to get back on track and this is not a decision you should take lightly. If you have a lifestyle where you feel that you will always need to eat carbs off and on then yo-yo ing between being in ketosis and not is not a good way of approaching this diet and it will make life very difficult for you, as well as have a marked effect on weight loss. In this case it may be that you are not suited to this type of diet and could explore another diet plan such as Weight Watchers or Slimming World.
What should I do when I get to goal?
When you get to goal it’s important not to simply stop and go back to your previous eating habits as that’s what made you overweight to start with. Before you get to goal research the sort of refeeding programme you would like to follow when making the transition from the mealpacks to real food, and then a maintenance plan to maintain your goal weight. Many people cut down on the number of foodpacks they have gradually when they start refeeding and then start to reintroduce food to a level that means that they are maintaining their weight and not gaining. I haven’t yet reached goal so have not yet gone through the refeeding phase. Slim and Save have provided a refeeding programme that is on their website:
Ideas for adding a meal when refeeding
This one is thanks to Lara1986 and based on the Cambridge Plan
The 810 plan (the next step after having mealpacks only)
At least 2.5 litres of water
3 shakes or meal packs
Choice of one from the protein list:
- 260g canned tuna
- 175g poultry meat (no skin or fat)
- 275g white fish
- 275g quorn or tofu
- 330g reduced fat cottage cheese
- 260g plain cottage cheese
- 190g fresh tuna steak
3 tablespoons of these vegetables:
- asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, celery, courgette, cucumber, cauliflower, green or yellow peppers, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms (not fried), spinach, spring onion.
340ml skimmed milk
And here is the Lipotrim guide to refeeding:
Hope that’s useful, and whether you’re feeling high or low this forum will provide great support for you as you go through your ups and downs. We’ve all been there