Disclaimer: I am not a Slimming World consultant, I have just been on the plan a while. Advice on this thread – or the forum – is not a replacement for the advice of your consultant. The only way to get 100% correct information is to attend a Slimming World group, or body optimise online. Some of the information may not be correct either due to my misunderstanding or Slimming World changing. I cannot be held responsible for misinformation. If you find this to be true please let me know and not type mean posts – thank you
Mini Mins cannot publish full lists of Free Foods, Healthy Extras or Syns. Lastly please don’t ask for the password – we can’t give it out so don’t ask!
This is your first stop for all your Slimming World Newbie’s! After this thread giving the FAQ’s a read might be a good idea
FORGET EVERYTHING YOU HAVE LEARNT ABOUT DIET AND WEIGHT LOSS!
Your New Mantra
I am not on a diet – I am following a healthy eating plan
I’m not looking for a quick fix – I want to lose weight and change my attitude to food
I don’t have to give anything up – variety is the spice of life
Everything in moderation – remember too much of a good thing…
I want to change my life for the better
Now Let Us Begin…
Slimming World is a plan of its own. A lot of people try it after Weight Watchers and it can be hard to break the ‘points’ habit, or any other diet plan for that matter. Try and come into it with a clear and open mind. Positive thinking has a lot to answer for! Slimming World has 40 years of success - so they know what they're doing!
The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you are taking it – create a calorie deficit. There are lots of ways to do this, some not as healthy as others, Slimming World has created a plan to give you a calorie deficit with minimal effort on your part, follow and trust the plan.
Let’s start by talking about the plan and how each bit works:
Free foods are called free because you can have as much as you want without feeling guilty. No measuring, no weight - just eat until you're full. Yes you really can eat as much as you want, for those interested the basic logic is that the foods have a low calorie density – so you get much more ‘value for calorie’. Check the food optimising book for the full list. These foods are chosen as they fill you up quick and keep you full up for longer.
Green Day carbohydrates fill you up and slowly release energy:
Red Day protein fills you up and keeps hunger pangs away:
Superfree foods are simply fruit and vegetables that are free on all plans. This is an update to the old definition that super free foods are those on all days, Mullerlight yoghurts, Bovril, Herbs, Soy Sauce etc., are just referred to as free foods now. (I think the logic to this being the marketing people didn’t think it would look as appealing to say fill 1/3 of your plate with fruit or vegetables. Instead Superfree sounds much better!)
You should be having A’s and B’s, 2 or 4 depending on the day. Healthy Extra’s are in the plan to make sure we get the nutrients our body needs; protein, carbohydrates, fibre, calcium, and fat. Plus all the vitamins and minerals we need. The reason these foods are limited is because whilst they are good for us, when eaten in excess they cause weight gain – so it’s very important to measure them correctly and not to guesstimate. (Each HE is approx 6 syns if you want to have additional amounts and syn them)
Syns are everything that don't fit into the category of free food or healthy extra - it's not just "treats" like chocolate, wine, sweets, biscuits etc.(although these do have a syn value). It can be things like gravy, butter, stuffing, additional Healthy Extra's like cheese, milk and bread. Syns are there so you don’t feel deprived or have to cut anything out. We all like a nice treat, whether it be a big bar of chocolate or gallons of gravy on our Sunday dinner, but too much causes weight gain.
Everything that isn’t a Free Food or used as a Healthy Extras has a syn number; the number depends on how calorie dense it is. I.e. how many calories it has for its volume, and how quickly it turns to energy. Don’t think that because of the name all syns are bad foods, as mentioned above it could be anything. For example a Morrisons Eat Smart French-Style vingerette isn’t a ‘bad’ food – but it’s 1/2 syn per tbsp. Also don’t get tripped up by fat-free, low calorie or diet foods (especially yoghurts). They might be low in fat, but high in sugar, or low in sugar but high in fat, or they might be low in sugar, low in fat, low in taste but high on syns – always check.
The reason peoples weight loss slows down, or they start to gain when the try not to have any syns, is because the body isn't getting enough calories to function and goes into starvation mode and hold on to everything - what you've got and what you give it.
15 syns = 300 cals
300 x 7 days = 2100 cals
To lose 1lb per week you need to reduce your calorie in take by 3500 (on top of your normal maintenance cals) so by not having any syns at all you will not even lose an extra pound! You might think well every calorie helps, this isn’t necessarily true. Just trust and follow the plan.
Extra Easy is the new plan introduced in January 2009. The structure of the plan is the same, free foods, healthy extras and syns.
With this plan you can indulge on foods that are free on either day. You must fill 1/3 of your plate with super free foods (i.e. fruit and vegetables) at each meal.
"Fill 1/3 of your plate with Superfree Foods and make them your first choice between meals [...]"
You have 1 A choice and 1 B choice healthy extras. With syns the number stays the same between 5-15 a day, except you take the lower value, if an item is 3 syns on Green and 4 on Red, you count 3 syns on EE.
All three slimming world plans follow three steps;
1. Fill up on free foods – maximum satisfaction for minimum calories
2. Have your Healthy Extras – get all your vitamins and minerals
3. Use all your syns – because nothing is forbidden
Remember to follow all three steps of the plan. To quote my consultant “no-one comes into group and says, “I didn’t have any free food this week” you wouldn’t ignore that step, so remember to follow all three”. Due to the name ‘syns’ many people think not having them will help their weight loss, but in fact it can be counter productive.
Plateaus and Weight Gains
First and foremost - don't beat yourself up, you are only human it happens to everyone - if you genuinely have no idea why you have stayed the same or gained read on for some encouragement.
The first question of course is “have you stuck to the plan 100%?” If the answer is no, then that is probably your answer. Go back to day one, read your food diary and weight loss diary if you have one. Do everything by the book, just like you did in week one and watch the weight drop off. Chances are you’ve been “cheating” for a while, had an extra glass of wine each week and got away with it, had white bread instead of wholemeal as HEx B, but it catches up on you. If you have been 100% and you’re being honest read on! Remember by not having all your Healthy Extra’s and/or Syn’s means you haven’t been 100% As I mentioned above it is very important to follow all three steps of the plan.
There are many other reasons why you may stay the same, have plateau’s or gain even though you've stuck 100%
Firstly Slimming World will not suit everyone, just like any eating plan. No eating plan will work for 100% of people 100% of the time. It could also be the day-plan, are you doing only Red days? Only Green days? Only Extra Easy? Trying mixing them up a bit and see if your weight loss improves.
Certain medications may cause weight gain. Things like steroids, some pain killers, diabetic drugs, anti-depressants and I'm sure many others. It might be worth a chat with your pharmacist or doctor.
Hormones - at that time of the month for us girlies, its star week and during this time the body holds on to water, but you should see a loss the next week if you stick with it.
Stress can be another contributor to weight gain.
So are some medical conditions; hypothyroidism is one - a deficiency of thyroid hormone can decrease metabolism, causing appetite loss and weight gain
Many other reasons include;
- Lack of sleep
- Giving Up Smoking
This is not an exhaustive list, but it may be worth pointing out that if your gains happen for an extensive period of time it may be worth a visit to your GP in case you are suffering with hypothyroidism or any other symptoms that could be related to your weight gain. (Thanks to Taz for pointing the above out to me, big credit to her)
N.B. The following is largely me throwing my thoughts on to the screen, I’m not a trained nutritionist or sports scientist – it’s merely bits I’ve picked up along the way. If you can contribute to improving this section, please let me know.
Metabolism, Exercise and A New Approach
We hear a lot about this when it comes to weight loss, but what is it? Basically it’s the name given for the process of your body burning calories. Muscles are the biggest contributor to metabolic rate. Muscle needs a lot more calories to survive that fat does.
The more muscle you have the more calories you burn. If you are not eating enough – not using your syns for example - then your body will burn muscle for energy before it burns the fat stores and if you’ve got less muscle then your metabolism slows down and you won’t burn fat! A vicious circle. Think of it like a fire, instead of using petrol to fuel the flames, it uses water – the stuff you need to put it out!
If you’re starving yourself to loose weight, you may loose weight, but you are loosing the very thing you need to loose fat!
Now that’s explained lets talk about why you're plateau-ing or gaining if you’re doing the plan 100%. Say you used to weigh 15st, now you weigh 12st. You body needs less energy to survive because there is less of you. Basically there’s 3st less of you to carry about, so you need to use less energy. (Try walking around all day with two bags of flour on your back to see what I'm talking about). When I first wanted to loose weight I was told to reduce my calorie intake to around 1750, then by the time I was about 1st away from target my daily calorie intake would be about 1200, but when I’m at target it would go back up to 1810. My point being the last push might become more difficult, you may have to reduce your syns down to 6 or 7, but once you get there you can bring them back up to 10.
A quick side note, when you get to target – when not if – don’t think ‘yay I can have 20 syns a day now’ because this may bring back old bad habits you’ve worked so hard to banish. Instead try having extra Hex’s. An example being a young woman is at target and currently on EE, 15 syns, 6 A’s and 6 B’s and if she loses again this week it’ll go up to 7! Remember HEx’s having all those nutrients, rather than having an extra curly wurly full of fat and sugar!
Now may be the time to start exercising to gain more muscle for those fat stores to be used on. If you are already exercising, perhaps increase the amount of cardio and increase the weights in your strength training. (You actually burn more fat after you finish exercising - a process called afterburn.)
Exercise doesn't mean going to the gym, even sitting at home with some baked bean tins watching the telly. A lot of people like using the Wii, not just Wii Fit, but the basic sports games are good too. Other suggestions include; using the stairs instead of the lift, getting off the bus a stop earlier, really push that pushchair, run up the stairs rather than walking, get up and jog on the spot or do star jumps while the adverts are on.
If exercise isn't really an option, try reducing your syns – only by 1-2 to start with and always discuss it with your consultant if you attend a group.
Remember that muscle is a lot denser than fat so weighs more in the same amount of space. (1lb of fat and 1lb of muscle wiegh the same! A lot like what weighs more 1 ton of lead or 1 ton of feathers, they're the same but one will take up much more room)
Have you kept track of your measurements as well as your weight? Remember the difference between loosing weight and loosing body fat.
Oh before I forget one more myth to clear up
FAT DOES NOT TURN INTO MUSCLE AND VICE VERSAthey are two completely different entities, it would be like a can of coke spontaneously turning into a puppy – it won’t happen!!
So in summary;
- Make sure you use all three components of SW,
- Free Foods – fill up,
- Healthy Extra’s – measure properly,
- Syns – use them to your advantage
- Make sure you doing the plan 100% before you give in
- Keep a food diary from day one
- Make sure you are loosing body fat not just weight
- make sure you’re eating all three steps
- Don’t be upset if you get a gain
- There could be 101 reasons
- In 20 years time you won’t remember that one week you gained
- Use it to your advantage
- Don't beat yourself up for being human
- Life’s too short to worry about that one glass of wine, on that one day, in that one week, in that one year
- Keep track of your measurements
- Don’t just focus on the lbs
- Don’t give up – keep going!
I think that’s it – if you’ve gotten this far then congratulations and I wish you luck on your fat loss mission!
If you’ve read all this then anything and everything is possible.
Any questions just ask. Good luck everyone!!
Some Frequently Asked Questions - (Slimming World FAQ's)
Common Misconseptions - (Common SW misconceptions put right.)