Curious about Slimming World but not sure how it works or if it is right for you? Read my personal review of this popular weight loss diet, plus tips and essential slimming recipes to get you started!
This post is NOT sponsored and I am not affiliated with Slimming World in any way. This is a personal review of my own experience on the plan.
What is Slimming World?
The Slimming World plan was founded 50 years (!) ago by Margaret Miles-Bramwell and has steadily gained popularity ever since.
Slimming World runs weekly meetings run by trained consultants who have had weight loss successes themselves through the plan. You can also follow the plan online.
I first heard about it through a friend who made terrific progress soon after joining. I decided to try it myself a year ago in January 2019 – you can see my progress below.
How does Slimming World Work?
Slimming World works by encouraging you to make healthy choices without any calorie counting.
Food Optimising allows members to eat from a large list of FREE foods which include lean meat, fish, poultry, rice, pasta, potatoes and most pulses and vegetables.
Free foods can be eaten in ‘unlimited amounts’ – but within reason! In addition to the varied free foods, slimmers are allowed to to choose from a list of ‘healthy extras”.
Healthy Extra A (HEA)
These extras include milk and cheese and their non-dairy alternatives. You can pick two HEA per day which allows for some flexibility.
These extras are allowed in certain quantities, eg. you are allowed 350ml of skimmed milk and 30g of Parmesan per day so I can still enjoy overnight oats for breakfast and add some grated cheese on my pasta.
Healthy Extra B (HEB)
On the ‘B” column of healthy extras we have bread and cereal. High fibre options are encouraged as they contribute to health and help you feel full.
Choose one HEB a day, say a slice of wholemeal bread or small portion of cereal. Some high fibre bars such as Fibre One Popcorn bars are also allowed as a healthy choice B.
For a complete list of Healthy Extras please refer to Slimming World or speak to your consultant.
But what about treats?
Most strict diets banish all alcohol, desserts and indulgent food – and I don’t know about you, but the minute I am told I can’t eat something that’s when I get cravings.
Occasional treats are allowed, even encouraged on Slimming World as part of your daily SYNS. What are syns you ask?
Syns stand for synergy – although the similarity to ‘sins’ is a bit hard to ignore 😉 Generally women are allowed 15 syns daily while men 20, although weight considerations may affect that.
Foods that are higher in calories and an impediment to weight loss are give syn values. For example, a glass of wine is 6-8 syns (depending on size of glass and alcohol content) while a chocolate truffle is 4 syns.
Keeping track of your syns is an important part of the Slimming World plan. Thankfully you can refer to the SW app which has a ‘food search’ option until syn values become second nature.
Can you ‘save up’ syns and use them all at once?
Some members opt to not use the daily syn allowance and instead use them all at once say for big meal or drinks out. This might be ok once in a while but not encouraged in the long-term!
What can I expect from my first Slimming World Meeting?
If you are feeling intimidated or downright terrified joining Slimming World then I have good news for you! The group meetings are 100% friendly safe spaces where there’s no body shaming or any pressure.
When you go to your first meeting you will be given an introductory talk about how the plan works as well as some books to take away with you which explain Food Optimising, list Free Foods and Syn values and encourage you to keep a food diary.
You will be weighed for the first time and asked what you want your weight loss target to be. I admit that stepping on the scales is not the greatest feeling the first time…
But seeing the weight loss come off week after week is extremely encouraging and all milestones are recorded and celebrated within the group.
How much weight can I expect to lose the first week?
There are many factors that come into play but if you follow the plan correctly you can expect to lose between 4-7 pounds (approx. 2-4 kilos).
I lost 6.5 pounds (just shy of 3 kilos) my first week which was so encouraging – I was absolutely delighted and motivated to keep going.
How much weight can I expect to lose every week?
The impressive weight loss usually slows down a bit after the first week. I experienced a weekly loss of between 1-2 pounds (450-900g) after the first couple of weeks.
Some weeks I experienced bigger losses, occasionally I hit a plateau and the loss stalled and more than once I gained a bit– it’s all part of the journey!
I lost about 11kg (1.7 stone / 24 pounds) in just over 6 months before taking a break. I am planning to join again to bring the festive indulgence back under control!
The Whoosh Effect
Have you heard of the “whoosh effect” – a big loss after you have experienced a plateau in your weight loss journey?
This effect supposedly occurs because as you lose weight fat cells fill with water and so weight loss stalls even if you are doing everything right…
But just as you lose hope the fat cells eventually flush all that water out so your weight drops seemingly overnight – whoosh!
The so-called “whoosh effect” appears to have no scientific basis, although there’s a lot of vague science-speak and tons of anecdotal evidence.
How much does it cost to join Slimming World?
At the time I am writing this it costs £4.95 a week if you attend the SW group meetings and £20 per month if you follow the plan online.
You can also save money by signing up for 6 or 12 weeks – check at your local meetings or online.
Oh and by the way, if you don’t lose weight during the first four weeks of group membership, SW will give you your money back.
Joining after a break
If you were a Slimming World member you can rejoin and either choose to keep your weight loss history or start fresh. You can do this by paying two weeks back fee and your weekly fee (£14.85).
The other choice to join fresh and receive a brand new pack. For this you will pay a joining fee plus a weekly fee (£10 + £4.95).
What are the advantages of attending the weekly meetings VS online?
If you are new to Slimming World I would advise going to the weekly meetings so that you can familiarise yourself with the plan.
Attending the meetings is a great motivator to stay on plan as the weekly weigh-ins make you more accountable (at least they did for me). You can also ask questions and chat with other members, exchange recipe ideas and find out about new products, purchase books etc.
Weight loss milestones are celebrated and that can be incredibly inspiring for new members. I felt elated when I reached my half stone (7 pound) weight loss on only the second week!
As a downside the meetings can get very lengthy and sometimes it is difficult to attend every week. I did find that as I came closer to my goal weight I didn’t stick around for the whole meeting.
I haven’t personally experienced what it is like to become an online member (screenshot below) only but I can say that it offers much greater flexibility if you are busy or travel a lot.
So what can I eat on Slimming World?
What I love about this plan is that you don’t have to give up on the food you love. By making some slight changes you can still enjoy pasta dishes, yummy curries and even desserts. Take a look at my slimming recipes here.
You don’t feel deprived because nothing is off limits – if you want to enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail you can without guilt. Staying in control of your Syns is a great way to indulge without ruining your weight loss.
Slimming Breakfast Ideas
Crustless Quiche | Slimming Friendly
Greek Pasta Salad
Satay Chicken Salad | Slimming Friendly
Dump and start Instant Pot red lentil soup
Slow Cooker Roast Beef
Diet Coke Chicken (a.k.a Cola Chicken / Crockpot BBQ chicken)
Classic Spaghetti Carbonara – slimming-friendly
Please note I am not affiliated in any way with Slimming World. This weight loss plan is updated often in line with latest nutritional guidance and may change so for accurate information it is best to join as a member.