You’ve probably heard of Slimming World, which was started by Margaret Miles-Bramwell in 1969. It’s a systematic eating plan that encourages participants to lose weight by holding weekly meetings and weigh-ins.
Thousands of weekly meetings have been hosted across the UK in the last 50 years, influencing tens of millions of people to eat more healthily and lose weight by recording their ‘Free Foods,’ ‘Healthy Extras,’ and ‘Syns.’
What are Slimming World Speed Foods, and why should you eat them?
No, I’m not talking about super-quick meals or snacks that can be prepared in a matter of seconds. Slimming World Speed Foods are foods that you’re urged to consume more of while on the program. What is their function? To increase your food intake while also speeding up your fat reduction.
According to Slimming World Speed Foods head of nutrition and research, Dr Jacquie Lavin, speed foods are low-calorie, high-fiber fruits and vegetables that should make up a third of each meal. ‘They give heft and volume to a meal for relatively little calories while also providing a range of vitamins, minerals, and fiber and are nutrient dense, so they’re perfect for supporting healthy, balanced weight reduction,’ she says.
They fall under the ‘Free Items’ banner, which refers to foods that you may eat as much of as you like (or until you’re full: think lean protein, rice, and potatoes; see the WH reference to Slimming World for more information on what foods make up the Free Foods).
What is the difference between “Free Foods” and “Speed Foods?”
Chicken, salmon, eggs, rice, and potatoes are examples of free meals that you may consume as much as you like.
Slimming World considers Speed Foods to be fruit and vegetables that fall into the free food category but are more nutritionally sound, i.e. low calorie, high nutrient.
NB: There are other super-fast foods, such as apples, blackberries, grapefruit, and cherries, which are fewer in calories and richer in nutrients. Please bear with us.
Why are they referred to as “Speed Foods”?
The phrase “Speed Meals” was developed by Slimming World specialists because they believe they are the foods that help you shed fat the fastest, or that speed up your fat loss process. How? By filling your meals with foods that are high in nutrients but low in energy (calories), you may avoid hunger while still maintaining that crucial calorie deficit.
When you join Slimming World, you will receive a Food Optimising Guide. Some of the Free Foods in this section have a ‘S’ next to them. This is where you’ll find your Speed Foods.
How do ‘Speed Foods’ help you lose weight faster?
People who followed an eating plan centered around low energy density meals, meaning foods with fewer calories per gram, felt fuller and more in control of their food choices than those who followed a typical calorie counting diet, according to research published in the Journal of Nutrition. They also shed more pounds.
Slimming World and, in particular, Speed Foods are based on this premise, according to Lavin. ‘Many people abandon their weight-loss efforts because they are hungry. Slimming World provides members with the tools they need to lose weight by eating more nutrient-dense foods while still eating the things they enjoy. For example, instead of white bread, use wholemeal, and fat-free fromage frais instead of cream.’
But why are there more low-energy-density foods? For decades, Slimming World has preached this reaction. People can consume more food by filling up on foods with less calories per gram, which helps you feel more full when eating in a calorie deficit. Plus, there’s never a limit to how much you can take on,’ adds Lavin.
What is the rationale behind Slimming World’s categorization of foods?
The labels’ purpose is to make it simple for members to lose weight without having to count calories, restrict entire food groups, or worry about whether a meal is ‘healthy.’ Don’t worry—Slimming World has already done the research.
Summer Smith (@summer sw19), a Slimming World member who shed 3 stone 7 pounds but got greater nutritional knowledge as a result of the program. Smith believed she would never be able to adhere to a fat-loss plan long enough to see results. She claims that Slimming World has altered her and her family’s lives after a year and a half.
‘Trying so many new Slimming World recipes has given us a lot of variety in our diet—we never used to purchase fruit and vegetables before, but now we eat a variety of them.’ The best part is that I can eat a lot and still losing weight. Every week, I get a treat, but I make sure to keep track of them. ‘It keeps me going.’
Why aren’t all fruits and vegetables referred to as “Speed Foods”?
Fruit and vegetables that are naturally rich in sugars, such as sweet potato, sweetcorn, and mango, are classified as ‘Free Foods,’ rather than ‘Speed Foods,’ which are foods that you may eat as much as you like (or until you’re full) but won’t help you lose weight. Slimming World dietitians recommend eating them without counting calories, but they won’t help you lose weight faster because they’re higher in energy, or calories.
What are the thoughts of a dietitian on Slimming World Speed Foods?
The Slimming World plan, according to independent dietitian Grace Scott, might be a good alternative for someone who has tried dieting before but still problems with nutrition. ‘The support network it gives fosters a feeling of accountability and a supportive environment that everyone in the room understands.’
However, she points out that product labels like ‘Syns,’ ‘Free,’ and ‘Healthy Extras’ can lead to individuals categorizing food groupings into binary black-and-white ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories, thereby demonizing particular meals. ‘Avocado, for example, is high in vitamins and healthy fats yet has a 14 point Syn on Slimming World. It’s a high-energy item that’s also packed in nutrients and may be eaten as part of a healthy balanced diet.’
She also warns that broad assertions that aren’t grounded by science might cause more harm than good. ‘Slimming World allows speed foods in large quantities since they are nutrition rich and high in micronutrients, but implying that they ‘promote weight reduction’ is incorrect. The fat loss happens as a function of your total calorie restriction, which will likely result in a calorie deficit.’
Slimming World Speed Foods: Everything You Need to Know
Slimming World members may choose from a broad range of Speed Foods under the Free Food category, as mentioned above. Lean meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, eggs, grains, and potatoes are all good choices. Here’s a quick reference guide for you to have handy.
NB: It’s crucial to understand that this is not a Slimming World official list. They only provide it to you when you sign up for the plan, but this unofficial guide from shecookssheeats.com will give you a good idea.
Slimming World Fruit Speed Foods:
- Apples \sApricots
- Grapefruit \sGuava
- Melon \sNectarines
- Passion fruit is a kind of passion fruit.
- Redcurrant’s \sRhubarb
- Fruit with a star
- Unappealing fruit
Slimming World Vegetable Speed Foods:
- Squash with acorns
- Sprouts of alfalfa
- Amaranth \sArtichokes
- Asparagus \sAubergine
- Sweetcorn (baby)
- Shoots of bamboo
- Sprouts of beans
- Brussels sprouts (Brussels sprouts)
- Squash, butternut
- Cabbage \sCapers
- Cauliflower \sCeleriac
- Celery \sChard
- Chicory \sChilli
- a leaf from China
- Cucumber \sEndive
- Beans (green)
- Kale \sLeeks
- Mangetout \sMarrow
- Pak Choi (Peppers in Pak Choi)
- Runner beans, rocket
- Greens in the spring
- Onions in the spring
- Peas (sugar snap)
- Swede \sTomatoes
- Leaves of the turnip vine
- Chestnuts de mer