What is an SP day?

The initials in SP relate to the words Speed and Protein and, as the name suggests, the idea behind an SP day is to only eat speed and protein foods.

The standard Food Optimising plan says you can have whatever Free foods you want, as long as you have 1/3 speed on the plate.

The SP plan, however, is a bit different and says you can only have 1/2 Speed and 1/2 Protein at mealtimes. All the non-speed Free foods are excluded – the likes of potatoes, pasta, rice, and so on.

I don’t know the exact science behind it, but I suspect it’s about reducing the amount of carbohydrates in your diet to give your weight loss a boost. People sometimes decide to do SP days when they find their weight loss has slowed down or stagnated.

How often should I do SP?

Slimming World says that nobody is required to do SP days. You should be able to achieve a steady and maintainable weight loss by following the normal Extra Easy food optimising plan. However it is there as an option for anyone who feels they need it.

Doing SP is much more restrictive than doing the standard Slimming World plan, and I wouldn’t recommend doing it for more than 2-3 days in a row. It’s much more like a diet – rather than a health eating plan – so it’s not something that can be maintained long-term. But for short-term goals it might be useful.

How does SP work?

The thing to remember when doing SP is the half-and-half split between speed and protein. Because you’re reducing the carbs by cutting out the free foods you need to substitute it with more protein in order to still feel satisfied.

Some people are surprised at the amount of protein needed to fill half the plate, and may not be used to eating that amount of meat (or other protein).

However if you don’t eat enough protein and instead substitute in speed foods you could end up feeling hungry, and that’s not the idea with any of the Slimming World plans – because that’s when you fall off the wagon and eat your own body weight in sugar!

The SP plan says you should have:

  • Half and half speed and protein foods
  • The same 5-15 Syns as normal
  • One Healthy Extra A as normal
  • Two Healthy Extra Bs, as you probably need a bit of extra fibre

It’s allowed to have what would normally be free foods, but you need to Syn them – so that means weighing and measuring the free food, and looking up the Syn values.

Does it work?

Individual experiences will vary, but it generally can boost your weight loss. Personally I don’t like doing SP days – partly because I feel it is too restrictive, and partly because I just love potatoes, pasta and rice too much! So I don’t tend to bother doing it. However, I’ve heard some people in group that do it a regular thing – some of them for a couple of days every week.

The thing I guess is to read up on some SP recipes and give it a go. Try it for a day, and see how you feel. If it seems easy then you can do it regularly, or if (like me) it seems hard then have it in your back pocket for the odd occasion when you really need to pull it out of the bag!

Muller Lights are no longer free

Slimming World have announced changes to the Free and Syn value foods, and Muller Light yogurts are now 1 Syn each!

The changes that were announced on the Slimming World website mean that some foods that were previously Free now have a Syn value:

  • Muller Light (175g pot) is now 1 Syn
  • Danone Activia 0% Fat (125g pot) is now 1/2 Syn
  • Instant Mash Potato (100g made up) is now 3 1/2 Syns
  • Canned Pasta Shapes in Tomato Sauce (100g) is now 1/2 Syn

The new Syn values will be updated on the online tools over the next week, and will be in the new version of the Food Optimising book in 2019.

Impact of these changes

There are a lot of people that rely on the fat free yogurts – both as a snack on it’s own, and as an ingredient to such Slimming World favourites as overnight oats and oat pancakes.

The Instant Mash Potato is also a used a fair bit at a ‘tweak’ food, as a coating in place of breadcrumbs, a thickener for soups and sauces, or a flour substitute in recipes. So the new syn value could affect all of these uses.

Changing your weigh-in day and time

I’ve changed to a new Slimming World group this week, as I now have a clash of commitments on the day of my former group. I wanted to change the weigh-in day in my online account, so that I would get reminders on the correct day and time.

Updating day of the week

There doesn’t seem to be an option to change the day of your weigh-in on the mobile website or app, so you’ll have to use the full website on a computer:

  1. Go to slimmingworld.ie
  2. Login using your usual username and password
  3. At the top right corner click on “my account
  4. Click on the word “Update” under Personal details
My Account section of Slimming World website

From the Personal details page you’ll be able to update your name, gender, date of birth, starting date and weight, and of course your weigh-in day of the week.

Updating time

My mobile app sends a notification to remind me to weigh-in at a certain time on my weigh-in day. As I’m moving from an evening class to a morning class, I want to update this reminder time as well.

I do this from within the Android mobile app:

  1. Tap on the three horizontal lines on the top left to access the menu and select My profile
  2. Tap on the cog symbol on the right of the red title bar of the My profile page to access the Settings page
  3. Look for the Weigh-in reminder options where you can turn the reminder on or off and change the time of day
Slimming World Android app settings page

7 reasons why you’re not losing weight

Have you ever had one of those weeks when you think you’re doing everything right, but the pounds don’t seem to be shifting? Have you reached a plateau for a few weeks that you can’t seem to get past?

Well before you give up entirely, here’s a few things you might just want to check up on, to see if they’re stopping your weight loss:

1. You’re having too many cheat days

I used to know a pair of women in my group that every week after the Slimming World class had a very off-plan binge on takeaway and wine. It was their blow-out after being good all week, and I’m sure they enjoyed it. However they also had to spend the rest of the next week trying to repair the damage!

It can be good to have the occasional cheat day – I should know, I’ve had plenty – but you have to be careful that an occasional cheat day doesn’t become a regular cheat day, because that’s going to have an effect on your weight loss progress.

One of the other problems of going off-plan is we all know it’s harder to get back on-plan afterwards. If you’ve had a ‘bold’ day, it’s easy to tell yourself that you’ve ruined the whole week, and your cheat day becomes your cheat week! So if you have a blow-out, plan to straight back to Food Optimising after, and then at least you can mitigate the damage!

2. You’re doing too many tweaks

The whole reason why Slimming World consultants are so wary of tweaks is that you can end up eating too many calories without realising. The problem comes when the portion of free or speed food that you use for your tweak is much bigger than a normal portion would be if you ate that food in its un-tweeked form.

Using couscous (which is normally free) as a flour replacement in cake recipe might mean that you end up eating much more of the couscous than you normally would if it were in its original form in a meal. Similarly when roasting chickpeas as a replacement for peanuts it would be easy to eat a lot more chickpeas than you normally would.

So I guess the lesson would be, if you are going to tweak, watch your portion sizes!

3. You’re not eating your Speed

How often have you forgotten about the 1/3 speed rule when preparing meals? I do it all the time! I can get my 1/3 speed in when cooking a dinner, as I just make sure I have plenty of vegetables on my plate. But when it comes to breakfast time it can be more of a challenge.

I was told once that a good tactic when you’re finding it difficult to combine speed with your meal is to have it beforehand. If your breakfast is cereal, try having some fruit before to help you fill up. If your lunch is a bowl of pasta, maybe have some carrot sticks before.

However, by far the best way to make sure you get your 1/3 speed into every meal is to plan ahead. Look at all your recipes and work out how you are going to incorporate speed into the meal. That might be adding loads of veggies to your pasta dish, or having fruit with your breakfast.

4. You’re not counting your Syns

Once you’ve been doing Slimming World for a while, its tempting to stop counting your Syns. I must admit I’ve terrible at counting my Syns, and because of that I often get to the end of the day and don’t know if I’m under or over my Syns allowance.

It may be a pain to do, but if you don’t count the Syns, then you have the potential to put your weight loss at risk. So maybe think of an innovative way of counting them that works for you – either with a tally sheet, using a smartphone app, or perhaps posting photos of everything you eat on Instagram.

5. You’re eating unconscious Syns

This goes hand-in-hand with not counting Syns properly. It’s all too easy to have accidental Syns and forget about them, or not even realise you’re having them at all! The odd bit of milk in your coffee, the biscuits or sweets lying around at work, or the bits of food you steal off your kid’s plate – they can all add up!

By counting your Syns properly, you’ll be more conscious of the food you eat, and you’ll not go over your allowance without realising.

6. You’re not eating your Syns

This is a strange one. Surely if you don’t eat your Syns that’s a good thing, right? Well if your Syns consist entirely of chocolate and sweets then maybe missing out on the sugar-rush every now and again would be good idea.¬†However I prefer to use my some of my Syns as meal ingredients and sauces, and those Syns can be good for you (in moderation of course).

After all, the body needs some fat and sugar in the diet. If you cut these out entirely then your body can feel its going into a starvation mode, and it will begin holding on to fat reserves. We don’t want that! That’s why Slimming World says to have “5-15 Syns”, rather than saying “up to 15 Syns”, because they want you to have at least some each day!

Also there’s the thing about having a few treats on a regular basis so that you’ll be less likely to ‘break’ at some point in the future and binge-eat.

7. You’re going overboard on the Free foods

The Slimming World plan tells you that you can have as much Free foods as you want. So it can be tempting to take this to the extreme.

Just because Muller Light yogurts are free doesn’t mean you can eat 10 of them in a day and still lose weight. All free foods need to be eaten in moderation, and ideally as part of a meal rather than a snack.

The advice seems to be to eat as much Free food as you want (along with your 1/3 Speed) to feel satisfied as part of a meal, and then limit snacks to Speed foods or Syn’d foods.


There are, of course, other reasons why you might not see a loss on the scales. The thing is to not get disheartened by temporary setbacks. Stick with the plan and you will get the weight loss eventually. After all this isn’t a sprint, this is a marathon!

Can I really eat all those carbs?

People that have followed diet plans in the past are sometimes shocked that the Slimming World Extra Easy plan allows you to eat all the pasta, rice and potatoes that you want.

They’re used to having to deny themselves from eating carbohydrates in order to try and lose weight, and can’t believe that a big bowl of pasta or chips is allowed!

So can I eat as much as I want?

Well, the advice seems to be “Yes, you can… within reason”. You can eat as much dried pasta, rice (white or brown), and potatoes to satisfy your hunger as part of a meal (remembering to have 1/3 speed, of course) and you’ll still be able to lose weight under the Extra Easy plan. But if you eat these carbs to excess then your weight loss will be at risk!

So I guess the message is eat these carbs in moderation. Enjoy the pasta or potatoes on your plate – just make sure they’re not the only thing on your plate!

See my Slimming World Chips recipe for perfect syn-free chips!