Changes to the Slimming World plan

Slimming World announced today that a number of changes are going to be made to their healthy eating plan. Consultants are sharing this news starting today, but the changes do not take effect until Christmas 2018.

The highlights for the standard Extra Easy plan seem to be:

  • Everyone gets an extra Health Extra A – that’s an increase in the amount of milk or cheese you can have each day
  • A number of foods are being removed from the Healthy Extra A and B categories – most notably some soft cheeses from the HEA

Specific changes for if you’re doing an SP day are:

  • Only one Healthy Extra B from now on – the second HEB you used to get when doing SP has been removed
  • Peas and beans (all types) are no longer listed as P (Protein) foods, so if you want to eat them on an SP day then you’ll need to syn them
  • Syns for people doing an SP day have been reduced to 10!

These changes all come in as Slimming World prepares to celebrate next year the 50th anniversary since its foundation.

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!

Sweet potatoes are not speed

I’m trying out an SP day today, where I’m only allowed to eat Speed and Protein foods.

The idea is that, although it’s not a required part of the Slimming World food optimisation plan, it is meant to speed up your weight loss. And I’ve been in a bit of slump recently, and need something to re-ignite my progress.

The problem is that it’s not as easy as it would first seem to do an SP day. There are a lot of free foods out there (potatoes, pasta, and so on) that are not speed. It’s worth checking the membership book, because I was surprised at some of them.

Non speed vegetables

Every now and again people in my class talk about swapping out potatoes for sweet potatoes when making chips – so it might be easy to assume that sweet potatoes are speed – but they aren’t.

Also in the list of non-speed vegetables are:

  • Parsnips
  • Sweetcorn
  • Peas

Non speed fruits

When it comes to fruit, there are even more examples that are free but not speed, including:

  • Cherries
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Mango
  • Pomegranate
  • Bananas
  • Pineapple

I need to be really careful when picking out fruit to eat, especially those pre-cut fruit pots from supermarkets that often have grapes and pineapple in them.

The SP food planning is the tricky bit. Dinners will probably be okay because I can have a steak and salad, or some chilli and roasted vegetables. However lunches pose more of a challenge to my imagination. There are only so many times I can eat salad and cold meat before my taste buds shut down. And I’m not much of a fan of soup.

If anyone has any ideas for SP meals let me know.