You likely know the basic principle of Slimming World, which was founded in 1969 by Margaret Miles-Bramwell. In its simplest format, it's a structured nutrition plan that supports members through fat loss with weekly meetings and weigh-ins.
In the last 50 years, they've held thousands of weekly groups across the UK and supported tens of millions of people in eating more healthily by tracking their 'Slimming World Speed Foods', 'Free Foods', 'Healthy Extras' and 'Syns'.
But navigating the plan can seem overwhelming at first, not least because of the buzzwords (see above... 'Slimming World Speed Foods' et al — the list goes on and on). Let WH help you cut through the jargon.
Check out our comprehensive guide to exactly how Slimming World works, for now: a Slimming World dictionary, of sorts.
What are Slimming World Speed Foods?
Against the odds, they're not super-speedy meals or snacks you can make in mere seconds. Slimming World Speed Foods are foods you're actively encouraged to eat more of, according to Slimming World. Their role? To speed up your fat loss and up your nutrient intake.
Just need your list of Slimming World Speed Foods? Scroll to the bottom of the page...
Speed Foods are low calorie, high fibre fruits and vegetables, which should make up a third of each meal, according to Slimming World’s head of nutrition and research Dr Jacquie Lavin.
'They add bulk and volume to a meal for very few calories yet provide a variety of vitamins, minerals and fibre, and tend to be nutrient dense, so are great for supporting healthy, balanced weight loss', she adds.
They fall under the ‘Free Foods’ umbrella, which refer to the foods you can eat as much as you like of (or, until you're full: think lean protein, rice and potatoes, more on what actual foods make up the Free Foods in the WH guide to Slimming World).
What's the difference between Slimming World 'Speed Foods' and 'Free Foods'?
If the Slimming World concepts of Free Foods and Speed Foods seem a bit daunting, you are not alone. It can be bloody hard figuring out what category certain foods fall under, especially with the crossover between Speed and Free Foods.
Free Foods are low energy dense foods (meaning low in calories for their weight) that fill you up and keep your stomach satisfied for longer periods of time, allowing you to eat them freely — no calorie counting or measuring, can we get a heck yeh? — while still being able to lose body weight. A few examples include fish, rice, eggs, pasta, potatoes, beans, fruit and veg.
So, what about Speed Foods? Speed Foods are the fruit and veg that fall within the Free Food category, but are thought by Slimming World to be more nutritionally sound — aka low calorie, high nutrient. Even better? Some of your fave fruits and veg come under Slimming Speed Foods.
Btw, there are also super Speed Foods: think apples, blackberries, grapefruit and cherries — which are even lower in energy and higher in nutrients. Bear with us...
Why are they called ‘Speed Foods’?
Slimming World experts coined the term Speed Foods as they believe they’re the foods that help you lose fat the fastest or the foods that speed up your fat loss process. How? By packing your meals full of the foods highest in nutrients and lowest in energy (calories) to stave off hunger, but help you maintain that all-important calorie deficit.
When you sign up to Slimming World you receive a guide to 'Food Optimising'. In here, some Free Foods have the ‘S’ next to them. These are your Speed Foods.
How do ‘Speed Foods’ speed up fat loss?
Research published in the Journal of Nutrition demonstrated that people who followed an eating plan centred around low energy density foods, foods that have fewer calories per gram, left people feeling fuller and more in control of their food choices than those on a typical calorie counting diet. They also lost more fat.
This is the principle Slimming World and in particular Speed Foods is built on, Lavin says. 'Many people give up on weight loss because they feel hungry. Slimming World gives members the infrastructure to eat for weight loss by choosing more nutrient dense foods, but without missing out on the food they love. For example, swapping white bread for wholemeal or cream for fat-free fromage frais.'
But why more low energy dense foods, exactly? 'Slimming World has promoted this response for decades. By filling up on foods that have fewer calories per gram, people can eat more food, which helps you to feel more satisfied when eating in a calorie deficit. Plus, there's never a restriction about how much is on your plate', says Lavin.
Why do Slimming World divide food into categories?
The idea behind the labels is to allow members to make easy weight loss decisions without the need to count calories, restrict entire food groups or worry about whether a food is ‘healthy’. Slimming World has already done the legwork for you.
One Slimming World member, who lost 3 stone 7 pounds on the programme but gained more in nutritional nouse, thought she’d never be able to stick to a fat loss programme long enough to actually lose fat. After a year and a half of Slimming World, she says the plan has changed both her and her family's lives.
She shared on Instagram: 'Trying so many new Slimming World recipes has varied what we eat so much—we never used to buy fruit and vegetables and now we eat all different kinds. The best bit is that I can eat so much and still lose fat. I enjoy treats every week, but just make sure to count them. It keeps me motivated.'
Why aren’t all fruits and vegetables ‘Speed Foods’?
Fruit and veg that are naturally higher in sugars, such as sweet potato, sweetcorn and mango, count as ‘Free Foods’, not ‘Speed Foods’, aka foods you can eat as much as you please of (which translates to until you're satiated) but that won’t actively promote your weight loss. Slimming World nutritionists encourage you to eat them without tracking them, but maintain that because they’re higher in energy, aka calories, they won’t speed up your fat loss process.
What does a nutritionist think of Slimming World Speed Foods?
Independent nutritionist Grace Scott believes that the Slimming World diet can be a great option for someone who has tried dieting many times, but still struggles to understand nutrition. 'The support network it provides creates a sense of accountability and a supportive environment, understood by everybody there.'
However, she says it’s worth noting that the labelling of foods as 'Syns,' 'Free' and 'Healthy Extras' can cause people to slot food groups into binary black and white ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories, demonising certain foods.
An example: 'Avocado is packed full of vitamins and healthy fats and yet is a 14 point Syn on Slimming World. Nutritionally, it is energy dense, but also a highly nutritious food that can be enjoyed as part of a healthy balanced diet.'
Plus, she warns that sweeping statements that aren't scientifically-backed could do more harm than good. 'Speed Foods are allowed en mass on Slimming World because they're nutrient dense and high in micronutrients, but to imply they 'boost weight loss' is misleading. The fat loss occurs because you are restricting your overall intake, which will likely result in a calorie deficit.'
Slimming World Speed Foods: Your complete list
As above, Slimming World members can choose from a long list of Speed Foods in the Free Food category. Go big on lean meat, fish, fruit, veg, eggs, rice and potatoes. Here's a handy guide for you to keep close.
NB: it's important to note here that this is not an official list from Slimming World. They only provide this when you join the plan, however this unofficial guide from shecookssheeats.com will give you a rough guide.
Slimming World Speed Foods (Fruit):
Slimming World Speed Foods (Vegetables):
Sugar snap peas
Meals and snacks you can make from speed foods:
So, now you know. *secret Slimming World handshake*
You Might Also Like