How to Follow the SlimFast Plan If You're Gluten-Free

Read Labels and Choose Wisely

Row of slimfast shake bottles on a store shelf

Zeyus Media/Flickr/CC BY 2.0 

If you're at all familiar with SlimFast, you know it's a popular weight-loss system that works by replacing two meals a day with a ready-to-drink nutritional beverage. For the third meal, dieters on the SlimFast plan eat a "regular" 500-calorie meal. Slim-Fast also makes snacks for between-meal munching.

When followed exactly, the SlimFast plan can effectively help a person lose weight, thanks to a significant reduction in calories—about 1,200 per day—making it safe for most healthy people as a short-term route to shedding a few pounds.

It's possible to do the SlimFast diet if you've decided to steer clear of gluten, or even if you have a medical reason for not eating gluten, such as celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. (Of course, in that case, you'd need to talk to your doctor first.) And it's relatively easy to do, because the company that markets SlimFast, Unilever Inc., has a policy of listing any gluten-containing ingredients on labels. In other words, by simply paying attention to the packaging of a SlimFast product you'll know whether it will fit in with your gluten-free lifestyle or not.

Original SlimFast Versus SlimFast Advanced Nutrition

SlimFast offers two different lines of ready-to-sip shakes and powdered smoothie mixes. The original ones are not gluten-free, but all of the shakes and smoothie mixes in the Advanced Nutrition line are. In addition, these drinks and beverages have more protein and fiber, and less sugar, than their original counterparts.

The shakes are also lactose-free and come in five flavors: Creamy Chocolate, Vanilla Cream, Strawberries & Cream, Caramel Latte, and Mocha Cappucino. The gluten-free powdered smoothie mixes are not lactose-free. You can choose from Vanilla Cream, Creamy Chocolate, Mixed Berry Yogurt.

If you have a sensitivity to soy, note that all shakes and powdered smoothie mixes in both the original and Advanced Nutrition lines contain soy.

Sizing Up SlimFast Snacks

To curb between-meal hunger pangs, SlimFast makes prepackaged 100-calorie treats. Only one of these, Cinnamon Bun Swirl Drizzled Crisps, is made with ingredients that contain gluten. However, even though none of the other snacks are made with gluten, they are all manufactured on the same equipment as the cinnamon bun treats. This means they could have picked up traces of gluten and therefore can't be labeled gluten-free. This may not be a problem for someone who's cutting out gluten for non-medical reasons, perhaps in hopes it will help with weight loss, but for someone with a true sensitivity to gluten or celiac disease, even a tiny bit of gluten can cause problems.

The bottom line, then, is that even if you're avoiding gluten for non-health reasons, you can follow the SlimFast plan by sticking to the Advanced Nutrition shakes and smoothies and by choosing snacks other than the Cinnamon Bun Swirl Drizzled Crisps. Just make sure that your one regular meal of the day also is gluten-free.

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