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Does the Special K Diet Work?

Daniel Brady | February 7, 2013 in Nutrition
Special K Diet

The Special K Diet involves eating Special K with skim milk for breakfast and lunch, have a normal but reasonable dinner, have 2 snacks of Special K products or fruits and vegetables and one more serving of fruit. Well it’s simple enough, but does it work? Read on to learn the truth.

With an average small woman needing 1500 calories or so per day to maintain her weight (use this calculator if you want to know your own requirement), eating less than that will result in weight loss, so let’s take a look at how many calories there are in the Special K Diet.

How Many Calories in the Special K Diet?

  • Breakfast: Special K with 2/3 cup skim milk and a banana – 270 calories
  • Lunch: Special K with 2/3 cup skim milk – 165 calories
  • Dinner: 200g grilled fish and green salad with avocado – 255 calories
  • Snack 1: Apple – 70 calories
  • Snack 2: Special K sour cream and onion chips – 90 calories
  • Total: 850 calories

How Much Weight Will I Lose on the Special K Diet?

If your maintenance calories is 1500 and the Special K Diet has you eating 850 calories, that is a caloric deficit of 650 calories per day, or 4550 calories per week. There are 3500 calories in a pound of fat, so you will lose roughly 1.3 lb per week until your slimmer body required less maintenance calories and the weight loss slows. However, this 1.3 lb per week will not be purely fat, it will be muscle and fat. That is why it is recommended to not lose more than 1 lb per week, to minimize muscle loss and maximize fat loss as a share of the weight loss.

So how much will you actually lose? You could reasonably lose 1-2 lb per week, but there will be an additional loss of stomach contents in the first week, so it could be that you lose 4 lb in the first week, and 1-2 lb in the following weeks. So the claim by the Special K company that you can lose up to 6 lb in 2 weeks is valid.

Does the Special K Diet Work?

Yes. The Special K Diet is fine for a short time such as 2 to 4 weeks, but you clearly won’t go your entire life eating Special K products 4 times per day. The Special K Diet is fine for a fortnight or two, but if you want a longer term solution then you’ll want a more balanced diet and a more refined/planned diet to minimize muscle loss. My suggestion for a longer term solution is calorie tracking through for free (we are not affiliated). That website will help you to consistently lose 0.5, 1 or 2 lb per week and you can decide what foods you want to eat.


  • The diet is low in protein, which exacerbates muscle loss.
  • You’ll probably be hungry.
  • You won’t learn long term strategies as it is mainly a Kellogg’s brand promotion.
  • There is no exercise involvement. Exercise is the most sure-fire way to keep the weight off as was found in our article on Losing Weight Fast.

Daniel has a strong interest in evidence supported fitness training, preparation and supplementation. His goal is to provide clear information that simply works. He's currently 16 kg of muscle above his starting weight (7kg in the past 12 months), and targeting a continued growth rate of 5kg+ per year.
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