Is It Healthy? The Special K Diet.

Special K has become pretty popular over the years and I get questions about this cereal more than any other.  Originally, there was nothing “special” about Special K; it started out as another low calorie, puffed rice flake cereal, with little to no flavor OR nutritional value. Today, it is now a massive selling brand, thanks to a little promotional gimmick called The Special K Diet

The Kellogg marketers were completely genius in their marketing techniques because they knew exactly who to target: women. Promising you will lose 6 pounds in 2 weeks, the Special K diet has hypnotized most women everywhere at one point or another and sales sky-rocketed. Over the years, Special K has branched out to create protein shakes, cereal bars, protein water, etc; all products that adhere to the Special K diet, which will make any individual that much more successful in their weight-loss efforts. Bravo Kellogg. You’ve out done yourself. But is it healthy?


Let’s put it this way, any retailer that wants you to consume THEIR foods for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, has only one intention: to make money. They do not care about what a diet like this could mean to your health, they only see dollar signs. The truth is, the Special K products are crap. There. I said it. After visiting their website and scanning 6 different nutritional profiles, I found MOST Special K products to have LOTS of questionable ingredients, low-fiber, some trans fat, and a high sugar content. Oh and how can I forget: high fructose corn syrup! 


Now, it is one thing if you eat a bowl of Special K cereal or a shake, every now and then, but it is a completely different story when you are asked to consume Special K foods for just about every meal. The one thing I preach above all else is consuming a diet rich in WHOLE foods! There is nothing “whole” about Special K!!

 If you want to lose weight, replace your Special K diet with fruits and vegetables, skip the Cinnamon Pecan Crunch and make yourself a bowl of delicious pumpkin cookie oatmeal, and forget about being on a diet in the first place…they don’t work. If you want to make REAL change, why not check out my 30 Day One Month Make-over? Or participate in the upcoming meat-LESS May? There are so many ways to lose weight and feel better about yourself, but unfortunately consuming too many processed foods is not one of them. Sorry Special K Diet. You are NOT healthy.

QUESTION: What are your thoughts about Special K and the Special K Diet?


45 comments to Is It Healthy? The Special K Diet.

  • shannon

    I actually am drinking 3 protein shakes today detoxing from easter! Lol if you read all the sugar and saturated fat why would you eat it? I work out 5 times a week, eat what I want on holidays (not weekends) and I don’t like or dislike special k cereal. Moderation? I also eat chocolate, apple pie, and anything else. Take these “products” for what they are. Nothing special. But I enjoy drinking the shakes..taste like strawberry goodness. :) eat less and you lose weight. It is like magic!

  • Flows

    Man yall who ate that cereal need to quit lying about how it 100% sucks. Let’s face it, if it didn’t have those dried slices of strawberries you wouldn’t touch it passed the first box. I liked it for it’s dried fruit, that was about it. Now you tell me this. How often would you want to eat Fiber One or Kashi Heart to Heart? Well alright maybe Kashi Heart to Heart isn’t that bad, but Fiber One turns your milk brown. Attractive and tasty? I think not!

  • I am so glad that you covered this! Last year I was sucked into the Special K diet. I saw their cereals and saw how low in calories they were (which was all I cared about) and ate the cereal for breakfast almost every day. Now I look at the ingredients in utter shock, all processed, preservatives and SUGAR!! And I thought I was treating my body so good by eating the cereal!! So sad. What’s funny is we haven’t bought Special K for such a long time now, but just the other day my mom saw it on sale and bought 2 boxes, she was sucked in to the Special K madness!! :(

  • I used to eat Special K thinking it was “healthy” (that was long ago). I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s crap. I like your assessment to be wary of any company pushing their food products for b’fast, lunch and snacks. You are so right about that! Another great post!

  • YOU ROCK SISTER! I love that you have the “balls” to say…it’s crap! It’s not real food! Way to go!

  • Couldn’t agree with you more! Their products don’t taste good at all and they barely fill you up due to the lack of fiber!

  • Women are desperate for EASY “quick fixes,” and unfortunately that’s what this diet promises. We can find Special K products almost anywhere, and we’re asked to do nothing more than pour or rip open a wrapper in order to be in compliance with the “meal plan.” So sad! It makes me upset thinking about the loads of money companies are making off of people who genuinely want to lose weight and eat healthy. These women are victims of tactful and deceitful marketing! When the diet fails, their relationship with food becomes that much more skewed, making it even harder to eat a “balanced, moderate” diet. I know, because I fell for it over and over again years ago!

    Fantastic post!!

  • THANK YOU for this post! These food companies make me so irritated when the prey on innocent people who just want to lose a little fluff but don’t know where to start. I know plenty of people that aren’t medically/diet inclined in the least and just don’t understand why all of their dieting never works and why they always gain the weight back. This sort of marketing should be illegal.

  • I totally had a coworker that did this and lost a little bit of weight but plateaued off so fast and she fell of the wagon with it so much…. which is totally human! Its such an unrealistic approach to weight loss. I totally agree with you!!! Lifestyle changes are where it’s at peeps! <3

  • Roz

    Great post Erin. I just shake my head when I see this being touted as a “diet” when clearly all Kellog’s wants is to sell all its products! Special K cereal IS tasty for a treat, but a healthy alternative to a balanced meal??? I think not!

  • I have the same sentiments about HFCS! also, when I plug in the products of theirs that I would purchase and they recommend a plan to me, I’m supposed to be eating cereal for three weeks solid

  • Ugh, the Special K diet makes me cringe. Of course you’d lose weight on such a restricted diet but my concerns are that you’d lack a lot of valuable nutrients and realy, how sustainable is it for the long term anyway?? I believe people should learn healthy eating habits that they can adopt as a lifestyle not a quick fix!

  • I think the Special K diet is insane. When will people understand that you need to eat healthy and balanced in order to lose weight?

  • My sister did the Special K diet to jump starts her post pregnancy baby weight loss and it helped her lose weight, but mostly just because she was controlling portion size and counting calories. For me personally, I actually like the original Special K cereal because it’s fairly low in sugar compared to other brands. I usually eat 1/3 cup of it with 1/3 cup Kashi Honey Sunshine and 1/3 cup original Kix with a sliced up banana, a couple of sliced strawberries and some almond milk. LOVE it. Such a great combination of flavors and textures. Other than that, though, I’m not much into the Special K stuff.

  • Amy

    I’ve never done the diet, but I do enjoy the cinnamon pecan crunch for breakfast. Disappointing.

  • The special K diet is a total gimmick. People love being told exactly what to do and exactly what their results will be in a certain time frame. It’s a thoughtless process and some people just don’t want to put the ‘work’ in to eating wholesome healthy food…so, so sad! I’m with you 100%- how about a nice bowl of greek yogurt loaded with your favorite fruits and nuts?

  • I’ve started writing a U-Tube video all about these “bars” that everyone thinks are so great. Special K is one of them…. Did you know some of their bars also have trans fat as the second ingredient? So lame! And they are supposed to be healthy?! I think not.

  • Love that you outed Special K. It baffles me why people buy into the weight loss/diety reputation. You said it best, crap is crap.

  • I scorn these companies for pulling such stupid gimmicks, but unfortunately they are great marketers and people fall for them. Why should you eat Special K stuff when it’s just as easy and even more nutritious to eat a whole grain roll or fruits?

  • I’m so glad you wrote this, I CAN’T STAND how companies take advantage of womens’ weight struggles to promote their product. Because I know better, I just feel like they are blatantly lying to me and laughing all the way to the bank, and Kellogg is only one of MANY companies that do this, it’s not right.

  • I love this post! Unforutanly Kellog’s products have some of the worst ingredients. They spend a ridiculous amount of money on marketing their products and impact so many people. I really wish the general public would take a look at the label as opposed to just the claims they make.

  • Silly! Sugary bowls of cereal for breakfast and lunch…ick.

  • It’s sad to admit I did this like 11 years ago before they even marketed it as a diet. I should be reaping some royalties. I agree….HORRIBLE. The ingredients….HORRIBLE. The diet…preying on the desperate consumers who are not educated enough on taking control of their weight and health. I mean that to not insult those people at all…I don’t blame them. They believe the great marketing campaigns and see results and anyone will do ANYTHING to see fast, great results! Thanks for shedding light on this!!!

    Are you getting so excited for your trip????

  • awesome post! i think this diet is crazy!

  • Special K has the worst ingredients EVER. I would never do that “diet”!

  • Megan Swicegood

    I really like Special K Vanilla Almond cereal, but like anything I would never eat it twice a day everyday. It’s cereal – not a miracle cure – it’s great once a week, once every few weeks when I’m in too big of a hurry to cook but still want to eat breakfast. It’s also great to take a break from. I don’t think I could follow any diet that required me to eat the same thing twice a day everyday – even if it’s flavored a little different – it’s still cereal.

  • i’m with you! even the name, “special k diet” screams marketing ploy. and existing on processed/packaged foods is not a long-term healthy diet. some people will get sucked in because it’s “easy” to pick up pre-packaged, single serve foods and NOT have to bake granola bars or figure out meal prep yourself. but, as we know, diets don’t work, so kelloggs will make $, and consumers will get sucked in by convincing advertising! thanks for the analysis!

  • I can remember, even in my most eating disordered state, thinking that the Special K diet made no sense.
    I mean of COURSE if you eat cereal for two meals a day you’re going to lose weight. But really, who wants to live off of cereal?

  • My mom is always saying she wants to do this, and I always talk her out of it! I am definitely going to show this to her so she knows I’m not the only one that thinks this is crazy :)

  • Great point Erin! It’s sad that major food companies target these vulnerable people just to make a dollar. But it’s true. I think we all know that diets don’t work. It’s all about lifestyle change. It’s just hard to really admit that. And I think one of the most important things to learn and for some of us it an ongoing lesson.

  • I have heard of this diet but definitely never tried it over entertained to try it. Anything that lets me starve is off my list!

  • Great post! That is one lengthy ingredient list. I have to admit, I totally tried out the whole cereal diet back in high school.
    Like you said, there main concern is making money.

  • NO WAY JOSE!! its full of nasty ingredients and that stuff does not fill you up- you only lose weight becuz of little calories– A NO NO in my book!

  • So frustrating because unfortunately there are probably a lot of people out there who do think it is healthy…

  • I think it’s all crap lol No one wants to eat veggies and ppl find that if you just give them what to eat then they will most likely just stick to it and do it. I tried the special k diet once and gained a few lbs. Who eats one serving of cereal? haha My normal dinner had less calories than the cereal!

  • I couldn’t agree more! Any diet that promotes a single product on a really regular basis is a no-go in my book!

  • I think the special K diet has to be the worst idea ever. It is boring. Who wants to eat the same cereal morning, noon and…well not night cause you are supposed to have a “sensible dinner” but you catch my drift. The best way to loose weight, eat less, exercise more. If you burn more calories than you injest, you are going to burn the ones you have stored up. It is basic math.

  • Totally agree! The Special K diet would leave me starving and carb-addicted!

  • Carol

    I guess you would lose weight only eating cereal for two meals a day. I am not a fan of any cereal really. I can’t find one that tastes great, is low in sugar, and will keep me satisfied. I would rather get my “sugar fix” from fruit:)

  • It’s ridiculous how they market it as a “diet” that people think is healthy! People are gonna lose weight by following this because it’s low calorie, but it would be so much better to lose weight with real food that tastes better and actually has nutrients.

  • Gen

    I agree with you that it’s ok to eat some of this stuff every once in a while…..but for every meal? not so much!

  • I could go on forever about this, but let’s just keep it short and say that I’m 100% on the same page as you with this one!! Not sure why people believe that diets like this actually work and are sustainable in the long run!

  • I really like Special K. But I use it as a snack or an additive to my oatmeal. I don’t think replacing an entire meal with it is a good idea because of how much sugar is in one serving… plus it would leave me starving after an hour or two…

  • Yeah, I’m PRETTY sure one can lose that much in two weeks, because that’s basically malnourishment!

    People just want to hear something other than “eat right and exercise,” because that’s too “complicated.” I think eating balanced and well is probably one of the most simple things anyone can do. :)

  • Ugh..this is just so silly! Sure you can probably lose a few lbs in 2 weeks, but you will gain it back in a heartbeat when you eat normally again. Silly I tell ya!

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