During a recent visit to Target, I was checking out the meal replacement bars and noticed that Slim-Fast has completely revamped its product line and redesigned all their packages to tout a Slim-Fast 3-2-1 plan. It’s got a ring to it, but it also sounds suspiciously like the Medifast 5-1 plan. My girlfriend was picking up some of these to eat on a road trip because I wasn’t going to share my Medifast bars with her. But as a Medifast fan, I was intrigued and a little irritated by the Slim-Fast 3-2-1 concept. I decided I would investigate it a little further as soon as I could spare the time.
The last few months have been the very hectic wrap-up of a completely crazy year. Since mid-October, I’ve driven to Los Angeles to drop off the girl, flew back to Oklahoma to pack my things and drove to Austin to start a new job. I stayed with friends in November and finally moved into my own place earlier this week. After 6 months of unemployment, things finally seem to be coming together and it’s pretty exciting. However, I’ve definitely not been 100% on Medifast. To be honest, I really haven’t been on it at all. I have been replacing a few meals each day with Medifast bars or shakes, but I’ve also had a lot of celebratory dinners, a big Thanksgiving and way too many Lone Stars. I’m still feeling great and haven’t gained too much weight, but I’m definitely not losing weight either. I completely blew my goal. But I haven’t given up.
For the first few weeks at my new job, I ate the Medifast Crunch Bars during the day. I love the bars and it was super-convenient. I just kept them in my desk drawer and ate them on a regular schedule – along with a lot of water. It also kept me from wasting money on lunches at restaurants. But I ran out of the bars and haven’t been able to reorder yet for financial reasons. So with a tight budget and a determination to stay on some regular eating plan, I started thinking about Slim-Fast again. This time the Slim-Fast 3-2-1 plan seemed a little more appealing. I decided to try them out.
I headed to Wal-Mart because I figured they might be a little cheaper than Target. To kick things off I bought three types of bars:
- Chocolate Nougat Gone Nuts Snack Bars(6 bars) $3.88
- Nutty Chocolate Chew Snack Bars (6 bars) $3.88
- Chewy Chocolate Crunch Meal Bars (5 bars) – A little over five bucks.
As you can see, it looks fairly inexpensive at first glance. If you decide to try out the Slim-Fast bars, you’ll notice that from looking at the box, it’s hard to spot how many bars you actually get. It’s definitely not clearly labeled. So check the nutritional information to see the number of servings per box.
The concept behind the Slimfast 3-2-1 plan is that you eat 3 snack bars, 2 meal bars or shakes and 1 healthy meal that you prepare yourself. It sounds strangely similar to Medifast. You can check out the Slim-Fast website for details. You’ll find a glossy site with lots of nice photos but not a ton of technical information as far as fat, proteins, sugars and carbs go. The main thrust of the Slim-Fast 3-2-1 is really on helping you reduce calories. Based on the nutritional information I could find, there is no mention of getting your body into ketosis – which is the calorie burning state that makes Medifast seem so miraculous.
The first time I tried the Slim-Fast bars, I thought they pretty delicious. They’re much more reminiscent of traditional candy bars than the Medifast bars. On my second batch, I bought some Sweet and Salty Chocolate Almond meal bars which I really liked. Unfortunately, the nutritional content of the bars is not on par with Medifast. For one, Slim-Fast uses high-fructose corn syrup which I had successfully eliminated from my diet until this experiment.
Making matters worse: I was almost immediately hungry after eating one of the Slim-Fast bars. When you get in a groove with Medifast, your hunger cravings really go away after a day or two. While eating the Slim-Fast bars, my hunger cravings actually went up. I could almost feel my blood sugar spike and drop after eating one.
I am not a food scientist or nutritionist, but the key differences between Slim-Fast and Medifast seem to break down as follows:
COST: I’ve tried breaking down how much the Slim-Fast 3-2-1 plan would cost once all the factors were figured in. Unless you ate something extravagant for your 1 meal, Slim-Fast would definitely be cheaper than Medifast. For more information on this, check out my article about the cost of Medifast. You can also buy Slim-Fast just about anywhere, so it’s a little more convenient.
NUTRITION: Medifast seems to be the clear winner here. Not only is it approved by over 20,000 physicians, the majority of Medifast products are lower in sugar and carbs. Medifast products are heavily soy based and they do not use high fructose corn syrup.
VARIETY: Medifast completely dominates in this area. On Slim-Fast 3-2-1, you are limited to bars and shakes. On Medifast, you’ve got shakes, bars, puffs, soups, oatmeal, pudding, pretzel sticks and a bunch of things I’m no doubt forgetting.
Based on my limited 3-week experiment, I’ve started to think of Slim-Fast 3-2-1 as a junk-food version of Medifast. If you’ve got 10 pounds or less to lose, this might work for you. But I have trouble imagining anyone with a significant amount of weight to lose having success on this plan. I really wish that Slim-Fast 3-2-1 was awesome, because the main thing I don’t like about Medifast is having to mail-order it. It would be great to be able to buy Medifast at Wal-Mart or Target. But in all other areas, Medifast totally crushes Slim-Fast.
If you’re serious about losing a significant amount of weight, look no further than Medifast.
During my Slim-Fast 3-2-1 experiment, I only tried the meal and snack bars, not the shakes. But in hindsight, I’m glad I stayed away from them because there has been a recall. From the Slim-Fast website: “Englewood Cliffs, NJ, December 3, 2009 – Unilever United States, Inc., in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is conducting a nationwide voluntary recall of all Slim-Fast® ready-to-drink (RTD) products in cans, due to the possibility of contamination with Bacillus cereus, a micro-organism, which may cause diarrhea and possibly nausea and/or vomiting. The probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote. The products were sold in stores nationwide.” Not cool!