The good, the bad and the hungry. Not the name of a new Netflix series about the world’s maddest diets but the categories that most eating plans fit into.
You see, when it comes to the hundreds of best diets out there, there are many factors that come into play – including what’s best for your and your body type. However, one is widely famous for the results it delivers: Slimming World.
But why? WH spoke to the team who designed the plan – and support women on their health journeys – to understand what specifically makes the Slimming World diet so popular.
Scroll for all the Slimming World UK intel, recipes – and honest reviews.
What Is The Slimming World Diet?
Essentially, Slimming World, is a weight loss programme whereby you pay a yearly fee to attend weekly meetings with Slimming World Consultants who offer nutrition, fitness and wellbeing advice, all with the end goal of helping you lose fat.
Founded in 1969 by Margaret Miles-Bramwell (OBE), part of the reason Slimming World has been to so successful, according to its members, is its simple, structured and supportive approach to fat loss.
Their website states that ‘more people in the UK attend a Slimming World group than any other weight-loss group’: to put that into context, they host more than 19,000 weekly Slimming World meetings, which in turn support 900,000 members across the UK and Ireland.
Slimming World UK: The Jargon
The Slimming World approach is broken down into three key components:
Slimming World runs weekly group meetings, which promise to be free from judging or negativity, where members can start to challenge preconceptions about their body image, and slowly develop their healthy eating habits and activity levels.
Similarly, Slimming World provides members with an eating plan which aims to promote incorporating healthy eating patterns for life, simply aim to balance each plate of food you eat as per the infographic below. This eating plan is made up three different types of foods:
There are the foods of which can eat as much as you like.
These are foods that should be in your daily diet but you aren’t given carte blanche to eat all the time. They are rich in calcium and fibre and form part of the plan to help members achieve a balanced diet. Examples are breads, cereals, milk, cheese, oats and cereal bars.
These are the least nutrient-dense foods (see our deep-dive into them here).You should aim to eat between 5 to 15 ‘Syns‘, short for synergy, a day. Think: butter, crisps, mayo, wine, pizza, chocolate—your standard junk foods.
It’s not obligatory or something Slimming World gives to members, but a phased programme that provides a gentle introduction to building movement into everyday life. Think swimming, walking or gardening.
How Does the Slimming World Diet work?
As above, the basic concept is to rebuild your outlook on both nutrition and fitness. They’ll support you through weekly meetings, alongside other Slimming World members going through exactly the same process.
One positive that Slimming World boasts is that it doesn’t omit any food groups—far from it. It just educates you in weighing up with food choices will nourish your body, and which options are less nutrient dense.
If you’d rather not attend the group classes, an online programme is available, too.
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How Much Does Slimming World UK Cost?
Good news: not much. The Slimming World joining fee is £10.00, and on top of this you’ll pay £4.95 weekly, or for every meeting you attend.
Slimming World groups are run by consultants who have lost fat with Slimming World themselves, so offer can offer first-hand support and encouragement, having experienced the process themselves.
Slimming World: Is it Worth it?
As with all nutrition and fitness approaches, it’s important to recognise that every single body is different, so no one weight loss diet plan – or philosophy – fits all.
Whilst some may find the Slimming World Diet a perfectly healthy approach, it may not be best for others.
So what does an independent expert think about the approach? The view from London-based nutritionist Jenna Hope is that, while the Slimming World diet may work for some, Slimming World overlooks the finer details of food.
She expands: ‘Life isn’t necessarily all about weight loss, and trying Slimming World could promote an unhealthy relationship with food as it labels certain foods as ‘Syns’, which could easily associate certain foods with guilt and shame.’
‘Additionally, the Slimming World diet doesn’t promote education around food. As the Slimming World diet is based on a counting system, it doesn’t value micronutrients in foods, but mainly focuses on calories and macronutrients.’
However, it’s worth noting that – just like the rest of us – views vary across those in the nutrition profession.
An Honest Review of the Slimming World Diet
So, now you’re clued up on how Slimming World UK works, it’s time read the story of one woman successfully used Slimming World as a tool to lose nearly half her body weight.
Four years ago, Lynne McGrail got tired walking up stairs, and last year, she completed the New York marathon.
McGrail, 28, from Kilmacud, Ireland, joined Slimming World after her doctor expressed concerns about her increasing weight and high blood pressure.
Now, going from a size 20 to an 8 and losing 6 stone 7.5 lbs in the process, she’s now a Slimming World UK Consultant, having experienced first hand how successful the approach can be for weight loss.
On the diet, McGrail says: ‘I never dreamed I’d lose nearly half my body weight and that I’d call myself a runner. I also never dreamed I’d wake up every day and inspire others to be the best versions of themselves.’
‘I joined Slimming World in August 2014. Fast forward four years and so much has changed. I lost 6 stone 7.5 lbs in under two years, and Slimming World helped me to actually live and love my life.’
‘In the summer of 2015, I went on holiday and the plane seatbelt finally fit for the first time in years. Not only did it fit, it was roomy. I’d also fallen in love with running—I love the feeling of achievement I get from improving mile by mile.
The great thing was that I could – and still can – eat enough to fuel the miles too – nothing is banned at Slimming World – so carb sources, such as pasta, rice and potatoes are all regularly on the menu!’
3 Slimming World recipes to try tonight
Slimming World breakfast: Asparagus, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce
Serves 1 | Ready in 20 minutes
Ingredients– 150g asparagus spears, trimmed
– ¼ tbsp white wine vinegar
– 1 egg- ½ tbsp extra-light mayonnaise
– 25g fat-free natural fromage frais
– Zest and juice of ½ unwaxed lemon
– 1 tbsp warm vegetable stock or water
1) Cook the asparagus spears in a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water for 8-10 minutes or until just tender.
2) Meanwhile, put all the hollandaise ingredients in a bowl, season and whisk well. Bring another saucepan of water to a simmer. Add the vinegar and stir the water quickly to create a whirlpool (this helps keep the egg together). Crack the egg into the water and poach for about 2-3 minutes, then lift out of the pan using a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper and keep warm.
3) Drain the asparagus. Top with a poached egg, season well and serve with plenty of hollandaise sauce, and the lemon wedge, if you like.
Slimming World lunch: Cheese and onion sandwich
Serves 1 | Ready in 10 minutes
Ingredients– 2 spring onions, finely chopped
– 3 tbsp low-fat natural cottage cheese
– 15 g reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, grated
– 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
– 2 slices of wholemeal bread (from a small 400g loaf)
– Celery sticks, to serve
1) Put the spring onions, cottage cheese, Cheddar cheese and parsley in a bowl. Season and mix well.
2) Spread the mixture over one slice of bread and sandwich with another slice. Serve with celery sticks.
Slimming World snack: Beetroot houmous with crudités
Serves 1 |Ready in 10 minutes
Ingredients– ½ tsp cumin seeds
– 1 small garlic clove, crushed
– 1 cooked beetroot from a jar or vacuum pack
– 215g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
– Juice of ½ lemon
– A small handful of fresh mint
– 2 tbsp fat-free natural yogurt
– Vegetable crudités, to serve
1) Dry-fry the cumin seeds over a medium heat for 30-40 seconds or until toasted. Tip them into a food processor with the garlic, beetroot, chickpeas, lemon juice and most of the mint leaves and whizz to a purée. Spoon into a bowl.
2) Drizzle over the yogurt, season to taste and stir to ripple the yogurt through the houmous. Scatter over the remaining mint and serve with your favourite crudités.
Slimming World dinner:
Cajun chicken with chips and coleslaw
Serves 4 | Ready in 1 hour
Ingredients– 4 skinless chicken thighs
– 4 skinless chicken drumsticks
– Low-calorie cooking spray
– 2 tsp Schwartz Perfect Shake Cajun Herb & Spice blend
– 2 corn on the cob, each cut into 4 pieces
– A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, to garnish
– 800g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chips- 200g cabbage, shredded
– 2 carrots, grated
– 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
– 4 level tbsp extra-light mayonnaise
1) Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Cut a few slits into the chicken thighs and drumsticks and put them in a roasting tin. Spray with low-calorie cooking spray, sprinkle over the Cajun spice mix, season and toss. Bake for 25 minutes, then add the corn cobs to the tin, spray with more low-calorie cooking spray and toss. Bake for a further 25 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, boil the chips for 4-5 minutes, then drain, return to the pan and cover. Lightly shake to roughen up the edges and arrange on a baking tray in a single layer. Spray with low-calorie cooking spray and season well. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden.
3) For the coleslaw, mix together all the ingredients in a bowl. Divide the chicken, chips and corn cobs between four plates, garnish with the parsley and serve with the coleslaw.