Slim Fast is one of America's most affordable and popular diet plans. Slim Fast products are readily available and stocked on the shelves at discount retailers, grocers and drug store chains. According to its website, Slim Fast works three ways to help users trim down and maintain weight loss: It controls portions and amount of calories consumed, it provides balanced nutrition, and Slim Fast users will stay on their diets longer because they can eat their favorite foods along with the diet products. The Slim Fast Optima line of products includes high-energy powdered and canned shakes, snack bars and meal bars. Most dieters suffer no ill effects from Slim Fast. However, it is important for certain individuals to be aware of potential side effects.
A single Slim Fast Optima shake contains 20 percent of the total daily allowance of fiber recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences. A diet regimen including two shakes a day would add 40 percent of suggested fiber to amounts that are consumed through other sources. High amounts of fiber can cause increased gas formation with related bloating and digestive discomfort. This side effect may disappear with continued use. Additionally, individuals who are lactose intolerant may have difficulty with the shake beverages due to the natural milk sugar they contain.
Celiac Sprue, also known as Celiac disease, is a hereditary condition in which ingestion of gluten proteins from wheat, barley, rye and oats trigger an autoimmune response that is damaging to the small intestines and other body systems (see Additional Resources). Slim Fast acknowledges that its products could contain gluten proteins.
Hypoglycemia is a sudden drop in blood sugar that causes symptoms such as hunger, shakiness, dizziness and weakness. According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, the condition is rare in children over 10 and adults unless it is a side effect of diabetes treatment or is caused by other medications or diseases, hormone or enzyme deficiencies or tumors. The manufacturer of Slim Fast cautions people with hypoglycemia to consult with their physicians prior to using the company's weight control products. Individuals with Type 2 diabetes are also advised to discuss Slim Fast dieting in advance with their health care practitioners because even though Optima products contain less sugar than the original Slim Fast products, Optima shakes and bars do not meet the American Diabetes Association's current suggested guidelines for a diabetic meal.
Other Reported Side Effects of Slim Fast Optima Dieting
There have been numerous claims of other side effects attributed to the use of Slim Fast diet products such as gallstones, hair loss, kidney problems, water retention or high blood pressure. However, according to the manufacturer, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. Aspartame, a synthetic sweetener that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration but has been linked to cancer in some scientific studies, is used in the powered drink mixes. Individuals with food allergies should be aware that some Slim Fast Optima products contain egg, sesame, wheat and nuts.
Overall Safety of Slim Fast Optima
For most people, Slim Fast Optima products appear to be safe for losing and controlling weight when used as advised. Individuals with existing health conditions should consult with their doctors before dieting with Slim Fast Optima to avoid potential side effects.