One of the most popular diet plans that features multiple meal replacement, the Slim-Fast diet has gained a lot of fans thanks to its good balance of nutrients and short term effects. Using the “3-2-1 Plan”, the Slim-Fast diet recommends a daily intake of three snacks (fruits, vegetables or Slim-Fast snack bars), two Slim-Fast meal replacement and one home-cooked meal that should stay under 500 calories.

Before spending any money on the snack-bars, shakes and meal replacement products, find out more about the pros and cons of the Slim-Fast diet, which promises to deliver weight loss between 1 and 2 pounds per week.

Pros of the Slim-Fast Diet

If you like a structured meal plan and find the taste of Slim-Fast appealing or at least tolerable, you’ll definitely benefit from this short term weight loss solution.

Nutritionally Sound

Protein, fat and carbs percentages all fall under the dietary guidelines that most nutritionists agree on, and the meal replacements provide enough vitamins and minerals that you won’t need any supplements on the Slim-Fast diet. Another bonus is laying the ground work for a healthier approach to eating. For the daily meal of your choosing, you should fill half your plate with vegetables, a quarter with lean protein and a quarter with healthy starch, from brown rice and whole wheat pasta to corn and potatoes.

Slim Fast Diet Foods

No Calorie Counting

With the “3-2-1” plan, you’ll get around 1,200 calories every day, but all you need to do is stick to the meal and recommendations, along with the meal replacements, snack bars or shakes.

Very Convenient

The Slim-Fast diet takes out all the guesswork from grocery shopping. You can buy the meal replacements online or in grocery stores, and you’ll only need to worry about a single meal every day. As long as you follow the guidelines, you can eat out or choose one of the many recipes available on the Slim-Fast website.

See also: Medifast Diet Pros and Cons

Efficient in the Short Run

While meal replacements come in a wide variety of flavors, you might get tired of them in 8-10 weeks. The good news is that you can lose up to 20 pounds in that time.

Can Help Prevent and Control Diabetes

The Slim-Fast diet has been proved effective both in preventing and controlling diabetes. Meal replacements have a positive effect on blood sugar and insulin levels, which means less medication for people who suffer from diabetes.

Cheaper Than Similar Meal-Replacement Diets

The Slim-Fast are relatively cheap, especially if you buy them online in bulk. A 24-pack of snack bars costs around $17, while the same amount of shakes goes for around $35.

More: Spark Solution Diet Pros and Cons

Cons of the Slim-Fast Diet

The taste of Slim-Fast meal replacements products is the biggest obstacle in following this diet in the long run, and options for adapting it to certain dietary requirements are limited.

Slim Fast Meal Plan

Little Variety

While you have plenty of options for flavors, including the decadent chocolate cookie dough and peanut butter crunch, the number of bars and shakes you need to eat to stick to the diet might become a big problem.

Isn’t a Long Term Solution

Because of the taste of its bars and shakes, the Slim-Fast diet doesn’t qualify as a long term solution. Some dieters continue to use meal replacements occasionally after they’ve finished the main part of the diet, but picky eaters might find the diet very difficult to follow.

Not Recommended for a Vegan or Gluten-Free Diet

Lacto-vegetarians won’t run into big obstacles on the Slim-Fast diet, since the only food they need to substitute is the meat in the daily meal of their choosing. Most Slim-Fast meal replacement product contain dairy, so the diet isn’t a good option for vegans, but the lactose-intolerant can use soy milk for the shakes. With no products labelled as gluten-free, the Slim-Fast isn’t suited for this type of diet.

It Isn’t for Everyone

The Slim-Fast diet isn’t recommended for dieters under the age of 18, and pregnant or breast-feeding women should always consult a doctor before getting started on the diet. While the Slim-Fast diet encourages at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, there are no specific workout guidelines included.