Whats In it? Slim Fast

You might be surprised at some of the ingredients in a Slim Fast shake—a “diet” meal replacement. Specifically the first one. Yes, this product may help you quickly drop some weight, but you probably won’t keep it off. If health is what you’re aiming for, you don’t want to drink this!


Look at this chart I put together that compares 1 can of Slim-Fast to a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar!

Slim-Fast Shake Hershey’s Chocolate Bar
Calories 220 210
Fat 3.0 grams 13 grams
Saturated Fat 1 gram 8 grams
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 grams None
Monounsaturated Fat 1.5 grams None
Cholesterol 5 grams 10 grams
Sodium 220 mg 35 mg
Carbohydrate 40 grams 26 grams
Fiber 5 grams 1 gram
Sugar 34 grams 24 grams
Protein 10 grams 3 grams

Sugar. First ingredient! Slim-Fast has more sugar than a Hershey’s Bar!!

High Oleic Sunflower Oil. This just sounds bad, but it actually isn’t! K, sugar and oil though? Yeah, gross.

Maltodextrin. According to Wikipedia, “Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide (sugar) that is used as a food additive. It is produced from starch by partial hydrolysis and is usually found as a creamy-white hygroscopic spraydried powder.” Keep those creamy-white hygroscopic spraydried powders outta my food! This ingredient is often extracted from corn, a crop that is commonly genetically modified in the U.S. In Europe, it is extracted from wheat.

Gum Arabic. This is a is a natural gum made of hardened sap taken from the acacia tree.

clip_image006Milk Protein Concentrate. This is a concentrated milk product that can be highly processed. I don’t even quite understand what this is. Can one of you smarty pantses go to Wiki and tell me? Leave a comment! We don’t know if the milk being used is from cows treated with rbGH. Check out my Dannon post for more about rbGH (growth hormones).

Cellulose Gel. People would probably wonder more what this is if it was called it’s alternate name, carbooxymethyl cellulose! Sounds scary, right? It’s a food additive that’s also used in K-Y Jelly (high viscosity!) and some paper products. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Soy Fiber. First off, soy is often genetically modified (GMO) in the United States.

Buttermilk Powder. A cultured skim milk. This could also be made with milk from rbGH-treated cows.

Potassium Phosphate. Yet another food additive. It is a term for the salts of Potassium.

Xanthan Gum. Guess what this is? Yep. A food additive. It thickens! Also used in cosmetic products. Versatile! It can be made from common allergens, such as soy, wheat and corn. People who are allergic to these foods should not eat foods with this ingredient.

Dextrose. A simple sugar. Don’t ask me about this. It’s all science-y.

Salt. 220 mg worth! Yay!

Guar Gum. The ground endosperm of guar beans.

clip_image008Soybean Lecithin. Lecithin is extracted from soybeans using hexanes. Hexanes are mostly from the refinement process of crude oil. I’m not making this up! I swear. Hexane is a really bad thing. In 2007, grain processors were responsible for more than two-thirds of hexane emissions in the United States. It’s highly toxic too.

Artificial Flavor. Artificial flavor is pretty much chemicals that can be made to taste like whatever flavor the food producer is trying to hint at. They are tricksy little Hobbits.

Carrageenan. According to Wikipedia, “the gelatinous extracts of the Chondrus crispus seaweed have been used as food additives for hundreds of years.[1] Carrageenan is a vegetarian and vegan alternative to gelatin.” There are concerns that carrageenan may cause intestinal inflammation and maybe even inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Sodium Phosphate. The only thing I could find for this is that it’s used to clear out the bowels before a colonoscopy. Certainly this can’t be the same thing? Is it a way to have people thinking that the Slim-Fast diet is working? Things that make you go…

Acesulfame Potassium. This is an artificial sweetener I’ve never heard of, which scares the hell out of me! The commercial names this sweetener is known under are Sweet One and Sunett. Some people question the safety of this sweetener and feel not enough research has been done on its possible effects.

Aspartame. Wiki says: “A low-calorie sweetener made primarily of two amino acids; aspartic acid and phenylalanine.”

Read my other aspartame-containing What’s In It? Wednesday!—Diet Coke post!

Vitamins and Minerals. Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin E Acetate, Ferric Manganese Sulfate, Copper Gluconate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Palmitate, Thiamin Monoitrate, Chromium Chloride, Riboflavin, Biotin, Folic Acid, Sodium Molybdate, Sodium Selenite, Phytonadione Vitamin K1) Potassium Iodide, Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) and Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12)

May Contain Wheat.

Phenylketonurics. Contains Phenylalanine.

Alternative to Slim-Fast: A smoothie made with lowfat, organic yogurt, organic fruits and flax seeds! Fiber, natural sugar, whole foods, filling protein and yummy!

Until next week!


  1. Kudos for comparing this garbage to a candy bar. Because slim fast is WORSE than anything you could actually eat on on your own. Sort of like a bagel. I always say bagels are the devil because they cause the same insulin response in your body as if you ate 5 scoops of ice cream. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have the ice cream…..and the candy bar.

    • I thought that was a delightful comparison too. Half a bagel is a serving size, I had never known that in my big eating days.

  2. I’d rather have a bagel. :)
    That will kind of be in the back of my head now though!! Oh 5 scoops of ice cream. Hmmmm.

  3. Wow. Just wow. I knew this was junk food but have never taken the time to really examine it. What unbelievable trash we are passing off as food. No wonder we have obesity and diabetes epidemics!
    To think, years ago when I was pregnant with my first child and suffering from violent morning sickness, my doctor told me to drink Slim Fast to get some “nutrition.”

    • The funny thing I found about gp’s is they don’t get a lot of nutrition training. Registered dietitians are the way to go. All the weird advice from doctors I got over the years too.

  4. I’m loving these “What’s In It?” posts, it’s very interesting (and often alarming) to see what’s really in some of these common food products.

    I subscribe to Wired magazine, and they have a similar monthly feature, though they cover all sorts of household products.

  5. Love these posts! Since with the sugar, it’s basically like a glass-o-desert, I wonder what the nutritional comparison would be to a standard glass of chocolate milk (or chocolate soy or almond milk).

  6. I am LOVING these posts! Thank you for posting Slimfast. I’m sending this to my best friend right now. She wouldn’t believe me when I told her it wasn’t the CURE ALL for weight loss

    • Other than the fact that’s it’s sort of made out of jet fuel, it really doesn’t teach you how to sustain weight loss, or cook, or eat or manage your life. That’s where my huge objection comes from. Really any weight lost product with “fast” in the title gets a instant thumbs down.

  7. Ew. Makes me glad that I’ve never been one to drink my meals. I like to chew.

    Great job as always, Greta!

  8. Excellent post. I tried Slim Fast before I was educated enough to know better. Turns out that it caused strange urinary issues with me too. YUCK! Never again.

  9. Shawn Westerfield says:

    I just read the diff in the slim fast and the candy bar, and a slim fast shake only has 25g carbs. not 40g..And 18g of sugar not 34g.. Am I missing something here????

  10. Not to defend the amount of sugar, but you’ve actually listed it incorrectly: it’s only 18g, not 34g. You’re also leaving out all of the much needed vitamins that are in a Slimfast shake. Plus a lot of the thickeners are in everyday products like ice cream – carageenan is used in most ice cream you can buy, and it’s naturally derived. Then again I eat seaweed in Japanese food all the time, so I don’t find seaweed icky. I just don’t understand why people find thickeners to be so disgusting, as most of them are just from plants.

    I don’t necessarily think it’s the route to weight loss for everyone, I myself just use it as a liquid vitamin instead of eating breakfast. I tend to not be in the mood for food and prefer to hydrate. I also like that the high-protein version has 15g of protein. Also, I buy the Slimfast powder and add my own organic milk. I don’t drink it out of the can since I think that’s awfully wasteful.

  11. Summer Brown says:

    I ams sad to say that I purchased this without thought because it tasted okay and was on sale. I only got a 4 pack, but darn. Won’t be buying this again! The ingredients on the one I have (it’s a meal thingy) are not in this order, but I saw that HFCS is in it! gah. Back to the drawing board. Being healthy is not easy with all the junk food around posing as something ‘good’ for you.