The Protein Water Scam: Kellog's Special K2O Can Do Anything!

By Will Chen on 14 January 2007 (Updated 10 June 2007) 50 comments

kellogs lose weight

According to a recent ad for Kellog's Special K2O protein water: "Losing up to 6 lbs in 2 weeks just got easier!"

This extraordinary claim caught the attention of the consumer advocates at Mouseprint.com. They point us to the fine print at the bottom of the ad:

*Average weight loss when replacing meals with two cereal meals is 5 pounds. Weight loss may vary.

kellog's special k2o disclaimer

In other words, your can lose 5 pounds only if you replace two of your meals with cereal. The protein water has little, if anything, to do with the actual weight loss.

With this kind of logic there is really nothing the K2O can't do. Imagine these possibilities:

  • Kellog's K2O: Lowering your cholesterol up to 25 mg/dl in two weeks just got easier! (*Average decrease in cholesterol level when training for an ironman triathlon is 25 mg/dl.)
  • Kellog's K2O: Increasing your SAT scores by up to 400 points just got easier! (*Average increase in SAT scores when attending special review courses taught by Stephen Hawkings is 380 points.)

What exactly is in this wonderful elixir? The nutritional label reveals that K2O is little more than regular water, sugar, whey protein, and calcium mixed together. It is less nutritious than a glass of low fat milk.

The K2O's suggested retail price is $1.49 per bottle. That is kind of expensive. But I guess it is all worth it if it raises my SAT scores.

Here's the ad. The fine print is at the lower left-hand corner. Click here for the larger version.

kellogs medium

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Guest's picture
Cowgirl

You make a great point in LOGIC Mr. Chen. Were you in my Philosophy 111 class in 1967? Notice that the claim is made for losing "UP TO" 6 pounds, that means you could replace two meals a day, exercise like a maniac and lose ONE pound in two weeks. Not too impressive. Please take a look at the label and tell me how many carbs and how much sugar is in there? Thanks, CG

Guest's picture
Kristine Palmarchetty

Hello, I just want to say that everyone is very quick to judge.. and don't understand that there are underlying messages in MOST advertisements. In this one for instance... the slogan is "just got easier" the K2O drink is meant to Curb your appetite until your next meal... not take more pounds off. Thanks

Guest's picture
Sabrina Young

I use to drink k20 a while back but I stop after a while.But now i gained 10 pounds and noticed it, so i need to get some more k20.I was wondering if I could get help with my weight like any tips?

Guest's picture
Guest

If you're looking to lose weight stop eating processed food like k2o. Eat meat and veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit little starch and no sugar

Guest's picture

i got a bottle of the stuff right infront of me, first time trying it and wanted to see what the reviews were for it and ran into this site. The bottle itself does not make any claims other than "feel fuller longer" -

it has 5 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of sugar, with a total calorie count of 50. If you ask me thats way better than alot of "vitamin waters" out there who add vitamins you already get enough of in your day to day diet and charge u $ 2.50. Fiber on the other hand is not as abundant in most peoples diets, the 5 grams of protein may not be much, but its not horrible either for the price.

Guest's picture
Guest

I read your comments with interest. I purchased Special K20 protein water at Target yesterday (on sale) specifically because of all the protein drinks available it doesn't have milk as its base. There are some consumers (me included) who are lactose intolerant and looking for a meal replacement drink that isn't made up primarily of milk. (K20 does contain whey.) I'm going to try it for a meal (lunch) replacement drink and see if it keeps my real appetite at bay, at least until dinner. It is worth a try. I'm not looking for miracle weight loss, just a semi-healthy alternative for one meal a day.

Guest's picture
kate

Im looking at a bottle of K2O Protein Water Lemon Twist, and nowhere on this bottle does it say anything about weight loss. It says it helps you stay on track. To me this doesn't sound like a scam. I am a vegetarian and i need all the protein i can get. If your relying a drink to make you lose weight you need to re-evaluate yourself. Its called excerise and good dieting. Drink 2% milk and eat salads with half the dressing. Its not hard people.

Guest's picture
Margaret

I agree with most of what you said except the last two, I would agree with this also, except I can't eat salad greens. So it isn't as easy as it used to be when I was younger and could eat the salads. Weight loss is still a challenge for me. Still looking!

Guest's picture
Guest

I left a comment previously about trying the K20 protein drink for lunch as a meal replacement. This product does keep my appetite at bay for at least four hours which is much longer than I expected, but I also feel tired (just as if I didn't eat anything, which I didn't!) The Lemon Twist flavor tastes much better to me than the Strawberry Kiwi, but that's a personal taste bud issue, of course. I think it is a good, fairly inexpensive option for people looking to replace one meal with a liquid drink (especially for those who are lactose intolerant).

Guest's picture
Guest

I find if I keep a bottle on my desk and sip throughout the day, I am less hungry and therefore eat less. I am not as hungry when I arrive home from work and can keep myself from downing everything in sight. For me, this is a good option; I am not expecting miracles, but if I remember correctly, the original commercial that aired claimed this would "take the edge off your hunger" so you can eat les, which, for me, is exactly what this does. And who can argue with drinking more water?

Guest's picture
Guest

I have found that splenda (sucralose) gives me diarrhea/gas, and this water does have splenda in it. That could be your problem.

Guest's picture
Guest

I've used this twice so far and I have to say both times I felt less hungry than I did drinking a slim fast shake. However, I've had diarrhea and wondered if that has anything to do with it. I don't know but it definitely curbed my appetite and that is what I'm looking for in a product.

Guest's picture
Guest

I am concerned with the added B vitamins some people will get sick since it is just a water based drink. The niacin taken without solid food can cause a niacin flush for people of protein body types.

Also where do the ingredients come from and where is it manufactured?

I do not feel safe with Whey product that comes from China at this time with so many products from there not being properly regulated at this time.

In a mad craze to look like Hollywood stars too many people are willing to sacrifice their own health.

Guest's picture
Guest

I've also tried it twice and been satisfied. My trouble time is the time between coming home after work until dinner. Sipping the lemon twist after work tames the beast for me. That's all I'm asking it to do and it works for that purpose. I can't see using it as a meal replacement as I tend to experience periods of hypoglycemia.

Guest's picture
I want to try it

I also have hypoglycemia, and the fact that it's only 50 calories seems like a good thing to me.

I get low and need protein, as most hypoglycemics do, and I have protein issues because I'm a vegetarian.

I'm going to buy some on my next trip to the store!

Guest's picture
Guest

Does this guy work for the Soda companies? It taste good and has some nutritional benefits and it's a scam? Hmmmm interesting, maybe I haven't had enough soda to be thinking clearly?

Guest's picture
Steve

I agree with everything you wrote.

However, I have a friend who is addicted to snacking on potatoe chips, which is keeping her fat. A medium bag of chips easily has the calories of 1-2 meals. Drinking protein water has helped her not crave chips.

Yes, I did tell her to go to a vitamin store to buy her flavored protein and fiber powder to save money.

Guest's picture
Amber

I like the taste of it and as I only drink water it's a nice change from the plain water taste everyday. If it can curb the beast also then I see no downside to this.

Guest's picture
pathisel

I read your comments, and found them a tad strange. Number one they also sell a powder from, which you can get ten of at Wal-Mart for about 5 bucks, so fifty cents plus the cost of your water bottle, if you buy in bulk, might cost you 15-20 cents at a bulk warehouse. So in that product you have about 65-70 cents invested. In the powder form you get simply 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein, not too bad, seeming as most people do not get enogub lean protein or fiber in their diet for sure. In fact that amount of fiber may be more than a lot of peope get in entire meals. But I have used the product for about 2 months now, I drink one at about 10 am, and another at about 2:30 pm, in between my regular meals. I used to eat whatever snack I could get my hands on. I have increased my fiber intake, but at least 8 grams a day(because the snacks had one or none) and have increased my protein intake by 10 grams a day(the snack again had none). I have cut out the whatever I could get my hand son snack out of my diet, the drink keeps me satisfied, and I have in turn, without adding anything else or doing anything else, lost ten punds. Not too bad for simply adding a drink to my everyday diet. So please before you call something a scam, really give it a try for a few weeks, do what I did, and you may be happy......

Guest's picture
Johnny

i read your post.. here's what i don't understand :
if you can get a free 4-pack of special k2o protein water why not testing it out? you can get the free pack on our site.

Guest's picture
Guest

it taste good and "take the edge off of hunger". See, I am pro anorexic so, i am hunger all the time and this drink it great for lunch with a 50 calorie yogurt. But everyones body is diffrent

Guest's picture
Gordode

I buy the drink as a substitute for when I have a craving for soda or other types of liquids--not to lose weight. I have lost 42 pounds on Weight Watchers (which is not a diet) and exercise. The wording on the bottle specifically spells out that the drink is to "promote a reduced feeling of hunger . . . " That is exactly what it does when the diet is "high in protein and fiber". However, no one should feel that this is the new "it" product to lose weight. Proper nutrition and exercise (calories in/calories out) is the key to unload the fat.

Guest's picture
drinker

Hey I know it's not a "Miracle" product. But as far as taking off the edge of hunger. It works well for me. I Figure if it takes the edge off. When I sit down at the table I am less likely to gourge. Last time I had it I could not even finish my plate of spaghetti. Something that has NEVER happened before. So I belive it does help

Guest's picture
Guest

No offense, but this kind of "miracle in a bottle" is nothing more than a new way to rip off gullible Americans, or lazy people who are still waiting for that magic pill because they're too busy to exercise, yet spend three hours in front of the TV each night.

Sure you feel fuller! Sure! Because you paid for it, so now you're tricking your brain into thinking, "Yes, it's working."

This is a placebo and dumber than Vitamin water. I think there's a reason that the label covers the entire bottle all the way to the neck, so you won't think, "Hey, this looks just like water, so maybe I'll just buy water."

Go to GNC and buy protein powder.

Or go on the South Beach diet.

Guest's picture
Guest

I drank a few bottles of water that I had added the kellogs protein powder to. For the next few days I had lower back and muscle cramps and nausea, Anyone else have such a reaction?

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Guest

I drank a few bottles of water that I had added the kellogs protein powder to. For the next few days I had lower back and muscle cramps and nausea, Anyone else have such a reaction?

Guest's picture
Guest

I drank a few bottles of water that I had added the kellogs protein powder to. For the next few days I had lower back and muscle cramps and nausea, Anyone else have such a reaction?

Guest's picture
Guest

I drank a few bottles of water that I had added the kellogs protein powder to. For the next few days I had lower back and muscle cramps and nausea, Anyone else have such a reaction?

Guest's picture
Guest

Hi Wanted to know if anyone knows how much protein you should have in a day if you over eat ..on protein the extra is stored as fat as I have read....Thats not good .... I need to know how much is to much?

Guest's picture
Guest

The standard is .5g-1g per pound of body weight. Up to 1.5g-2g per pound of bodyweight if you are a serious athelete. It's very hard to have too much protien but yes, over excessive amounts will be stored as bodyfat. Also, different types of protiens digest to different levels. Egg, and whey protein digests at a 99%-100% rate versus soy protein at 60%-90%. Also, it's very important to drink plenty of water while on a high-protien diet to help with kidney function.

Guest's picture
Hol

Hi Wanted to know if anyone knows how much protein you should have in a day if you over eat ..on protein the extra is stored as fat as I have read....Thats not good .... I need to know how much is to much?

Guest's picture
Shar

I noticed this product on the shelf of CVS. I was a skeptic. I have a Coke Zero habit and although I cannot prove it because it says calories are 0, I think it keeps the weight on or adds weight somehow. I had been the same weight and thin most of my life, but as soon as I started drinking Coke Zero reguarly it seemed I started gaining. I know I am generally sugar intolerant and monitor snacks and sugar intake but the weight kept adding up all while I reduced my calorie intake.

So to the point, I started making the powder pink lemonade K20 water twice a day...1/2 of a packet with water in the AM and the other in the afternoon. And I cut out Coke Zero and the weight is reversing. I am down 5 lbs in 10 days. I truly have not changed anything else. I also am not a big excercise person but I do keep active with household tasks. I look at it in a couple of ways. For One it has keep me from being hungry inbetween meals so that claim is correct. Also, I'm sure raising protein and fiber helps just about everyone. It is much better for you than drinks without any vitamins or any nutitional value. I have purchased vitamin type waters and they do not make you feel full regardless of how many or how little calories they show.

Guest's picture
Guest

I love this product. It just does what it claims reduces feeling of hunger!!

Guest's picture
Elizabeth

I am a fitness coach, and personally use this product. It's a great way to get in extra protein for me, and my clients.
Protein is what keeps your hunger at bay, no matter whether you have some chicken or one of these. And Whey protein is excellent.
I wish it had stevia in it instead of the other sweetner, but other than that, I'm extremely satisfied with this product, and will continue to use it.
As for price, as another poster said, you can get the powder packs at walmart for much cheaper than buying the bottles. I pay $7.18 for 15, or $5.48 for 10.
Finally a product not full of salt and crap for the customers who try to eat right!

Guest's picture
Guest

I bought the powdered mixes to add to my own water and I LOOOVE them. I am the biggest skeptic in the world when it comes to weight loss claims...I mean, if ANYTHING other than diet and exercise worked, noone would have a problem, right?? I really just got this along with various other mixes to give my water a little something as I cannot always stand it plain. Imagine my surprise when I finally figured out that when I had the K20 as opposed to other mixes, I wasn't as hungry! I have since spent some time researching and have realized that it has to be the protein in it that helps, so I'm going to start drinking this 3-4 times a day instead of just in the morning, in hopes of curbing my appetite throguhout the day!

Guest's picture
niranjanz

Has anyone else been tricked by the blatantly misleading name of this product? I thought Kellogs was selling potassium oxide. For this alone, the product is a scam.

Guest's picture
beth

My husband and I enjoy this product. We purchase it in powder form and add it to our own water to keep the cost down. I have a sweet tooth and K02 helps curb that as well as take the edge off of hunger. If you eat a low fat diet and exercise each day you can lose weight. This product lets your taste buds think it's getting a sweet treat. You get fiber, and protien as well. Whats wrong with that?

Guest's picture
Guest

Is the fiber in K2O Protein Water worthwhile or is there another cheaper way to get fiber (soluble)?

Guest's picture
Danny

5 grams protein? That's rly low^
A good intake is 50 - 75g a day.

Lots of people talking about replacing meals and avoiding calories.. Seems the whole world is doing it. I find it funny. Im the opposite. I try my best to get as many calories as possible during the day. I eat till I can't take it any more, then eat a little more. Protein powders and everything good and bad. No weight gain.. None. Im making it my personal challenge to see what its like to put on some of that flab the whole western world is freaking out about. Seems like its not happening tho :D

Guest's picture
looks good

heres what i think---
its not a scam, those of u who say that have u even tried it?

also it tastes really goood. and it makes u not as hungry. sucks that it costs so much, but everyonce in a while it is worth it.

Guest's picture
Guest

The powder version to add to a bottled water was recommended by a friend. It did help with hunger, however it gave me the worst gas, bloating, nausea and diarrhea every day I drank it. (about 8 days, drinking one a day) The product is probably good for those who can tolerate it. Not for me.

Guest's picture
Candi

Its the whey giving you gas. Try anything with whey and you will find your answer.

Guest's picture
Melanie

I love this stuff! Tastes good, curbs your appitite and its refreshing. I wish I could buy it by the case. I highly recommend it. :-)

Its a little pricy but coupons are everywhere and the stores run it on sale all the time. Just stock up when its cheap. Plus they sell it in powder form which seems to be almost as good and you get 10 for a lot lower price. The pink lemonade powder is wonderful.

Melanie

Guest's picture
Guest

Being a relatively healthy eater, I didn't see a point to proteing or vitamin water of any sort. I checked it out because it was next to the shakes (sometimes I need a quick 'to go' meal) and I saw it helps curb hunger. The reason it does is the extra fiber which for me? I'm all about the fiber. So I tried it and LOVED it!! It's perfect right after the gym till I can have my lunch. It's also great right when I get home from work before I make dinner. It really stops me from grabbing anything I can get my hands on.

My only complaint is there is only 1 store I can get it in around here....

Guest's picture
Jeni

I focus my diet on low fat, low carb, low sugar proteins, and after losing more than 125 pounds (I'm now at a low BMI for my height) I would never drink this protein water. The ratio of sugar grams to protein grams makes it a less desirable protein drink than som eof the others (South Beach, etc). I do drink protein waters in between my protein enriched meals, but I would not choose this one.

Guest's picture
Stacey Wolfe

I've found with my six year old who was diagnosed a year ago with ADHD that protein is a must. It really helps settle is brain down. I'm thinking about asking his teacher if he can have it in the classroom to avoid any crashes. Please let me know if anyone knows why this product should not be used by children.

Guest's picture
Health Nut

Do a one hour or half an hour run/walk during the day. After you're finished with your workout, drink one K2O. (If you're still hungry, eat one small salad) But K2O should cut your hunger for a little while. Also, eat only a small meal before you go to bed and have another K2O. Try this for 1 week and see the results.

***If you want to lose weight, this product MIGHT work for you. It did for me.

Guest's picture
Guest

I just bought a box of K2O Stawberry Kiwi powder packets this morning. The box itself doesn't have any claims that it will make you lose it. It has a couple paragraphs on the bottom outling that protein is a building block for your body (true) and that protein helps you stay satisfied (opinion). I think that ad may have been a combined ad for their cereal and other products. They do have the Special K Challenge, so I think that the statement about the weight loss with 2 meals replaced with cereal was about that.

I didn't buy this thinking it would make me lose weight, I bought it because I had a trainer recomend Muscle Milk and I hated it. It was full of fat and sodium. I only got through half of it before I had to stop because I thought I was going to vomit. I got very nauseated from it and was sick to my stomach for about 5-6 hours after I drank it.

I loved the K20 flavor, but did note that I would have to drink six servings to get the same amount of protein. I like the fiber in it and it did make me feel full. I hadn't read that part on the box about feeling full, so this isn't placebo for me. I was searching to see if I could get in bulk or if there were other similar products.

MM (1 - 17 oz Ready to Drink Banana Creme) compared to KO (6 powder packets mixed with 6 - 16.9 oz bottles of water)

MM cal 330
KO cal 180

MM Fat 16g
KO Fat 0g

MM Sat Fat 7g
KO Sat Fat 0g

MM Chol 15mg
KO Chol 0mg

MM Sodium 500mg (Yikes!)
KO Sodium 240mg

MM Carbs 13g
KO Carbs 36g (note the sugars and fiber below! Carbs are mostly from fiber.)

MM Fiber Less than 1g
KO Fiber 30g

MM Sugars 7g
KO Sugars 0g

MM Protein 32g
KO Protein 30g

MM has a ton of vitamins... too many too list, but I prefer to take a supplements and eat lots of fruit and veggies. MM also has 35% (1 8oz glass of milk has 25 -30% of daily calcium needs) of your daily calcium needs as it is milk based, KO is zero, but again I drink milk and eat lots of foods that contain calcium. I do find it hard to get all the protein I'm supposed to have, which is why the trainer wanted me on MM in the first place.

I think the KO would be better for me. I thought about not getting all the protein after my workout, but I usually drink 2 -3 bottles of water before and after my workout. So I would be getting 15g just before, during and after my workout. The rest would be spread out, which I don't think is such a bad idea anyhow. Anyone ever mix it with milk? Thinking about trying it with nonfat milk and see if it tastes similar to strawberry milk.

Guest's picture
Guest

i saw k20 at a local store i got lucky and only paid 75cents a bottle and let me tell you i love it i am going to be cutting all soda out of my diet and will now find a way to start drinking k20, it is refreshing and when i took my first drink i was hungry now that i finished the bottle i am no longer hungry LOVE IT....

Guest's picture
Boston Baby

I am 15 1/2. Birthday is today :) and I see everyone is talking about the Special K. I am actually eating Special K Cracker Chips right now. My comment on all the Special K products is, "Fantastic"! I've been on it for a while and I absoutely love it. Everything that I have tried taste like the regular Fat foods, but Special K helps you lose weight and I have experienced it. I have dropped down a Jean and a half pant size and I'm so loving it. I'm actually eating the new Sour Cream N' Onion Cracker Chips and they taste just like Lay's Sour Cream Chips. Can Taste a tad Difference, but overall its delicious. I also love the Special K Cereal. I am axious to try the water. I didnt really like the Bars. I guess I'm picky, but it was awful. My baby sister loves them. Anywayz, the Special K items, I HIGHLY recommend this to friends and family :)