Everywhere you look, everyone is promising you how if you would just do what they say, they can turn you into that one girl in that thing you pinned on pinterest where she’s laying on her back and you can see her hip bones. You know the one.
This series is going to talk about a few of those most popular plans and the promises they make. We’ll discuss the premise of the plan, some pros and cons, and what the final verdict is. We are going to cover a little more than the basics, but know that the really nitty gritty details of these plans are beyond the scope of this series.
Last week we reviewed the Paleo diet.
Today, let’s talk about the Weight Watchers diet.
Weight Watchers is similar to calorie counting, but it assigns each food a “points” value, so that you’re not just being encouraged to take in a certain number of calories, but also to take in calories that have a good points value, and therefore a good nutrition profile. Points are based on the content of the food, specifically protein, carbs, fat, and fiber. You are assigned a certain number of points every day (based on your age, gender, weight, goals, etc.).
Foods with lower point values are typically high in protein and/or fiber and lower in carbs and fat. The idea is that you will be eating an appropriate number of calories while eating healthier foods and feeling fuller longer, which leads of course to weight loss. Not only that, but the diet plan doesn’t actually make any food off-limits. If you want to eat something that has a high point value, you can, but you have to make up for it later by having less points (ie less calories) available to you. I’ve often heard this system compared to a bank or cash system. You can buy the dress that is pretty but impractical and expensive, but you will be left with only enough money to buy the cheap, uncomfortable shoes.
This program also focuses on community, and you can interact with others on this plan either by going to a local meeting (and there are a lot of them) or by communicating through their online forum. Meetings happen once per week, at which you must weigh in (oftentimes you will receive a pass that allows you to skip one weigh-in, but that’s it).
- The Weight Watchers plan encourages nutritionally dense foods
- It also discourages the empty calories. It does however allow them. As with pretty much everything, moderation is of course key, and the Weight Watchers plan helps keep those unhealthy foods in check.
- The plan naturally leads to a lower calorie intake as well as lower intake of things like bad fats and simple carbs, and so it does help decrease the risk of health problems like heart disease.
- Because you’re eating fewer calories and the calories that you’re eating help you to feel fuller longer, following this plan will lead to weight loss
- Because the Weight Watchers program has a community feel, especially if you attend meetings, it can lead to you feeling more supported, which can help you stay committed.
- There is no set diet on Weight Watchers. You can use your points however you see fit. But….
- There is no set diet on Weight Watchers. If you need lots of structure and can’t be trusted with this much flexibility, this might be a downfall for you.
- You really have to pay attention to all of the nutrition information of your food (but shouldn’t we be anyway?)
- Then you have to tediously count up your points every time you eat.
- Even when you’re eating healthy foods, you can’t eat mindlessly on this diet plan.
- One thing that the Weight Watchers people fixed a few years ago is that they made all fruits and vegetables free foods, so I guess you can eat mindlessly if it’s carrots. But you have to be careful with this, as many fruits end up being relatively high in calories if you eat enough (like bananas and even apples).
- In order to have access to all of the Weight Watchers tools, recipes, tips, and community forums, you have to pay for a membership, which may be expensive.
- Weekly progress might be tough. You might be someone who would prefer to weigh yourself daily or even not at all, and instead focus on something like measurements.
Weight Watchers gets an A. It promotes healthy habits, like knowing what’s in the food you’re eating and forcing you to pay attention to what you’re putting in your mouth. It also encourages you to learn more about nutrition information, which we often forget (or maybe choose not to) pay attention to. Many (many) people have had weight loss success with this plan, along with other benefits such as decreased risk for heart disease and diabetes. Weight Watchers is an easy plan to fit in to your every day real life and also promotes moderation, which I think you already know I’m a fan of. Once you reach your weight loss goal, you can adjust your daily points intake so that you’re eating enough to maintain your weight instead of lose weight. However, if you aren’t sure that counting points is right for you, take home points of this diet include setting a food intake goal, having a general idea of how many calories you’re taking in every day, and making sure those calories are nutritionally sound by focusing on foods with high protein and fiber content and lower simple carbs and fat.