At A Glance
Weight Watchers is one of the most well known and successful names in the weight loss industry out there. I’m sure most of you would have heard of Weight Watchers. They’ve always had a proven track record of helping people lose weight, which may explain why it’s been around for such a long time.
Weight Watchers does not offer fast weight loss (which can be unhealthy) but focuses more on helping you lose weight at the more widely accepted limit of about 2 pounds a week through their Turnaround Program.
Here’s How It Works
The newest and latest weight loss program from Weight Watchers is known as the Turnaround Program.
This program brings together all the essential ingredients for successful weight loss: healthy nutrition, effective calorie counting and support in the form of group discussions & counseling sessions at local Weight Watchers centers.
The Turnaround Program can be split further into 2 different plans:
1) Flex Plan (based on counting Points); &
2) Core Plan (no Points counting needed).
This is explained further below:
This plan is for you if you don’t mind keeping score of what you’re eating. There is no limit to what foods what you can eat on this plan – which basically means you can eat all your favorite foods and still lose weight.
However, when you first join Weight Watchers, you’ll find out how many Points you’re allocated in a day and the main aim is to keep within that number of Points for the day. Each food has different Points based on calories, fat grams and fiber count.
Therefore, you can eat anything you want just as long as the total Points of all the foods you’re eating are within the total number of Points you’re allocated a day.
You can compute the Points value by using a slide tool called a Points Finder or you can simply look in the Welcome Book that will be given to you when you first join for the Points values of certain foods.
On the other hand, you can purchase a Weight Watchers kit that includes an organizer, an extra Points Finder and 2 additional books that list the Points for foods, including restaurant foods.
This plan is more for you if you don’t like the idea of counting calories or Points while being on a diet.
Instead, the Core Plan focuses on controlling calories by focusing on a core list of wholesome and nutritious foods.
Foods in this list include items from all food groups to ensure that meals are nutritionally balanced. For example, fruits & veggies, grains & starches, lean meats, fish & poultry, and eggs & diary products.
If you like, you can also have occasional treats but in controlled amounts while on the Core Plan.
In addition, foods that are often linked to overeating are removed from the core list.
And What Can I Eat?
No limit on what you can eat!
However, you must stay within the Points that are allocated to you for the day.
Choose from a core list that includes fruits & veggies, grains & starches, lean meats, fish & poultry, and eggs & diary products. Treats are allowed occasionally but in controlled amounts.
How About Exercise?
Exercise is not emphasized on the Weight Watcher’s program. However, a regular exercise plan is essential for healthy & effective weight loss, so make sure to throw some into your weight loss program.
I thought that it would be useful to list down the pros and cons of the Weight Watchers Program:
- No foods are forbidden on the Flex Plan
- Stresses importance of eating your fruits & veggies. Also encourages low fat dairy products and drinking lots of water.
- If you follow the program correctly, you’ll lose about 1 to 2 pounds a week – a healthy rate of weight loss which is more likely to be permanent.
- Although not emphasized, exercise earns Points in which you can use to ‘eat more’ during the day.
- Basics of portion control are taught, which is useful even if you’re not on the Program.
- Weight Watchers Online has a very strong online community that may be very helpful and encouraging.
- Good online tools.
- Weight Watchers is relatively free of the heavy marketing of the other diet plans or programs.
- May be a little expensive
- May not be a good idea for those who don’t like group situations as you will have to attend group discussions & sessions.
- May be uncomfortable if you don’t like to disclose your weight as there are weekly weigh ins. However, having said that, no one else but the Weight Watchers employee will know of your weight when he notes it down.
- Weekly reports may discourage you if you haven’t lost any weight. May also be pressurizing in a group situation.
- Counting Points may not necessarily teach you proper eating habits. For eg, a handful of cookies may contain the same amount of calories as a wholemeal tuna sandwich, but of course, the tuna sandwich is a much healthier choice.
- Counting Points and calories may be difficult to maintain in the long term.
What’s The Cost Like?
There’s a sign up fee plus $10 -$15 per meeting.
Also, non attendance at Weight Watchers’ meetings may lead to a lapse in your membership. So do keep a lookout for that before you sign up.
On average, the program costs about $45 – $60 per month.
Weight Watchers is an excellent weight loss program.
Millions have trusted the Weight Watchers name for successful weight loss and the track record and history of the program speaks for itself.
However, while on the Flex Plan, you’ll probably have eaten potentially unhealthy foods, as long as you kept within your allocated Points (the cookies vs. the tuna sandwich example above).
This may be good on a psychological level as you may feel that you can anything you want while on a diet but on the long term, this may give you a false sense of real nutritional changes needed for long term weight loss success.