The Weight Watchers® diet has been around since 1963 and is built around one simple philosophy - to help its members lose weight by making smarter and more healthful decisions about food while getting support from the Weight Watchers® community.
On Weight Watchers®, absolutely no food or drinks are off limits. Instead every food is assigned a points value (PointsPlus®, ProPoints®, & more) based on its nutritional content and you track those points daily. Healthier food choices usually have lower points values and unhealthier and more processed foods that are higher in fat and calories, have higher points values. Every person is assigned a certain number of points per day based on age, weight, and gender among other things.
On Weight Watchers® you decide daily how you would like to spend your points each and every day. Whether you decide to spend 5 points on a healthy salad with chicken or 15 points on two slices of pepperoni pizza, the choice is yours. For many people, this flexibility and real world practicality make Weight Watchers® easier to use when compared to more strict diets. However some people struggle with the freedom since no one is telling you want to eat.
In addition, in the current Weight Watchers PointsPlus® system you are allowed to eat as many fruits and vegetables as you like. Additionally, each week you are given FlexPoints® (sometimes called weeklies) to use in addition to your daily points allowance. Exercise is not mandatory on Weight Watchers® but is recommended and tracked as well with Activity Points®.
Weight Watchers also has an in-person program that involves weekly meetings and weigh-ins and an online version. Many people on the diet find that the meetings help them stay on track and accountable. It also is a supportive place to learn tips and tricks for reaching goals, celebrating progress, and interacting with other dieters.
Pros and Cons of Weight Watchers®
- Unlimited food choices - you can eat anything you want as long as you track it
- Promotes healthy and whole foods – the lowest point foods on Weight Watchersreg; are fruits, vegetables, and lean protein sources.
- Teaches dieters about portion size and making better choices – the PointsPlusreg; system intuitively teaches dieters to make better decisions as they weigh whether or not a food choice is worth the points. Over time dieters tend to make better choices.
- Support – many diets find support and accountability through weekly meetings and weigh ins.
- Community - there is a huge community of people on Weight Watchers, which means that it is easy to find information, recipes, and other resources while you are on the diet.
Cons of the Weight Watchers® Diet
- The cost may be prohibitive for some people. There is a fee for weekly meetings and the online program. Currently a monthly pass to unlimited meetings is $39.95, which also includes the online program. Pay as you go meetings are $12 to $15 per week in addition to a one-time $20 registration fee. Online only is $16.95 monthly.
- Lack of structure - if you are someone who needs structure, the diet itself won't provide this since no one is telling you what to eat. (Learn to overcome this with our meal plans – link to our meal plans for WW)
- Keeping track of all the points can be tricky and time consuming.
How does it Work?
One of the most popular features of Weight Watchers® is the simplicity following the program. Since all foods are allowed on the diet, there are no rules or restrictions to remember. However some people find the points system cumbersome and time consuming since everything you eat must be tracked.
The way Weight Watchers® works is surprisingly simple. Based on your current height, weight, and gender you are assigned a daily points allowance that will help you lose weight in a healthy progression. Everything you eat has a points value assigned by Weight Watchers®. This is based on the nutritional content of the food. Food that is higher in calories and fat has more points. Food that is high in fiber and lower in calories and fat, has less points.
Following the diet, you can eat anything you want as long as you track what you eat and stay within your daily points allowance. No food is off limits, but you will quickly learn that you get to eat a lot more if you make healthier food choices.
Additionally you can earn extra points on Weight Watchers® with exercise. You are also weekly flex points to use for special occasions or days where you consume extra points.
Weight Watchers also has a plan called Simply Filling for people who don't want to track. On this plan the food you can eat is limited to a fairly long list of healthy foods, but you can eat as much as you like of any food on that list. Then on top of that, you get some weekly points to spend on foods that don't fit in the program.