How do Weight Watchers points work? Around since 1963, the WW plan has helped millions of people around the world lose weight and successfully keep it off. Ironically, one of the biggest reasons for the plan’s success is that it is based on the premise that diets usually don’t work.
Weight Watchers has built its brand around the idea that the key to losing weight lies not so much in changing what you eat, but in changing your relationship to food.
The company’s founder recognized early on that unhealthy eating was often an emotional response, so restricting certain types of food was less important than implementing strict portion control habits into your daily life.
The focus on discipline instead of deprivation is a strategy that has worked phenomenally well for the company, with many people happily exclaiming that it is the only eating plan that has consistently helped them to lose weight and eat healthy without drastically changing their lifestyle.
First, how does WW work?
One of the most appealing things about Weight Watchers is that it takes the guesswork out of what you should eat on a daily basis.
Unlike other commercial diets, like Nutrisystem or Medifast, prepared meals are not delivered, and no foods are off-limits. (they’ll just cost you more points!) The cost is also a lot less upfront, but you’ll be buying all your own food.
Every food is assigned a points value, so the only work you have to do is to keep track of your points each day, and subtract them from your daily allotment. (They even have a “join free” promotion going on now to get you started!)
How does the Weight Watchers Points System work?
Although the specific program names have changed over the years, the basic premise remains the same: using a pre-determined point system to decide what, and what not, to eat.
Currently, Weight Watchers is using SmartPoints, which essentially replaces their PointsPlus system. The idea is the same, except for the revision in how many points are assigned to each kind of food.
With SmartPoints, foods that are more nutritious and healthy are assigned a fewer amount of points, allowing you to to eat more of that particular food on any given day.
So, for example, you might have 35 SmartPoints to “spend” today. A Cobb salad might cost you 7 SmartPoints, but those loaded nachos might cost 20 points, so you’ll want to choose your food wisely. Just make smart choices, do the math, and you’re successfully following the Weight Watchers diet!
Weight Watchers: So, How Many Points Per Day?
- When you first begin, Weight Watchers uses your weight, height, age, gender and other factors to determine the number of calories you need to have on a daily basis to complete normal activities. (This is known as your resting metabolic rate)
- Based on this info, WW arrives at a daily SmartPoints number for you. This number determines the amount of points you’ll be allotted on a daily basis in order to lose weight steadily at a healthy pace, typically 1 to 2 pounds per week.
- In your plan guide (or in a number of places online), you’ll find point values for every food, based on its nutritional value.
- Each food’s point value is based on calories, saturated fat, sugar, and protein. while protein lowers the SmartPoints value that something “costs.” (Protein is good!)
- Fruits & vegetables usually have a 0 SmartPoints value. (Eat lots of them!)
- Anytime you eat, you’ll record the amount of points in a food tracker journal to ensure you that you’re staying within your daily point allotment.
- If you’ve been using one of the previous incarnations of the Points system, (“Weight Watchers Points” or “PointsPlus”) Weight Watchers recommends that you don’t “mix-n-match” points plans, as point values for various foods may differ between plans.
SmartPoints Values for Popular foods:
To give you a better idea of what it would be like to be on the Weight Watchers diet using SmartPoints, imagine that you have 35 SmartPoints to “spend” today.
Here are the points values for a number of the most common foods people search for:
- Coffee (black, no sugar, 8oz.) 1 SmartPoint
- Egg: (hardboiled) 2 SmartPoints
- Egg: (fried) 3 SmartPoints
- Egg white: 1 SmartPoint
- Chicken breast: (boneless, skinless, 3oz.) 3 SmartPoints
- Butter (1 Tbsp) 5 SmartPoints
- Olive Oil: (1 Tbsp) 3 SmartPoints
- Cream or Half & Half: (1 Tbsp) 1 SmartPoint
- Avocado (1/2) 4 SmartPoints
- Milk: (low fat 1%) 4 SmartPoints
- Milk: (2%) 5 SmartPoints
- Bacon: (3 slices) 5 SmartPoints
- Bread: (1 slice) 2 SmartPoints
- Deli Turkey: (2 oz.) 1 SmartPoint
- Oatmeal (1 cup) 5 SmartPoints
- Red or White Wine: (5 oz.) 4 SmartPoints
- Most fruits & vegetables: 0 SmartPoints
When you sign up for Weight Watchers Online, you get immediate access to their online tools, recipes, points calculators / food point values, and supportive online community to get started. Optional meetings are recommended, as they double the long term success rate of the diet.
Weight Watchers differs from other plans in that it doesn’t focus on setting a target weight loss amount. It’s main goal is to get people thinking about and eating food in a healthier way, with natural weight loss being a highly desirable side effect of that process.
*If you’re considering joining, here’s their best promotion today!
You can also compare Weight Watchers to Nutrisystem to get a better sense of which diet is best for you.