It can be a daunting task, and it can be hard to know where to start.
WeightWatchers is a well-known program with a decades-old history. For more than 58 years, this program has helped millions of people lose weight, including influential celebrities like Oprah Winfrey. If you want to start your weight loss journey, WeightWatchers could be the motivation you’ve been looking for. Follow along with us to see if their program is right for you.
Editors’ note: Always consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet.
What is WeightWatchers?
You know the name, you’ve heard the talk, you’ve known someone who’s tried it, or you’ve seen the commercials — maybe even one from the 2015 Super Bowl.
WeightWatchers is among the most popular diet programs out there. Millions of people were members.
WeightWatchers offers two membership plans that aim to meet the needs of anyone looking to lose weight. Memberships do not include actual meals but do provide support and a plan and recipes you can follow.
The two memberships you can choose from are:
with theOrganic, you get a personalized food plan paired with recipes to help you reach your goals. You also get access to meal, water, activity, weight, and sleep trackers so you can keep track of your progress. Although this is the basic plan for WW, you also get exercises for all levels and 24/7 live chat sessions. Workshops are not included with this membership.
TheMembership includes everything under Core, plus access to instructor-led workshops. You can attend these workshops virtually or in person, learn behavior change techniques, and connect with other WeightWatchers members. Workshops are available seven days a week, day or night.
When you first enter WeightWatchers, you’ll be asked to take a quick quiz to customize your program. The test asks questions about your home life, your reasons for wanting to lose weight, your sleep cycle and even your mindset while entering the program.
Once completed, WeightWatchers will recommend the most appropriate membership plan for you based on your answers. It will also suggest areas of your life that you can improve to reach your weight loss goals, be it feedAnd the ActivityAnd the Sleeps or Mentality.
WeightWatchers then provides – based on your membership plan – resources to take big steps toward your goals. If you’re having a hard time getting the desired amount of sleep each night, there are guided meditations you can listen to before bed. If you want to be more active during your day, there are exercise classes you can join virtually.
WeightWatchers assigns each food a number of points. Foods that are high in saturated fat or sugar, such as potato chips or chocolate, tend to be high in points. Meanwhile, healthy, whole foods like fruits and vegetables or foods high in protein or fiber like skinless chicken breast are low on points.
Depending on your tail points budget, you will be given a set number of tail points that you can use per day. This means that every meal you eat will take a deduction from your budget. Please note that you will not be penalized if you exceed your points budget. These things happen!
One great feature is that your points roll so you never have to feel like you’re wasting points if you don’t hit your daily budget. For example, if you only ate 15 points on Monday (out of 16 daily), you will likely eat 17 points on Thursday. In addition, users for scoring healthy behaviors such as being more active, meeting their daily water goal, and eating non-starchy vegetables will be rewarded with bonus points. Stretches happen automatically in the WeightWatchers app.
Keep in mind that WeightWatchers offers balanced meals full of protein, fruits, vegetables, and nutrients, but the company is adamant that no food is off limits.
Do note that WeightWatchers also offers a A plan designed for diabetes. This eating plan is for those who have been told by a doctor that they have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It will offer all the same benefits as WeightWatchers, but will be tailored to their health condition.
ZeroPoint foods are everyday nutritional foods that you don’t need to track – which means they don’t count towards your daily points budget. All members are given the same 200+ ZeroPoint food list. ZeroPoint foods include:
- Non-starchy vegetables
- the fruit
- Chicken breast
A day in the life of a WeightWatchers user
This is an example day of 16 pips daily.
breakfast: omelet with cheese, ham and pepper (2 points)
lunch: chicken pesto sandwich with a side of Italian arugula salad (8 points)
SnackFat-free plain cottage cheese with fresh peach (0 points)
DinnerItalian turkey sausage and pepper pasta (3 points).
candySugar-free ice cream bar (3 points)
After all of these meals are counted, you’ll have a total of 16 points. Keep in mind that you have the power to prepare and plan your meals.
Depending on the plan you choose, costs for using WeightWatchers can vary. Keep in mind that the cost of your membership does not include the price of food. Here is a breakdown of the weekly costs:
essence: Starts at $23 per month
excellent: Starts at $45 per month
WeightWatchers is currently offering the first three months for free.
Note: A $20 startup fee will be added to your membership the first time you sign up. The price may vary depending on the commitment period you choose.
WeightWatchers has very strong ratings on the App Store and Google Play.
4.8 out of 5 stars in app store
4.4 out of 5 stars in Google Play Store
One of the best parts of the program is the easy-to-use app. Since you bring your phone everywhere, your diet plan can come, too.
WeightWatchers allows you to:
- Track points, sleep, activity and water consumption
- 24/7 communication with customer support and other people who use the app
- Access to pre-recorded practice sessions and meditations
- Scan barcodes to see points for specific foods
- Find recipes based on what’s in your fridge
- Plan all of your meals for the week
- Track your weight and think about your goals
What do studies say about WeightWatchers?
Recent research has a lot to say about the relationship between WeightWatchers users and weight loss. There are plenty of tempting diets to choose from, but the evidence seems to suggest WeightWatchers is the real deal.
A 2017 study found that among a test group that struggled with obesity, 57% lost weight on WeightWatchers compared to 42% on another weight loss program.
Another study from 2016 found that WeightWatchers and another popular diet program, Jenny Craig, were effective in helping a test group lose weight. The study concluded that health practitioners can recommend either program to patients looking to lose weight.
Benefits of the Weight Watchers Diet
There are a lot of benefits to WeightWatchers, such as:
- Great focus on overall wellness, including exercise, not just diet
- personal plans
- Little restriction
- Easy to use application
- No need to skip meals or fast
- Not a fad. It can be sustainable for you
- Stimulation in the virtual classroom
- Lots of other resources
The downsides to this diet seem to fall into two main categories: nutrition and money.
- Low points don’t always equal high nutritional value.
- It can encourage bad eating habits in the future or trigger overeating. A calorie deficit may activate hunger levels, which in turn can lead to overeating or yo-yo dieting.
- If you want to attend the workshops, you will have to pay for the most expensive plan.
WeightWatchers is not a one-size-fits-all program. Not recommended if you don’t have time to plan or track your food each day. It’s not for those who suffer greatly from self-control and sizing. It’s great if you’re looking for holistic health tips. There are few limitations when customizing a diet plan that works just for you.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.