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Health Guide Review: 3,3/5

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Weight Watchers Diet Review

What is it?

 Weight Watchers is a diet plan for people who want a science-based approach to weight loss, while still having the flexibility to eat all kinds of foods.

You’re allowed a certain amount of points, and each food adds to this total. The limit of points depends on your weight goals. It’s considered more of a lifestyle change than a diet, as you have to introduce exercise and smarter food choices to maintain under the allowed points. This plan also offers:

  • Counseling: You can do one on one meetings via the phone, email, and text. The counselors you talk to offer support and tips to help maintain weight loss. This counseling is available 24/7. Though it’s not explained what the background is of the people who give advice.
  • Meetings: Group meetings are offered where you weigh in and gain support from other people looking to lose weight. This option costs a bit more than the online only counseling. It’s also offered every week in centers across the US. The company advises to do both meetings and counseling sessions, as according to them, customers only lose half the weight without the in person meetings.
  • Points: Junk food and low nutrient foods have more points, so it’s important to make sure you eat less of these options. Nutritious foods offer less SmartPoints, and in fact some veggies and fruits do not add to the overall points. Also, since no food is off limits, you’re allowed to still enjoy eating out and occasionally having junk foods.
  • Pre-packaged meals: There’s meals offered by the company with their own points clearly displayed. Though these foods aren’t necessary, they make it convenient to continue on with the companies diet plan. Many of these food options are in the freezer section of many major supermarket chains.
  • Optional resources: Much like the pre-packaged meals, you have the option to also use the other company’s tools and motivational items. This includes an optional magazine, fitness challenges, motivational stories, and much more.

 This brand has changed a lot since it was started in 1963. It now features a new point system that was adopted to tackle new diet concerns.  It’s also slightly different depending on whether you’re going to centers in the US, UK, or other parts of the world.

Foods Allowed by the Diet

No foods are banned by this diet. The only issue is that certain foods such as junk foods have more points.

So it can be easy to go over your daily limit by eating unhealthy foods. The plan therefore emphasizes eating more wholesome food options, instead of eating calorie rich foods.

Also, the new Weight Watchers program raised the point value of certain junk foods. There’s actually no explanation as to how the company decided what foods equal to what points.

They also offer over 4,000 recipes that they mention includes:

“vegetarian, gluten-free, lower carb, and nearly no-cook”

 The kinds of foods offered include oatmeal cookies, roasted potatoes, apple pie crumble, and lasagna to name a few. These foods have to be made by scratch, though the company does offer pre-packaged frozen foods.

Another benefit is that the company offers tips on how to eat out, including some fast food options.

 How Does the Diet Work?

 You have the option of either in person meetings or online sessions.

The goal is to establish a new BMI, or body mass index within 18 to 24.9. A 25 on the BMI scale would be considered obese.

If you’re doing this program in the US, you have to be at least 5 pounds heavier than what the BMI scale would suggest.

Once you hit this goal weight, the key is to stay within this frame for a total of 6 weeks. Once you maintain this you’re now considered a “lifetime member”. This means that you get:

“complimentary eTools subscription and unlimited meetings”

The meetings consist of others who are also looking to lose weight in a supportive group. Weight Watchers is a franchised brand, so not all centers are operated exactly the same.

One major aspect of this diet plan is their point system. The points plan works as such:

  • You get between 26 to 71 points a day, depending on the amount of weight you’re looking to lose.
  • If you exercise you get the ability to gain more points. So you’re allowed to eat more foods as a reward. Though the company does not explain exactly how many calories or what types of activities earn you more points.
  • Points can roll over, so you can enjoy more foods thought the week. You can accumulate more points and splurge more on the foods you like.

If you’re doing the standard online help you pay $22.99 a month. Unlimited in person sessions cost $39.95 per month. Pre-packaged foods are sold individually in supermarkets.

Exercise plays a huge role, as when you add exercise you’re allowed more points that translate to having access to extra food.  To help with fitness the company provides:

  • Hundreds of online videos featuring different exercises.
  • Syncing with mobile apps to help track progress.
  • Group challenges to compete with other people who are also looking to lose weight.

Much of the emphasis of the Weight Watchers plan is to make sure you’re able to gain support for proper weight loss. The more help you get from other people looking to lose weight, is meant to translate into more pounds burned. Though not all customers have been helped with this diet plan. One customer mentions:

“I have tried the few meetings left… they are so packed you have to get there 30 minutes ahead of time”

 Another person also complained about the style of meetings:

“sitting in a group with those who “share” this struggle DOES NOT help or motivate me”

 Issues have also been listed about the points system:

“It doesn’t “teach” you how to change your lifestyle”

 So for some the meetings and points system wasn’t enough to actually help with weight loss.

Pros

  •  Support is offered 24/7 via their online support system.
  • You can meet similar people looking to lose weight at the in person meetings.
  • No foods are off limits, you can even eat foods often forbidden in diets such as donuts and cake.
  • The company has partnered with certain apps to make tracking your progress easier.
  • Available in different parts of the world across Europe and the US.

 Cons

  •  Some customers think that certain foods are too high in points, making it hard to diet and eat the foods you like.
  • Many complain about the lack of service from the customer service division. For some it was hard to talk to the people on the line, as there were often communication errors.
  • There are currently 317 negative reviews on Consumer Affairs. This ranges from those dissatisfied with the meetings, points system, lack of help, and the customer service department.
  • Much of the effort lies on customers. It can be hard to limit yourself to eating under the allowed points, especially since no foods are off limits.
  • The online tools and website are full of glitches according to customers.

 Better Alternatives to the Diet

 A lot of effort lies on the customers end. Customers complained both about the lack of structure during in person meetings, and of the slow website.

This diet plan also has a points system which depending on the foods, can really limit your food options.

JJ Virgin a celebrity fitness expert also adds that Weight Watchers doesn’t give points to fruit:

“Weight Watchers gives all fruits a value of zero”

 A major problem with this is that excess fruits can make it hard to lose weight.  You can overload on the fructose, which can increase weight gain and cause insulin resistance. According to the same person, this can lead to:

“liver inflammation, insulin resistance, and weight loss resistance”

 So this is a great oversight the company does not acknowledge. It’s important to limit foods like this since they can be too heavy on the amount of fructose sugar offered.

Also, although this is meant to be a more scientific driven way to lose weight, there’s not much information on the exact reasons why they choose a point system. Since there’s so much variety in foods, a better way to track progress would be to look at the total nutrients and calories. The point system is too broad to truly shape a proper diet.  It’s never explained why the point system would be well rounded enough to help all customers.

Other diet plans would be better for more sustainable weight loss.

 Conclusion

 There’s over 4,000 recipes offered by the company, and you can eat all types of foods as long as it doesn’t pass the daily amount of points. This is an easier approach to dieting, as you can occasionally eat out and savor junk food as long as you restrict yourself.

However, the diet plan hasn’t been well reviewed by all customers. Some felt that the tools offered aren’t very helpful, and others say the meetings are too one-dimensional, and don’t target people’s specific demands.

Also, being allowed to eat anything sounds good in theory, but this can cause people to slip up and potentially eat more than what they’re allowed. There’s not much discipline offered by the company. For people who have self control issues, this one size fits all diet plan isn’t the best approach.

There’s better diet plans available that are easier to use to meet your individual needs.

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