Diet 101: Weight Watchers

by in Diets & Weight Loss, January 11, 2010

With thousands of diets out there, knowing which plan is right (and safe!) for you can make your head spin. In this new series, we are looking at some of the most popular diets. This week: Weight Watchers.

An Overview
Known for its “points” system, the Weight Watchers program focuses on individually tailored healthy-eating plans. Each member has a specified amount of points that he or she gets allotted daily to help lose weight. The points formula is very hush-hush, so Weight Watchers provides a long list of point values for common foods. Some underground Weight Watchers sites such as Dottie’s Weight Loss Zone have cropped up to help members figure out points on restaurant menu items (which can get tricky!).

Weight Watchers has a basic position: Following healthy-eating habits and pairing them with an exercise routine you can stick will help you succeed with weight loss (or maintenance) in the long run. The program’s goals are to lose up to two pounds per week, and typically less after the first three weeks. They support following a well-balanced diet that should be sustainable for the long term, not just a temporary crash diet. Beyond the points guidelines, the program offers weekly in-person meetings, typically run by long-time members, to help members stay motivated and provide support to others.

The Costs
Like most organized weight-loss programs, there is a price. You can sign up for an online membership (which comes with a customized plan and interactive online support) for $17.95 a month — plus a $29.95 initiation fee. Longer three-month plans come at discounted rates. In-person meetings cost a small fee, but you can purchase a monthly unlimited pass for $39.95, which comes with some extra benefits. In total, you might spend around $50-$60 a month, if you do the in-person meetings and the online program.

Because of the popularity of Weight Watchers, there are a lot of helpful tools out there to support the program. You can track your foods and points via apps on your Blackberry or iPhone (but, of course, you’ll need to own those phones). There are also numerous Weight Watchers cookbooks such as Take Out Tonight, which features meals that are eight points or less, or the cookbook for their new Momentum program.

The Good

  • No foods are off limits and the plan is well-balanced.
  • You have very flexible meal plan options.
  • Encourages moderate exercise that you might actually like to do.
  • Weekly meetings help keep you motivated.
  • The online site is well-designed with access to an online community, recipes, tools and an online store that’s full of resources.
  • Weight-loss goals are safe and within reason.

The Not-So Good

  • There’s a fee to join and to continue to use the program.
  • It’s time consuming and annoying to figure out the points (especially for unusual foods and when dining out).

The Bottom Line
While the costs can add up each month, Weight Watchers does offer a well-rounded diet and exercise plan that we think is safe to follow. Just one word of advice: If you’re going to pay to join, be ready to stick to the program to get your money’s worth.

TELL US: Have you tried Weight Watchers?

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Comments (9)

  1. M.L. says:

    I've been on Weight Watchers since last year and I love it- I don't find it hard at all to calculate points while eating out. WW offers point values for many restaurant chains, and point values for generic restaurant style items.

  2. Alison says:

    Monthly pass includes complete online access so its $39.95 total per month, no joining fee much of the year including now through March 13th. With the new set points eating out gets much easier as well. I lost 53 pounds last year with Weightwatchers the program works.

  3. Casey says:

    Right now there is no sign up fee when you sign up for 3 months. And if you know the calories, fat and fiber you key that in and they give you a points value. Dottie's Weight Loss Zone is great for restaurants – if you can't find it there, do a web search on the food at the restaurant you ate at. As long as it's a chain you can usually find what you're looking for. Plus, in addition to your daily points, you get a certain number of flex points each week in case you want to splurge.

  4. Kaitlin says:

    If you just do WW online it is something like $15 per month. It is less effective than going to meetings, IMO, but it is definitely budget friendly – plus access to the website also allows you to do all your points on your iphone or blackberry which is super convenient. And if you hate points counting there is a no counting WW plan. I dont use it bc I love tracking, but some love it. I love WW. I lost 30 lbs on it 4 years ago and kept it off.

  5. Anet says:

    Tried WW many times-yeah lost weight but put it right back on-finally always realizing WW was a good program (really its the best program) -I FINALLY REALIZED THAT THE MAINTAINENCE PROGRAM WW OFFERS IS THE ONLY ONLY WAY FOR ME TO KEEP IT OFF. I WORKED HARD FOR ONE YEAR LEARNING TO PUT THE POINTS SYSTEM (REALLY EATING THE RIGHT FOODS FOR MY BODY) TO WORK IT BECAME HABIT AND A YEARNING CUZ I FELT SO GOOD. ENERGIZED AND ALL. BUT AFTER LOSING THE 30 LBS I NEEDED TO LOSE THE MAINTAINENCE PROGRAM HAS ALLOWED ME TO STAY FEELING SO GOOD FOR OVER A YEAR NOW. I KNOW IF NOT FOR THE HAVING TO WEIGH IN ONCE A MONTH AND THE AVAILABLITY FOR THE MEETINGS AND THE SUPPORT THERE IF I WANTED OR NEEDED HAS MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE THIS LAST TIME I JOINED WW. YOU CANNNNNNNNNNN DO IT.

  6. yvette pinkney says:

    I have been ww since April of this year and I lost 16.8 pounds. I love it, I understands how to calculate my points even when I go out. I love the way how I look and feel. Going to the meetings give me much support .

  7. im_pinoy says:

    I've been in Weight watchers for 6months now . Highly recommendable program. All your money spent is worth it .

  8. mT7aq7Vxjd says:

    322469 986338Respect to post author, some wonderful details . 436517

  9. tamidor says:

    Hi Casey,
    Thanks for your inside scoop! I'm sure it will be useful to newer Weight Watchers members.

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