I first joined Weight Watchers when I was in the middle school, so I often forget that not everyone knows how the program works. Weight Watchers has actually changed a lot over the years, and while I’m sure it’ll change again, I wanted to breakdown the PointsPlus program for y’all.
So how does Weight Watchers work? Well, the Weight Watchers plan is actually pretty simple. Instead of tracking calories you track Points. Based on your age, weight, height, gender, and if you are breast-feeding, Weight Watchers determines your daily PointsPlus allowance. The Point value of a food is determined by looking at the amount of fat, carbohydrate, fiber, and protein in an item. Don’t ask me how it’s calculated, but these four nutritional ingredients are used to determine the PointsPlus value.
When you join Weight Watchers you will be given access to the Weight Watchers website, whether you’re an online only member or attend Weight Watchers meetings, as well as access to the Weight Watchers app, which provide you with a calculator in order to determine the Points value for the foods you are eating.
Let’s look at the Fage 2% Strawberry Greek Yogurt for example. By looking at the nutritional value you can see that there are 2.5g fat, 17g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, and 12g protein. When you enter everything into the calculator it determines that the PointsPlus value for one yogurt is 4PP. Instead of tracking calories, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, and protein, all I have to track are my Points, which I love.
As your Points Plus allowance is based on your age and weight, you can expect for your Points Plus allowance to change as you lose weight and as you get older. You will start every day with a fresh set of daily Points. For example, if your daily Points allowance is 40 PointsPlus, you will have a fresh 40 Points each day. Your goal is simply to track the PointsPlus value for everything you eat and then to subtract it from the 40 daily Points allowance (you can do this on paper, online, or through the Weight Watchers App). As points equal nutritional value, it is your goal to eat all of your daily PointsPlus allowance each day.
Now in my opinion, the trouble that people run into is in how they use their daily PointsPlus allowance. The great thing about Weight Watchers is that you can literally eat whatever you want to within your daily PointsPlus allowance. Weight Watchers does encourage you to eat foods that are simply filling, but you are truly free to eat whatever you want! You will still count the PointsPlus value for everything you eat, but Weight Watchers knows that you are more likely to maintain your weight loss if you’re eating a balanced, non-restrictive diet (in my opinion).
The exception to the PointsPlus system is when it comes to fruits and most vegetables. Don’t ask me why, but Weight Watchers has decided to give you a 0PP value for fruits and most vegetables. While I think this is good, as it encourages you to fill up on produce, I think it’s important to remember that fruits and vegetables have calories in them. If you’re eating all of your daily PointsPlus allowance PLUS 2 bananas, an apple, 3 cups of lettuce, and butternut squash, you may not lose as much weight as you’d hope for because you’re adding more calories to your daily intake. I’m not saying don’t eat produce, I’m just saying it’s important to watch how much produce you’re eating and if it’s in moderation.
Outside of your daily Points Plus allowance, Weight Watchers also gives you 49 Weekly Points to use. These can be used over the course of a 7 day period (between your weekly weigh-ins). You can use them all at one time, say at a birthday party, or spread them out over the course of a week, like on a glass of wine at dinner each night. You’ll first use your daily Points and then you can dip into your weekly Points. There are a LOT of opinions on whether or not to use the Weekly Points. Some swear by using them all each week and others say only to use them when you need to. Weight Watchers encourages you to use them.
The last piece of the Weight Watchers PointsPlus program is the ability to earn Activity Points. Much like calculating Points, Weight Watchers has a calculator online or on the App which enables you to calculate how many Points you can earn for your workouts. For example, if I do Hatha Yoga for 60 minutes I can earn 5PP. I can then eat those Points back. I personally have never eaten my Activity Points, but if I were to train for a race I think it’d be important to eat them back. Weight Watchers again encourages you to eat your Activity Points as they will help to fuel your body and thus promote weight loss.
So that’s Weight Watchers in a nutshell. You can either join Weight Watchers online, which gives you access to the website and app but does not require you to attend meetings OR you can join Weight Watchers meetings (you’ll also get full access to the website and app). For those who are signed up to attend meetings, you’ll weigh-in at your meetings. If you are an online member, you’ll weigh-in on your own and enter your weight into your account online.
Here’s an overview…
- Your daily PointsPlus allowance is determined based on your weight, height, age, gender, and if you’re breastfeeding.
- Your daily PointsPlus allowance will be recalculated at each weigh-in.
- A PointsPlus value is given to foods based on their fat, carbohydrate, fiber, and protein makeup.
- Fruits and most vegetables have a PointsPlus value of 0PP
- You are encouraged to eat simply filling foods when you can
- In addition to your daily PointsPlus allowance, you’ll receive 49 addition Weekly Points.
- You can use your Weekly Points allowance any way you’d like.
- You can not carry daily PointsPlus into the next day and you can not carry Weekly Points into the next week. Use or lose.
- You can earn additional Points by working out (Activity Points)
- You will weigh-in once a week, either at home if you join Weight Watchers online or at a Weight Watchers meeting if you sign up to attend meetings
- Weight Watchers gives you access to online tools and phone apps to help you reach your goals
- You can track your Points on paper or through the Weight Watchers app
NOTE – I do not work for Weight Watchers nor was I paid to write this post. These are my opinions and my understanding of the program and its structure. If you have specific questions about Weight Watchers or the program, please visit WeightWatchers.com or attend a Weight Watcher meeting.