Weight Watchers: What You Need to Know


Other than meetings (which we'll soon discuss), the Weight Watchers points system is the central feature of the diet program. In Weight Watchers, foods are assigned a point value based on their content of protein, carbs, fat and fiber.

Program participants can eat whatever they want, so long as they don't go over their daily allotment of points. Junk food would have a high point value, meaning a good portion of your full daily allotment of points could be spent on a single food item, like ice cream or french fries. However, if you exercise, this is accounted for in your points, meaning you can eat more food than you otherwise would while still retaining a calorie deficit due to exercise.

PointsPlus™ takes into consideration several factors:

  • Conversion cost: The calories burned through the digestion of food -- some require more spent energy than others, making them preferable.
  • Energy density and satiety: Some foods, especially those rich in protein and fiber, make us feel fuller than do foods high in sugar or fat.
  • Complexity of choice: The plan takes into account the difficulty in making healthy choices when we're surrounded by unhealthy foods and competing diet advice.

Weight Watchers even has iPhone and Android apps to help you count points and track your meals when you're on the go.

Unlike some diet programs, it's up to you whether you want to buy food directly from Weight Watchers. You can also pick up normal grocery items from companies in partnership with Weight Watchers that have point values for the meals printed directly on the packaging. These meals (such as Weight Watchers Smart Ones or Lean Cuisine microwavable meals) usually have 300 calories or less.

Weight Watchers also has assigned points to non-sponsored food items, whether they're found in the grocery store, in restaurants or even in vending machines. If you eat a vegan, vegetarian or kosher diet, no problem -- Weight Watchers assigns all those foods points, meaning you can easily bring these dietary restrictions into the Weight Watchers system.

Weight Watchers also provides access to recipes for PointsPlus™ program meals, which are healthy, easy-to-prepare dishes with assigned points.

Next, we'll discuss what you need to know about Weight Watchers meetings.