It's all about choices. Weight Watchers doesn't tell its clients what they can or cannot eat. Clients are instructed how to make healthier eating decisions. Physical activity is encouraged so that weight is lost sensibly.
Meetings are held to give members support while working on long-term behavioral changes.
Weight Watchers helps clients set realistic goals of 5% or 10% weight reduction. Once the weight loss is achieved the client works toward the next 5% to 10%. By continuously setting reasonable goals clients remain motivated. The ultimate Weight Watchers goal is for clients to have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 24 or lower. To calculate your BMI click here.
There aren't any!
Weight Watchers has a slogan, "Eat the food you love and lose weight." Nothing is prohibited. Instead, foods are all given points based on their caloric, fat and dietary fiber content. Every day you are allowed a specific number of points. Use up your points and you're done eating for the day. The only way you can eat more is by earning extra points through exercising.
It is important to note that using the Weight Watchers point system a candy bar and a large sandwich may have the same number of points, but their nutritional content is vastly different. That's why Weight Watchers clients are also instructed on the importance of more nutritious food choices.
How it Works
At your first meeting you find out how many points you are allowed on a daily basis. During the week you record how many points you consume at each meal. As you use up points throughout the day you can plan your remaining meals and snacks accordingly.
If you reduce the amount of calories you eat (or burn off more calories through exercise than you take in) you will lose weight. It's incredibly simple and medically sound. The meetings keep people motivated and continually re-enforce better eating habits.
Pros and Cons
You can still eat the foods you love and you never have to buy pre-packaged foods. If you want pre-packaged foods, they are also available.
Dramatic changes in diet aren't mandated and exercise is encouraged. It's simple and medically proven. If you follow the program as directed you will probably lose a pound or two each week. When you lose weight at this rate you are more likely to keep it off.
The downside of Weight Watchers is that not everyone likes working with a group. Some people find it embarrassing or humiliating. Fortunately there is now an online program you can sign up for. You can "attend" the meetings from the convenience of your home computer.
Weight Watchers also costs more than the self-help approach. One year in Weight Watchers can set you back approximately $750 and that doesn't include any food.
Please note: The Weight Watchers program today is different than the one used prior to 1997. Up until that year clients were told how much of specific food groups (meats, dairy, vegetables, etc.) should make up their daily meals and snacks. The point system we describe was introduced in 1997 and is the weight loss method taught today.
The Bottom Line
Reducing calories is the ultimate goal of any diet plan. Weight Watchers educates its clients how to do that properly while encouraging physical activity. If you can afford it, and don't mind attending meetings, this is one diet plan that we can highly recommend.
Remember, you should NEVER attempt any diet plan without the supervision of a Medical Doctor or licensed Nutritionist.
General Reference Links
American Heart Association
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institutes of Health
United States Department of Agriculture