Weight Watchers offers a program that aids weight loss, maintenance, and control in a safe and effective way. This is a calorie controlled plan that highlights the importance of eating nutritious, healthy and filling foods. This is the main focus of the diet.
The plan encourages dieters to eat low-fat dairy products, lean meat, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables that are low in starch. These products are called power foods. The list of filling foods includes avocado, lentils, leeks, eggplant, carrots, cauliflower, and many others. Dieters can choose from grains and cereals, eggs, organ, game, and lean meats, dairies and milk substitutes, and other products. The good thing about this diet is that no food is off limits. Dieters have three main meals and snacks between the meals.
The diet is based on point tallying. Foods are assigned different values based on fiber, fat, carb, and protein content. The starting number depends on your sex. Women start with two points and men – with eight. Points are also added based on age. For example, you should add 3 points if you are 27 – 37 years old. Then you should add points for your weight. Use the first two digits. If you are a woman who is 28 years old and weighs 136 pounds, the equation will look like: 2 + 2 + 13 = 17 points. Consider your height as well. For example, if you are a woman who is between 5 and 5'9", you should add 1 point. Add points for your activity level as well. Don’t add points if you have an inactive or sedentary lifestyle. Now you have a starting number. Vegetables and fruits are assigned zero points while processed foods have high point values.
The maintenance phase begins when the dieter reaches his weight loss goals. The plan manager gives instructions on how to maintain a steady weight and advice on the foods and menu that will help the dieter to achieve this. Dieters lose up to 2 pounds (0.9 kg) a week on average.
One study published in the British Medical Journal compared 4 weight loss programs – Eat Yourself Slim, Slim Fast, Weight Watchers, and the Atkins Diet. The participants were obese or overweight. Those who followed the Atkins plan lost 10 pounds (4.5 kg) on average while participants on Weight Watchers lost 6 pounds (2.7 kg). There were no significant differences after a period of 6 months. Another study followed 772 participants who got guidance from their healthcare provider or jointed the Weight Watchers Program. The first group lost 7 pounds (3.2 kg) while the second group – 15 pounds (6.8 kg). According to the researchers, the reason may be that participants attend group meetings and weigh-ins.
Dieters also benefit from free online assessments based on their gender, age, weight, and height. They are asked to describe their background and lifestyle, including their biggest challenge while trying to lose weight. It can be a busy schedule or sticking with a diet over a long period of time. Customers are also asked whether they have used free applications and online tools or followed/used a brand-name weight loss program.
Support networks are important. Customers enjoy support from a counselor and inspiration and encouragement by other community members. They have access to mobile applications and online tools. The suite of tools is advertised as very effective. The company claims that meetings members who use the eTools lose 50 percent more weight than those who don’t.
Weight loss is one of the major benefits, along with lower blood pressure. The program is advertised as a balanced diet that helps people to maintain good physical and emotional health. Weight loss is associated with reduced risk for apnea, improved mobility, and stable cholesterol levels. This is a heart healthy plan that helps reduce the risk for stroke and heart problems. One study compared 4 plans, among which the Zone Diet and Weight Watchers. The participants who followed the Weight Watchers plan saw an improvement in their HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio after a period of one year. There were no significant differences in cholesterol levels among the different groups. Another study shows that dieters who follow the program benefit from improved triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
Regular exercise is encouraged. The plan offers information on different workouts, activities, and ways to be active. The weight loss goals of the dieter determine the type of exercise and level of intensity.
For some people, point tallying is a tedious task. For others, points are a fun game to follow. Many dieters also find the plan pricey. The cost varies based on the plan of choice. Those who want to access the online tools and attend in-person meetings pay $39.95 a month. The cost of food is not included.
The plan is suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and there are different vegan-friendly meals and recipes to try. The diet is also suitable for people with special requirements. For example, there is information and guidance on low-sodium foods and ways to reduce your daily salt intake. The plan also offers meals for people with different ethnic and religious backgrounds. For example, some meals qualify as halal. There are plenty of kosher recipes.