Weight Watchers has been one of the most successful weight-loss programs ever and their system of counting points for different food items has helped thousands and thousands of people, including a few celebrities, not only lost the pounds, but also keep them off.
So why did Weight Watchers recently overhaul their entire points system, introducing a new “PointsPlus” program that all standing members would have to learn anew? If it wasn’t broke, why did they fix it?
In the former Weight Watchers system, a calorie was a calorie was a calorie, no matter whether you were ingesting those calories in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables or nachos and donuts. Technically, dieters could lose weight and thrive on the Weight Watchers program by only eating junk food, candy and trans-fats, just as long as they did not go over their allocated points.
The problem with this system is that we all know it’s based on a false assumption. A diet of Twinkies and cheese is NOT equal to a diet of lean protein, fresh produce and whole grains. You might lose weight by eating only one Twinkie a day, but you will not be healthy and this diet plan is unsustainable.
Taking into consideration this common sense eating advice, Weight Watchers has unveiled a new diet strategy for 2012, which declares that all calories are actually not created equal. The human body works harder to process protein and fiber, which burns up more calories than digesting simple carbs and fat, whose calories are often stored as excess weight. The new “PointsPlus” system now bases its points on how nutritionally sound the food is and takes into consideration its protein, carbohydrates, fiber and fat content.
One of the biggest new changes is that all fruits and vegetables (except for starchy vegetables such as potatoes, peas and corn) count for zero points. Dieters on the Weight Watchers plan can eat as many apples, bananas, carrots, cucumbers, grapes, strawberries, etc. as they can without even denting their daily points allowance. Fruits and vegetables have low energy density, meaning they are full of fiber and water and make you feel fuller faster and longer. Eating 100 calories of fresh spinach is not the same as eating 100 calories of potato chips, and Weight Watcher’s system finally reflects this truth.
Even those not enrolled in the Weight Watchers program can benefit from this update. Allow yourself all the fruits and non-starchy vegetables that you can possibly eat. No one ever became obese from gorging on apples, and filling your body with these healthy food items leaves less room for cheese-covered whatevers or triple fudge brownies. For those of us trying to eat more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, this zero-points allowance assuages any eating-related guilt when it comes to these items and gives you a mental free pass to strawberry fields and carrot sticks forever.