No fads or quick weight-loss schemes here. Weight Watchers takes a sane approach to dieting. The philosophy, in a nutshell, is that physical activity, combined with healthy eating habits, can promote weight loss. It's also the same approach that can keep weight off. Dieters can attend local meetings or sign up for an online program.
To follow the PointsPlus program you can attend the group meetings or track your weight loss online. The program basics are the same for either method. In meetings you'll receive guidance, strategies, and tips from a leader who has lost weight with Weight Watchers, get encouragement and ideas from other group members, and weigh-in confidentially at multiple locations that have convenient hours. Online members receive interactive tools for monitoring food intake, physical activity, and weight. There are also customized guides based on your current stage of progress, including recipes and access to mobile tools. And Weight Watchers isn't just for women. The company offers a flexible program to fit any lifestyle.
The goal is to eat whatever you like as long as you stay at or below your daily PointsPlus target number. There's plenty of room for snacks and treats, too.
It would seem so. A 2011 study funded by the company and published in Lancet revealed that overweight and obese adults who followed the Weight Watchers program lost more than twice as much weight as those who received weight-loss advice from a doctor or nurse. Those participants who stuck with Weight Watchers for one year lost, on average, 15 pounds, compared to just seven pounds for those who had regular doctor/nurse visits.
Provided you spend your points wisely, the plan is well-balanced. A community, either online or in meetings, provides feedback and accountability, as well as an opportunity to discover new ideas on how to be successful. The lack of food restrictions helps make Weight Watchers more than a temporary diet, but rather a lifestyle change. The idea is based on a holistic approach to weight loss with four fundamentals: eat smarter, helpful habits, move more, and get support.
"Of all the diet programs out there, this one is probably the best," says John Foreyt, PhD, a recognized expert in the field of obesity and weight control and a professor at Baylor College of Medicine. "The group support the program provides is one of their strongest features." Without that support, many people have trouble sticking with a diet, Foreyt says. Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, a professor at Georgia State University, likes the fact that dieters learn how to set realistic weight-loss goals and that they can choose from a huge variety of foods with assigned values. "The downside is that the Points system can be abused," she says. "Someone could potentially spend a whole day's Points on ice cream or junk food." That's not what the plan encourages, of course, but you do have the freedom to choose the foods you like.
Success stories on the company's website feature dieters in their 20s through 50s, both women and men, and people who have lost anywhere from less than 25 pounds to more than 100! Anyone looking to learn a healthier way of living would find the program suitable for success, though if you think you'll have trouble saying no to your favorite high-calorie foods sometimes, or find yourself binging, this may not be the best choice.
There are no required foods, and the program gives you the flexibility to enjoy extras and treats, which is important to long-term success. You'll learn to choose foods that can keep you feeling fuller for longer, and develop an exercise regimen for an all-inclusive approach to a healthier lifestyle. Both meetings- and online-based versions of the program have their benefits, just find which is best for your schedule and needs and see the weight come off.