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Weight Watchers review: can you lose weight by counting points?

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Weight Watchers review

Weight Watchers is a points based weight loss system allowing its followers to eat whatever they like within their allocated points allowance.

The method has been running for a very long time, and now is one of the most popular weight loss communities in the world.

The points system is cleverly designed to encourage people to change their diet habits and make healthier choices to support weight loss.

Our Weight Watchers review takes a closer look into this system and associated products to help you decide if it is the right choice for you.

FAQ

What is Weight Watchers?

Weight Watchers is a points based weight management plan.

How does Weight Watchers work?

Weight Watchers assigns points to every type of food and provides followers a personalised daily points allowance. The points system encourages followers to eat healthily and to consume more nutritious and calorie balanced foods to lose weight.

Who should use Weight Watchers?

Weight Watchers can be used by anyone because it’s a flexible approach towards weight loss.

How much does Weight Watchers cost?

The cost of following the plan depends upon which level of subscription you choose. Online support only costs $4.61 per week. Joining a Weight Watchers meeting costs $8.94 per week, whilst one to one coaching is $12.69 per week.

Is Weight Watchers a fad?

Weight Watchers is a very well established plan that has been running for decades. We do not believe it is a fad.

Is Weight Watchers safe?

Yes, Weight Watchers is safe.

Where to buy Weight Watchers?

You can sign up to Weight Watchers via their official website or at a meeting near you. Their own meal replacement products and snacks can be purchased via their online store, Amazon, or most grocery stores.

Does Weight Watchers really work?

Yes, Weight Watchers is effective at helping people to improve their diet and therefore lose weight.

Are there any Weight Watchers alternatives?

There are other points based weight loss systems to choose from. One popular alternative is ‘Slimming World’.

Benefits

The Weight Watchers plan offers it’s followers the following benefits:

Weight Management

The concept of Weight Watchers is not to count calories but to count points.

They have huge online and print catalogues which detail all the totals attributed to almost any food or pre-packed meal you could imagine.

This is useful in more ways than one.

Firstly, it encourages people to eat healthily and use their points for the most nutritious foods.

Even if two options have the exact same calorie content, the unhealthier option will have a higher points score. This directs people away from using their points on eating nothing but junk foods all day.

Secondly, it makes choosing low calorie, nutritious foods easy because you can quickly see which has the ‘best’ or lowest points score.

Some of the most waistline friendly foods are ‘zero points’, This means you can eat as many of these as you like and still support weight loss.

Hunger Support

The Weight Watchers points system supports satiety by both offering ‘zero points’ food options. They also have high quantities of protein and fiber in their own pre-packed products.

Followers of the plan can consume zero point food options as much as they like. This is great for controlling hunger whilst also not breaching your points allowance for weight loss.

These zero point foods are mostly very high in protein or very low in calories. High protein foods are extremely beneficial for weight loss due to prolonging the feeling of fullness and supporting healthy metabolism. (1,2)

Weight Watchers own products are high in protein and fiber as well as having a low or medium points score.

Fiber can help to slow the digestion and prolong the feeling of satiety, preventing hunger. (3)

Diet Freedom

Weight Watchers does not restrict what followers of the plan can eat. Instead everything is on the menu, you only need to choose how to ‘spend’ your points for that day.

This is a great option for people who often break diets due to feeling restricted to a particular, often boring meal plan.

The freedom of choice also means that people are likely to be able to continue with the plan longer term as it fits every lifestyle.

Ingredients

When you are following Weight Watchers you can eat what you like, within reason. However, Weight Watchers do produce their own meal replacement shakes and other points balanced snack products for convenience.

These products are part of a very wide range, so we have examined the most commonly included nutrients, vitamins and minerals they contain below:

Protein

Protein is a building block of all our muscles, organs, skin and even some hormones. For this reason, protein is critically important to our health.

In terms of weight loss, a diet high in protein is extremely effective.

Clinical trials have proven high protein intake alone can result in weight loss, even if no other significant dietary changes are made. (4,5,6)

Protein can assist in weight loss by reducing hunger, increasing the amount of calories  you burn, boosting fat burn and encouraging lean tissue gain. (7,8,9)

Furthermore, increased protein intake can actively support the loss of body fat whilst also encouraging muscle gain. (10)

Most Weight Watchers products contain a combination of soy protein and dairy protein.

Dairy protein is a slowly absorbed, milk derived protein which contains all the amino acids we require for health. (11)

Because of this slow absorption, dairy protein is useful for improving the length of time you can go without feeling hungry. (12)

The other kind of protein, soy derives from a botanical source. This kind of protein also contains all essential amino acids, as well as plant based antioxidants known as isoflavones which are hugely beneficial to health. (13)

Fiber

Weight Watchers products contain a rich helping of fiber due to its weight loss properties.

Fiber is essentially a form of carbohydrate which isn’t digested by the human digestive system.

This may seem pointless, but fiber is crucial to our digestive health.

There are two kinds: soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber sucks in water and fluid from within the gut like a sponge. During this process, the soluble fiber swells up into a jelly like substance.

This serves to ‘bulk out’ the gut, making you feel like you have eaten much more than you actually have, which delays hunger.

Furthermore, soluble fiber can obstruct sugars from entering the bloodstream, slowing their absorption and lowering insulin levels. Low insulin levels can prevent the body from storing fat. (14)

On the other hand, insoluble fiber does not absorb any water. This kind of fiber travels fast through the gut, catching cholesterol and fats in its rough texture as it goes. (15)

This fiber increases the frequency of bowel movements, and also serves to nourish beneficial digestive bacteria known as ‘probiotics’. (16,17)

Keeping probiotic bacteria healthy plays a role in body weight. Those with unbalanced gut flora are more likely to be overweight. (18)

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are usually the main source of energy from any of our meals.

Our digestive system converts carbohydrates into the energy source required by our cells and muscles – glucose. (19)

There are two kinds of carbohydrates:simple and complex.

Complex carbohydrates are better for our health. This is because they are more controlled when they are converted into glucose. Simple carbohydrates are processed  much faster and thus can cause spikes in blood sugars. (20)

Complex carbohydrates are also good sources of fiber.

Potassium

Potassium is an ‘essential’ macromineral, which means our body requires this daily in order to carry out important functions.

Consuming adequate potassium can lower the potential for stroke, preserves muscle mass, decreases blood pressure and defends against recurrence of kidney stones. (21)

Potassium is most important for the regulation of electrical signals in the heart and muscles. (22)

Sodium

Sodium is an electrolyte. This means it’s a charged molecule that plays a role in the maintenance of electrical impulses across the membranes of cells.

It’s especially important for nerve signal transmission. (23)

However, it’s also important not to consume excessive amounts of sodium in your diet as this is detrimental to health. (24)

Weight Watchers contains only very small amounts of sodium to ensure you are getting what you require.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is one of a group of B vitamins which all play a part in the conversion of the food we eat into usable energy. (25)

Vitamin B12 is also important for the manufacture of red blood cells and the proper health of the nervous system. (26)

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin required for healthy skin, bones, tissues and vision.

It also has strong antioxidant properties, which means it is beneficial in the defence of cell damage from harmful compounds. (27)

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a very popular vitamin often taken when we are feeling a little under the weather.

It is also known as ‘ascorbic acid’ and is a very powerful antioxidant found mostly in citrus fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin C is utilised by the body to manufacture, support and help to regenerate bones, blood vessels, skin and also connective tissues. (28)

This nutrient is very important in the assistance of the absorption of iron. It’s for this reason these vitamins are often taken together. (29)

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is critical for healthy bones, but also for healthy muscles and teeth.

This is partly because we require vitamin D in order to effectively absorb calcium from the food that we eat.

We gain most of the vitamin D from our exposure to sunlight. However, during winter months or long days under artificial light, it is a very good idea to make sure you are getting enough from your diet or supplements. (30)

Iron

Iron is a crucial part of ‘hemoglobin’, this substance is present inside red blood cells and is responsible for the transport of oxygen around the body.

The majority of the iron in our body is used up by hemoglobin. If you have a deficiency in iron, this leads to anemia, a condition where you do not have enough oxygen carrying red blood cells. (31)

Of course,this has dire consequences for health. Most of the time, the first symptom is fatigue due to lack of oxygen. (32)

Aside from transporting oxygen, iron is also useful for maintaining the health of nails, hair and skin. (33)

Calcium

Calcium is the most widespread mineral in the human body. (34)

It is used to manufacture and maintain strength of bones, as well as play a role in the transmission of signals across the nervous system.

If you do not consume enough calcium during younger life, this can increase the chance of developing brittle bones when you are older.

Furthermore, calcium is important in the control of muscle movement, via it’s responsibility for nerve function. (35)

Side Effects

There are not many reported side effects from following this plan.

In rare cases there have been reports that following Weight Watchers caused an obsession with counting points and controlling food intake. If you start to feel like you have an eating disorder then you must seek advice from your doctor.

Aside from this, most of the meal replacement products are high in soy and dairy protein which can cause stomach upsets or take some adjusting to.

Recommended Dosage

The recommended dosage depends upon your age, weight and height.

When you first start the Weight Watchers plan you will have a consultation which will determine how many points you can consume every day for healthy weight loss or weight maintenance.

Summary

Weight Watchers is an unique weight loss plan that allows people a tremendous amount of freedom over their diet.

The points based system is a well designed formula encouraging followers to eat well and make better, healthier food choices.

We like how there is no restrictions upon what followers can consume, and that there is a variety of ‘zero points’ or free options that do not ‘cost’ any points at all.

We think that Weight Watchers is a very good option for anyone who wants the freedom to decide what they eat, but needs help making the right choices for weight loss and health.

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