The most popular weight loss program on the planet is the Weight Watchers diet plan. It’s be around since the 1960’s and it operates all over the world. I’m sure you’ve heard of its infamous “points system” and “support meetings.” It’s huge and well known and most importantly… it works.
Let’s get that out of the way up front. If followed correctly, the Weight Watchers diet plan really DOES work. For this reason, most people love it. In a way, I am one of these people. However, at the same time, there are certain aspects of it that I kinda dislike. In this article I will give an honest review and opinion of this weight loss program including what I love, why I don’t, and whether or not it would be right for you.
What I Love About Weight Watchers
On one hand, I actually do like the Weight Watchers diet plan. Really! I like it a lot, in fact. Mainly because of the way it compares to the many other popular weight loss programs and diet plans around. Bare in mind, I pretty much hate all of them.
However, the reason I like this one is because, unlike the hundreds of others, Weight Watchers is actually based on the most simple and basic way the human body loses weight. It’s not really based on a fad or a gimmick (like “low carb” for example), but is instead based on calorie control, which is what any weight loss diet SHOULD be based on.
The reason why calorie control should be at the heart of every weight loss program is simple. Your body requires a certain number of calories each day in order to maintain your current weight. For the sake of an example, we’ll pretend this number is 3000 calories. So now, if you started eating 2500 calories a day, you would lose weight. Simple, right?
The Weight Watchers diet plan is, for the most part, based on this very simple scientifically proven fact. This is why I like it. The fact that the other hundreds of diet programs in existence are NOT based on this fact is the reason why I hate every single one of them.
So, what are you thinking now? If the Weight Watchers diet plan IS based on this whole calorie control thing… what on earth could I possibly not like about it? Let me explain…
What I Don’t Like About Weight Watchers
Now that you know why I love it, let’s get to the few things I don’t like about the Weight Watchers diet plan. Quite simply, something deep down in my soul doesn’t like the idea of a weight loss program costing money. It’s one thing to buy a book or guide to acquire the knowledge you need to actually lose weight correctly, but to pay for the actual process itself… I don’t know. It’s just something that bugs me.
I just personally view the simple and basic way weight loss happens as this completely free process anyone can do, and that automatically makes me have something against a weight loss program that costs money to use, and that includes Weight Watchers. To me, it just seems like they took free things (like counting calories) and replaced them with others thing (like counting points instead) just so it can be packaged up into a program with a price tag on it.
Granted, there is much more to it than just points, and making money is obviously important. You need it to live. I have no problem with people making money. However, it’s just my nature to kinda be annoyed when I see people making money off something that should be free in my eyes (and actually IS free). That’s why, while I love a lot about the Weight Watchers diet plan, I kinda dislike it at the same time.
Remember a few paragraphs ago when I explained why calorie control was so important to weight loss? Well, Weight Watchers definitely understands the importance of calorie control. They understand it so much in fact that they invented the Weight Watchers Point System.
Points vs Calories
You see, as I mentioned a minute ago, on the Weight Watchers diet plan you don’t really worry about calories. You don’t really count calories. You don’t really track calories. Instead, there are points. You count points, you track points, you think about points.
Did you see what they did here? The Weight Watchers diet plan threw out the word calories and replaced it with the word points (which also takes into account macronutrients as well). Now, monitoring calories, protein, fat, carbs and fiber etc. is free. But monitoring points is part of their non-free program. To me, that just seems silly.
And yeah, some people make the argument that counting Weight Watchers points is somehow easier or simpler than counting plain old calories. If you feel that’s true, then by all means… count points. But to me, it just seems like…
- You’re eating a food.
- You turn it over.
- You read the back label.
- You’ve got your calories and nutritents.
- You’re eating a food.
- You turn it over.
- You read the back label
- You remember that foods don’t list “points” in their nutritional information.
- You go to your computer.
- You turn it on.
- You go online.
- You log in to your Weight Watchers diet plan membership page.
- You go to the points section.
- You locate your food.
- You’ve got your points.
And for the foods that don’t have a label, you could simply come online and do a quick search for “how many calories are there in [whatever food]” for free just like you would look up Weight Watchers points. In this case counting points and counting calories require the same amount of effort. The only difference is that counting points puts you at a slight disadvantage for the majority of foods that do list calories right on them.
So once again, that’s:
- calories = free and convenient
- points system = not free and is sometimes slightly less convenient
You Can Still Eat Your Favorite Foods!
The other big draw of the Weight Watchers diet plan is that you are allowed to eat anything you want… in moderation of course. I’ve seen their advertisements. “Lose weight without giving up the foods you love!” This is probably a big selling point.
One time I even saw them include a picture of chocolate cake in an ad. It’s a smart idea. People want to lose weight… people love chocolate cake… and now here is this Weight Watchers diet plan telling them they can literally have their cake and eat it too. It must appeal to a lot of people. Good for them.
And in case you’re wondering… they aren’t lying about this. As long as you stay within your daily calorie range… oh, I’m sorry… your daily POINTS range… you can indeed have a piece of cake and still lose weight. While the quality of food you eat is definitely important, the whole “staying within your calories/points range” thing is what is most important to the Weight Watchers diet plan.
Actually, it’s what’s most important to ANY effective weight loss program.
You see, the Weight Watchers program isn’t magical. Like I explained before, your body needs a certain number of calories each day in order to maintain your current weight. If you eat less than this number of calories, you lose weight. If some of those calories happen to come from chocolate cake every now and then, you’d still lose weight as long as you stay within your calorie range. Nothing specific to the Weight Watchers diet plan makes this possible.
Some people might think there is, but honestly the ability to eat not-so-great foods “in moderation” and still lose weight is specific to a calorie controlled diet, not just Weight Watchers. One of the differences though is that it costs money to do it on Weight Watchers. You can do it for free by counting calories on your own.
The Support Meetings
Let’s not forget the other big selling point of the Weight Watchers diet plan… the support meetings. You go to these regular real life and/or online meetings with other Weight Watchers people trying to lose weight just like you. I’m not really sure what goes on at these support meetings exactly, but I’m guessing it’s a lot of people counting points together, discussing their diets and workouts, and just generally being supportive of each others goals.
This is actually a GREAT thing. One of the many proven facts about successful weight loss and long term diet adherence is that some form of social support can be extremely beneficial. For this reason, these support meetings are actually something I love.
So then what do I dislike about these meetings, you ask? Well, it’s just that getting this support via Weight Watchers costs money. Getting support via the hundreds (if not thousands) of other FREE online weight loss support groups, forums and communities… is free. Some even have their own specific Weight Watchers section. Once again, the only real difference here is that these other support groups are free… and the Weight Watcher’s support group costs money.
Doing Your Own Math
Another less realized selling point of the Weight Watchers diet plan is that they sort of do some work for you. I’ve never actually joined this weight loss program, but as far as I can tell THEY are the ones who figure out how many points you’re allowed each day. I’m assuming you give them your height, weight, age, activity level, measurements, goals and so on, and they then do some diet math and come up with how many points you can eat each day.
With calories, you would of course have to figure this information out yourself. Do you know what that means? It means Weight Watchers is basically doing some basic math for you.
This is probably what sells the program to the people with the “I can’t sit around adding and subtracting calories all day” type of attitude. Trust me, if you can do 3rd grade addition and subtraction (or at least have a 3rd grader in the family who can), then you can easily figure out the whole calories thing.
So, to sum up, here are some of the things you are essentially paying for as a member of the Weight Watchers diet plan:
- The Points System, which to me is just a fancier way to count calories and nutrients.
- The ability to eat a food like chocolate cake in moderation, which you could of course do on ANY calorie controlled diet… for free.
- A weight loss support group that you could probably find somewhere else for free.
- Basic 3rd grade math.
I know I’ve joked around a little while expressing my opinion of Weight Watchers, but this list is what I view as the main selling points. This does seem to be a big part of what you’re paying them for. Now, if you didn’t join this weight loss program, you would be forced to:
- Count calories and nutrients for free.
- Find support somewhere else, like one of the hundreds (maybe thousands) of FREE forums and communities that exist online or even find a friend or two (or three) and lose weight together (for free).
- Use a calculator.
- Save some money.
So, what is the final conclusion here? Is this weight loss program right for you? I guess only you can really answer that. All I can do is give you my personal opinion.
And, in my personal opinion, while the Weight Watchers diet plan is by far one of, if not THE most scientifically sound programs around… it’s not really needed. To me, you are basically paying for a compilation of features that can either be described as “unnecessary” or “available for free somewhere else.”
Instead, if you’d like to see a FREE break down of the simple and basic calorie controlled diet I’ve been mentioning throughout this review, my articles about Weight Loss and Diet Plans are the perfect places to start.
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