Weight Watchers has become one of the most popular diet plans in recent years, with over 4.5 million subscribers. It was voted #1 by doctors in a 2020 study and has been ranked #1 by the News & World Report every year from 2011-2023. This article takes a deep dive into all things Weight Watchers so you can have all your questions answered for those who are interested in the program or comparing dieting options or looking to change your eating habits for good.
What is Weight Watchers?
Weight Watchers, now known as WW, is a popular weight loss and lifestyle program that uses personal points based on factors like age, weight, height and activity level to assign points used to track food intake and encourage healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices.
The program is designed to be flexible and personalized, allowing participants to choose the foods they eat while tracking their intake using a points system. Members are also encouraged to attend weekly meetings or access virtual support to stay accountable and motivated. WW's approach focuses on creating sustainable lifestyle changes rather than short-term diets and has been successful for many people looking to improve their health and well-being.
Does Weight Watchers Actually Work?
The short answer is yes, it does! The basic principle of weight loss is that you need to consume fewer calories than you expend. WW’s approach in assigning points to foods is an easy way to guide you towards eating healthier, nutrient-dense, lower-calorie foods. Processed foods, fried foods, and high-sugar foods are very high in calories, which in turn will cost you a lot of points. WW points allow you to fill up on healthy foods while still leaving a little room for the “fun” foods. This helps you lower your calorie intake without having to actually track calories. WW also has a team of dietitians and behavior coaches that are constantly making sure the nutrition guidelines are up to date so you can be sure that you’re always getting the right info on what’s healthy and what’s not.
Can You Lose Weight Using Weight Watchers?
Yes, the main goal of the WW program is to help you lose weight in a sustainable way. In fact, WW states that members lose 2x more weight than when they try to do it on their own. The support and knowledge that WW offers its members is the extra push that people need in order to lose weight and keep it off.
Remember WW is all about making healthy life changes that go beyond limiting calories and processed foods, it's about being accountable for consistent health-minded decisions.
Who Is Weight Watchers For?
Anyone wanting to lose weight in a healthy, supported way. WW specifically states it’s perfect for you if you are:
- Yo-yo dieting and want to change food behaviors for good.
- Need a nudge to eat nutritious food.
- Don’t like extreme changes.
- In it for a good time and a long time by eating what you like in a conscientious way.
WW Pros and Cons
|Flexible and Personalized
|Cost- Can Be Expensive
|Access to Support
|Focuses on Weight Only
|Emphasis on Healthy Habits
|Point System can be confusing
|Encourages Mindful Eating
|Requires Time and Effort
|Not a One-Size-Fits-All Solution
- Flexible and Personalized: Weight Watchers provides a flexible program that allows members to choose the foods they eat while tracking their intake using a points system. The program is also personalized to each individual, taking into account their unique goals, lifestyle, and preferences.
- Access to Support: WW members have access to virtual or in-person meetings to stay accountable and motivated throughout their weight loss journey.
- Emphasis on Healthy Habits: The program focuses on creating healthy habits, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. This can lead to long-term changes in behavior that support overall health and well-being.
- Encourages Mindful Eating: The program encourages mindful eating, which can help individuals develop a healthier relationship with food and their bodies.
- Evidence-Based: WW is based on scientific principles and has been shown to be effective in helping people lose weight and improve their health.
- Cost: The program can be expensive, especially for those who choose to attend in-person meetings or access additional resources.
- Focus on Weight: The program's emphasis on weight loss may not be appropriate for everyone, as it can create harmful stereotypes and a negative relationship with food and body image.
- Point System: Some individuals may find the points system confusing or difficult to follow, especially if they have a history of disordered eating.
- Requires Time and Effort: The program requires time and effort to track food intake, attend meetings, and make lifestyle changes, which may not be feasible for everyone.
- Not a One-Size-Fits-All Solution: The program may not work for everyone, as weight loss and healthy habits are influenced by a variety of factors, including genetics, medical history, and socioeconomic status.
Weight Watchers Tips and Tricks
- Plan Ahead: Planning your meals and snacks in advance can help you stay on track and avoid making impulsive food choices. Use the WW app or website to find healthy recipes and meal ideas that fit within your daily points allowance.
- Track Your Progress: Keep track of your food intake and physical activity using the WW app or website. This will help you stay accountable and motivated, and can also provide insights into areas where you may need to make adjustments.
- Focus on Healthy Choices: While all foods can fit into the WW program, it's important to focus on making healthy choices. Prioritize nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains, and limit highly processed foods and added sugars.
- Use Zero-Point Foods: WW assigns a points value to most foods, but there are also a number of "zero-point" foods that you can eat freely. These include fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and certain other foods. Incorporating these foods into your meals and snacks can help you stay satisfied and on track.
- Seek Support: Weight loss can be challenging, and having a supportive community can make all the difference. Consider attending in-person meetings or joining online groups to connect with others who are also following the program.
Weight Watchers Reviews
Members reviewing the WW app gave it 4.8 stars on almost 2 million views in the Apple app and 4.6 stars in Google Play.
These reviews are not shocking since WW does offer a pretty functional app that is easy to use and finds just about every food/ restaurant and packaged item to track your points. The app also has a pretty slick and easy-to-use activity tracker that pares nicely with most activity trackers like Apple Watch and Fitbit.
Health professionals also review WW well, based on a 2020 IQVIA survey of over 14,000 doctors, Weight Watchers was the #1 rated weight loss program.
However, Consumer Affairs has a much lower rating for WW, 3.6 out of 5 stars. WW received lower scores for ease of use for in-person meetings and difficulties around auto-billing and ease of canceling the program. As mentioned above, the cost of the program is a real factor for a lot of members. In addition to food costs and any meetups, a monthly fee can start to add up quickly. Like a gym membership, the cost seems less when you are using the program and seeing results, but if you are not committed, WW fees will seem much higher.
Is Weight Watchers Expensive to Use?
It depends on the level of support you need. They offer many different payment options so you can choose based on your budget. If it’s just you and the app, it’s as cheap as a streaming service. If you plan to go to workshops (coach-led group sessions), the premium version is more expensive. The pricing is detailed below.
How Much Does Weight Watchers Cost
The Core program is $23 per month. It includes the WW app that details your personalized plan and allows you to keep track of everything all in one place. However, if you sign up for more than one month, it is discounted even more. For a 3-month contract you will pay $15 per month, and a 6-month contract is $10 per month.
To use the app and get into the workshops, you’ll need the Premium program which is $45 per month. Again, with a 3-month contract, it’s cheaper at $30 per month and a 6-month contract is $25 per month.
How to Get Started on Weight Watchers
To get started on your WW journey, you can take this quiz to see which program will work best for you. Once you’ve decided on the program, you can sign up online and get instant access to the app. You will then get a Points Budget which you can “spend” on any food you’d like. You will track all food and drinks in your WW app. If you exercise, you will get more points, so the focus is not just on food.
To cancel your WW membership, you can use this link to log into the cancellation tab on your app. Or you can call 1-800-651-6000 to talk to an agent who will be happy to help. One thing to note- if you have signed up for a 3 or 6-month contract, your membership does not automatically cancel at the end of the term. WW states on its website that payment will automatically switch to a month-to-month plan until you cancel. And while you can cancel at any time, the cancellation does not take effect until the end of your contract.
Support Systems on Weight Watchers
There are a few ways to receive support when on WW. If you’re signed up for the Core program, your support comes from a WW coach via the app. You have 24/7 chat access to the coach, so all your questions can be answered. Connect, the member community, is another place you can find support.
The most support comes from the Premium program. With access to virtual or in-person Workshops, you will have face-to-face accountability. Not only will you have a coach face-to-face but you’ll meet other locals along the same journey. WW claims that its members lose 2x more with the Premium program than with the Core program. Accountability is that important! The Workshops are hosted 7 days a week, so they will fit almost any schedule. You also still get chat access to your WW coach.
What To Expect When Starting Weight Watchers
When you start Weight Watchers, you can expect to receive personalized guidance on what to eat and how much to exercise. Your plan will be based on your goals- and adjusted when needed depending on if you’re losing the weight you want or not. With their easy-to-use app, you can expect to be able to log all food, track progress, access workouts, and talk with your coach. You might be surprised at how much you can eat and still lose weight. The app easily guides you into making healthier choices.
Weight Watchers Progression: Time Frame on What To Expect
Months 1-3: This will be the most challenging. Everything is new and looking at food as “numbers” is a new language. Any new change is always challenging, but with the support of the Workshops, it makes it much easier. You should expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week. This is considered a very healthy, sustainable weight loss rate.
Months 4-6: You will be in a good groove! You should expect to be down in weight and loving the foods you eat as well as the flexibility of the diet. You can still go out to eat, enjoy events and be social- all without sacrificing your diet. You should expect to also have a good workout routine established at this point.
6 Months - 1 Year: Depending on your weight loss goals, you will be at your goal weight by this point. You can expect to feel healthy, have energy, and love your nutrition and exercise. Once you’re at the weight you want to maintain, WW will add 6 points to your daily Points Budget. If you continue to lose weight even with the additional 6 points, WW will add 3 points each week until you maintain your weight.
1- 3 years: If you didn’t hit your weight loss goals before 1 year, you definitely will within the 1-3 year mark. After a maintenance period, you should expect to start working on intuitive eating. This means you will be able to eat throughout your day without tracking in the WW app. Once you can healthily navigate intuitive eating around social events and easily maintain your weight, you can track your food less and less each week.
Ongoing: Once you’ve learned intuitive eating and have transformed your lifestyle habits via the WW program, there will be very little chance of regaining the weight you lost. At this point, you will have engrained these new healthy habits into your life, so it will be second nature to eat well and exercise.
Best Foods for Weight Watchers
ZeroPoint foods were chosen by WW as a way to help members choose foods that are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Filling up on these foods can help you stay satisfied, which is always a plus when trying to lose weight. ZeroPoint foods include items such as:
- Non-starchy veggies
- Fat-free yogurt and cottage cheese
- Fish and shellfish
- Tofu and tempeh
- Corn and popcorn
- Beans, peas, and lentils
There are over 200 ZeroPoint foods! ZeroPoint foods can change a little based on your personal plan. For example, if you have diabetes, your plan and ZeroPoint foods will be items that won’t highly affect your blood sugar. Of course, the whole point of the Points system is to have a balanced diet. You can still work in your favorite sweet treat, but it’s going to take up a lot more points. So take advantage of the ZeroPoint foods as much as you can.
To sign up for or learn more about Weight Watchers, follow this link.