Big Changes Coming to Weight Watchers

Sound the alarms: On November 29, Weight Watchers is unveiling a new program. From what I’ve read, ProPoints (as it’s called in the UK, and possibly here) will still be points-based, but fruits and vegetables are free. Which must mean they’re adjusting the points values of everything else as well; word on the street is that we’ll be encouraged to eat more of not just produce, but also lean protein.

I’m pretty thrilled about this. When I lost that 100 pounds, the program was called Fat & Fiber. All I counted for three years were fat grams and fiber grams (aiming for a low number on the former and a high number on the latter). Loved it, although it did require me to do quite a bit of studying about nutrition. After all, if those are the only specific parameters, who’s to say you can’t eat exclusively fat-free brownies and fruit? You’d get your fiber and keep your fat count low, but it wouldn’t exactly be healthy. (True confession: For a while, about 85 pounds into the loss, I ate a good five pieces of fruit a day, plus a pound of either grapes or cherries, depending on the season. Wonder why I hit a plateau…) Presumably this new program is going to be a little more complicated than that.
Here’s what I’ve seen so far:
A post that just went up on Weight Watchers’ blog, answering a few much-asked questions.
A video announcement from Weight Watchers, which explains that the new program reflects the most up-to-date nutritional science. That’s what I like about Weight Watchers: it’s based on actual, proven science. No theories, just knowledge.
A story on NPR about the program that’s just been introduced in the UK, which seems to be very similar to what we’ll be getting. There’s a fair amount of detail here, though since it’s a news story, not a how-to, it’s short on specifics.
The UK’s Daily Mail published a story on the changes that’s so glowing, it reads like an advertorial.
Here’s another story on the UK program, this time from a UK food-industry journal. It says the program “has been recalibrated to factor in the energy used in chewing and digesting the food,” which seems to suggest we should be prepared to eat a lot of celery.
And of course, if this new plan doesn’t work, there’s always the Twinkie Diet.
Have you ever been on Weight Watchers’ points program? If you could change anything about it, what would it be?

12 responses to “Big Changes Coming to Weight Watchers”

  1. Joy

    I am a little nervous. Like any newly converted person, I am deeply enamored of the system just the way it is. Today is the fourth week I've weighed the same, my fourth week on "maintenance" and it's like a miracle. I have never weighed the same thing for a whole month! I'm a Taurus, a lover of routine and a hater of change so this whole thing makes me nervous. But your optimism about it is encouraging …

  2. debbie koenig

    We can hold hands (virtually) and plunge in together, Joy! Plus I imagine that since you're on maintenance, you probably won't have to adjust much. I stayed on F&F for *years* after they introduced Points, simply because I knew the plan and it worked for me.

  3. Ellen

    I have been on WW on and off for years. I'm back on again (on my own, no meetings) and find the Points system okay. I do have trouble with the amount of points I am given on some days and even though I know I have those optional points, I mostly choose not to use them. Do they still do that?

    I think if I could change anything it would be to eliminate the exercise points thing where you can add points back.

    I always hated when they significantly changed the program. I'll have to read up on all of the links you provided. Just the fact that you mention it's complicated is not a good thing. It's hard enough to get the motivation to get on a program and stick with it and if it's too hard to decipher, that just doesn't make sense.

    What would you change?

  4. debbie koenig

    Ellen, I don't think the program itself will be complicated–my understanding is that WW has changed the formula they use to calculate points. It's an internal change on their end, which will be reflected in the way we count things. But I don't think it'll be harder to use than it is now. That would be counterproductive!

    I'm with you on eliminating the exercise points. Never, ever use them. If I work out, I want to get the benefit on the scale! Though I can see why it would be helpful for some people–if you're exercising a lot, you actually do need to eat a little more to keep up with it.

  5. Liz

    I'm doing the ProPoints plan in the UK as of last week! It's interesting. Calculating points IS more complicated, because it counts fibre, protein, carbs and fat (NOT calories, interesting, huh?). I have my first weigh-in tomorrow, though, and I'm not feeling optimistic; I think it will take a bit of time to get to grips with it. I LOVE the free fruit, though, and I'm confident that it's based on real research. Like you, Debbie, I really trust WeightWatchers to have done their homework on this one.

  6. debbie koenig

    Interesting, Liz! I'd assumed that all that new taking-into-account would just be reflected in points values. Are you saying you actually have to keep track of that stuff, or just that you have to include more numbers from the nutrition facts statement when determining the points value?

    PLEASE, come back and tell us how you did this week! Good luck!

  7. Amy

    I suspect that it might be a trend back towards the "core" plan that many folks swore by. WW "Core" was easy because you could eat anything on the core foods list until you were full, only counting points for non-core foods.
    I think no matter what, some folks will be happy with the changes and others will fuss and complain.

    I like WW, but I wouldn't mind a return to a plan like Fat & Fiber or Core. I do get tired of having to count and track fruit and veggies.

  8. Jane Boursaw

    I'm excited about this, because I've sort of been lagging on WW lately (well, like for the last year!). I do everything online, and I'm not good about tracking all the points. I'll track great for a day, then get distracted and not track anything for days.

    I'm also not totally crazy about the new online points tracker and keep wanting to revert to the old one. Hopefully, they'll give the system a makeover that will energize me again.

    I really like the idea of not having to track fruit.

  9. Liz

    Well, weigh-in today was pretty good! Two pounds down. No, you don't track fat, fibre, protein and carbs individually, all these are worked into the points value. What I mean is when you DO have to calculate points for yourself (rather than simply using the on-line or electronic tools or the value printed in the materials) it's a bit more complicated. There's this wheel thingie…. We now also have the weekly points allowance (which I know the US Momentum plan already has) which I think helps you be able to indulge occasionally AND THEN MOVE ON rather than thinking "oh, well, I've blown it for this week…" I'm definitely hoping this will revitalise my efforts (since I've been losing and gaining the same three pounds for… ever.) Go for it, everybody. Sometimes change is good!

  10. debbie koenig

    YAY, LIZ!!! Keep it up! How thrilling–I love it when you think it won't be a good weigh-in, and you're surprised.

    Amy, I liked Core too, but I found it oddly challenging after F&F–it felt neither here nor there to me.

    Jane, I hope this change revitalizes all of us! I've been a little stuck since Stephen hit goal a while back, losing & regaining the same 2 pounds.

  11. Liz

    Aw, thanks, Debbie. The true test will be next week: Haven't had three consecutive weeks of loss in FOREVER so I hope I can actually sustain this momentum! (it will probably also help that I've revamped the old exercise regimen…) I was worried that the new programme would be Core-related… and I'm glad it isn't. I don't seem to be able not to cheat, and the new programme kind of builds it in!

  12. Laurel

    I'd seen on WW on-line that "big changes are coming" but here was the first place that I actually got an idea what they were to be. That is great, I am so glad that fruits will be freebies now, since that is a preferred snack. I wonder if there will be a change in how "healthy fats" are calculated. Although one would certainly gain weight guzzling olive oil, healthy fats are diet essentials and it seems a shame to have to sacrifice them in the name of coming in within your point-allotment. And I am a fan of eating your activity points if you've earned them and feel like it. The program is designed so that you lose weight even if you don't do a lick of exercise, so if you've earned the points you're entitled to them.

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