Weight Watchers (cont.)

Points are assigned based on the food's calorie, total fat, and dietary fiber content. Here are some examples:

  • 1 cup broccoli = 0 points
  • 1/2 cantaloupe = 2 points
  • 1 small bean burrito = 5 points
  • 1 cup spaghetti with 1/2 cup marinara sauce = 6 points
  • 1 6-ounce steak = 8 points
  • 3-ounce grilled chicken breast = 3 points
  • 1/4 cup regular creamy salad dressing = 8 points
  • 1 slice bread = 2 points
  • 1 ounce chocolate = 4 points
  • 1 scoop vanilla ice cream = 4 points

Each member has a Daily Points Range, calculated based on their body weight. For example, a 5'6" woman who weights 180 pounds would be allotted between 22 and 27 points each day.

A "points finder" helps members calibrate the points value of a recipe or a packaged product using the Nutrition Facts label.

Members can earn extra points with exercise. Based on a formula that factors in body weight, time, and intensity, all types of physical activity can be assigned a points value. For example, if a woman walks or cycles at moderate intensity for 30 minutes, she would earn 2 points for it.

Group support has been the cornerstone of the Weight Watchers program since its inception. Through weekly meetings, members get support in making lifestyle changes, which helps them lose weight and keep it off. "No one has to go it alone," says Weight Watchers.

How It Works

The Weight Watchers program is based on good, old-fashioned "calories in, calories out" advice. Members keep track of the calories/fat they eat (in the form of points) and burn enough calories/fat to lose weight. It's just that simple.

What the Experts Say

The Weight Watchers philosophy follows recommendations from the National Weight Loss Registry, which shows that weight maintenance is achieved through a variety of life-changing -- not just diet-focused -- steps.

Research suggests that people who lose weight and keep it off:

  • Eat a low-fat, carbohydrate-rich diet.
  • Spend a considerable amount of time each day exercising. Walking is a favorite form and is often supplemented with other activities such as aerobics, weight training, and swimming.
  • Weigh themselves regularly -- two or three times a week.
  • Continue to keep contact with those who helped them lose weight.

Research also shows that checking the scales regularly helps ensure dieters are holding steady and prevents the scale from slipping upward to a point that may foil their efforts, says Weight Watchers. Action taken when (or before) weight reaches five pounds above weight goal helps keep weight off. By increasing activity and cutting back on calories at that point, the dieter can keep his/her weight from increasing even more.