“With the old points system, you could use your points anyway you like. But we now know if you use your points wisely by eating foods rich in protein and fiber -- these foods fill you up, keep hunger at bay, and help you lose weight in a healthier and more nutritious way,” Kovach says.
Calories, Fat, and Carbs
Calories still count in the Points Plus program because the bottom line in weight loss is creating a calorie deficit -- burning more calories than you eat.
But there is so much more to successful weight loss, and where those calories come from makes a big difference.
Even when the calories are the same, protein- and fiber-rich foods get fewer Points Plus to encourage dieters to eat more filling food for their allotted Points Plus.
Calorie-dense foods that have more fat and simple carbs are assigned more points.
One new feature: You get unlimited quantities of fresh fruits and non-starchy vegetables.
“Most adults don’t eat enough fruits or vegetables. So our strategy was to allow these as free foods to encourage more consumption of these super-nutritious foods that are among the lowest in calories and very filling," Kovach says.
Dieters are encouraged to maximize their Points Plus allowance by choosing more "Power Foods," such as whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy, and unlimited quantities of fresh fruit and nonstarchy vegetables. "Power Foods" are the healthiest, most filling foods.
Decadent foods can still be worked into the calorie budget, but the new program limits the amount of these extras.
Weight Watchers Points Plus: How It Works
The new Points Plus program is based on Weight Watchers' proprietary formula that calculates the positive and negative attributes of food that considers the following:
- how much harder your body works to process protein and fiber compared to carbs and fat
- filling foods
- healthy foods
- sugar, saturated fat, total fat, sodium, and fiber content of foods
Choosing foods that are rich in the most satisfying nutrients but not loaded with calories is the primary goal to give dieters the weight loss edge.
Focus on eating more Power Foods as an easy way to fill up on the healthiest low-calorie options.
To get started, dieters fill out a form with age, gender, height, and current weight to get their assigned Points Plus daily allotment along with a weekly allowance.
You'll get at least 1200 calories daily. The distribution of those calories between carbs, protein, and fat are within the Institute of Medicine’s acceptable ranges.
Weight Watchers Points Plus: Expert's View
Keri Gans, MS, RD, an American Dietetic Association spokeswoman and New York weight loss consultant, gives the program a thumbs up.
“I always loved the peer support aspect of the Weight Watchers program but it concerned me that the old points could be used for anything," Gans says. "The new Points Plus program addressing where calories come from is a huge improvement.”
Gans says she loves the flexibility of the plan, which makes it easier to sustain long term, and the encouragement to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. “Our nation is not overweight because we eat too many fruits and vegetables but anyone who struggles with overeating needs to be careful because you could pack away plenty of calories if you eat too much fruit," Gans says.
Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.