Weight Watchers recently announced their new Points Plus program, a big shift from the regular program and a change in point value for most foods. The most significant change? Fruits and vegetables are now zero points, which essentially means they can be eaten in unlimited quantities with no penalty. A recent article from Time magazine, written by Andrea Sachs, asks the question: is the new program going to be better for weight loss efforts?
Weight Watchers’ president, David Kirchhoff recently declared, “Calorie counting has become unhelpful. When we have a 100-calorie apple in one hand and a 100-calorie pack of cookies in the other, and we view them as being ‘the same’ because the calories are the same, it says everything that needs to be said about the limitations of using calories in guiding food choices.”
This led to the demise of the old Points program and the introduction of Points Plus. The new system still leaves room for some junk food but penalizes fat and empty calories as it tries to steer dieters toward more natural, less-processed food. Considering Weight Watchers has its own line of muffins, cheeseburgers, ice cream, and other snacks, this is a very interesting move.
The shift to this new program means that many participants will have to make some tweaks to their lifestyle. It may require new cookbooks, food scales and calculators. Many members will most likely attend more meetings just to get a grasp on the new concept.
Similar to the old program, the new one assigns a point value to every food item. Each member’s daily ration of points is based on their height, weight and age. The new system favors foods that are high in protein or fiber, which make the body work harder to convert them into energy and leave the stomach feeling fuller longer. Foods high in carbohydrates, which are more easily absorbed by the body and turned into fat, now have higher point values. However, not all carbs are treated equally: fruits high in fructose and all but the starchiest vegetables have zero points under the new plan. Some members have been apprehensive about this switch, as something like a banana used to be two whole points. It’s a big change!
Jennifer Andrus, an experienced dietitian, is skeptical about the new program. She says, “Unless the science has changed, a
calorie is still a calorie. I think that people are going to have less dramatic results with this plan.”
Since the new program has assigned higher point values to many foods, people are now going in the direction of fruits and vegetables because they’re essentially a freebie. That was the goal of the plan, so it could have a lot of potential. It would be a positive lifestyle change if people begin to eat more natural, less processed foods.
What are your thoughts on the Weight Watchers Points Plus program? Do you agree that fruits and vegetables should be considered “freebies” or do all foods need to be counted? We’d love to hear from you, especially if you’re following the program!