Should I Do Weight Watchers? Should I give Weight Watchers a try?
As Janette’s husband and a true calorie junkie, I have been wondering lately the same question many of you may have been asking yourself — Should I do Weight Watchers? I’m in my early 30′s, about 60 lbs overweight, and debating which weight loss method should I try. I’ve been successful in the past focusing on calorie counting combined with exercise, losing 40 lbs for a period of nine months a couple years back. Unfortunately, I found staying disciplined to the plan difficult and put the weight right back over the past year. So in this post, I plan on examining the Weight Watchers Points Plus plan and comparing it to a couple other common weight loss methods to discuss the pros and cons of each, and to illustrate why I feel Weight Watchers Points Plus is the best plan for a sustained healthy lifestyle and maintainable weight loss.
At its core, counting calories can provide you with the most scientific and analytical method for losing weight. You will just need to do a little math to figure it all out. Here are the variables that make up our formula:
- 1 lb = 3500 Calories
- DCI = Daily Calorie Intake — the amount of calories you consume on a given day
- DCE = Daily Calorie Expenditure — the amount of calories your body burns in a day. You can calculate this via a BMR Calculator.
- DEE = Daily Exercise Expenditure — the amount of calories your body burns on a given day through exercise
- DCD = Daily Calorie Delta — the amount of calories you accumulated (positive number) or expended (negative number) throughout the day
The formula itself is DCD = DCI – (DCE + DEE). Seems simple enough, right? Drop DCI as low as you can, and increase DEE through as much exercise as you can do in a day, and you will lose weight as fast as your body can tolerate. WRONG! This is where the calorie counting method tends to break down. You can lose weight over a period of time using this method, but a couple things will happen (and I speak from personal experience).
- You can lose track of eating a balanced diet and focus on simply the calories themselves, which will hamper your weight loss efforts in the long run (your body needs to be running at optimal to lose weight effectively).
- You start to restrict yourself to never eating the foods you like — gone are pizza, wings, burgers. Although we should all strive for this, it’s not sustainable for us mere mortals in the long term. Most of us love to eat (me included).
- The diet becomes work and not a gradual lifestyle change, which ultimately sabotages most of us in our efforts to lose weight. This leads to what I call “dieter fatigue”.
Overall, counting calories from a scientific standpoint makes the most sense, it doesn’t take into consideration those items that make weight loss maintainable and healthy, which is why I’ve found it to be lacking by itself.
South Beach found extreme popularity a couple years after Y2K as a successor to Atkins in what I personally call the *Magic Bullet* weight loss programs. Both my wife and I have tried South Beach over the past five years with differing degrees of success. She found it to work well for the 3-4 months she was on the program, while I found it to mess with my digestive tract (put me in a ‘bind’ so to speak), forcing me to quit the program after a week. In a nutshell, South Beach is comprised of three different stages that are meant to help you cleanse your body and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
South Beach Stage 1, also known as the induction phase, takes two weeks to complete. During this time, you will be restricted in what you can eat to lean beef, chicken, eggs, fish, shellfish, fat-free cheeses, nuts, salads, and legumes. Fruits, grains, rice, potatoes, carrots, alcohol, or anything else you can think of that contains modest to high amounts of carbohydrates are strictly prohibited. This is meant to stabilize the blood sugar levels and, in the most basic sense, break ones addition to simple carbs. During this phase, it is normal for the dieter to lose weight as the body adjusts to a decreased carbohydrate intake.
South Beach Stage 2 introduces complex carbohydrates back into the body. This includes whole grain wheat, whole grain rice, fruits with low sugar content (apples, oranges, blueberries, etc), and low starch vegetables (sweet potatoes, onions, peas, pinto beans, etc). Simple sugars, simple starches, and simple carbs are still prohibited. This stage lasts until your goal weight is achieved.
South Beach Stage 3 allows you to eat anything you want, just in moderation.
In my opinion and from our past experience, dieter fatigue again comes into play with South Beach just like it does with Counting Calories. Kiss that slice of Pizza you crave once a week good-bye.
Weight Watchers Points Plus
With Weight Watchers Points Plus, you get to continue to eat the same foods you always eat, with the focus being on portion control. Instead of counting calories, or restricting your dietary selection, you simply count “points”. When you sign up for Weight Watchers, you will receive guides and calculators to help you convert the nutritional values of the foods you enjoy eating into “points”, and then based on your age and current weight, you will be allowed to spend a certain amount of points per day, with a small bank of bonus points you can spend throughout the week on top of the daily point allotment. Here is a chart from Weight Watchers site that sums it up pretty well (http://www.weightwatchers.com/plan/apr/unique.aspx).
|When you follow the Weight Watchers plan, you get:||When you’re “on a diet” you get:|
|An integrated approach that combines smarter eating, healthy habits, exercise and a supportive environment.||A focus just on food. Most diets tend to ignore exercise or other factors necessary for healthy and sustained weight loss.|
|A recalculated PointPlus formula that takes the complex science of how we process different foods, and whittles it down into an easy-to-follow plan, based on simple numbers.||Rigid rules that usually focus on a single nutrient (“Eat less carbs!”), eliminate entire food groups or require you to buy special diet foods.|
|A plan that guides you toward nutritious eating choices, and helps you lose and maintain a healthy weight.||Promises of rapid weight loss with little effort, but no information on how to keep the weight off for the long haul.|
|Over forty-five years of successfully helping people lose weight, paired with the most up-to-date nutrition research.||“Proof” often based on one scientific study designed to support the diet’s claims.|
|A program that adapts to your lifestyle and particular needs, so you can reach success through a more personalized weight-loss experience.|
Compared to the other two diet plans up above, Weight Watchers Points Plus has proven to be the easiest to follow because you do not get dieter fatigue since you can still eat anything you like, in moderation, and it forces you to pace yourself as you lose weight to make the weight loss maintainable over the long haul.
Weight Watchers Points Plus seems to be the most balanced, healthiest, and easiest diet to maintain when compared against both Counting Calories and South Beach. I would personally urge anybody who is thinking about starting a diet to talk to family, friends, and/or co-workers, to see if they have tried Weight Watchers, and their opinions of the program. At bare minimum, trying the Weight Watchers Points Plus online program out for a month and see if you agree. I think you will be glad you did.
** We are a Compensated Affiliate of Weight Watchers because we believe in the plan and what it helps men and women achieve every day. People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds a week. **