WW — more commonly known as Weight Watchers — is a weight loss program centered around making better food choices, behavior changes, and a points system. It helps you make good food choices and increase your activity levels.
This isn’t your mom’s Weight Watchers. There have been many different versions of the Weight Watchers program over the years, and the latest version is the myWW program, launched in late 2019, taking dieting and weight management into the digital age.
What is the WW Diet?
The WW diet is officially called the myWW program. Launched in late 2021, it’s the most customizable plan from Weight Watchers yet, building on their SmartPoints system. SmartPoints gives everything you eat and drink a point value based on various factors.
The newest version of the WW diet is based on a points system known as PersonalPoints. It is designed to help you lose weight through diet, exercise, and practicing general healthy habits. It’s tailored to your lifestyle, individual circumstances, and even medical conditions (such as having diabetes) so that you can lose weight most effectively and enjoy the foods you love throughout your weight loss journey.
It’s suggested that you can expect to lose two pounds per week on the WW diet.
How the WW Diet Works
The PersonalPoints program reinforces an essential guideline of WW. Although calories are integral to weight loss, WW also looks at the big picture. That’s why WW focuses on everything to do with nutrition, including looking at added sugars, saturated and unsaturated fat, protein, and fiber.
When you join the program, you’ll have your very own PersonalPoints budget with no foods considered “off-limits.” When you eat a meal or snack, you’ll use points from your budget. Some foods use more points, such as fatty meats, sugary cereals, chips, and cheese, and healthier foods use fewer points, like lean protein, oatmeal, avocados, and almond milk.
You can also add to your point value by making healthy choices like:
- Tracking your physical activity. The higher the intensity, the more points you’ll add, but all forms of movement will give you points.
- Eating non-starchy vegetables. Each cup adds one point to your budget.
- Staying hydrated. 60 oz (1.8 L) of water gives you one point.
Everything you eat should be measured and tracked in the WW app. The exception is “ZeroPoint” foods. These are healthy foods you can eat in abundance, but it’s recommended that you stick with your typical portions.
Another key guideline of WW is that there are no dietary restrictions. You can eat the foods you love–and in fact, you are encouraged to do so if it fits into your budget. If you go over your daily budget, you can draw down your weekly budget. Likewise, if you have leftover points, they can be added to your weekly budget and used later in the week.
WW doesn’t just focus on the food. Wellness, sleep, and physical activity play an essential part in their weight loss program, and you’re encouraged to track your sleep and exercise in the app. You can also access 24/7 live chat coaching and five-minute coaching audio pep talks to help keep you motivated.
The Diet Plan
There is no one-size-fits-all WW, and the WW diet plan looks different for everyone. You’ll use the online PersonalPoints Engine to answer some questions, which are used to create your individualized PersonalPoints Budget and your ZeroPoint food list.
- Green: This plan gives you the largest budget of SmartPoints with over 100 ZeroPoint foods to enjoy.
- Blue: The blue plan gives you a smaller SmartPoints allotment with 200-plus ZeroPoint foods to eat.
- Purple: You guessed it: The purple plan is comprised of a modest number of SmartPoints but over 300 ZeroPoint foods.
ZeroPoint foods could include non-starchy vegetables, skinless chicken breast, fruits, yogurt, brown rice, avocado, fish, oats, tofu, eggs, and beans.
The cost depends on which WW program you choose.
- Digital: Starting at $3.53 per week, you’ll get a personalized action plan, progress reports, tracking tools, and a 24/7 Coach Chat.
- Digital 360: You’ll get everything in the Digital program, with additional support from WW coaches and online wellness classes. It starts at $4.61 per week.
- Unlimited Workshops + Digital: As above, with the addition of online or in-person workshops. It starts at $15 per week.
The cost of joining Weight Watchers is canceled out by the benefits you can gain by sticking with it. A 2014 study found that WW offers the best chance at weight loss for the cost. Of all the weight loss programs studied, WW cost $155 per kilogram lost, but the quality of life improved by $34,630 per life-year gained.
Dos and Don’ts
You can increase your chances of success with the SmartPoints program by following your plan — and using these tricks and tips.
- Do track all meals and snacks apart from ZeroPoint foods.
- Don’t cut out your favorite foods. With WW, there are no food restrictions.
- Do reach out to your WW coaches for support — they are there to help you achieve your goals. Join the “Connect Groups” on the WW app.
- Don’t compare your PersonalPoints budget and ZeroPoint foods to others because they are completely individualized to your own needs and circumstances.
- Do retake the PersonalPoints assessment if you are unhappy with your plan or wish to change your ZeroPoint food list.
Sample Diet Plan
Remember, the points in these meals may differ between you and others, so it may not be entirely helpful to use a sample diet plan. However, WW created the following sample plan.
Breakfast: Berry overnight oats, fat-free yogurt, frozen berries
Lunch: Tuna, feta, and rocket toasted sandwich using wholegrain bread
Dinner: Chicken enchiladas
Snacks: Skim cappuccino, piece of fruit, air-popped popcorn
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with mushrooms on whole-grain toast
Lunch: Chicken enchiladas
Dinner: Tofu and cashew stir fry
Snacks: Bliss ball, piece of fruit, cashews
Breakfast: Berry overnight oats
Lunch: Tuna spelt pasta bake
Snacks: Rice cakes with reduced-fat ricotta and tomato, piece of fruit, air-popped popcorn
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with mushrooms on whole-grain toast
Lunch: Quinoa, chicken, and broccoli salad bowl
Dinner: Middle Eastern lamb and lentil soup
Snacks: Cashews, fat-free yogurt with fruit, carrot sticks with hummus
Breakfast: Avocado and feta on toast
Lunch: Thai beef salad wrap
Dinner: Fish tacos
Snacks: Fat-free yogurt, piece of fruit, air-popped popcorn
Health Benefits and Drawbacks of the WW Diet
Improve Overall Health
The Weight Watchers program has been proven to produce clinically meaningful weight losses associated with reductions in chronic disease. Participants lost an average of 13 pounds over 48 weeks, and over a third of participants lost 10 percent of their starting weight by the end of their treatment.
Patients who followed 52 weeks of the WW program experienced more significant reductions in waist circumference, fat mass, fasting glucose concentration, and Hb1Ac (a useful indicator for diabetes and prediabetes) than participants given a brief weight loss intervention.
That’s not the only positive research on the Weight Watchers diet.
Weight Loss Is Achievable
It’s also shown to be more effective than professionally led weight management programs. All of the 150 study participants lost weight, but those in the Weight Watchers group lost an average of 13 pounds, while those on the professionally managed weight loss plan lost 12 and the group on a hybrid of the two only lost eight.
Risks with ZeroPoint Foods
Since it isn’t necessary to track ZeroPoint foods, there is the risk you could overindulge and go over your calorie requirements needed to lose weight. Some ZeroPoint foods, like avocados, are relatively high in calories despite being extremely healthy.
Could Create an Unhealthy Relationship with Food
Although WW is not purely focused on calories, some people may be concerned about developing an unhealthy relationship with food due to the fixation on “points.”
The Bottom Line: Is Weight Watchers a Healthy Way to Lose Weight?
Overall, the Weight Watchers diet is a well-researched and safe way to lose weight and make healthy habits for life. Make sure you have support around you in the WW app or in-person to guide you through your weight loss journey and help you reach your goals.