Does Weight Watchers Really Work?

September 19, 2016   41 Comments

The weight loss community seems to be still deliberating the question: Does Weight Watchers Really Work?

Does Weight Watchers Really Work

On Snack Girl, I posted about Weight Watchers twice this year and have accumulated over 250 comments on the Smart Points program (see: Weight Watchers’ New Program and Weight Watcher’s Smart Points Review). WW launched SmartPoints in 2015 and had a bit of trouble getting the technology off the ground.

The big change from the past programs is that food with sugar – like soda and chocolate – cost members a much higher amount of points and protein filled foods are now fewer points.

Sound like a low carb diet? Yes, it does. But there is (I believe) a consensus among weight loss scientists that eating less sugar (and more protein) is the key to a dieter’s success.

In the NYT article Before You Spend $26,000 on Weight-Loss surgery, Do This, two obesity experts promote the low carbohydrate route:

At our obesity clinics, we’ve seen hundreds of patients who, after cutting down on carbohydrates, lose weight and get off their medications. One patient in his 50s was a brick worker so impaired by diabetes that he had retired from his job….

We advised him to stop eating most of his meals out of boxes packed with processed flour and grains, replacing them with meat, eggs, nuts and even butter. Within five months, his blood-sugar levels had normalized, and he was back to working part-time.

Weight Watchers is evidence based and I believe that SmartPoints is following the research that shows how most people can be successful.

It seems to work for Linda. She commented:

WW is pushing you to eat MORE protein. You should not be hungry on this program. You can always eat fruit and/or veggies - zero points. And if you use your points wisely, you can have LOTS of protein. They lowered the point values for the leaner cuts of meat, turkey, chicken.

Eggs stayed the same. But you get more points now than with the old program. I love the new program, and I have been on all of them - since the 70s!

But not for Amy. She commented:

I'm quitting Weight Watchers because of the Smart Points program. I'd lost 50 pounds on the Points Plus program - felt like I was eating a well balanced diet which included every food group.

Now, I'm eating mostly fruits and veggies and feeling hungry in between meals. I'm not much of a meat eater, usually only eating lean chicken, fish or pork at dinner - but I like reasonable amounts of whole grain items to keep my fiber up. And where's my treats?

Got to have a goodie or two scheduled into my weekly points. After 3 months on the Smart Points, I've lost only 7 pounds and feel greatly deprived. WW always worked for me before, but it's too difficult to stay on program now.

It's too much like a diet and not a lifestyle change. I'll be switching to a Points Plus clone app and cancelling my WW subscription, because a pumpkin spice latte shouldn't cost me a day's worth of points should I choose to indulge.

And Kelly makes a constructive criticism that might get to the heart of whether Weight Watchers will work for you:

From Kelly:

While I love SP, it's not for everybody. I don't think getting rid of SP is the answer. I think adding more tailored plans for people would be the best.

Everyone's body is different. Some people need more protein, while others need more carbs. I don't know if that's possible. People need to find what works for them. I love SP and I tell everyone how great of a program it is. And I still eat my ice cream and/or chocolate almost everyday (except Friday the day before weigh in. )

Please share how it is going for you. What adjustments have you made? What has made it work or not work?

Other posts you might like:

Weight Watchers Smart Points Review

The Weight Watcher’s Smart Points Struggle

I am hearing a bunch about Weight Watchers Smart Points and it is definitely a mixed bag....

Weight Watchers New Program

Weight Watchers Smart Points: Is it Working for You?

There have been some blips with the roll-out of the new SmartPoints program.....

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 41 )

I majorly resisted Points Plus and gained weight back. I love Smart Points. The beauty of WW is you can plan for splurges--like always. I'm very happy with this version of WW. I've lost about 70 pounds since last December when they rolled out Smart Points.

I agree that since I have been on the new Weight Watchers, i have not lost as much weight as I thought I would have. I love fruits and vegetables but I also like my snacks such as sweets to keep me from cheating. Not sure where to get the Points Plus app but would love to know that one also.


I've been participating in WW for 9 years and lost 60 pounds - at age 60 finally made my goal (set by my doctor). Then had some life issues and gained 20 back. Life happens - surgery happens - things happen. But I've never given up on WW. It's a VERY HEALTHY way of eating and exercising. No it's not a quick loss diet - it's a lifestyle change in your thinking, the way you eat, what you choose to eat and your activities. I feel the meetings are the highlight of my week. I get encouragement there and ideas/suggestions on new foods and beverages that help keep things interesting. I'm delighted that I'm eating healthier than I ever have in my life - much leaner meats, more veggies and fruits and I still have breads and other carbs - just in smaller portions. I even have ice cream - the real thing - once a week. I have dark chocolate occasionally - not much - but also the real thing. The weight loss is slow and some weeks nothing at all - but I'm happier with myself when I know that I'm making an effort every day to make the best choices I can; few processed foods, more high quality foods; less eating out; more water. The WW program is multi-faceted and there are many options about how you can spend your daily allotment of points. And the extra points you get each week can be used for that special treat or two. It's really a generous amount of food and you can lose weight if you follow the program - yes, you do have to exercise and yes you do have to give up some junk food - and yes in the end you'll feel better; spend less on health care and will thank yourself for taking care of yourself for you, your family and every time you have an occasion to go to - that you're not sitting this one out because you're ashamed of how you look. WW is an investment in YOU! For me it's more important than buying all that junk food - it's expensive! I'd rather pay for those meetings and make better food choices at the grocery store than pay at the doctors office, hospital, drug store later...Nothing is worth more than my health and well-being... :)

I do not like the SP plan, I feel hungry all of the time. I lost 42 pounds and reached lifetime status on the points plus program. It is very difficult to keep from not gaining weight on the new program due to the fact of feeling hungry most of the day.

I believe Weight Watchers is fundamentally wrong and they hook you in to spend more and more and more money. I'm writing a book about this, as a matter of fact!

I was WW member for a 7 years and became life time after losing 120lbs and kept it off without WW when I left a year ago. I left after being flustrated with the leaders lack of knowledge about maintaining weight with (pts) and helping me balance my growing activity level with the new SP.

"But there is (I believe) a consensus among weight loss scientists that eating less sugar (and more protein) is the key to a dieter’s success." While eating less sugar and more protein is likely better for us. SP is not sustainable for me. And if it isn't sustainable it doesn't matter how scientifically correct it is. I might as well go on any other 'diet' to quickly lose the weight and then try to maintain the loss from there because this is not something I could do long term. I quit WW and found PP tools to work that plan on my own. I lost 110 pounds on PP without difficulty and will continue with this because SP was just a struggle and I don't need that in my life.

For those of you looking to follow the Points Plus program, I did a search on Goggle for points plus and found several apps that you can buy which follow the old system. The reviews were good and the cost for the app is low. Good luck!

Weight Watchers encourages people to focus on food 24 hours a day: the goal SHOULD be to put food where it belongs, as a small part of our life (necessary for nourishment).

The advertisements for Weight Watchers where Oprah says she LOVES LOVES LOVES bread makes me ill. And the rest of the people talking about LOVING various foods. America has a morbid obesity problem because of the encouragement of LOVING food over LOVING people.

Healthy thin people rarely think about food. They forget to eat. They believe that time and money spent buying food, cooking food, talking about food, thinking about food is wasted time: they are busy loving PEOPLE instead of food, doing ACTIVITIES instead of cooking, spending money on USEFUL things instead of wasting it on food that ends up as excrement.

The nation's obsession with food and restaurants and advertisements and then dieting to get rid of the pounds put on by being obsessed with food is almost criminal. People should ad up every minute spent thinking about food, talking about food, reading cookbooks, planning recipes, buying food, cooking food, eating food, cleaning up after eating food, earning the money to buy excess food, going to meetings to try to lose the weight put on by the focus on food, IT IS TOTAL INSANITY.

For too many Americans, food is the 'legal' drug. Yes, drug addicts spent a lot of time focused on THEIR drug: the food addicts spend even more time focused on THEIR drug.

What hole in one's life is one filing up with food? It will NEVER be filled up. Take the money saved on buying too much food and give it to people who have no money for food. Use the time spent at a Weight Watcher meeting learning how to LOVE LOVE LOVE (less fattening) food and put it to good use reading to an abandoned elderly or handicapped person or helping out at the animal shelter.

As long as the obsession is on food (any kind of food), life will lack balance. Without balance, we tip over into very bad physical, emotional or spiritual vacuums. Weight Watchers is not the answer, Weight Watchers is the problem, one of the problems.

Think about it.

I've been on both programs over the past year and it works. I've lost 55 lbs. by making lifestyle changes supported by both plans.

Really honored you used my comment on here. :)

I stand by the SP Program. It really makes you think about what you're putting into your mouth. This weekend I ate a lot more because family was visiting. Do I feel guilty? Nope. I tracked and used up most of my weeklies. It was worth it! Including that 18 point blizzard. :D

I don't find WW super low carb. I eat a fair amount of pasta and bread. A cup of whole wheat pasta is still 5 sp. I pair it with a side salad or carrots or mushrooms done in the actifry. Even on PointsPlus you shouldn't have a lot of pasta in one meal.

Yes, it's working for me. But people need different things. If you are a member and hungry, I suggest taking your tracker and getting a leader look at it or try the 24/7 chat or Connect and asking members. Sometimes it could be because we're lacking in something. I am definitely not hungry on this plan. I eat a lot of food. And I still have my treats.

Regardless, if this program doesn't work for you, it doesn't mean it's bad. It's obviously working for some people. This is your journey and however you choose to get healthy is for you.

The new WW plan is not conducive to losing weight. You can't just eat all of the fruit you want and expect to lose weight. Sugar is sugar no matter where it comes from. Plain and simple. Everyone should do themselves a favor and save their money and invest in a good Keto diet instead.

I've started with a smart plus program in May. I've had consistent weight loss when I follow the program. However I find it if I don't earn lots of additional fit points at the beginning of the week, it's a struggle to stay on top of the weight loss.

If you are having success on the old pp program, don't change. Duh.

I reached my goal 5 yrs ago on PP and am still there. I'm lucky to not like sugary things but have to watch dairy (cheeses, creams) I never purchased their boxes of snacks. Why does everyone have to eat between meals. And if you do - Apple, carrots etc. I see my friends struggle and then have 2 glasses of wine with dinner. Again, duh. What you eat should not be a "diet" it's a life changing way to eat forever. You will feel better and be healthier

Weight Watchers saved my life! At age 26, I had tried everything including 4 day starvation diets, having lost a thousand pounds starting at the age of 10, up and down! My entire family was obese and I knew I was following my mother's path of 2 open heart surgeries, diabetes and high blood pressure. When they opened a new ww meeting in 1973 nearby, I joined and didn't believe I could really eat full meals and lose! When I hear all of your comments about the various program changes, I chuckle because the program I used back then was very rigid- 5 fish, 3 beef and 1 liver serving each week! But, it worked! I lost 40 lbs in 10 months. I had been living on 2 food groups - fat and sugar- until I learned one simple trick- at each meal meal, half of your plate should be fruits and veggies, 1/4 protein and 1/4 carb (with fiber, I.e. Whole grain bread, brown rice, potato etc). Get one of those divided plates with 3 sections. Example: today, breakfast at Subway- 6 inch whole grain sub with turkey, ham, brown mustard and hold the mayo and a ton of veggies and a bag of apples. I was a Weight Watchers leader for nearly 40 years but haven't counted a point in years! I'm now retired and still at goal. My advice- stop counting points but start eating 3 good size meals per day and fruit between meals. After a few days, your sweet cravings disappear! Stop thinking of this as a diet or something you HAVE to do TO yourself but rather something you want to do FOR YOURSELF! Diets come to an end and you'll regain the weight. In order to keep off the weight, you have to find a way of eating that is identical to the way you'll maintain! Basically, Power Foods are the secret. But most of all, start taking better care of yourself! I always told my members that I had to find other things in life that bring me joy other than food! Blessings to all of you. I miss my members! (Lori's Weight Watchers group) on Facebook. Join the discussion.

I lost over 50lbs on the Points and Points Plus systems...and any time in that duration that I had to step away from the system and put on some lbs, I'd go back and lose it.

Then the Smart Points system was implemented and it all went down matter how consistent I tracked...the number was rising on the scale...I ended up GAINING 20lbs. Something just was not connecting with me. I just felt deprived. I can only eat so much protein in a day. And not being able to have my treats without feeling guilty was very difficult...and that led to binging and still feeling guilty :(

I quit early this summer...I certainly was not going to pay $45 a month to gain weight when I can do that for free! LOL. So I took the summer to enjoy myself and since last week I have been doing a hybrid of Points Plus and good ole calorie tracking on my own...I'm already losing the weight I put on.

I agree with what Kelly said in your article...if only they can have more customized systems. An option of either SP or PP+.

I stopped at weight watchers about three months ago and have lost 10 pounds since then. Before that I would be down 2 pounds and then up 2 pounds and that went on for months. All I did was think about food. What am I going to eat for breakfast how many points is it, what if I going to eat for lunch and how many points is it and on and on and on. Since I have quit I only think about food when I am hungry. I still eat healthy and eat a lot less and while on tweight watchers and I say 42.95 a month. I even exercise more now than I did when I was on weight watchers because I have more time to exercise so I'm not trying to figure out the points and what I'm going to eat all the time.

you can easily find a similar WW point plus app by just going to your phone's app page and doing a search...or just do a plain old google search using your computer/tablet, its not difficult.

Most people aren't able to plan for their 'cheats' or splurges because life gets in the way.

I much prefer the old points plus program. I do Simply Filling when I need to get the points off. You can have 7 pp a day for your splurge. Works for me.

I am also honored you used my comment, Snack Girl. I LOVE SmartPoints! I also eat quite a bit of carbs -- bread every day, potatoes, brown rice, whole wheat pasta. I also eat lots of fruit -- between four and six a day. It is TOTALLY different than sugar from candy, etc. And I disagree with the comment above about Weight Watchers wants you to think about food 24 hours a day. Not true. Food is rarely talked about in the meeting room -- at least rarely at my meetings. Sure, they have snacks you can buy, but they do not push that at my center. I lost 94 pounds on Points Plus, but I am maintaining very well on Smart Points. I go to meetings each week -- and it is totally free since I am a free Lifetimer. I never buy the WW food products -- too expensive in money and points and not good for you. I rarely eat processed foods. Weight Watchers is definitely the only way to go.

On the old program is was fast to start since it was a radical change for me, but I plateaued far too long with no movement for months at a time. On the new system I am now back to the weight I had in High School and still losing. I have 40 lbs left to go before my medically sound ideal weight. Am I hungry? Sometimes, but a fruit or a hard boiled egg takes care of that. Can I indulge? Yes, but I have to plan it. Can I still eat out with friends and family? Did so twice this week at the office and at home. To those who complain I have to ask, did you really give the new system a solid try? Or did you adapt it to what you were used to doing? If it's the former, I'm sorry it's not working for you. If it's the latter, that's the problem. For me, it works, and I'm happy ^_^

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