Weight Watchers Diet: How it Works, Menus & Notice

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

The Weight Watchers diet, also known as the Points diet, is one of the best known in the world for weight loss. It has become popular especially in the United States, where over the past fifty years many celebrities have adopted its guidelines to achieve their desired weight. Weight Watchers and the program it offers is based on an eating plan, an exercise plan, and a support network to avoid temptations and maintain good habits.

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

What is the Weight Watchers diet?

Weight Watchers is a commercial weight loss plan that emphasizes good food choices and physical activity. With the PointsPlus system, values ​​are assigned to foods, drinks and recipes. You receive an allowable daily number of points (Target PointsPlus) based on factors such as gender, age, height, weight and the amount of exercise you do. The goal is to lose one to two pounds (0.5 kilograms to 0.9 kilograms) per week.

The Weight Watchers diet combines good food choices and physical activities for better weight loss.

Dieters learn to choose more nutritious foods by following the PointsPlus system. The underlying concept of PointsPlus is that certain foods require more effort on the part of the body to process. This leads to a longer feeling of fullness and more energy. Eating a meal that includes protein and fiber will make you feel fuller because these nutrients act as the best appetite suppressants And it will give you more energy than a meal high in sugars and fats.

To determine the PointsPlus value of foods, Weight Watchers offers a special formula that takes into account the amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fat and fiber a food contains. If your PointsPlus goal is 39, for example, you can split those points so that you use 8 for breakfast, 10 for lunch, 15 for dinner, and two snacks (each worth 3 points).

Weight Watchers offers many meal ideas with points already calculated, such as a serving of lasagna (equivalent to 6 points) or a grilled chicken salad (8 points). Although counting points is an important part of the program, Weight Watchers also encourages participants to be more physically active.

History of the Weight Watchers Diet

The Weight Watchers program was created by a housewife named Jean Nidetch, who reached a weight of 97 kilos. Her overweight led her to enter a clinic to lose weight and her doctor suggested that to facilitate the process she should be in contact with people in the same situation. Jean decided to train as a dietician and, in 1975, wrote the story of WW, which initially was little more than a menu exchange where participants received recipes with their assigned caloric value . In a short time, it became a brand, with its own line of drinks, substitutes and special publications.

How does the Weight Watchers diet work?

Although the Weight Watchers diet has undergone some changes over the years, it still focuses on a balanced diet. It consists of eating all food groups in moderation. This plan encourages the inclusion of a wide variety of foods. It therefore promotes balance. All foods are allowed, which will save you frustration. Weight Watchers uses a points system to record food intake. Each meal has an assigned number of points, based on its calorie count and the amount of saturated fat, sugar and protein it contains.

The WW Freestyle program, which was introduced in December 2017, increased the number of zero-point foods. The list now includes more than 200 options, such as seafood, eggs, vegetables and fruits. At Weight Watchers, there are no prescribed foods. You can prepare your own menu based on the total number of points awarded based on height, weight, age and gender.

Weight Watchers is not a fad approach, but rather a slow and steady plan. Due to the combination of tracking points, choosing healthy foods, mastering lifestyle changes and increasing activity, whoever follows it will lose weight. Weight Watchers is a great program because it focuses on portion sizes. He is well balanced and will entrust you with the responsibility of making the right decisions. Which means you will play an active role in your treatment. You can even have a bagel or dessert but not every day.

Weight Watchers Diet
An example of a lunch allowed on the Weight Watchers diet.

How does the Weight Watchers diet work?

The first step is to decide whether to attend the meetings in person or complete the program online. Meetings are weekly. In the first meeting, you will weigh yourself (privately), set your weight loss goals with the leader, and learn the basics. The leader introduces new topics each week and offers advice. Group members encourage each other by offering strategies and sharing recipes.

Similar to face-to-face meetings, the online program creates personalized weight loss goals. But by joining the Weight Watchers program online, you can participate from your computer or from your mobile phone. There are online tools to track food choices, activities and weight. You can also access Weight Watchers’ nutrition database, recipes, dining guides, workouts, and fitness demos. If you prefer to attend face-to-face meetings, you can sign up to use these online tools (eTools), but it costs a little more.

The monthly cost can be a drawback, especially since you have to purchase all the products. Although there are always special discounts, it can cost $18 per month for the face-to-face meetings or online program. If you wish to have the eTools in addition to the meetings, the additional cost is $13 per month. Overall, the Weight Watchers program offers a healthy way to lose weight. The focus is on getting support (through face-to-face meetings or online communities), making better food choices, and being physically active. The goal is to lose weight gradually by making positive lifestyle changes.

Allowed and Prohibited Foods on the Weight Watchers Diet

Recommended foods

Although the Weight Watchers points system emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods, including vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins, there are no forbidden foods.

The most recommended foods include:

  • lean proteins such as skinless chicken, eggs, tofu, fish, shellfish and fat-free yogurt;
  • non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, green vegetables, cauliflower and peppers;
  • fresh, frozen and unsweetened canned fruit;
  • healthy carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, beans and whole grain products;
  • healthy fats like avocado, olive oil and nuts.

Foods to avoid

  • sugary drinks
  • fries
  • processed meats
  • sweets and confectionery
  • cakes and cookies

Who should follow this diet?

Weight Watchers is a pretty healthy plan that is suitable for everyone. But its focus on nutritious, low-calorie foods makes it ideal for people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and even heart disease. If you choose ready-to-eat foods, check the labels, as some may be high in sodium.

In the case of people with diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol, it is necessary that they receive nutritional education in order to make the right food choices. But it is a diet that can be adapted to various chronic pathologies since it does not have major restrictions. And beyond the benefits for sick people, this diet is as effective as best fat burners to help you lose weight.

Who should not follow this diet?

For those who have a tendency toward overconsumption, cravings, and compulsive eating, it is best to avoid this type of approach as these individuals can lose control by ingesting foods high in fat and/or sugar. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should first consult a nutritionist to avoid deficiencies.

pregnant woman exercise
Please note, the Weight Watchers diet is contraindicated in pregnant women.

The benefits of the Weight Watchers diet

The advantages of this diet are as follows:

  • Easy to follow: it does not require high knowledge of nutrition or diet;
  • Promotes satiety: foods rich in fiber, protein and water act as effective appetite suppressants.
  • Not restrictive.
  • No special food is needed
  • Relatively economical.

Cons of the Weight Watchers diet

The disadvantages of the Weight Watchers diet are:

  • A follower runs the risk of making incorrect food choices if he or she does not have proper nutrition education;
  • Counting points for food and meals can be tedious in the long run and therefore discouraging.
  • Inclusion of too much processed starch in foods prepared by Weight Watchers.
  • Some users find that the program’s excessive flexibility can lead to temptations. If they eat something that is not considered healthy, it could cause them to overeat that particular food.
  • The most negative aspect of the program is the fact that the meetings are not led by people educated in nutrition. Rather, the meetings are led by people who have successfully lost weight through the program.

Weekly Weight Watchers Diet Menu

Typical DayBreakfast (5 points)Snack
(2 points)
Lunch (8 points)Afternoon
(1 point)
Dinner (4 points)
MondaySlice of whole wheat bread (1) + scoop of peanut butter (2) + banana + blueberry jam Pumpkin with sage + orange + chestnuts (2)Spinach and pear salad (1) + a handful of nuts (2.5) + chicken (2.5) + egg (2)Pear in syrup (1)Baked potatoes (2) gratin + cheese (2)
TuesdayOatmeal infusion + chocolate cookies (5)½ glass of vanilla yogurt (1) + 5 peanuts (1)Meat lasagna (8)Grapes (1)Noodle soup (2) + vegetables (0) + chicken (2)
WednesdayEnglish breakfast (5)Cucumbers with cheese spread + onion + black pepper (2)Turkey sandwich (8)10gr Pipes (1)Pizza with tomato + pepper + onion + garlic + basil (4)
THURSDAYNutritious breakfast (5)2 ½ handfuls of popcorn (2)Salmon with roasted potatoes + asparagus (8)Dried apricots (1)Spicy lentil soup (2) + carrot (0) + ½ Greek yogurt (2)
FridayOatmeal + raspberry yogurt (5)½ caramelized banana with blueberries (2)Noodle soup + legumes + vegetables + chicken (8)Avocado + tomato bites (1)Tuna salad (1) + tomato (0) + egg (2) + onion + capers + black olives (1) + parsley + vinegar + pepper + salt
SATURDAYFruit smoothie (5)Apple pancake (2)Bread burger stuffed with grilled cheese + tomatoes + onions (8)25g almonds (1)1 black bread sandwich (1) + shrimp (2.5) + spinach leaves (0) + avocado (0.5) + lemon (0)
SundayToasted wholemeal bread (2) + scrambled eggs (2) + tomato + onion (0) + 1 slice of melon (1)1 banana (2)Caesar salad (8)25g of cereals with fiber (1)Mashed potatoes (1.5) + spinach + ham (or pepper or asparagus) + ricotta (0.5) + egg (2) + onion + cheddar

Opinion of health professionals

It is not ethical for nutritionists and other “specialists” who claim to be in medicine to monetize their health advice. But thanks to the points system, you can eat certain foods in moderation that should be avoided on many other diets. What makes this diet so appealing is that it is not a drastic diet. So you can stay there longer and reach your goal weight slowly and safely.

User reviews of the Weight Watchers diet

Angélique weighed 105 kg for a height of 1.59 meters. Not feeling very comfortable, she was looking for a framework to lose weight without really depriving herself. And she claims to have found this framework: the Weight Watchers method for losing weight by eating a balanced diet. “What I really liked is that the Weight Watchers diet is incredibly easy to follow and you can eat whatever you want.”

Obviously satisfied with the diet, another user says “the only thing I complain about is the Weight Watchers smartphone application which sometimes tends to crash or not work as expected.”

The cost of the Weight Watchers program is the subject of criticism from many followers. Many people find the program quite expensive and would have preferred it to be a little cheaper.