February 20, 2012
January 23, 2012
I have never done Weight Watchers myself, but feel it's a great program. Here is what a panel of experts have to say about it:
Weight Watchers is a smart, effective diet. It surpassed other commercial diet plans in multiple areas, including short- and long-term weight loss and how easy it is to follow. It’s also nutritionally sound and safe, according to experts. Among its pluses: An emphasis on group support, lots of fruits and vegetables, and room for occasional indulgences.
Check out the full review here:
Resembles these U.S. News-rated diets:
Jenny Craig, Mayo Clinic Diet
You’ll drop up to 2 pounds weekly.
There’s more to dieting than counting calories—if you make healthy choices that fill you up, you’ll eat less. Weight Watchers’ PointsPlus program, launched in November 2010, assigns every food a points value, based on its protein, carbohydrate, fat, fiber, calories, and how hard your body has to work to burn it off. Choices that fill you up the longest “cost” the least, and nutritionally dense foods cost less than empty calories. So if you’re wavering between a 200-calorie fruit smoothie and a 200-calorie iced coffee, the smoothie is the smarter choice.
How does the Weight Watchers Diet work?
There’s no fixed membership period; many people who join Weight Watchers stick with it even after they’ve shed unwanted pounds. You can eat whatever you want—provided you stick to your daily PointsPlus target, a number based on your gender, weight, height, and age. You can find the points values of more than 40,000 foods on Weight Watchers’ website. Processed choices like bologna usually have the highest point values (meaning they should be eaten in small amounts or less often) while fresh fruits and vegetables carry zero points, so you can eat as many as you’d like. That’s because they’re high in fiber and are more filling than, say, a candy bar. (Fruit juice, dried fruit, and starchy vegetables don’t count as freebies, since they’re higher in calories.) Weight Watchers also pushes specially- designated Power Foods, or the best choices among similar foods. If you’re mulling 10 types of canned soup, for example, you can quickly see which has the least sugar and sodium, the most fiber, and the healthiest types and amounts of fat.
Will you lose weight?
Most studies suggest Weight Watchers is effective. None have evaluated the new PointsPlus program, which replaced the Points program that preceded it. But the new system is not different enough from the old to negate previous findings.
Does it have cardiovascular benefits?
Weight Watchers appears to promote heart health.
Can it prevent or control diabetes?
No good evidence suggests Weight Watchers accomplishes either, but by promoting weight loss, the program should help. If you’re overweight, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your current weight can help stave off some diseases, among them diabetes.
Are there health risks?
No indications of serious risks or side effects have surfaced.
How well does it conform to accepted dietary guidelines?
Fat. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that 20 to 30 percent of daily calories come from fat. Weight Watchers is within that range.
Protein. It’s within the acceptable range for protein consumption.
Carbohydrates. It’s within the acceptable range for carb consumption.
Salt. The majority of Americans eat too much salt. If you adhere to the diet, and get the recommended daily servings of fruits, vegetables, and dairy, while skipping processed food, Weight Watchers says you’ll be in line with the government’s suggested sodium cap of 2,300 milligrams a day, or 1,500 mg. daily if you’re 51 or older, African-American, or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. Of course, exactly how much salt you consume depends on which foods you select.
Other key nutrients. The 2010 dietary guidelines call these “nutrients of concern” because many Americans get too little of one or more of them:
Fiber. Most Americans need about 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day. While Weight Watchers dieters shape their own menus, company materials offer guidance on how to reach a healthy amount. For example, an orange, which has 3 grams of fiber, is better than a glass of orange juice, which has less than half a gram.
Potassium. A sufficient amount of this important nutrient, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, counters salt's ability to raise blood pressure, decreases bone loss, and reduces the risk of kidney disease. It's not easy to get the recommended daily 4,700 mg. from food. (Bananas are high in potassium, yet you'd have to eat 11 a day.) Most Americans take in far too little. Exactly how much you get on Weight Watchers depends on what you choose to eat. But the company recommends adding “potassium powerhouses” to your meals, such as layering avocado on sandwiches, adding dried apricots to rice salads, or blending orange juice into smoothies.
Calcium. It’s essential not only to build and maintain bones but to make blood vessels and muscles function properly. Many Americans don’t get enough. Women and anyone older than 50 should try especially hard to meet the government’s recommendation of 1,000 mg. to 1,300 mg. per day. How much you get on Weight Watchers will vary depending on your food choices, but you should be able to meet the goal with low-fat dairy products and calcium-fortified juices and cereals.
Vitamin B-12. Adults should shoot for 2.4 micrograms per day of this nutrient, which helps make DNA. How much you get on Weight Watchers depends on your meals, but meeting the standard is doable. Make sure your grocery additions include yogurt, which is a good source of the vitamin.
Vitamin D. Adults who don’t get enough sunlight need to meet the government’s 15- microgram recommendation with food or a supplement to lower the risk of bone fractures. You’ll get enough on Weight Watchers. After you’ve weaned yourself off the program, eating just 3 ounces of sockeye salmon, which packs about 20 micrograms of vitamin D, will satisfy the daily requirement.
Supplement recommended? Yes. Weight Watchers suggests taking a daily multivitamin to ensure you’re getting enough calcium, zinc, magnesium, iron, vitamin B-12, and other important nutrients. A 2008 study in the Nutrition Journal that pitted Weight Watchers against Slim-Fast, Eat Yourself Slim, and a variation of Atkins, found that after two months, Weight Watchers dieters experienced declines in recommended daily intake of riboflavin, niacin, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, though they didn’t necessarily dip below recommended levels. Despite the drop, the researchers said intake remained above the suggested level for most nutrients.
How easy is it to follow?
You won’t go hungry—daily points are always high enough to allow for three meals a day, plus at least two snacks. Treating yourself is encouraged, and popular food choices include pasta, black bean soup, and filet mignon. Sandwiches are topped with avocado or cheese, and fat-free ice cream is a recommended dessert.
In the 2006 British Medical Journal study mentioned above, researchers found that 20 of 33 overweight or obese adults on Weight Watchers were still participating a year later. Programs like Weight Watchers that offer emotional support and group meetings lead to higher compliance than a do-it-yourself diet, according to the findings.
Whether you’re online or on the street, Weight Watchers makes it easy to check the points value of what you’re eating. There’s a pocket guide, pocket calculator, and even a PointsPlus database iPhone application. Alcohol is limited. Company products and online resources may be helpful.
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