Weight Watchers Ditches Old Points System and Turns to Natural Foods

Weight Watchers’ big selling point used to be that you could eat whatever you want and still lose weight—provided, of course, that you kept your daily calorie count under the recommended average.  While using their trademark “points” system, disciples of Weight Watchers didn’t have to stick to kale and tofu.  It was as acceptable to have three points worth of candy instead of three points of fruit salad. 

But now the weight loss company has introduced their revamped PointsPlus program: a new system that discourages processed foods and empty calories and tries to steer its members towards more fruits and vegetables.

To some, it seems a bit hypocritical.  In the past, Weight Watchers has brought in huge profits from their brand of frozen and processed foods: everything from frozen cheeseburgers to chocolate muffins, all with the Points stamp of approval on them.  Now, high-fat and processed foods are eschewed for a more natural diet. 

Under the new plan, virtually all fruits and vegetables have zero points, meaning you can eat as many of them as you want, while previously WW-approved snacks like unbuttered popcorn and granola bars have shot up in point content.  The logic is that natural foods are higher in protein and fiber, which keep the body fuller for longer and also require more energy to break down. 

Critics say that the new plan will inhibit the dramatic weight loss Weight Watchers’ customers are looking for.  Fruit, after all, has a high sugar content, and, to many nutritionists, a calorie is a calorie: it doesn’t matter that you eat “healthfully” if you eat too much.  But proponents of the new plan say that putting the emphasize on natural foods will help dieters eat less: it’s processed foods and empty calories that lead to cravings and the cycle of bingeing.

Proponents of natural foods also hope that Weight Watchers’ new direction is the first step to a more holistic view of food and nutrition.  Instead of simply focusing on calories and weight loss, dieters may shift their focus to helping food fuel their bodies by looking at protein or nutrient content, for example.

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