Did you know that in the US, 1 out of every 3 people is overweight or obese? The quickly growing epidemic has opened up a whole new market of diet plans and pills. We have all seen these crazy commercials claiming things like "One pill a day and you will drop 50 pounds in a month, and you don't even have to exercise or give up the cheeseburgers!" Yeah, right. In reality weight loss and fitness require a combination of healthy eating, portion control, and exercise. These three things are lifestyle changes that can be hard for people to make, fortunately, there is one diet plan that incorporates these three aspects into a "points" program. Weight Watchers is, in my opinion, the healthiest diet plan out there. The Weight Watchers diet is composed of two main parts: the points system and the support groups. Those who join Weight Watchers are strongly encouraged to take part in both aspects to maximize benefits. 

The Point System

The point system is basically an easier way for people to eat healthy. Insead of counting calories, carbs, sodium, and sugars, the points system gives you a set number of points you are allowed each day based on your weight and target weight. Then you enter everything you eat, or are about to eat, into the points calculator, either on your computer or as an app for smartphones. The points calculator will tell you how many points the food you are about to eat is worth. This system only works if you do not eat more than your allowed points. 

The point system also gives you portion sizes, for example, 1 cup of white pasta may be 5 points, so if you plan on having 2 cups thats 10 points. This point system also places almost no value on fruits and veggies, theoretically you could eat as many vegetables as you want on weight watchers and not rack up any points. The theory behind this is to get people to snack on healthy things to save their points for meals and such. 


The Support Groups

The second part of the Weight Watchers plan are the support groups. These are generally weekly or monthly meetings where participants will weigh in, set the goal for next time, and learn valuable nutritional information. These meetings are set up almost like a drug counseling group with members offering one another support and advice, and the leader of the meeting will provide nutritional information to members. 

During these support groups there is also emphasis put on the importance of exercise. While Weight Watchers generally covers the healthy eating perspective, to be successful participants must also exercise regularly. While the support groups are in no way mandatory, they are incredibly helpful and motivational to participants. 

Doctor Recommended

After working in multiple nursing homes and hospitals, I have learned that this is actually the diet plan that doctors, dietitians, and nurses will recommend to patients who need to lose weight, but are having a difficult time doing so. I was pretty surprised the first time I heard this being recommended since I assumed it was another fad diet, however, one of the dietitians explained to me why they recommend this diet. 

  1. It's safe. Providing participants are using all their points each day, they should be getting better, balanced nutrition while losing weight
  2. It works. Weight Watchers is basically just a simpler way to eat a balanced diet. The points make it easier for people to figure out whats good and bad. 
  3. Teaches portion control. Because of the point program it allows participants to not only watch what they are eating, but how much as well. 
  4. Support system. Many medical professionals believe that overeating is an addiction. They believe that the ability to talk with other members doing the same things as you will encourage participants to continue. 
  5. It's easy. The point system is far easier for most individuals to understand than counting calories, the food pyramid, serving size, and other nutritional information. 
ExerciseCredit: U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Kevin T. Murray Jr.

Dietitians and nutritionists recognise the benefits of Weight Watchers, however, they also know that exercise is just as important. Along with the diet plan, generally medical personnel will also set up a fitness plan for the individual. Providing the two are followed together, the results will occur over a healthy length of time and will result in a healthier life for the patient.  

If you are looking for a diet plan to follow, Weight Watchers is a great choice. It is important to remember that exercise is also key to losing weight and getting fit. Healthy eating is great, however, you won't see the results you want without a little sweat! It is also very important to remember to keep going. Weight Watchers is great for getting you into healthy eating and exercising habits, but you can't just quit when you reach your target weight. These changes should be life long lifestyle changes in order to maximize your health benefits.