If you have ever tried WW or heard of WW, you might know that they are a advertised weight loss program helps their clients lose weight by using a point system. This point system awards certain "points" to certain foods, indicating their level of "healthy" based on amount of calories. For example, a food with 0 points are low calorie foods. Foods with higher points are higher calorie foods and WW encourages their clients to limit these foods. However, if you ever reached a plateau or even gained weight on WW , its most likely not your fault. The point system is not an accurate tool to use for weight loss and can end up forming skewed perceptions of portions, poor relationship with foods and even cause a larger rebound in weight in the long run. WW counting points for weight loss
As a weight loss Dietitian, I am going to break in down to you in simple terms why the point system does NOT work and what you need to do instead to see long term, real and healthy weight loss. So, lets dive in!
The Point System
First off, foods should not be awarded points, colors (red, yellow, green or otherwise known as the stoplight approach) or any other good or bad association. Right off the bat, you are beginning a weight loss journey that is developing an unhealthy relationship with certain foods. This can be bad news for your long term outlook on food which may cause some black and white mindsets of living in the all or nothing. At WW, they award a lot of naturally low calorie foods 0 points which gives the impression that you can truly eat as many of these foods as you would like and you will still be able to lose weight. Unfortunately, there are no foods that you can eat until your heart desires that will not have an impact on weight. Even water impacts weight! The biggest flaw with this model is that clients will over eat foods that have 0 points and stall their weight loss. This can cause confusion and self doubt that there might be something "wrong" with them which is why they are not seeing results.
Why It Doesn't Work
The point system is flawed in more than one way. On WW you may assume you can consume as many 0 point foods as you would like and still lose weight, however this is not the case. Our body can only handle so much food coming in at one time. If our body gets more food than it needs in one sitting, it has a built in method of converting that excess food into sugar and then into fat for storage later. Another reason the point system doesn't work is because it doesn't teach clients how to create a balanced meal to feel full and burn fat. The point system focuses on eating a majority of low calories foods and limiting high calorie foods which can leave individuals hungry and tired. The main reason the point system doesn't work is due to lack of education on portion sizes and how to build a complete and balanced meal for optimal satiety and weight loss long term.
What To Do Instead
As a weight loss Dietitian, I am here to give you the inside scoop on what to do instead of counting points to lose weight and keep it off! First step is, stop counting food as points and even tracking calories for that matter. The most important part of weight loss is portion size and content of foods on your plate. Portion sizes will naturally help to control caloric intake. As you are beginning your weight loss journey, adopt the mindset of an 80/20 approach. 80% or more, consume wholesome unprocessed foods while <20% of the time consuming fun processed foods. This takes the approach that all foods fit into a healthy weight loss plan. After you set your 80/20 foundation, incorporate a protein, vegetable, starch and healthy fat at your main meals to create a balanced plate. This will provide you with more energy, longer feelings of fullness and time between meals to burn more body fat. Portion out your food groups when first starting off to see exactly what you need to be consuming for weight loss. Each food group has a different recommended portion based on age, gender, activity level and more. Check in with your Dietitian to see what your proper portion size recommendations are. Once you balance your plate and portion your food, you are ready to go! This is a much healthier and maintainable method for weight loss.
If you don't know where to begin on your weight loss journey, check out my meal planning and recipe book, "Whole Fueled: Whole Food Recipes For Weight Loss" available on Amazon in eBook and paperback. If you are looking for a deep dive into creating your own customized weight loss nutrition plan made for you by a Dietitian, set up your free 15 minute discovery call here to see if we would be a good fit working together!
Have a great week! Kathryn Janeczek MS, RDN, LDN