If you’re wondering which weight loss diet is best, you’ll be interested to learn that Weight Watchers was recently ranked Best Diet for Weight Loss by US News & World Report, in its second annual rankings for “best diets.”
I came to the same conclusion without an in depth analysis by a panel of experts, but it’s always nice to have your instincts confirmed 🙂
I really love everything about Weight Watchers including the program, meetings, apps, e-tools, cookbooks and recipes.
Here’s a summary of What US News & World Report had to say:
What is the theory behind Weight Watchers?
There’s more to weight loss than counting calories. By eating healthy, you’ll fill up and stay fuller longer so you’ll eat less and lose weight.
The Weight Watchers’ PointsPlus program, which launched in November 2010, assigns every food a points plus value, based on its protein, carbohydrates, fat, and fiber.
Choices that fill you up the longest (nutritionally dense foods) have lower pointsplus value than “empty calories.” Most fruits and vegetables have zero pointsplus values. Processed foods, like hot dogs and bologna, have high pointsplus values, so you need to eat less of them less often to be successful.
How does Weight Watchers work?
There’s no fixed membership period. The focus is on developing a healthy lifestyle, so exercise and support are also big components of the Weight Watchers Plan.
You can do the program either on line or by attending weekly meetings. (People who attend weekly meetings lose 3x more weight than those who try to go it alone.)
What happens during weekly meetings? You’ll swap weight-loss tips and recipes with other members, and step on the scale for a confidential weigh-in.
The plan is very flexible. You can eat whatever you want–provided you stick to your daily PointsPlus value target, a number calculated based on your gender, weight, height, and age.
The company offers hundreds of recipes, each with a PointsPlus value, to show how it fits into your eating plan. If you’re preparing a dish that’s not listed in the database, the website has a recipe builder where you can calculate points ingredient by ingredient.
How well does Weight Watchers conform to accepted dietary guidelines?
Weight Watchers is within the recommended US Dietary Guidelines for the major macronutrients – fat, protein and carbohydrates.
If you adhere to the dietary guidelines, 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 guidelines for fiber, and most of the other important vitamins and minerals. The plan also suggests taking a daily multivitamin for extra insurance.
How easy is it to follow the Weight Watchers Plan?
You won’t go hungry, which is important for the successful weight loss. Daily points are always high enough to allow for three meals a day, plus at least two snacks. The program emphasizes nutrient rich “Power Foods” which will keep you feeling fuller longer.
No foods are off-limits. if you’re craving pizza or a burger, enjoy it. Weight Watchers helps you control portions and tweak your favorite dishes so your meals are as healthy as possible.
Treating yourself is encouraged to avoid deprivation. You’re allowed a weekly cushion of 49 extra points on top of your individualized target, so if you’re feeling particularly ravenous one day, or have a special event, you can adjust.
In a 2006 British Medical Journal study, 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.
How much does it cost?
Cost varies, depending on whether you choose to attend weekly in-person meetings or use the online tools only. A monthly pass to unlimited in-person meetings is $39.95, which also includes access to eTools. Or you can pay as you go; meetings are $12 to $15 per week, with a one-time $20 registration fee. To follow online only, a 3-month plan is $65. None of the costs include food.
Does the diet allow for restrictions and preferences?
Most people will be able to customize Weight Watchers to their individual needs – vegetarian, low sodium, gluten free, etc.
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