You might have heard (via spokesperson Oprah Winfrey) that Weight Watchers is revamping its image. Instead of the decades-old points-for-calories program that was the company’s hallmark, it has now launched SmartPoints, a new way of looking at food intake that factors in points for things like fat and sugar content, and compares your overall food intake to how active you are.
Weight Watchers has been competing with new trendy diets like the Paleo Diet, as well as new approaches to dieting that consider the whole – diet, exercise and lifestyle – rather than just calorie intake. As a result, the company decided to step out of its comfort zone and revamp its system.
Part of the new system is SmartPoints. According to the company’s website, every food is assigned a SmartPoints value — one number based on four components: calories, saturated fat, sugar, and protein. Calories establish the baseline of how many SmartPoints values the food is worth. Protein lowers the amount of SmartPoints that something “costs.” Sugar and saturated fat increase the number.
Much like fitness tracker apps like My Fitness Pal that track food and exercise, Weight Watchers SmartPoints are also tracked through their mobile app. In addition to tracking the points for the food you eat, you can track portion size to be more accurate, as well as your day’s activities.
Some of the points for foods are changing – namely those with added sugar and fat content like fried foods and high-sugar beverages. If you eat healthier foods that have low fat content such as salmon and chicken, you accumulate fewer points. Fruits and vegetables are the best in terms of points – they are worth zero, so the company encourages you to eat as much of these foods as you can.
While some may argue that fruits have high sugar content, Weight Watchers reasons that sugar from fruit is a naturally occurring sugar – not a processed, added one – so it absorbs better in the body and as well as containing more nutrients.
Protein is a major factor in the new points program, since it helps to repair tissue and maintain lean muscle, and aids hormone and enzyme function. It can also help keep you full longer. Lean meat and poultry, fish, and plant-based proteins are worth fewer points and are better choices on the SmartPoints plan.
Weekly points allowances have changed too, so your allowance may be different on SmartPoints. The lowest daily points allowance a member receives is now 30 SmartPoints, so if you were at less than that on the previous points scale, your daily points will go up. If your daily points allowance was higher than 30 then it may have changed or stayed the same. The other difference is that your weekly points allowance is now customized based on several factors such as age, gender, height, weight and goal. Rather than everyone receiving 49 weekly points like on PointsPlus, on SmartPoints you could receive 42, 35, 28 or other multiples of 7 (so that you can easily divide them across the days of the week if you choose).
The main idea for the new SmartPoints system is to steer members towards making smarter food choices, as well as help them lead more active, healthy lifesyles. Weight Watchers intends to focus on the long-term goal: a healthy body. For more information on please read our Weight Watchers review found in our healthy diet category.