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Weight Watchers

The Promise

Pasta, steak, cheese, even ice cream. You can eat what you want on Weight Watchers – provided you're willing to count the points. Each food is assigned a number of points, and foods that fill you up have fewer points than foods that are just empty calories.

This isn’t so much a diet as a lifestyle change program designed to help you learn how to eat healthier and become more active, so you lose the weight for good.

Weight Watchers says that people who follow the PointsPlus plan can expect to lose 1 or 2 pounds a week. Studies have shown that this rate of weight loss leads to long-term success.

Weight Watchers also recently launched a 2-week starter program called Simple Start, which includes more than 30 meal ideas; tips for dining out; photos of recommended portion sizes; motivational support; and suggestions for snacks and beverages. You do Simple Start on your own via a mobile app.

You can also follow the whole diet online entirely on your own: track food and exercise, chart progress, and find recipes and workouts. Or you can go to in-person group meetings, where you’ll weigh in and get support from other people going through the same process. That's part of the Weight Watchers appeal: You're not on your own. A Consumer Reports survey found that people who attended meetings were more satisfied with the program and lost more weight than people who used only the online tools.

Does It Work?

Many studies have shown that Weight Watchers can help you lose weight and keep it off.

Compared to people trying to lose weight on their own, people doing Weight Watchers lost more weight, according to a study from The American Journal of Medicine. The Consumer Reports survey also found that women who followed the program for 9 months lost between 10 and 28 pounds, while men lost between 12 and 35 pounds.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

No food is forbidden when you follow this plan, which doesn’t make you buy any prepackaged meals. You’ll eat real food, all of which Weight Watchers assigns a PointsPlus value.

You’ll have a PointsPlus target, which is personalized to your body (including your height, weight, age, and gender). As long as you stay within your daily target, you can spend those PointsPlus however you’d like, even on alcohol or dessert.

Of course, healthier, lower-calorie foods cost fewer points. Some are even free.

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