WW (Formerly Called Weight Watchers)

The Promise

Pasta, cheese, ice cream ... no food is off-limits on this popular weight loss plan, which has been named best weight loss diet in U.S. News & World Reports’ annual Best Diets assessment. Formerly called Weight Watchers, the company changed its name to WW and recently introduced its PersonalPoints program.

The basic principle of eating what you love remains, though the program steers you toward healthier foods and habits with a new system that creates a customized plan for you, the company says.

WW comes up with your plan by having you answer a series of questions about yourself, including your eating and activity habits. Then it gives you your own daily budget of points for food and motivates you to not exceed it. (The points are also known as “PersonalPoints.” They used to be called “SmartPoints.”) Each food has a point value based on calories, saturated and unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, and added sugar.

The PersonalPoints program encourages you to enjoy foods with healthy unsaturated fats, fiber, and lean protein. It nudges you to cut back on stuff with added sugars and saturated fat.

You’ll also get a personalized list of healthier foods that “cost” you no points to eat. These “ZeroPoint” options include things like:

  • Fruit and veggies
  • Low-fat or fat-free yogurt and cottage cheese
  • Brown rice and whole grains
  • Avocados
  • Fish and shellfish
  •  Oats and oatmeal
  • Poultry
  • Whole-wheat pasta and noodles
  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Eggs

For the first time, you can also earn points for your daily budget. You can get these bonus points for doing healthy things like:

  • Eating non-starchy vegetables (like carrots, broccoli, and spinach)
  • Drinking more water
  • Exercising or moving more during your day

You’ll then follow the program via the WW app, where you can track everything from your PersonalPoints budget to your daily meals, water intake, sleep, activity, and weight loss. You’ll be guided not only on what to eat but also on how to move more and sleep better. And if you want, you can add one-on-one meetings and personal coaching.

PersonalPoints replaces the “myWW” program, which featured three eating plans, each  with a certain color. WW says its PersonalPoints program takes more nutritional data into account, and that’s led to some changes in point values. For example, foods with higher fiber and healthy fats (like avocados and almonds) cost you fewer points than before.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

WW says no foods are off limits. You simply track what you eat and try to stay within your points budget. You don’t have to buy prepackaged meals. And you can easily mix and match foods to suit your goals and preferences.

Your age, weight, height, and sex are among the information used to create a PersonalPoints budget that will help you reach your goal weight. As long as you stay within your daily target, you can spend those points any way you’d like, even on alcohol or dessert. Bonus: If you don’t use all of your points in one day, you can bank up to four each day into your weekly budget.

Level of Effort: Medium

WW is designed to make it easier to change your habits for the long term. It's flexible enough that you can adapt it to any diet or lifestyle. You’ll tweak your eating and habits, even ones you’ve had for years, and create new ones.

How much effort it takes depends on how much you’ll have to change your habits and how willing you are to make those changes.

Cooking and shopping. Expect to learn how to shop, cook healthy foods, and dine out in ways that support your weight loss goal without skimping on taste or needing to buy unusual foods.

Packaged foods or meals. Not required.

In-person meetings. Optional.

ExerciseAfter you answer some questions about your fitness when you sign up, WW PersonalPoints recommends daily and weekly activity goals for you. As mentioned, you can earn points for working more movement or exercise into your day, and those points get added to your weekly budget. High-intensity workouts or strength training sessions earn you the most points, but all movement -- even housecleaning -- counts.

Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?

Whether you’re a vegetarian or vegan or need to limit salt or fat, PersonalPoints is designed to be flexible enough that you can follow it.

What Else You Should Know

Cost. You can choose from three types of plans: The “Digital” plan is a self-guided experience starting at $4.84 a week. “Digital 360” gives you more support and starts at $4.23 a week. And “Unlimited Workshops + Digital,” which offers more face-to-face time with a WW coach and group, starts at $5.96 per week.

You can also get private coaching from a WW expert starting at $11.08 per week.

Support. You can find inspiration and guidance through a members-only social network on the app and in person via community events and workshops that put you in touch with WW coaches, guides, and other members.

What Brunilda Nazario, MD, Says

Does It Work?

WW is one of the most well-researched weight loss programs available. And yes, it works.

Many studies have shown that the plan can help you lose weight and keep it off.

For instance, a study from The American Journal of Medicine showed that people doing WW lost more weight than those trying to drop pounds on their own.

WW ranked first both for “Best Weight Loss Diet” (tied with the Flexitarian Diet) and for “Best Commercial Diet Plan” in the 2021 rankings from U.S. News & World Report.

Overall, it's an excellent, personalized program that focuses on wellness and building healthy habits. Weight loss is just a part of it. The WW program meets you where you are on your journey and helps you create a community of support.

Is It Good for Certain Conditions?

WW is good for anyone. While its focus on nutritious, low-calorie foods makes it great for people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and even heart disease, it can work for anyone looking to improve their health.

If you choose any premade meals, check the labels, as some may be high in sodium.

Work with your doctor so they can check your progress, too. This is especially important for people with diabetes, as you may need to adjust your medicine as you lose weight.

The Final Word

If the thought of weighing your food or counting calories make your head spin, this is an ideal program because it does the work for you. The online tool assigns a certain number value to each food, even restaurant foods, to make it easy to stay on track.

If you don’t know your way around the kitchen, the premade meals and snacks make it easy. They’re a quick and easy way to control portion sizes and calories.

You don’t have to drop any foods from your diet, but you will have to limit portion sizes to cut back on calories.

The emphasis on fruits and veggies means the diet is high in fiber, which helps keep you full. And the program is simple to follow, making it easier to stick to. You can also find WW’s premade meals at your local grocery store.

A big advantage of WW is their website. They offer comprehensive information on dieting, exercise, cooking, fitness tips, and wellness practices as well as online support groups and weekly live coaching.

Be prepared to spend some money to get the full benefits of the robust program. It’s well worth it to reap the health perks of losing weight and keeping it off.

WebMD Diet A-Z Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on November 21, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

News release, WW.

News release, U.S. News & World Report.

WW: “PersonalPoints.”

Consumer Reports, February 2013.

The American Journal of Medicine: “A randomized controlled trial of a community-based behavioral counseling program.”

WW: Weight Watchers reimagined.

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