Updated date:

Weight Watchers Points Plus: The Problem of 29

Weight Watchers Points Plus - Problems with the PointsPlus Program

Is Weight Watchers' PointsPlus not working for you? The problem of so many people at 29 points

On February 9, 2011 Weight Watchers CEO David Kirchhoff took the unusual step -- unusual in that Weight Watchers finally has a CEO who is engaged in social media while the company's participation in their own online communities is virtually non-existent -- of acknowledging that perhaps not everything is working well for all members since the introduction of their newest weight loss system, PointsPlus. Kirchoff said:

"OK, here is my advice for those who lost on the old program but are having trouble getting traction on the new one... Eat exactly what you were eating on the old program and see what the new PointsPlus values come out to. Try it for a week and see what happens. Sometimes the trick is to find an eating pattern that works, and then stick with that pattern. While some people have struggled with the transition, many others are finding it to be a real boost. In any case, change is never easy, but stick with it!!! Hope that helps."

Meanwhile a group of Weight Watchers members successful on prior Points-based plans have created a SparkTeam at Sparkpeople.com where over two hundred former and current Weight Watchers participants who are finding the new PointsPlus system unhelpful have banded together for support continuing with the plans that work for them.

One common thread linking most of these participants together -- and those struggling on Weight Watchers forums as well -- is that they pretty much all have a daily target of 29 PointsPlus values and almost all are women. Given that Weight Watchers patent applications are published, we can look at the formulas and get hints to what might be going on.[FN1]

All charts and graphs on this page were created by the author, sockii. This article was originally published on Squidoo in March 2011. You may not republish this article in part or in its entirety elsewhere.

What Do You Think of Weight Watchers PointsPlus - Tell us your success or failure with Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers PointsPlus Formulas

Looking closely at PointsPlus equations for women and men

The formulas for computation of the daily target are located in Equations 16-19 of the patents. In my prior article "Weight Watchers Introduces PointsPlus: A Critical Examination of the New Plan", I hand-waved at the formula as (target calories-1000)/35. But let's look more closely at the equations and specifically how a 40 year old, 5' 4" tall woman weighing between 110 to 250 pounds will have her daily target set. The image shows a graph for this woman.

PointsPlus Requirements for a 40 year old, 5'4" woman

weight-watchers-points-plus-the-problem-of-29

Let's start with Equation 17, that computes the total energy expenditure (TEE) using gender (female), height (in meters), age, and weight (in kilograms):

TEE = 387 - (7.31 * age) + 1.14 * (10.9 * weight + 660.7 * height).[FN2]

Next up, the adjusted total energy expenditure (ATEE) is computed with adjustments made for conversion cost of nutrients into usable form for the body (10%) and for foods treated as having zero PointsPlus value (add 200 calories):

ATEE = TEE - (TEE * 0.10) + 200.

The real "magic", though, happens in equation 19 where the fancy sounding "predetermined whole number benchmark data" or PWNB is computed. For the sake of sanity we will refer to this as the initial daily PointsPlus target (IDP):

IDP = min(max((ATEE - 1000) / 35,29),71).[FN3]

To keep working in calories, we will look at the initial daily calorie target (IDC):

IDC min(max((ATEE-1000), 1000), 2500).

The graph now highlights the first small shift, less of a calorie deficit than you would expect. But quick checks of these formulas in point terms lead to the quick revelation that Weight Watchers was sneaky, the IDP, or PWNB, does not match the targets anyone was given.

We will leave potential issues of patent invalidity due to failure to disclose the best mode to the side and focus on how the actual daily PointsPlus target is computed. The 49-weekly PointsPlus values, or 7 a day, is one missing piece. The other is another 4 that many believe relates to the foods with calories treated as having 0 PointsPlus value, e.g. fruit. But just subtracting 11 will not give the right results either. Weight Watchers still keeps the formula bounded below by 1000 calories, or 29 daily PointsPlus values.

So appropriately modifying equation 19 in the patent for the actual daily PointsPlus target (ADP):

ADP = min(max((max(ATEE-1000,1000) / 35) - 7 - 4, 29), 71).

Or keeping with calories, actual daily calorie target (ADC):

ADC = min(max(max(ATEE-1000,1000) - 245 - 140, 1000),2500).

Interlude - An Analogy

Comparing Losing Weight on Weight Watchers PointsPlus to a Game Show

A friend came up with this analogy to explain where things came off the rails. Pretend you are going on an odd game show where the producers are giving you money each day based on a complex formula. You will be given between $1,000 and $2,500 a day. If the formula says you will get less than $1,000, the producers give you $1,000 anyhow. That's a smaller calorie deficit than expected, number one.

Now, the producers want you to be able to splurge now and again and also not have to worry about using the money for certain daily necessities. So they decide to put some of your daily money into a "weekly splurge and necessities fund" to the tune of about $400. However, these producers really do not want to hand out less than $1,000 a day to anyone, so the people who would go under $1,000 get that and the $400 also. Smaller calorie deficit than expected, number two.

Quick Comparison - Male Participants on Weight Watchers PointsPlus

weight-watchers-points-plus-the-problem-of-29

For quick comparison, similar graphs have been generated for a 40 year old, 5' 10" tall male at weights from 130 lbs to 260.[FN4]

Using the game show analogy, the man is never getting extra money at stage one, lower limit of $1000 and all of the "weekly splurge and necessities fund" is removed from his calorie target, ADC.

Conclusion on Weight Watchers PointsPlus and the 29 Point Daily Target

weight-watchers-points-plus-the-problem-of-29

So let's go back to the 40 year old, 5' 4" woman and stop double-limiting her targets at 1000 calories. What would her targets look like?That's right, smaller women would get targets based around roughly 600-800 calories (before weeklies and 0 PointsPlus value foods) or more like 17-23.

Remember: I do not advocate that anyone modify their Weight Watchers daily PointsPlus target to hit such a calorie range.

Some Thoughts in Weight Watchers' Defense: Losing Weight on PointsPlus vs. Points

  • If Weight Watchers actually recommended a sub-1000 calorie a day diet they would likely be called out as irresponsible in the press for the decision. The lowest level generally considered safe/acceptable is 1200 calories a day. However, previously daily targets were as low as 18 points a day, roughly 900 calories. But if a person consumed 1/7th of their 35 weekly Flex Points per day, that would bring the bottom daily consumption close to 1,150 calories.
  • On paper, the calorie target at the bottom of the new system and old systems are within 100 calories of each other: New = (29+7)*35 = 1260 versus Old = (18+5)*50 = 1,150. If you add in 0 PointPlus fruit, the New system is at 1260 + calories for the fruit.
  • Theoretically anyone consuming below the ATEE line should lose weight. Even for the women whose actual daily target is adjusted, they should lose weight as long as they are below the ATEE and they are unequivocally below the theoretical ATEE.

Footnotes

  • [FN1] Mathematical formulas are not, in and of themselves, patentable. See the US Supreme Court case of Gottschalk v. Benson, 409 U.S. 63 (1972). The terms Points and PointsPlus are trademarks of Weight Watchers; their use in discussing the patents is a nominative use to provide clarity to the article and to link the discussion to the patents. These calculations have not been verified or endorsed by Weight Watchers.
  • [FN2] Equation 16 is fairly similar and should be used for men.
  • [FN3] The actual boundaries in the patents are 1000 at the low end and 2500 at the high end, those line up with 29 and 71 PointsPlus values respectively.
  • [FN4] Weights under 130 would put the male at an underweight BMI and thus make the male ineligible for participation in Weight Watchers.

Sources for "Weight Watchers PointsPlus: The Problem of 29" - References utilized for this article

Been Avoiding the Scale Sately? Time to Step It Up

If you're trying to lose weight, you need accountability - and that means a solid and accurate weight tracking scale. This model has several great features including a weight tracking memory to chart your progress, and a leveler indicator to make sure your scale is positioned properly for accurate measurement.

Weight Watchers Flex Points Tools and Kits for Fans of the Older Points System

You can still find lots of tools and kits related to previous Points systems on eBay, if you preferred previous Weight Watchers systems like Flex Points.

Weight Watchers Momentum Plan Tools and Kits

People who have success with one Weight Watchers plan often don't want to switch to another. If you liked "Momentum" and want old plan materials, check eBay.

Are you a veteran Weight Watchers member or someone new to the plan on PointsPlus? Is it working for you, or are you having a hard time reaching goal on the new system? Leave your comments here and let me know what you think. Thank you for reading!

Please note: all comments are subject to approval first. If your post contains ANY foul language, links to other weight loss programs, spam or otherwise inflammatory material it will NOT be posted!

© 2011 Nicole Pellegrini

Your Thoughts on Weight Watchers PointsPlus - Are you losing weight, or struggling with the new system?

debra1026 on July 28, 2014:

Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this post and also the rest of the site is also very good.

alifjames-deanakmal on May 03, 2014:

It is good if you're on diet atkins now

Tom Maybrier on April 01, 2014:

Love the graphs - I admit to ignorance regarding the program but I enjoyed the visual "proofs".

KathyZ1 on October 16, 2013:

Great lens, thanks for your sharing!

SusanAston on July 26, 2013:

I found it too complicated. I started justSlim instead and it is so much easier.

seodress on July 05, 2013:

Great one.

Projectlazy on May 28, 2013:

I like that weight watchers doesn't ask anything crazy of you. It all comes down to eat less. It gives simple rules so you don't need to learn the science. It's like in grade school when you learn to calculate the volume of a sphere. Sure it's good to know but a calculator can do it faster.

geosum on May 11, 2013:

I tried WW about 12 years ago with limited success. I had a lap-band operation in December 2012 and followed their diet plan for 7 months, finally reaching my goal weight this week. Their plan worked so well that I didn't need to have the lap-band filled. My total weight loss was 85 lbs. I'm now working on a maintenance diet.

kathysart on April 02, 2013:

Wow there is a LOT of action here regarding this diet. I tried it and then went back to Atkins. I am going to see a doctor this Thursday about my hormones though. I have many of Suzanne Somers books and like what she has to say about hormones. Darn.. why can't I just eat what I want! LOL

anonymous on April 01, 2013:

Try using Stresstabs Weight along with PointsPlus. Anyone feel free to s see my 'Stresstabs' lens and let me know what you think... I'd really appreciate it, thanks!

Kay on March 07, 2013:

I had great success with the program 14 years ago. When I tried it again more recently, it didn't work well at all for me. I really learned a lot here. Thank you and Blessed!

GetPregnantFAQ LM on March 01, 2013:

Very, very good, very complete article. Another mystery is that my wife was on the lowest allowable points (26) at a weight of 210. Seriously? So she'd be eating the same amount of calories as someone who weighed, say, 100 (since she was already at the lowest allowable points)?

anonymous on January 26, 2013:

The original points system worked great for me I lost an average 2lb per week until total loss of 21lbs. 10 years later I have tried twice but the pro points system just does not work for me at all, have lost 1lb in 3 weeks despite exercising at bootcamp twice per week. Really disheartened :(

myspace9 on November 20, 2012:

Very informative and helpful lens.

EddyFridman on October 07, 2012:

Yes a very well written lens, with lots of information...

Rose Jones on October 06, 2012:

Yeah! I have lost weight with Weight Watchers - but only when I was much younger and it was the old program that allowed for no leeway - absolutely nothing with sugar, no carbs at bedtime, exactly four eggs a week. I have not found as much help with the new program, although my level of fanaticism motivation is not as great. I do profit greatly from the camaraderie. I am very excited about the free program you have provided us with. tweeted and blessed.

anonymous on October 02, 2012:

The PointsPlus is a great program and I can't believe well it is working. I must say that it took a few weeks of losing and then gaining a bit here and there for it to start but now that I am consistent with it, the weight is just falling off. I am tracking my daily and weekly points with a great iPhone App called "WWPoints". It is a quick and simple way to punch in a couple of points when I eat and see how many I have left for the day in an instant. I recommend it as a great tracking system and not have to worry about the time consuming finding the item in the database to work out the points...

anonymous on September 18, 2012:

I did the weight watchers on line points plus and couldn't believe how the weight came off. When fruit is free and vegetables free, I would switch to those for a snack. Further I treated this as a change in my eating habits and not a diet. I lost about 1 1/2 - 2 lbs per week. So over almost 8 months I have lost 68 lbs. I have tried every other diet before and nothing worked.There is more pleasure in being thin than there is in the "fleeting" pleasure of overeating. This plan really does work if you honestly stick to it as a change in eating habits.

anonymous on September 18, 2012:

nice

anonymous on September 18, 2012:

My husband is doing the on-line WW and is doing well. I on the other hand at 51, 176lbs, and eating my daily points, is not working as well as the old program for me, prior to the counting of carbs on the tracker....I also attend Curves 4 x per week....Not sure what more I can do...but I have been on the program with my husband for 1 month and lost a total of 2 lbs....very frustrating.

anonymous on September 06, 2012:

What a great article! I am a Lifetime WW member. I remember starting back in 1986 and we used the Exchange Program. I actually was a WW employee for 2 years after reaching my Lifetime goal. Circumstances and geography took me away from the job - but I always kept the skills and was thrilled that this plan was so successful. In 1991 I had another child and quit smoking and gained 40 stubborn pounds. By this time I believe WW had gone to the Points program- and I had that great little cardboard "slide" counter - and I lost weight again. After too many failed attempts at quitting smoking - I've finally quit for GOOD - I'm 54 years old and I am back at WW trying to get this weight off. Well ..........this whole Points Plus nonsense......?? holy cow. I went to a few meetings, consistently gaining .4 , .8 , 1 lbs .........and said 'no more'. I dug out my old slide points counter ...and in less than 2 weeks ...I've lost 4 lbs already.On an interesting note: when I went to one of the meetings and lamented the 'new improved' program - I said "I'm going to just go back to the original points program" and the advisor said "you don't want to do that" and I told her that it worked in the past and I think it's what I needed to do...she said ......'well obviously it didn't work that well in the past"!!! Can you believe that!? I have not set foot back in there again and I'll be darned if they'll get another dime from me - I can insult mySELF just fine...I don't need to pay someone to do it!

anonymous on August 18, 2012:

How canI determine what is the correct daily total for me? I was told 26 however most here are saying 29.

Sunnsyne on July 08, 2012:

@lyttlehalfpint: I think your are absolutely correct in your observation. I just started and have already gotten discouraged seeing myself lose the first two weeks and then gain the last week, doing the same exact thing. Will take your advice and stay encouraged and use the site as a reference tool as well. Thanks for the great post.

mouse1996 lm on July 07, 2012:

I'm curious about the program. I've seen so many people use it with success. I could use the help in losing weight. Might have to look into it.

anonymous on July 06, 2012:

@anonymous: Almost the exact same thing happened to me! I'm going on week 4 and I'm up almost 8 lbs from when I started. What's up with this?

anonymous on July 02, 2012:

@anonymous: Totally and completely agree with you. I may or may not elaborate more below, but essentially, I found that there are huge fluctuations in calories within the same point allotment per day. Example: on the old weight watcher points program, when I finally hit a plateau, I found that it was because even on 22 points, my calories were fluctuating between 1300 and 1800 calories, for the same point total!

JCarruthers on June 21, 2012:

I've never used the program, but as a personal trainer with nearly a decade of experience, a lot of times the points are used incorrectly. The reason that weight loss stops isn't based on the points themselves, but what the points represent. Just my two cents :) Thank you for all of the information as it makes communicating with my clients that much more effective.

Karla Whitmore from Arizona on June 13, 2012:

It seems to me that all of the points figuring make Weight Watchers more complex than simply measuring out your own food and counting calories! My sister lost weight with Weight Watchers several years ago. It worked then -- I wonder why so many try to fix what isn't broken. :\

anonymous on June 11, 2012:

@DoesP90XWork: They don't really recommend any particular type of exercise as long as you are moving to the best of your ability. For some that may be just getting a walk in while for others it may be hitting a gym several times a week. Any activity is considered exercise when or if you haven't been the type to typically "move". If you garden you can count that. I take exercise classes several times a week. Focus on moving MORE than you do now then bit by bit increase what you are doing and how much you are doing. Mostly find something that you enjoy so that you'll stick with it.

DoesP90XWork on June 11, 2012:

@anonymous: Hi guys, I am new to weight watchers. Excuse my ignorance but what type of exercises does the weight watchers program typically recommend?

lyttlehalfpint from Canada on June 04, 2012:

Maybe a month ago I signed up for WW online. I lost weight .. but I did find that many many people were hung up on the numbers. Honestly weight watchers online mostly just teaches you smart food choices, the weekly's help you to form new habits and for some seeing their numbers change is motivating. I have mostly stopped using it and only use it for reference when shopping or cooking new foods. Guess what, I am still losing weight. Thanks for posting this.

anonymous on May 24, 2012:

Thanks for posting this. It is so true. I lost weight at 26 points but then when I got to about 120 lbs, I plateaued. Finally going to 20 points took the last three pounds off. I am 5 ft 1 inch and 47 years old with a desk job.

anonymous on May 24, 2012:

Thanks for posting this. It is so true. I lost weight at 26 points but then when I got to about 120 lbs, I plateaued. Finally going to 20 points took the last three pounds off. I am 5 ft 1 inch and 47 years old with a desk job.

anonymous on May 22, 2012:

I like Online system points plus. Typing a food item in, get the points instantly, program automatically adjust your points=convenience. Having everything CONSOLIDATED on my lap type is GOOD. I do not need one more piece of paper on my "at home desk" to keep track off. I have lost 18lb in 5 months, not particularly fast, and I do keep tracking the activity points daily. Stayed at same wt. for 3 weeks. I independently lowered daily points 3 points below WW recommendation 4 days last week that = 1 lb. loss this week. Having healthy checks is helpful in monitoring the balance of ones diet. Or lack of balance. Scanner and WW phone apps helpful when eating out. Feel online needs to educate members on using these apps more. Online good for people who have discipline and well motivated. ZERO points for fruit and veggies greatly encourages a healthy diet and choice of snack.

anonymous on May 17, 2012:

I honestly think everyone who has lost more weight on the old program is just to used to it, and you're setting your body to not lose the weight you should be. I am on Points Plus. I have been on for about twelve weeks, and I have lost thirty pounds. That may only be 2.5 pounds per week, but look at it in months, and I've lost 10 pounds every month at a steady rate. I think that's amazing. To reach my goal of 120 pounds I have to lose about 45 pounds more. I am so happy to have Points Plus. I finally found something that has worked for me, and I have never felt better with an estimate of only 4.5 more months before I am comfortable with my weight.

anonymous on April 28, 2012:

I lost 5 lbs my first week using 29 points. I was strict and careful on the type of foods (mostly fruits and vegs, meat dairy, etc) - did not count points for even bananas and peas. Second week I stayed at 29 points - not as strict on the type of food but still ate 6 servings of fruit and vegs and gained 1.5 lbs back??? I feel hungry and quite crabby.

jeromeyoung on April 26, 2012:

Such lens has packed with useful information for everyone's mind. Looking forward for more of your lenses!

anonymous on April 19, 2012:

@anonymous: Exactly what I was trying to say only you said it really so much better. If you aren't getting what you need out of your meeting find another one. They work!!!

anonymous on April 18, 2012:

@anonymous: I rarely post comments online, but your situation compelled me because I can see that not all meetings are created equal. I am a long-time veteran of the programs as well, but I started back anew on January 2nd and my WW meeting and friends have been the things that have kept me going. Our support staff is wonderful and the friends I've met and made at the meetings have provided incredible support. One lady in our group has lost 50 pounds since November. The other women in the meeting, as well as myself, have lost 30+ pounds each since the first week of January. We do receive a small sales pitch each week, but the majority of our meeting time (30 minutes) is all about the participants. We are asked to share new recipes and success stories as well as challenges and questions. Our meeting has consistently had about 40 - 50 people since January. Group dynamics and a supportive leader make all the difference in the world. You may find more support in the online groups or you may need a different meeting. I too do not have the etools or high tech phone so I know the program can provide success without those items. I'm grateful that our meeting includes tools for success for the high tech and low tech people. I hope you find a meeting like ours soon. I know what you mean about the isolation caused by technology and I know I would not be this successful on this program without the face to face weekly interaction of our group. My group enjoys the meetings so much that we generally arrive 30 minutes early for the weigh in and sit around and talk for 30 minutes before the meeting begins. This allows us the one hour window that you mentioned. I wish you much success in your weight loss journey.

anonymous on April 18, 2012:

@anonymous: post as visitor. THIS DIFFERENCE OF 715 KCAL (67%) IS EQUIVALENT TO ONE OF THE INDIVIDUALS CCOMPLETING A 10 KILOMETER RUN EVERYDAY. [7]

KimGiancaterino on April 17, 2012:

I know several people who follow Weight Watchers with success. Thanks for explaining "behind the scenes" so well. The only program that works for me is food combining. I would go nuts measuring food and counting calories.

BubblesRFun on April 16, 2012:

I haven't attended any meetings but for me I've lost a little weight w/ the points plus. Although, I have to admit I haven't wholeheartedly done the plan yet......

anonymous on April 10, 2012:

@anonymous: PLEASE GIVE ME SOME POINTS ON WHAT TO DO

anonymous on April 10, 2012:

@anonymous: IM HAVING THE SAME PROBLEM THE MORE EXERCISES I GAIN

anonymous on April 07, 2012:

@anonymous: That must be the way your particular leader does her meetings because the one I attend is way different. Everyone is very supportive. There are tons of ideas and suggestions that go along with the subject of the week. Ours is the exact opposite of an infomercial. There has never been a question in my mind that the leader makes all the difference in the world. If yours isn't working for you I think you should check out another one before you come to a final decision.

anonymous on April 07, 2012:

Another thing that has changed, and I am a long-time veteran of the programs, is the meetings are no longer supportive. They have changed to be more like quick captive infomercials. The meetings used to be an hour with topics and lots of personal discussion. Now they are barely 20 minutes where we get a topic to go think about over the week. Several months back, I was really struggling, and instead of finding a way to bring up the issues I was having with the new plan, the meeting was completely monopolized with a push for everyone to try being a vegetarian for a day because there was a new vegetarian cook book. The support groups were a vital part, and I am lost without them. They have shortened since then, and include a PowerPoint presentation to talk at us now. I have completely had it. The program is not just changed with respect to food, it is less effective on support. I really think that is what had set Weight Watchers apart from other plans. Support seems to only be available in a blog, and following the plan requires technology. I am almost done with my MBA, and it seems obvious to me that they have become so focussed on marketing paripheral products, that they have strayed from their core compencies. Technology is everywhere, and it is fun for a lot of things, but it can be very isolating. People struggling with ongoing human issues need other human beings, not a smart phone app.

anonymous on April 05, 2012:

@fish-oil-expert: The only problem with that is we really need "some" of those GOOD grains. Plus I don't know anyone that can honestly cut out all Carbs (starches) forever. More power to you if you do but you might be attempting something that you won't be able to do for the long haul. Just one persons opinion.

fish-oil-expert on April 04, 2012:

Points are kind of confusing. I've found then when i completely cut out the grains and starches, I lose weight naturally!

anonymous on March 31, 2012:

I absolutely love the points plus system. I cannot understand what all the fuss is about. It seems so simple, count points lose weight. I've lost 21 pounds since Jan 9-12. Admittedly the first month was an absolute flop, there was so much I didn't understand but the support of my group really helped me to keep going. I will not quit WW, eating right and making healthy choices. I am extremely grateful to WW.

ChrisShaefer on March 18, 2012:

Hello,You have out done yourself on this lens. It is very informative and I love the layout of it. Great work, I appreciate a well done lens. Please stop by my new "Multivitamins for Psoriasis" lens it really needs some love. Thanks and please keep up with such great content.Chris

TTMall on March 03, 2012:

Loved Your Lens! You really put a lot of good information in it.

anonymous on February 17, 2012:

@anonymous: Yes, Sarah, thank you for explaining it!And thank you to the OP; but formulas just make me wish I had paid more attention in algebra.

top101 on February 13, 2012:

very interesting lens!

Linda F Correa from Spring Hill Florida on February 11, 2012:

No one diet works for all. I tired the Atkins and it wad a no go for me. The basis of the Weighht Watcher system is working for me. I average 2 lbs weight loss or more a week. I eat a balanced diet and never feel deprived. Even with a slow thyroid, I am losing weight. The basis of the program is portion control. Just my opinion

anonymous on February 07, 2012:

@anonymous: Hi DJ, from my understanding, you 'earn' points for exercise, which you can use that day or any other time during the week (like weekly flex points). Does this not address your concern? I have been working out 4 or 5 days a week (cardio 3x and weight training 2x per week) since I started WW PP Jan 1st (I know, I know, lol) and I have lost 10 pounds. My mother, who started with me, similar food and exercise schedule has lost the same.I would say to your -2 +.5 scenario that its the trend that important and it sounds like you are going in the right direction. Don't give up! The plan works :)

anonymous on February 07, 2012:

What's missing from the points allotment is the individual's actual energy expenditure which can vary markedly from that calculated by formula. My basal metabolic rate is 1430 kcal/day and my resting energy expenditure as measured is 1690. The calculations say I should be burning 2254 calories based on my height, gender, and weight. Thus when I was on weight watchers I lost 47 pounds and then while eating my points allotment for two more years I did not lose anymore but maintained my 47 lb lost. It is now clear why. I was eating about 1690 calories based on the points I was told to eat and it was not enough for me to lose because I did not have the average resting energy expenditure.Studies have shown that there are differences in BMR even when comparing two subjects with the same lean body mass. The top 5% of people are metabolizing energy 28-32% faster than individuals with the lowest 5% BMR. For instance, one study reported an extreme case where two individuals with the same lean body mass of 43 kg had BMRs of 1075 kcal/day (4.5 MJ) and 1790 kcal/day (7.5 MJ). This difference of 715 kcal (67%) is equivalent to one of the individuals completing a 10 kilometer run every day. If these two people are given the same points allotment because they will lose at different rates and the one with the lowest metabolism may stop losing or not be able to lose. there are differences in BMR even when comparing two subjects with the same lean body mass. The top 5% of people are metabolizing energy 28-32% faster than individuals with the lowest 5% BMR.[7] For instance, one study reported an extreme case where two individuals with the same lean body mass of 43 kg had BMRs of 1075 kcal/day (4.5 MJ) and 1790 kcal/day (7.5 MJ). This difference of 715 kcal (67%) is equivalent to one of the individuals completing a 10 kilometer run every day.[7]

Kathy McGraw from California on February 05, 2012:

Fascinating read....so many have a better handle on this than I do, and I liked reading all the comments.

anonymous on February 03, 2012:

Wow, what an interesting lens on weight watchers, and the guestbook comments are too. I'm one of those people that can't gain weight and keep it on, but still this is interesting.

anonymous on February 01, 2012:

@anonymous: (Sarah) You have made more sense than anyone else (including my own comments) on this Blog. I am one of those people that felt things only worked if I kept my calories down less than 1000 a day, which is REALLY HARD TO DO. Even though I'm a WW lifetime member I struggle to keep my weight where I want it. It feels like if I eat anything extra I immediately go up and it's harder and harder to get back down without REALLY cutting back on calories, thus trying to stick around 900-1000. The calories in those free fruits and veggies still add up not leaving enough extra for the basics sometimes. I virtually never get in those two daily fats simply because I don't want to waste points (calories) on them. I must admit it will take a lot to get my head around the concept of upping the calories and fat intake in order to actually stay at the weight I want.I hope Sarah continues to leave posts because hers was more informative than most as far as what I needed to hear.

anonymous on February 01, 2012:

(Sarah) You have made more sense than anyone else (including my own comments) on this Blog. I am one of those people that felt things only worked if I kept my calories down less than 1000 a day, which is REALLY HARD TO DO. Even though I'm a WW lifetime member I struggle to keep my weight where I want it. It feels like if I eat anything extra I immediately go up and it's harder and harder to get back down without REALLY cutting back on calories, thus trying to stick around 900-1000. The calories in those free fruits and veggies still add up not leaving enough extra for the basics sometimes. I virtually never get in those two daily fats simply because I don't want to waste points (calories) on them. I must admit it will take a lot to get my head around the concept of upping the calories and fat intake in order to actually stay at the weight I want.I hope Sarah continues to leave posts because hers was more informative than most as far as what I needed to hear.

anonymous on February 01, 2012:

love it! Losing weight can be easy if you REAlly know what to do, my site http://www.helphere.biz is about that too! Love your stuff!Sheila

anonymous on February 01, 2012:

The main problem with WW now and in the past is that it has always been about reducing calories mostly by cutting fat. At least with the new program it respects protein more now, but it still very anti-fat (2 teaspoons a day) which is just behind scientific research. Research has show that if you eat fat, and exercise, along with having a balanced diet that looks similar to the South Beach you will lose weight consistently. The key is to daily keep carbs (all carbs, not just the "bad" ones) at or below 100 grams, eat 100 grams of protein, and ensure you are taking in about 300 calories of dietary fat. Athletes have known for years this bio-chem formula works (100 g protein/100 g carbs/300 calories fat) for a while, but the diet gets little coverag because most people just do not want to exercise and the marketing scheme for companies like WW know this. People just want to stop eating and lose weight and this just does not work. Though WW highly encourages exercise it is not mandatory, and that leads to starvation mode at a certain weight pre-determined by your genetics. Your body perceives you are starving when you do not eat enough fat so then it slows your metabolism down. We are physically designed to survive during times of famine and that is what the body perceives when food/fat intake goes below 1000 calories, the brain begins to tell the body to conserve. It is also the main reason one gains so fast when more calories are added back in, because the body wants that fat back. Instead of just eating 1000 calories and not being active, a better plan is to eat 1500-1600 calories and burn 500 calories in exercise. You will not only feel less deprived, you will reduce your stalls because you are forcing the body to work the way it was designed. Live by eating, moving and breathing (which includes adequate sleep), and you will lose weight. But if you eat and sit and stress you will stall. You have to move to burn calories period. That is why people stall at 29 pts, it is more than just a calorie reduction issue, because loads of people also stalled on the old plan, as well. I know because I was one of them and nothing worked until I changed what I ate and how I moved.

writerkath on January 31, 2012:

I was curious about this "points" information I'd been hearing about, so I'm glad I stumbled onto your lens. For me, I'm not sure the whole idea of points really resonates with my own style. But I do like the idea that you can do this online without having to go check into a meeting somewhere in a town where you actually know people and they know you... I'd feel far too exposed! :)

anonymous on January 27, 2012:

I have been on the new Points Plus program for over 12 weeks now, and i seem to be going back and forth - losing a pound or two and then gaining a half of pound. I have talked to a few people and it seems that if you exercise a lot on the plan, it does not seem to be working as well. Also, the fact that the point plus actually went down automatically for certain people did not seem to help. I think when you exercise you need more points - did anyone take that into consideration when they lowered the points???? Is anyone else having the issues or have any recommendations it is very frustrating?

dessertlover on January 26, 2012:

Very interesting. I know a few people who are doing Weight watchers. This was helpful to understand it.

anonymous on January 25, 2012:

Thanks, I always wondered how it works.

mary lighthouse15 on January 22, 2012:

Great lens! Thanks for sharing, im on south beach diet though...

anonymous on January 05, 2012:

Works for me when I follow it. Lost 75 pounds on the old program and another 50 on the points plus. The trick is getting enough exercise and following the program. It also helps to be male as we burn the fat easier due to more muscle mass.

anonymous on January 05, 2012:

Works for me when I follow it. Lost 75 pounds on the old program and another 50 on the points plus. The trick is getting enough exercise and following the program. It also helps to be male as we burn the fat easier due to more muscle mass.

gottaloveit2 on January 04, 2012:

I'm pretty happy being able to grab a piece of fruit instead of a bag of fritos. I know, I know, I could always have made that choice on the old plan but I'm actually doing it now. I also love the apps for the iPhone with the online WW!

sergionei on January 04, 2012:

excelente deberiamos probarlo

sergionei on January 04, 2012:

excelente deberiamos probarlo

anonymous on December 11, 2011:

@anonymous: Try the site called MyFitnessPal.com Once you customize your information it will tell you how much fat, etc. you should have each day.

anonymous on December 11, 2011:

I don't like the Points Plus plan at all. I joined way back when it was Fat and Fiber and I loved that. If I could find my information or remember how many grams of fat and fiber I was supposed to consume each day, I would go back to that.

Kiwisoutback from Massachusetts on December 08, 2011:

It's great that you've had such detailed responses in your guestbook. That's a hard thing to do! Well done.

Kiwisoutback from Massachusetts on December 08, 2011:

It's great that you've had such detailed responses in your guestbook. That's a hard thing to do! Well done.

anonymous on December 04, 2011:

My points also switched to 26 as of yesterday, and I switched it back to 29 plus my breastfeeding points(+7). I've had really really great results so far with the pre-2012 plan. I realize that not everybody's metabolism is the same- this doesn't seem to be addressed much in this article. I exercise hard-core 4 times a week (long runs, climbing stairs for 30 minutes, spinning), never using my activity points. I only use about half my allowance every week. I did the math, and while I could use the point allowance for 2012, I'd have to use all my allowance and activity to cover my needs. Mentally, I don't like that- every single day being into these points before dinner- yuck! I'd rather stick with the current 2011 plans and just leave points on the table- makes me feel more in control. I'll be switching when things stop working for me.

anonymous on December 02, 2011:

I am a lifetime WW member as of 2005 but a new WW Online member since I'm living overseas currently. Today, I discovered that my points target went automatically from 29 per day to 26 -- I guess this is one of the promised, but not-so-small, "tweaks." I'm sorry to see those points go, but it will clearly make a difference for someone like me who eats lots of fruits and veggies. At two weeks in, and one of those weeks including Thanksgiving, I have not seen the dramatic results I did with the previous system, but the 0 points fruits and veggies concept resonates with me -- it strikes me as sustainable in the long-run, and clearly incentivizes the right foods. I will gladly give up daily target points for the freedom to not track fruits and veggies!

anonymous on December 01, 2011:

This sounds like what I said earlier. Eating 29 points just wasn't working for me either. I also cut myself down to 26 and was STILL counting all my fruits & vegetables. I do however admit I eat an abnormal amount dailywell over the 5 a day minimum...sometimes to the extent of 8 daily servings. I figured as long as I was accounting for them in my daily points I was covered. Then at a meeting I was convinced not to go below the daily total of 29. At that point I went back up to the 29 but was STILL DEDUCTING all my fruits and vegetables. It's a continual struggle to keep to the 29 and my weight seems to be going up ever so slightly (.8). Remember I rarely, if ever, use my Weekly Points Allowance either.I think you are spot on when you say this plan may not work as well for those of us that already eat healthy and stay away from most carbs and sugars.After finding this blog Ive decided to officially change my points back to 26. I've been allowing myself 5 FREE fruits and vegetables. I will continue to deduct points for anything I consume after those 5. Something in me wonders though if I should cut back to 26 AND deduct for any and all my fruits & vegetables to boot!If I knew enough about the Momentum Plan I would give that one a try. However I just don't remember enough to switch.What to do.what to do.

anonymous on December 01, 2011:

I'm a Lifetime WW member as of July 2011, having joined at the beginning of April 2010. I am a 5'4", 45-year-old woman. When I joined at about 206lbs I had 80lbs to lose. I lost about 44 lbs on Momentum between April and December 2010 and was very happy with Momentum. When PointsPlus started, my weight loss rate dropped by half (I evaluated after 11 weeks on PointsPlus). Therefore, I started adjusting the program for my own needs. First, I started counting all my fruits/vegs within my 29 daily. That was insufficient, so I eventually dropped my daily points target to 25 (still including all fruits/veg in that amount). I did use my 49 weekly. That enabled me to lose 20 lbs altogether on PointsPlus, so I hit Lifetime at 144 lbs. I continued to eat only 25 daily points (still using my 49 weekly), because my ultimate goal is 125 lbs, but I could not lose any more weight. By the end of September, I was finding it VERY discouraging, and even finding it hard to avoid gaining (and finding it hard to stick to the 25 target). Apart from anything else, if you have to shave your points target, it leads to feeling deprived and a "diet mentality" which is the opposite of what WW is about. Therefore, I switched back to Momentum at the end of September 2011. I feel better, find it easier to manage the program, and I've started losing again slowly.From my own observations I would say that the 29 daily target is a problem for some people, especially depending on their eating habits. On Momentum, I wasn't just sticking to the daily target, I was also following the healthy eating guidelines. My daily diet was at least 90-95% filling foods; my "junk food" intake was very low. I ate lots of veg and some fruit, got in all my healthy proteins and fats, did not feel deprived or hungry. Since the points values for protein and fats did not change on PointsPlus, the 29 points simply adds up to too much food, unless you are a person who tends to eat a more carb-rich diet, especially the less healthy carbs. As far as I can see, Weight Watchers was deliberately targeting the needs of members who tended to eat a higher proportion of refined carbs and sugars (and alcohol), because those foods DID go up significantly in points values. They adjusted points values to force a lower food intake for people with a higher refined carb (or junk food) intake, but that played havoc with the program for people who had already adjusted their eating habits towards the filling foods of the Momentum program.I may go to a meeting to see what changes are being made, but I doubt that I'll switch back to PointsPlus until I see real evidence that it's working for women like me (especially, as this article mentions, women of my size/age). It's too much work, and too much disappointment, to switch programs and then find that your weight loss has come to a halt! It's also not possible to stay on a program where you never even get to "maintenance." If I had ever eaten what I was "supposed" to for maintenance on PointsPlus (around 31-34 daily), I would have been gaining steadily!There is another weakness with Weight Watchers, I think. It does not take into account the fact that as you get closer to your final goal, weight loss does slow down, and there comes a point where the difference between maintenance/losing/gaining becomes a rather precarious balance. There has to be some way to address the question of restoring metabolic function, so that the body does not get stuck in a low calorie "habit." Unless you have a totally sedentary lifestyle, it should be possible to lose your weight and then return to a more normal daily calorie intake without gaining (which is what the Curves program developer maintains), as long as you stick to a healthy, balanced eating plan and don't go back to eating all kinds of junk food, refined carbs, processed high-salt foods etc. I would really like to see them doing more work/research on this area so that it becomes easier to make a clear distinction between losing weight and maintaining your weight, and so that you can eat a sufficient amount of healthy food while maintaining.

Nicole Pellegrini (author) from New Jersey on November 28, 2011:

@anonymous: Hi LSadowy,I've heard & read some about the planned changes and tweaks - it looks like the minimum point level is going to drop (not a good thing for someone like me who found it very difficult to stick with even 29 "nu" points) and there'll be some returning back to Core ideas of trying to eat to fulness. I am planning on updating this page in December once the details are finally made public and I've had a chance to analyze the changes.

anonymous on November 28, 2011:

Interesting, I'm an online member of WW and got an email this morning telling me to get ready for the "new points plus 2012 program" being rolled out December 2nd, so I guess they've realized the program needs adjusting:"So, we took your suggestions, made a few small but important tweaks, and developed PointsPlus 2012. Its the same great PointsPlus program on which millions have lost weight but taken to a new level of customization."I can't wait to see what they've done. I do follow it and it works but more slowly than the old program. I only want to lose 10-15 pounds or so but I was concerned about all the comments related to 29 points not being low enough for women like me (5'4" 133).

allonwatson on November 28, 2011:

Nice post Thanks for sharing.

allonwatson on November 28, 2011:

Nice post Thanks for sharing.

anonymous on November 26, 2011:

I am a lifetime member of WW and have been so for about 4 1/2 years. Let me begin by saying I am a woman, 56 years old, 5' tall and weigh 104 pounds. I had no problems maintaining on the old system. While I am still managing to maintain I have wondered about the PointsPlus system since it first came out. Personally I found that if I ate the full 29 points I would gain weight. So I took it upon myself to account for my fruits & vegetables even though they are supposed to be "free". I deduct 1 point for each fruit/vegetable that I have. In some instances, where I eat for example, a larger piece of fruit, I deduct 2 points. I basically never use my exercise points and rarely, if ever, use my 49 weekly allowance points. Yet it is still hard for me to maintain.I found another online website where, after I've entered my personal data, and enter my foods eaten each day, it calculates my caloric intake. If I don't stick to about 900 calories a day the weight goes up. I've always keep track of my points but for me, it must be done WITH keeping track of my calories per day. Without both those bits of information the new system has definitely been more of a struggle.

anonymous on November 25, 2011:

very nice lens interesting thanks for sharing. Squid-liked

anonymous on November 22, 2011:

STICKIN TO 29 POINTS PLAN LIKE GLUE, DOING EVERYTHING I NEED TO DO. ESPECIALLY PAYING FOR IT I WANT TO GET MY MONEYS WORTH. IN 2 WEEKS 1 LB GAINED, THAT'S NOT RIGHT.

Lynne Modranski from Ohio on October 17, 2011:

I've never tried Weight Watchers, but I highly recommend SparkPeople - 30# off - took me about a year and I've kept it off for about 3 now! And it's free, so I'll probably just stick with that.

justholidays on October 17, 2011:

I tried the WW system and their famous points, but never found out the way to stick to the max points per day. Now that I've been really sick, I'm on a diet; and believe me, fear can definitely help lose weight, lol.

Sharon Berry from Michigan on October 08, 2011:

I loved the idea of 0 points for fruit but the new plan doesn't work as well for me as the old plan. On PointsPlus I can have 29 points and on the old plan 24?? I can tell you put a lot of work into this lens and it will be helpful to many. thank you...

anonymous on August 15, 2011:

I've been on WW most of my entire adult life. On the "old plan" I lost 100 lbs in 52 weeks. I fell off the wagon and gained about 60 of it back then decided to re-join again last October. I heard about the new Points Plus plan and was really excited, but long story short - it's not working for me. 29 points is a lot of points and I often find myself eating just to fulfill the 29 points. I've been really "legal" since I rejoined, but have added back 6 pounds since April. My meeting advisor says I'm not eating enough protein and that's why I'm gaining the weight. This is really frustrating and disappointing. How can 29 points be the same for almost everyone?

Loraine Brummer from Hartington, Nebraska on August 11, 2011:

I love the Weight Watchers program and the PointsPlus system. Check my lens for some great recipes that worked for me. I just think it is so important to be healthy and to learn what that means in regard to the foods we consume daily. I eat more fruits and vegetables now, and that's a good thing.

anonymous on August 07, 2011:

I'm a lifetime member, who reached my goal in 1994. Sadly, due to my own over eating and not going to meetings, I gained back my 50lbs plus, in 2003. Also being on steroids from a neck injury didn't help. I finally took control on 2/26/2011, I rejoined WW, and it's the best thing I've done for myself. As of this past Saturday, Aug 5, 2011, I have lost a total of 54.8 lbs! I'm also a menopausal woman, age 51, and I follow the program everyday, write everything down, make sure I eat my 29 points a day, and I use my extra 49 points throughout the week. I also exercise 2 hours a day, and never felt better. The weight is just melting off, and I'm loving myself again. My hubby finally has the woman back he married in 2000, when I was slim fit and trim. Please follow the program, and DON'T GIVE UP!! You are worth it.

miaponzo on July 23, 2011:

I have done weight watchers and it worked for me... but I really couldn't keep up with all the point counting.. ... oh well.. :)

happynutritionist on July 18, 2011:

I haven't tried weight watchers...have used SparkPeople as a "wake up" call and to get back on track when I see myself gaining again. I am using them now to lose. Interesting info...I'm blessing this and adding it to Diet and Nutrition Squid Angel:-)

anonymous on July 17, 2011:

I haven't tried weight watchers but I take note and monitor my weight which I am trying to reduce

KarenCookieJar on July 16, 2011:

I've never tried weight watchers, but I am counting calories right now and trying to stick to around 1500 per day.

mivvy on July 14, 2011:

Interesting lens. I am not losing weight, have never been on a diet. I am a grandmother and weigh the same as when I was 20. Secret? I never eat in between meal, very little meat lots of pulses and cycle about 150 km per week., but not in winter.

anonymous on June 30, 2011:

@anonymous: I am so glad to have found you. I am experiencing the same problem. I have been on the points plus program for 3 weeks and have not lost an ounce. It is very frustrating. A few years back I did tne old program and actually lost weight. I am thinking about switching back. I am sorry that you gained weight but I am glad to find out it is not just me experiencing these problems.

Nicole Pellegrini (author) from New Jersey on June 03, 2011:

@Ann Hinds: WW can work really well for a lot of people - I know when I had a lot to lose it worked fabulously for me. My problem has come being in the 10-20 pounds to lose category, where it's a lot harder to stick to the WW system or come into it "cold". And looking at the statistics and numbers helped me see perhaps why that would be the case.

Related Articles