A 100-calorie apple is now zero points in Weight Watchers PointsPlus plan while 100-calories worth of cookies or potato will clock up points. A recognition that has been around for over a decade with other eating plans, such as The Zone, Atkins and The South Beach diets. It is true that a calorie is a calorie, and how many calories you consume compared to how many you use up each day matter greatly in body weight control, but where those calories come from are extremely important too. Some calories come from foods that fill you up more than others, and some calories come from foods that do not spike insulin levels so much. Some calories come from foods with virtually no nutritional value (empty calories), while others are rich in vitamins and minerals.

All fresh fruits and the majority of vegetables now score zero points in the Weight Watchers new PointsPlus system. Dried fruit and some vegetables, such as potatoes and corn will still have points.

The new PointsPlus System replaces the old Weight Watchers Points Plan. According to Karen Miller-Kovach, Weight Watchers’ chief scientific officer, it is necessary to reflect the latest nutrition science.

Miller-Kovach says the new formula takes into account protein, fiber, carbohydrate and fat content of foods.

Weight Watchers now acknowledges that protein and fiber are crucial in achieving satiety* and warding off hunger.

* Satiety is the condition of being (feeling) full.

The new Weight Watchers system also takes into account how long the body takes to process certain foods and food ingredients into energy.

Miller-Kovach says that as most people do not eat enough fruit and vegetables, they will now have zero points (with the exception of some very starchy vegetables).

Weight Watcher explains that most of us tend to eat the same volume of food daily. If we eat low energy density foods we are more likely to feel full and satisfied within our daily target calories. Low energy density foods have fewer calories per volume compared to other foods.

Miller-Kovach stresses that energy deficits are still vital when the aim is losing weight – consume fewer calories than you use up if you want to lose weight. However, Weight Watchers explains in its web site that simply “counting calories has become unhelpful”. We should not view a 100-calorie pack of cookies as being the same as a 100-calorie apple.

Weight Watchers wrote:

    “We needed a program that recognized that calories are most definitely not created equal.”

According to David Kirchhoff, President and CEO of Weight Watchers:

    “Our new PointsPlus program is by far our biggest advancement since the launch of the POINTS program 13 years ago. It has a completely new formula, a new set of food rules and nutrition guides built into a simple, easy-to-use plan.”

Kirchhoff says the new plan:

  • Takes a stand for unprocessed food
  • Takes a stand for fruits and vegetables
  • Continues to recognize the need for plenty of flexibility and some indulgences. However, it now does this in a smarter way.
  • Allows the dieter to make choices while still feeling satisfied
  • Helps the dieter feel more energetic
  • Helps the dieter be more in control
  • Helps the dieter lose weight, not put it back on, with a more sustainable lifestyle

Over the last decade several diet organizations have responded to research demonstrating the impact that protein, carbohydrates, fats and fiber have on our metabolism, rate of hormone release (especially insulin) – and ultimately our body weight.

Biochemist Barry Sears said in the 1980s that the US Food Pyramid was slanted too much towards high carbs and low fat, which he then claimed leads to insulin fluctuations, hunger and gradual weight gain – opposite to its aim. The Food Pyramid is a guideline by US authorities on nutrition. Sears said that for optimal body weight control and good health, the human requires a food intake of 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat. He went to great lengths explaining that where the calories come from is extremely important. Most research since then has tended to show the benefits of upping protein, fiber, fruit and vegetables, while going easy on refined carbohydrates and naturally very starchy foods.

Miller-Kovach said:

    “Our new PointsPlus program is based on the latest scientific research and is designed to guide people to foods that are nutrient dense and highly satisfying, ensuring they will make healthful decisions, have successful weight loss and learn to keep their weight off long-term. Research shows that after following the Weight Watchers program, we’ve seen improvements in healthy eating habits, successful weight loss and even changes in peoples’ innate response to hunger and food – ultimately aiding in long-term weight loss success.”

“The new PointsPlus Program”

Written by Christian Nordqvist