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As someone who stays active, I've consistently tried to prioritize my health and well-being. Getting to the gym has always been the easy part. But eating healthy? Not so easy. With summer coming to an end and the fall season approaching, I knew it was time to establish a solid routine. I decided to try out WeightWatchers (WW) to help me achieve a goal of losing around 5 pounds and building healthier habits overall.
So, how did I like the program? And was I able to reach my goals? In this WeightWatchers review, I'll break down everything you need to know about getting started, as well as my personal experience on WW.
I rated the WeightWatchers program based on eleven different factors, assigning a score to each one, with 1 being the lowest score and 5 the highest. Here's a breakdown of each factor I considered:
- Value: How expensive is the program? Is it a good deal?
- User experience (UX): Is there an integrated app? How easy is the app to navigate? How functional is the app? Can you use it on desktop, mobile, etc.?
- Quality of information: How good of a job does this app/program do at teaching you proper nutrition? What's the depth of information they provide on nutrition? What kind of advice and information does this program provide about activity levels, exercise, etc?
- Personalization: Does the program accommodate dietary restrictions? Do they make suggestions specific to each person regarding nutrient needs they should have to reach their goal (based on things like age, weight, sex, activity level, etc.)? Can you customize the diet to fit your needs?
- Nutritious value: Are you getting all of the nutrients you need like protein, carbs, fat, etc.? How accessible/available is the nutrition information for each meal or recommended meal?
- Convenience: What's the level of effort needed to adhere to the nutrition program? Is this program easy to incorporate into your daily routine? For the recipes they give, how many ingredients do you need to buy? Do you need a lot of tools/kitchenware or are the meals simple? How easy is it/how much time does it take to prepare the meals?
- Easy to follow: How easy is the program to follow? Is it restrictive? Does it allow for treats/indulging that reflect realities of everyday life with socializing?
- Accessibility: Are there different plans you're able to choose from, offered at different price points? How much variety in plans/packages is there?
- Goal attainment: How effective was this program in helping me reach my 30-day target?
- Community: Is there a network of people you can connect with for support, inspiration, guidance, etc.? Are there social media groups you can join to connect with other users?
- Customer support: If you're having trouble accessing or using the app, can you connect with a representative to troubleshoot?
WeightWatchers Pros and Cons
What I Liked
- Community (5/5): WeightWatchers' community was a great source of motivation and support for me. It allows you to follow along with other members' journeys: Inside the app, there's a "Connect" feature which functions similarly to a social media feed, where you can follow people's journeys and are able to interact with other members by posting and commenting about all sorts of things including encouraging stories, recipes, polls, questions and weight loss progress or food photos. Should you choose the Unlimited Workshops + Digital Plan (the one I tested), along with the digital community, you also get access to thousands of in-person and virtual workshops and 24/7 access to a WW Coach.
- Personalization (4/5): For those who have dietary restrictions or want to customize their meal plan to their goals, WeightWatchers offers numerous ways to personalize your experience. When you first get started, you complete a quiz that asks you what your focus is (weight loss or healthy habits), how often you eat vegetables, if you have diabetes, and which foods you enjoy eating most.
- Affordability (5/5): Compared to comparable weight-loss and nutrition programs, WeightWatchers offers a great value, which is why I scored it a 5 in this category. Starting at just $10 per week, WW is the most affordable option compared to similar programs like Noom ($60/month), Profile ($49/month), and MetPro ($49.99/month). Even with the cheapest and most basic plan, you get access to plenty of great features like recipes, an individualized meal plan, workouts, and 24/7 chat with a coach.
- Easy to follow (4/5): I like how WeightWatchers preaches that their program isn't a diet but instead a lifestyle (WW’s mission is to promote and inspire healthy habits for real life). The program allows—and even encourages—you to still eat foods you enjoy by promoting a more balanced approach to nutrition rather than an all-or-nothing mindset. This makes WW easier to stick to because it's more sustainable.
What I Didn't Like
- User experience (3/5): The app comes equipped with numerous tools to aid you in your journey, but I found the overall set-up and design difficult to navigate, and the amount of information overwhelming. I would've appreciated a more simplified app that clearly displays each function the subscription offered. It seemed like every day I found a new feature on the app, and then I'd forget how to navigate back to that same spot again.
- Convenience (3/5):The entire premise of WeightWatchers is centered around tracking every piece of food you ingest. While this level of tracking did hold me accountable, I also found it a bit tedious at times, and also inconvenient when attending social events where I had a few bites of different foods rather than an entire meal. For these reasons, I scored the program a 3 for convenience—not bad, but not exactly the most convenient. However, WeightWatchers does encourage the use of zero-points food which are foods you don’t have to track (more on this later). The app also comes with a barcode scanner and a database with the nutritional information for hundreds of foods. I did find these features helpful as it makes the tracking process a bit less tedious.
What is WeightWatchers?
Founded nearly 60 years ago, WeightWatchers, or WW, is a weight-loss program that offers a more sustainable solution to weight management and overall well-being. Instead of promoting rapid weight loss, WW advocates for a balanced approach to weight loss through its Point system.
The WW program begins with an in-depth assessment of your personal goals and health stats to gauge your set amount of points. By calculating your starting weight, goal weight, and individual food preferences, WW then assigns you a specific number of daily and weekly points to consume.
How Does WeightWatchers Work?
Start by downloading WW's free weight loss app. Then, you have a choice between two different membership plans. I used the Unlimited Workshops + Digital, but I like how you have another option to choose from based on your budget, personal goals, and needs, which is why I scored WW a 5 in accessibility.
Membership Plans and Cost
- Starts as low as $3/week*
- Access to the app and 24/7 chat feature with a coach
- Includes individualized plan, weekly progress report, recipes, virtual workouts, and meal planning functionality
Unlimited Workshops + Digital
- Starts as low as $6/week*
- Access to the app, which includes everything in the Digital plan, plus the ability to attend in-person and virtual meetings and workshops with a WW coach and other members
*Price is based on the 1-month plan option, but you're able to choose from a 1-month, 3-month, and 6-month plan subscription.
Point System and Food
After you've selected your plan, you'll fill out detailed information regarding your current weight, goal weight, other health questions (if you're breastfeeding, etc.), and finally what your ultimate goal is: to lose weight or develop healthier habits.
Once this initial questionnaire is complete, the questions get more personalized based on your responses. You'll answer how often you eat vegetables, fruit, etc. every week, as well as your favorite foods to enjoy. Then, you answer which is the highest priority for you: enjoying more food options, tracking everything you eat, more go-to foods to choose from, or the ability to limit the measuring of food every day.
From here, you'll arrive at a customized plan and daily allotment of points. One of my favorite parts was the zero-point foods list—i.e., nutritional foods that don’t count towards your daily points budget. The foods on this list are full of lean protein, fiber, and healthy fats, so they serve as the foundation of healthy eating and are generally critical to your overall health. A few of mine were grilled chicken, eggs, and avocado.
Once you've completed this step and have access to your personalized plan, you're then directed to the main page in the app called, "My Day". This is where you can input your daily food intake, plus other activities that influence weight loss and health like your sleep routine and typical exercise regimen. The tracking page is typically where I spent the most time because it helped me monitor how many points I had left each day.
My Typical Day on WeightWatchers
So, what was a typical day like for me on the WeightWatchers program? My daily points budget was 21 points which I found relatively easy to spread across all three meals, plus a couple of snacks. I also regularly earned a few extra points a day thanks to my regular physical activity and water intake.
To give you an idea of how I allocated my points with the WeightWatchers diet, below is a sample menu that shows the point amounts for some of my favorite WW recipes and snacks:
- Breakfast: Sweet potato breakfast bowl (6 points)
- Lunch: Egg, refried beans, and avocado wrap (5 points)
- Snack: Protein lover's snack plate made up of almonds, strawberries, and swiss cheese (4 points)
- Dinner: Cheeseburger dogs (7 points)
- Dessert: Apple slices with chocolate and peanut butter (4 points)
Total Points for the Day: 26
In addition to these meals, I kept up my normal exercise regimen which includes weightlifting for at least one hour. I also tried to walk around 10,000 steps during the day since I work a sedentary job. This afforded me a couple of extra points, which I used on dessert, of course.
Once a week, I'd meet with my personal coach, who I connected with through the app. We set up a regular time each week for a 15- to 30-minute phone call where she gave me helpful advice and created an actionable plan for me to follow.
When you hop on your first call with your coach, they’ll ask you what parts of the program you’re having trouble with or find challenging and then offer solutions to help you reach your goals. I let my coach know that I found it tricky to stay on track when attending social events like happy hours and outings with friends and family to restaurants. My coach reminded me of the power of planning ahead of time as well as the ability to earn extra points for tasks like walking more steps and drinking water. By planning ahead of time, I could earn enough extra points to offset any additional eating or drinking.
This level of coaching is great if you have questions about the point system (like me) or generally need some extra guidance or motivation.
My WeightWatchers Do's and Don'ts
I compiled helpful lessons from my coach, plus my own tips and tricks, into a list of do's and don'ts when following the WW program. A lot of the "do" behaviors can also add points to your budget.
- Plan ahead: It's easier to stay on track with your points budget if you plan meals ahead of time. This also allows you to adjust your daily allotment based on upcoming social events where you may want to use more points (birthday dinners, happy hours, etc.).
- Take advantage of your zero-point foods by incorporating them into your daily meals.
- Drink plenty of water (WW advises at least 60 oz. throughout the day)
- Stay active throughout the week.
- Increase your daily step count.
- Adapt an all-or-nothing mindset. If you've gone over your daily budget by a few points, try not to view that as an opportunity to go completely off track. Just try to be better the next day. Or, you can add points to your budget by completing one of the many WW activities that contributes to healthy weight loss (walking, chores, drinking a cup of water, etc.).
- Blow all of your points on one meal, snack, or dessert.
- Fall behind with tracking. When you're busy or in a rush, it's all too easy to skip tracking for a meal or two, but really try not to do it. This creates inaccuracy, which ultimately prevents you from seeing the results you want. Most of the days where I exceeded my points was largely due to inconsistent tracking on my part.
So, how did WeightWatchers measure up? I gave the program an overall score of 4.1 out of 5. Here's a quick look at the individual breakdown so you can see how I arrived at the total score:
- Value: 5
- User experience (UX): 3
- Info quality: 4
- Personalization: 4
- Nutritious value: 4
- Convenience: 3
- Easy to follow: 4
- Accessibility: 5
- Customer support: 5
- Community: 5
- Goal attainment: 4
Does WeightWatchers Work?
After a month of following the program, I didn't quite lose 5 pounds, but I did notice an improvement in my overall physique. I had less bloating, and felt healthier and stronger overall. I found that the number on the scale means less than how I physically feel, and the balanced, nutritious meals I learned to create through WW were a key part of this learning.
I scored WW a 4 in goal attainment because although I didn't reach my numeric weight-loss goal, I still think the program is geared toward successful weight loss and goal setting. I wasn't as disciplined with tracking or with sticking to my points budget on the weekends, which ultimately prevented me from the weight loss I was seeking. However, my coach was very helpful in pivoting in the actionable plan she gave me, and in offering helpful advice and tips for how to get back on track.
All in all, my experience with WeightWatchers was a positive one, and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a sustainable, balanced approach to either weight loss or healthier eating. I found the recipes tasty and easy to make, and the level of community and personalization useful. WeightWatchers also offers a couple different plan options, all of which are more affordable than most other weight-loss programs on the market.
However, if measuring your food, counting calories, or monitoring each and every thing you eat is triggering for you or simply unrealistic, I recommend a more intuitive approach. For example, one that focuses on how to build well-balanced, nourishing meals instead of food tracking might be more beneficial in that case.
Still, I found that the WeightWatchers program truly reflected the values they preach: to eat well, connect with others, celebrate victories, and overcome challenges. So if you think this program might be right for you and your lifestyle, give it a shot.
Why Trust Us?
At ACTIVE.com, we're passionate about bringing you products that we trust and would personally use. That's why we developed an 11-point evaluation system to determine the quality, effectiveness, and usability of the training programs we feature in our reviews. We test each program and vet it against our system before arriving at an overall score. Additionally, we consulted with ACTIVE's Advisory Board, which includes nutritionists, competitive athletes, coaches, and certified trainers to make certain that the products that we feature are of the highest standards.
Disclaimer: The health and safety of ACTIVE's readers is of the utmost importance to us which is why we recommend consulting with a doctor or physician before partaking in a new weight loss or nutrition program.
FAQs About the WeightWatchers App
Is WeightWatchers worth the money?
Due to the more affordable price points than competitor programs, I did find WW to be worth the money. You get a lot of features (personalized plan, recipes, workouts, access to a coach) in the free app, and if you adhere to the program, you'll most likely see the results you're seeking.
But it's also important to be honest with yourself about your level of discipline and commitment; if you know you won't be able to consistently track your meals and stick to a daily budget of points, it might be best to try a different program.
How long does it take to see progress with WeightWatchers?
While everyone differs in the time it takes to see progress based on genetic and metabolic factors, most people can expect to see progress within a few weeks or a month. Their program is effective, but only if you stick to it. Your level of adherence to the program, as well as other helpful weight loss-oriented activities like physical exercise, walking, and planning ahead, can all contribute to seeing progress sooner.
Is there a free version of WeightWatchers?
While there isn't a free version of WeightWatchers, the Digital plan (WW's most basic package) offers a 30-day free trial. This allows you to try out WW with no risk to you. If you find that it's working for you, you'll be automatically signed up at the monthly rate at the end of the trial. If you want to opt out, you can cancel at any time.
Also be on the lookout for the various deals and specials WW runs where you can snag a plan for less.
As a former competitive swimmer and avid weightlifter, Katie has always understood the importance of staying active. But it wasn’t until she started studying for her ACE personal trainer’s exam that she learned just how important proper nutrition is. In order to build on her knowledge of diet and nutrition, as well as reach her weight loss goal, Katie decided to try WeightWatchers with the hopes of learning more about how to fuel her body the right way.
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