An Apology to Weight Watchers

Last week I wrote a blog post about not taking things at face value and actually analysing numbers to see if certain claims were valid etc you can read it here Weight Loss Numbers

The ironic thing is that in one of the points I made, about weight watchers, I failed to analyse the numbers correctly.

Here is the piece I wrote:

“Finally with weight watchers (one of my pet hates) they tell you that 1 handful of cashew nuts is equal to 10 pts. (Correction it has been pointed out to me that one handful of cashew nuts is now only 4 pts. However my theory still holds true) Most people are allowed around 18-20 pts. So if you eat 6 handfuls of cashew nuts in a day (24 pts) you’re gonna get pretty fat or at least not lose weight. 1 handful is the equivalent of 150-200 calories. So 6 handfuls is around 900-1200 calories. According to weight watchers that’s more (24 pts) than someone should be eating in a day and they will, in theory, get fat and not lose weight.

It was brought to my attention by a few people that my numbers were wrong (hence the correction) some people very politely pointed it out to me and others down right attacked me. But it was my fault for not doing the research properly and I apologise.

I apologise for making the mistake and using incorrect numbers, however I am not apologising for criticising Weight Watchers. I still hold firm in my belief that it is not a healthy diet and there are many flaws in it.

I have spent the last week studying a weight watchers manual that one of my camp members has given me. She has lost over 2 stone  from doing the camps and can now fit into a size 10 pair of skinny jeans by following advice that is contradictory to weight watchers. She hasn’t counted points or calories and yet every week she consistently drops more weight and inches.

I am about to go through why I don’t agree with weight watchers and many of its principles. Please note I am not attacking anybody who follows it, sure you can get results with it (they wouldn’t have a business if you couldn’t) but the results are often very slow and at the sacrifice of your metabolism and health.

In fact when looking through some of the food journals of my clients they tend to fall into a low points category. The difference is that on weight watchers they were hungry and had low energy and slow weight loss, whereas on the SuperFastFitness Plan they are never hungry, their energy soars and they drop weight and inches much faster.

Probably my biggest concern with WW is the products they sell and more importantly the ingredients they use. Things like High Fructose Corn Syrup and Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil are very unhealthy and should be avoided. They claim you can still lose weight as long as you stay within your points. So at only 1 point you can indulge in Weight Watchers Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing or Golden Sponge Cake with creamy filling.

In theory (and many people will go by this) you can eat 10 of these a day and stay well within your points without getting fat!!!!!

Looking at some of the foods they recommend / don’t recommend it’s easy to see that it isn’t focused on true health.

Here are some of the foods recommended in the Core Plan (from what I gather you can eat as much of the foods listed in the core plan as you like, they do teach you to notice when you are full and eat slowly which is great, the only problem is a lot of these foods will actually make you more hungry, cause inflammation and sap your energy)

Artificial Sweeteners – these have been shown to be very dangerous. Labelled excito-toxins they literally excite your brains neurons to death. The also cause hunger and sugar cravings.

Baked beans – Full of sugar

Corn Flakes and other non sugary cereals – Most cereals are sugar! They all get digested rapidly by the body and end up as glucose, spiking blood sugar and insulin thus causing fat storage.

Pasta – It’s funny , in the manual after the grains section they say no flour. What is most pasta made from??? As well as being rapidly digested any food made from wheat flour is going to play havoc on your digestive system and the gluten in it will scar your intenstinal walls, blocking your absorption of vital nutrients.

Sugar Free Jelly – Full of artificial sweeteners

They also only recommend 2 teaspoons of oil a day, this can be olive, flax, sunflower or rapeseed oil. 2 teaspoons is miniscule and it appears this is the only fat they recommend. Flax oil can be very healthy (provided it is a high standard like Udo’s Oil) However both rapeseed and sunflower oils are very processed, rancid oils that will harm your health. Unless you get cold pressed oils I would avoid them.

As I said here is no recommendation for other fats in the core plan. Things like coconut are not allowed. Coconut oil, though a saturated fat, is made up mainly of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT). (Fats are either Short, Medium or Long Chain) The cool thing about MCT is that they get converted into energy straight away and do not get stored as body fat. Coconut oil is very healthy. It is anti bacterial and anti fungal and is very anabolic which means its great for increasing our metabolism and maintaining or building muscle.

The problem with cutting fat from your diet is that certain fats are essential for your health. Low fat diets are not healthy and have also been shown to be the hardest to stick to in studies. Fats like avocado, coconut oil, nuts (except peanuts) Udo’s Oil and Fish Oil all contain nutrients that are necessary to boost health, concentration, increase your metabolism, burn fat and are also great for your skin.

I was told by someone on facebook who took offence to me putting down weight watchers that they did not cut out fat, just saturated fat. From what I gather on the core plan they do not recommend you eat any fats bar the 2 minuscule teaspoons of oil and what ever is in your lean meats/fish etc!

Now on to the Points plan.

The biggest thing that jumped out at me was the diet fizzy drinks points allowance – 0points!!!!

That is insane!

In theory you could drink as much of this crap as you want?

Take a look at the ingredients of a diet coke

  • Carbonated water
  • Caramel color
  • Aspartame – artificial sweetener as mentioned above
  • Phosphoric acid – has the same acidity as battery acid, would you drink that?
  • Potassium benzoate
  • Natural flavors – Not so natural!
  • Citric acid
  • Caffeine – Excess consumption will fatigue your adrenal glands and raise cortisol/stress levels

Becasue these these drinks are so acidic they will strip vital minerals, such as calcium, from your bones. They are not healthy and in my opinion should not be part of any health/weight loss plan.

The best way I can show you how the points plan is flawed is to construct 2 different daily meal plans one which you will lose weight consistently and supports health and high energy levels and one where you will struggle with energy and weight loss and is very unhealthy.

I’ll base this on 20 points allownace

Healthy Version:

Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs, peppers and tomatoes – 4pts

Snack: Handful of almonds and blueberries – 2pts

Lunch: Chicken breast spinach salad with 2 table spoons of Udo’s Oil, mustard and lemon juice – 7.5pts

Snack: Guacamole and 3 rice cakes – 4pts

Dinner: Cajun Salmon fillet, roast veggies with a tablespoon of coconut oil – 8pts

Fluids: 3 litres of water


Oops someone’s not going to lose weight on this plan (according to weight watchers) In fact try eating like that and see how much energy you will have and how much better you will feel. Plus you will drop weight even if weight watchers say you won’t

Unhealthy version:

Breakfast – Cornflakes, with skimmed milk and orange juice – 3 pts

Snack – 500ml Diet Coke, 4 digestive buscuits – 4pts

Lunch – Chicken Salad Sandwich, with low fat margarine – 3.5pts

Snack – Weight Watchers chocolate creme cake, Diet Coke – 1pt

Dinner – Pasta with ham peas and parmesan (weight watchers recipe) – 5pts

Dessert – Weight Watchers Chocolate creme cake – 1pts

Fluids: 1 litre of water, 2 cups of tea (plus the 2 diet cokes) = 2.5litres of ‘fluid’

17.5 pts

The average person will find it very hard to lose weight on a plan like this plus energy, mood and sleep will all be negatively affected.

The person following a plan like this will be very dehydrated due to the tea and coke intake and lack of water. Dehydration can casue digestive issues, headaches, joint pain and an inability to burn fat.

I really hope that I have provided you with more knowledge on why diets like weight watchers aren’t focused on health. Like I said this is not an attack on anyone using weight watchers or anyone who has done well using it. I simply wanted to educate people on what to look out for and possibly even show you how to follow it using a healthy approach rather than a restrictive/calorie counting approach.

Addition 9-09-2010 – Here’s a photo I took of a weight watchers product’s ingredients: You don’t need to be a nutrition expert to know that anything with this amount of ingredients is not natural and can’t help you lose weight!!


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