Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Calories vs. Weight Watchers SmartPoints comparison

So, today was my Wednesday Weigh-in, and I can't say I was disappointed when I stepped on the scale this morning ;)


I was at 130.5, which is down 2 whole pounds from last week; and 2.5 pounds below my goal weight. I wasn't actively trying to lose weight this week, but I had a lot going on with Jerry being in the hospital 4 out of 5 days in a row. My average calorie intake was 1,501, which is on the low side for maintenance; but, considering the circumstances, it makes sense. (Next week, it'll probably be back up, and I'm fine with that).

Last week, I weighed in at Weight Watchers and got the materials for their new Beyond the Scale: SmartPoints plan. It definitely did not sound like the right plan for me (especially when I saw that my beloved dried cherries were 8 "SmartPoints" for a quarter cup!), but I was curious as to how many SmartPoints I'd eaten each day this week. I used the new Weight Watchers app to calculate my SmartPoints at the end of each day, just out of curiosity.

For reference, if I was doing Weight Watchers, my daily target to MAINTAIN my weight would be 36 SmartPoints per day, plus 28 SmartPoints per week. If I was trying to LOSE weight, my daily target would be just 30 SmartPoints per day, plus 28 SmartPoints per week.

Here is the result:

W: 1,681 calories; 65 SmartPoints
T: 1,239 calories; 51 SmartPoints
F: 1,972 calories; 63 SmartPoints
S: 1,442 calories; 57 SmartPoints
S: 1,354 calories; 58 SmartPoints
M: 1,240 calories; 44 SmartPoints
T: 1,578 calories; 65 SmartPoints

Totals for the week: 10,506 calories; 403 SmartPoints
Averages each day: 1,501 calories; 58 SmartPoints

That means, in this week, I would have gone OVER by 123 SmartPoints in maintenance, and 165 SmartPoints if I was trying to lose weight. (Yet, I lost 2 pounds this week.)

(Important Note: Since I count calories, and I'm not actively following the SmartPoints plan, I wasn't trying to get the most out of my SmartPoints. If I was trying to follow the SmartPoints plan, I probably would have made different choices about what to eat. I would have tried to fill up on fruits and vegetables, and eat less sugar and/or processed foods, so the SmartPoints counts would probably have been lower. This is NOT a review of the new plan, nor was it an experiment as a week on Weight Watchers' new plan; all I did was calculate how many SmartPoints I'd eaten for a week, out of curiosity.)

Anyway, here is a sample day, based on things that I would typically eat:

Breakfast: Larabar (which is just dates, nuts, and dried fruit) with 8 g. peanut butter; tea with 1/2 tsp. sugar and 1-1/3 Tbsp. half and half (13 SmartPoints; 301 calories)
Lunch: Panera lunch date with a friend- 1/2 chicken caesar salad, 1 cup tomato soup, piece of baguette, unsweetened iced tea (25 SmartPoints; 680 calories)
Dinner: Homemade roasted red pepper and turkey sausage pasta (11 SmartPoints; 394 calories)
Snack/treat: homemade fudge (9 SmartPoints; 198 calories)

Total: 58 SmartPoints; 1,573 calories

This is a very typical day for me--not super healthy, not super junky, just average. I'm not going to bash the new Weight Watchers program, because I understand what Weight Watchers is going for--when "junk" foods are super high in SmartPoints, people will be more likely to make healthier choices. That's a good thing! However... I find that the opposite happens with me. The more restrictions I have, the less likely I am to stick with the program. I get frustrated while trying to find a compromise between foods I enjoy and that fit in with the plan.

Weight Watchers used to be pretty simple when calculating Points values: there was a formula that used calories, fat, and fiber. That was the plan that I used to lose most of the 125 pounds I lost in 2009-2010. They had a new plan, the PointsPlus system, that then used carbs, fat, fiber, and protein to calculate PointsPlus, which made it a little more complicated. Now, they are using calories, saturated fat, protein, carbs, fiber, and sugar to calculate SmartPoints! It seems like instead of getting simpler, the plan is getting much more complicated and overwhelming.

As a newcomer to Weight Watchers back in the day, the biggest appeal to me was that I didn't have to eat a super healthy diet to lose weight. If I was able to stick with a very healthy diet (lots of fruits and veggies, very little sugar, etc), then I wouldn't have been 253 pounds. I'd tried making healthy choices God-only-knows-how-many times, but I was never able to stick with it. When doing Weight Watchers, I was able to eat the foods that I wanted (in smaller portions) and still lose the weight.

In August 2009, at 253 pounds and living off of pizza, Oreos, ice cream, and Dr. Pepper, I was looking for a weight loss plan that I could stick with. I didn't want to go from pizza and ice cream to salads and grilled fish overnight. I was willing to compromise, though, and Weight Watchers (as the program was back then) allowed me to do that. I could still eat pizza, just not half a pie. I could eat Oreos, just not a whole sleeve in one sitting. And I started adding fruits and vegetables because they were low in Points, so I could eat more food.

With this new plan, it would be very hard to fit in even a small treat. I typically eat three meals a day, plus one treat in the evenings (a piece of fudge, for example, like I mentioned yesterday). That 198-calorie piece of fudge was 9 SmartPoints--exactly one fourth of the SmartPoints WW would allow me to have per day on maintenance! And for a special occasion, like a birthday? A piece of carrot cake is 28 SmartPoints, which would use ALL of the 28 weekly SP allotment.

Again, I understand what they were trying to do in getting people to eat healthier--I just know that, for me, the new plan would make me feel like I was on another diet and I would eventually binge on all the foods I couldn't fit into my daily allotment. On one hand, Weight Watchers is responding to the trend in pushing more protein and less carbs; but on the other hand, it doesn't even feel like Weight Watchers any more.

I think the new SmartPoints plan is great for people who already eat a pretty healthy diet, and are just having a hard time losing weight. I also think it would be good for someone who has health issues, and has to cut back on sugar and/or saturated fat. If you spend most of your SmartPoints allowance on lean protein, fruits, and vegetables, you could probably still fit in a small treat now and then. For people (like me) who are otherwise healthy and enjoy carbs, or eat some processed foods, and who want to keep things as simple as possible, calorie counting seems to be a better fit.

I'm not suggesting that people don't give the new program a chance. When WW first rolled out the PointsPlus plan, I really didn't like it! That's why I used the old Points plan to start with. Eventually, when I was ready, I really embraced the new plan and it worked out well for me. Who knows, maybe in a few years, I'll decide to give this plan a try.

As of now, I recently lost almost 30 pounds by calorie counting, and I'm 134 days binge-free (woo hoo!)... so I don't want to mess with that by whole-heartedly trying something new, even as an experiment. My friend Andrea did great her first week on the new WW plan, losing 9 pounds(!)--but she said that she wouldn't be able to do that plan for maintenance. She's hoping to get back to goal and then find a different maintenance plan that isn't so restrictive. My sister switched from WW to calorie counting this week, because of the new WW plan, and she lost 2.8 pounds--which she was thrilled with.

There have been tons of mixed reviews of the new WW plan on social media, and it's been an interesting read! If nothing else, it seems to have caused a heated discussion among Weight Watchers members ;) I know I'm always saying this, but everybody is different, so we all just need to find what works for us. Maybe it's Weight Watchers, maybe it's calorie counting, maybe it's macro counting, maybe it's intuitive eating, maybe it's something else. It's interesting to see all the different ways to accomplish one common goal!

60 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Thanks for this! I recently made a very conscious decision to drop our of WW, and when I told the leader (whom I really like) she told me some big changes were coming. When I first heard about Smart Points I felt both sad not to be a part of it (I like when WW changes things) and relieved because it seems so complicated. I like that WW is willing to adjust based on research, but I think it's struggling to keep members. It sounds like this plan may not be the way to make that happen.

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  3. Your posts are always great. Inspiri, heartfelt, honest. I lost 94 lbs calorie counting and following the food pyramid. Learned by First Place bible studies. I've gained 9 back but keep up with y our blog for inspiration. I see patterns that are similar in the maintenance and weight loss cycles. Thank you so much for the simple but very helpful educational and informational posts as well as the continued inspiration!

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  4. Thanks for sharing all this info. I became a Lifetime WW member earlier this year, and I have the same number of Smart Points assigned as you. I joined in 2013, so Points Plus has been all I’ve known Weight Watchers wise, and I had a lot of success with it having lost approximately 70 pounds. At times, I’ve felt almost like a cult member when I try to recruit people by saying how it’s a lifestyle change and not a diet. I agree wholeheartedly that I feel like if I had tried to jump into Smart Points when I started back in 2013, I would have really struggled to stick with it. What I loved about Points Plus was I felt like I had the option to eat anything if I really wanted to, but over time I started cutting things out as I judged them not worth it. I still worked in treats and ate out at restaurants. I managed my points as I went through the week, but I rarely felt stressed about eating all of them. I think with Smart Points and seeing that 28 weekly, I’m feeling anxious a lot more. With the increase in Points for a lot of foods, I think I could blow through that just by going out to eat once and psychologically having 0 Weekly points left feels worse than blowing through 28 of 49. Also, since they’re not encouraging people to eat Fit Points, it’s changed my setup since I used Activity Points first. I became a runner too through my weight loss and there were many days I would just eat the number of Activity Points that sent me into a Points deficit under 26. It seemed to work for me. Now they’re encouraging not to exchange Fit Points and they seem to be awarded super easily, so using them in the same way as Activity Points would require more trial and error. I’ve made it through one week, and I seem to have lost a couple, but I don’t know if this can work long term for me. Although I want to be healthy and fit, I don’t feel incredibly motivated to go much lower in my carb/sugar intake, and I try to limit my use of artificial sweeteners.

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    1. I could have written this. ..we even originally lost the same amount of weight! I agree with all you said 100%!

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    2. I had the exact same experience as the author of the article had. I found that on conversion to SmartPoints, they assigned me exactly the same number of points total over the course of a week. And that all the foods I had used as snacks went from 1-2 points to 3-5 points!!! I ran calculations on a week where I was on PointsPlus and then did them a la SmartPoints and I had chewed up MOST of my weekly points in the first day.

      Considering I was maintaining my weight on the PointsPlus system, I could see no reason whatsoever to go to the much more intensively restrictive SmartPoints system. With the sensation that I could NOT splurge at all, I dropped my Weight Watchers membership.

      I did gain a few pounds back during the recent Holiday season ... I am once again using Weight Watchers principles and point calculators ... the POINTSPLUS ones. And once again ... the weight is coming off.

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  5. As your know I started WW in October. And right now I am not sure what to make of this new smart points stuff. Im a little frustrated at times because I feel like they are forcing you to cut out anything sugary and sweet. My beloved 4 pp York Peppermint patty is now 9 points. My ice cream sandwich is now 7 sps. I almost entered depressed mode when I was scanning things in the grocery store. I did find last night that 2 tbs of sugar free smuckers caramel and an apple was only 3 points so I guess that will have to do for now... check back with me in the next month since Smart points only started for me a week ago lol.

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    1. I couldn't agree more; I've been on WW for almost 3 years. I will admit, I got through periods where I go to the meetings, but don't track, and whatnot, so my weight loss has been 25 lbs. Which I'm happy about. Yes, I know others lost that in 6 months, but it took me a very long time to get my mindset where it needed to be. That in itself was a victory.

      As for the SP plan, I don't like it. I don't get a lot of the reasoning, or lack thereof, behind some of the point values, etc. And I've seen, and asked my own questions, and for explanations, and haven't been satisfield with the responses I've gotten; like they don't quite know the answer.

      I kind of get where they're coming from, in terms of the goal of the plan, and it may work for some. I did tell myself before I totally give it the heave ho, I needed to at least make an effort. I did, and will be going back to following PP. I'll still attend meetings etc. (I do it at work so super convenient), but for me, this new plan simply isn't sustainable long term. i KNOW myself and know I will feel deprived, and then start shoveling food in my mouth like there's no tomorrow.

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  6. I was totally against the new plan. To the point of anger! The changes, coupled with the mess they made of the mobile app, the fact that the website didn't work ( this is all still a problem by the way) just had me so stressed out I was going to quit. I am an at goal lifetime member since 2009. I have lost over 120 pounds. So this was ruining my life! Truth be told, I didn't do well on Points Plus. I even gained a bit ( but still under goal) after 2 shoulder surgeries. But I kept weighing in each week and yo-yo'ing.
    I decide to give SmartPoints a fair chance. And HOLY COW! Can't believe it, but I LOVE IT! I am very rigid by nature. This helped push me back into laser focus. I weigh in today for the first time on the new plan and at home this morning, I am down 4 pounds. I found that very few things went up so much that I won't eat them any more. The things that did, were binge foods for me any way. So at this time, the program is fabulous for me.
    That being said, I think new people will drop out. It's limited and feels like " a diet". For someone who wants to be more lenient, this program won't be for them.

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  7. I've been a WW lifetime member for 5 years. This year before the new program came out I considered leaving it for two reasons. First, I'm vegan and already eat very healthy, so I felt the program was teaching things I already know. Second, this year I started following the high-mileage Hansons plan for half marathons, and I knew I needed to substantially increase my food intake (mostly carbs) to fuel my runs. Interestingly, my lowest weight this year was when I was eating a ton of food, again mostly carbs, on my peak mileage weeks (43 miles and nearly 9 hours of running a week). I could never have eaten that much on WW, and I don't think WW & endurance training work well together. But, I'm 4 pounds over my goal weight range so tried the new program. I love it! After being pretty stagnant on the old plan & not losing for weeks, I lost 1.3 pounds my first week. More importantly, I realized that I have been eating too much sugar, which is a good lesson. Just a correction though that you still can eat lots of carbs on the new program. I'm doing Hansons now & have been increasing my carbs, and I still lost weight. Things like whole wheat bread, pasta, oatmeal, etc. did not increase in points. But I'm only running 5 hours a week now, so when I get up to 9 hours I won't be able to follow WW.

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  8. I currently am Not a fan of the new program. I lost 50 pounds on the PP program and was lifetime when I got pregant. I will give it a fair chance, but will also track calories as well. I really think it depends on each person, for me, I will need to eat some processed foods because, hello-new mom, I sometimes have to heat up a lean cusine. I also think it feels like too much of a diet. The thing I LOVED about WW was that it allowed me to have planned splurges. Some of my splurges wouldnt even fit into my WW WEEK now, which to me, isnt cool--it makes me want to rebel and eat ALL THINGS! So far, it is good in terms it is making me think about all the treats I was allowing myself everyday, but I find myself STARVING everyday, no matter how much protien I eat. I need carbs too!

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  9. Long time reader, first time commenter. :)
    I am really glad you posted this, as it jives with my feelings on the new Smart Points too. I just cancelled my WW subscription after a year on the Points Plus plan. I lost a solid 25 pounds, but then gained back another 10 during some life changes.
    What you describe is exactly what I feared--a "normal" day for me would go extremely over my daily points, and it's just incredibly discouraging. My other fear is that I would not actually eat enough calories on the new plan, sticking to my usual dietary habits and trying to stay within in my points range.
    I switched over to My Fitness Pal this week and I love it. It's so simple, and so easy to stick to for me. I'm sure part of it is also that it's just good to change things up and try something new once in awhile.
    I totally agree with you that I get the rationale behind the new plan, but it just would not work for me. I'm curious to continue reading feedback on the new plan.

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  10. Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to write out such a detailed post on the new plan. Everything you have written about WW vs. calorie counting is spot on.
    I, too, was on the old school WW program when all we had to worry about was calories, fat and fiber. The fact that we have to no worry about protein, sugar and saturated fat is absolutely insane. I tried to get back on WW last year but found myself starving so I ended up bingeing. I never took the time to count the calories I ate but now it makes total sense, I'm sure I was having 1,200-1,400 calories.
    I have been using MFP for a few months as well and it has worked out wonderfully for me. Free, so easy, great barcode, and I don't find myself obsessing over food.

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  11. I think you hit the nail on the head with this post about the new WW. I love MFP and have been using it for a few months. PP did work for me, when I worked with it but this new programs seems too restrictive and I'm sure I would resent it eventually.
    But to each their own and everyone needs to figure out what works for them!
    Also, glad Jerry is feeling better! What a nightmare week you had. Just caught up on your posts today.
    -Kim

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  12. THANK YOU THANK YOU for the detailed calories vs Smart Points comparison. I wanted to do the same exercise but you saved me a lot of time :) I've been trying w/ WW (PointsPlus) for years and it leaves me demoralized and in a bad place more often than not. I switched a couple of months ago to simple calorie counting and I'm losing pounds. Yes, I definitely could eat healthier... but slimming down is at least progress for me, compared to trying, failing, then binge eating (which is the cycle that happens when there are too many restrictions). Anyway, I appreciate you breaking all this down for me; it's much appreciated!

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  13. You have inspired me to start calorie counting, Katie. I've been doing WW since 2005, always using the old plan of calories, fat, and fiber. But, over the last three years, I've gained 37 of my 98 lbs back. I guess I've grown tired of it, or I've learned to cheat the system, or something. I have to try something else, no matter how much it terrifies me!! I'm on day two of calorie counting....so far so good!!

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  14. Thank you so much for posting this! You're daily calorie posts and menus are my favorite posts! If you can, I'd love to see the calories you burn per day (or steps)... just any reflection of how exercise and nutrition go hand in hand.

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  15. I guess I am the minority here...I am loving the new plan! For the last year I have been up and down the same 5 pounds. I couldn't stick to my PP and I am a binge eater. Today is my first full week on the new plan and my home scale says I'm down 4-5 lbs! I have noticed my sugar cravings have subsided and because I'm eating more protein, I'm not ravenously hungry. I still have my lattes, had a little chocolate but I am eating healthier than I was ever able to do, I ate out 4x this week and I honestly just feel better. I am a Sparkpeople person too, so was counting calories, but had a hard time getting under 2,000 because I was eating the wrong thing, but couldn't get off the sugar/carb addiction/roller coaster.

    Ultimately, we need to do what we can work. Every person is different and we are all at different places in our journey. I love your blog and have been reading for years. Am doing my first Half next month and am scared. Did not train consistently, but goal is not to get picked up by the wagon! !! Merry Christmas, Katie!!!

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  16. After reading your thoughts on the new WW program, I'm sooooo glad that I made the decision to try calorie counting to lose weight this past summer. I've done WW on and off for many years and it never failed that when I was doing really well, the plan would change and my weight loss would stall and eventually I would give up. Then the following year I would hear that WW had "tweaked" their new plan with a reduction of points. It was because of this happening twice that I really wasn't gung hoe about going back to WW when I made the decision to once and for all get this weight off. I started being honest with myself and felt that I couldn't maintain the WW program because I felt so restricted and it was getting more complicated to figure points. I started calorie counting in July along with working out again and have thus far lost 35 pounds. I'm only halfway to my goal, but I don't feel restricted. I never feel guilty when I allow myself treats. I go out to restaurants without feeling like it's going to be difficult to try and figure out points. When I have a couple of weeks of small or no weight loss, I re-evaluate what I've been eating and adjust that as well as change my workouts a little. I feel like this is something that I can maintain and it feels wonderful at five months in to feel as motivated as I was when I started calorie counting. Thanks for putting all this out there for us to read. You give me so much encouragement seeing your ups, and how you work through your downs help me work through mine. Thanks again and I hope you guys have a great holiday!

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  17. I had good success on the old "Momentum Plan" points, but a heart attack and PointsPlus had us parting company. PointsPlus actually preferred I eat cream cheese instead of the bagel, not exactly heart healthy. But the big problem was the new complexity, and it sounds like they've added another layer.

    One good point is that PointsPlus gave us way too many points, which it sounds like they are correcting. But - they are continuing to march toward low carb, perhaps the hardest diet to stay with.

    I wish WeightWatchers would just let us track calories directly, like the many free sites and apps do so well now. Their real value is in the weekly meetings, to gain social support and accountability. We all know doughnuts are bad, don't need a sledgehammer SmartPoints score to remind us.

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    1. "I wish WeightWatchers would just let us track calories directly, like the many free sites and apps do so well now. Their real value is in the weekly meetings, to gain social support and accountability. We all know doughnuts are bad, don't need a sledgehammer SmartPoints score to remind us."

      Great quote! That sums it up!

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  18. The SmartPoints calculation now only uses Calories, Saturated Fat, Sugars, and Protein. The Carbs and Fiber are prompted for in the calculator but are actually not part of the calculation anymore.

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  19. I couldn't have said it better! I have lost 102.2 lbs. in just 9 months doing PP and am 2.2 lbs. from goal. I did try SP for 2 weeks and had a small loss the first week and actually gained .4 the second week. This is not normal for me by any means. I cross tracked the first week before I actually tried SP, I'm very active also, and used about half of the 100ish FP that I had earned that week and had a loss of 3.4. I went back to PP this week and am hopeful to hit goal Friday, if not next week. To each their own I say, but I'll stick with PP!

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    1. Same here! I had no problem losing weight with Points Plus...but now with SmartPoints I am losing weight so slow! Not at all what I am used to which is very frustrating. My leader actually cut down my daily Smart Point allowance to 28. (I have 15 more pounds to lose) I was told that with this new plan that you are NOT supposed to eat back any of your earned FitPoints...were you told the same thing?

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  20. "everybody is different, so we all just need to find what works for us."
    Well said! And I'll further that: different plans work in different seasons of life. I made Lifetime on PP in early 2009. When the scale went up about 8, PP didn't work and calorie counting did. This last round, PP was working well for me again.
    I gained trying to use SP. It's the way I'm wired: restrict me, and I'll have an appetite for the 'forbidden fruit.' Give me training wheels to moderate things, and I'll be fine.
    Thank you for a balanced yet honest post!

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    1. That's a very good point! I should have mentioned that. I'm not sure why, but as I've gotten older, I've found things that work now that didn't before, and vice versa. Interesting how our bodies change!

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  21. I stumbled upon your site while trying to find a calorie comparison for the new WW SP program. I love what you have written about the new SP program because it is exactly what I was feeling! I joined WW about a year ago and lost about 50 lbs...still need to lose more but took the holidays off to enjoy the food and drink. When I went back, WW had switched over to the new plan and I was shocked to see what my point consumption was every day when eating the things I ate before on PP and when I was losing! I was over points by 20+ every day. The website was also so difficult to use that it was demotivating me from logging my meals as well. I was very frustrated with the whole WW experience over the past few weeks. To top it off I had a very rude customer service rep tell me earlier this week that I needed to "take it more serious" when I called with a question about their website functionality. That did it for me. I ended my membership with WW that night and flipped over to MFP. I LOVE it!! I have so much more visibility into what I am eating and its components, that I am actually more aware of food choices and fat, carb, protein elements. Its making me more aware and therefore more accountable - no more hiding behind a screen of points that are/were very hard to interpret. There website is also a breeze to use and I can log my food in a few minutes verses 20+ min on WW - if I could even find what I was looking for on that darn new site. Out of curiosity I also did a compare of SP with the calories on MFP - and I too was over by 20-30 points a day even though I was eating 1500-1800 calories a day on MFP.
    I am excited for the new year using MFP and maybe I'll be able to reach my goal weight with this new plan - plus I'll be saving $240 by not doing WW online! HA! I've bookmarked your blog - hopefully I'll pick up some good tips from you since you have already walked (or run) this path.

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    1. I started to comment on the original article without reading any of the comments and happened to glanced up and saw your comment, it was almost exactly what i was writing. I have about 100 pounds to lose, I actually switched to MFP before SmartPoints came out because I was not getting the results I want with WW but once SmartPoints came out I was tracking in both and found the same results you I was over by 20 - 30 SP per day and that was eating between 1200 - 1650 per day. MFP also give you your targets for sugars and fats to stay under and most day I was under those targets by a lot, so I'm not sure how on SP I was going over by so much. I do still go to the meeting maybe eventually I will drop mainly I go cause I need the accountability of the weigh in.

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  22. Great post! I have done a few of the different WW programs over the years. I had success on them and would always eventually switch to calorie counting. I loved the flexibility of WW. I recently started again last summer and lost 20 lbs. I thought I would actually stay with it and not switch to calories this time because I was doing the coaching option with WW and love it. When the new smartpoints came out I was excited but after realizing how restrictive it was I decided it was not for me. Right now I am using my home materials and calculator to track with Points Plus again but I am sure I will end up on MFP counting calories.

    I totally agree with what you said about everyone finding what works for them.

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  23. I dislike the new program. I lost 30 lbs on the points plus program and have gained almost 2 lb in the 4 weeks i have been doing the smart points.The thing I enjoyed the most about weight watchers points plus is that it didn't feel like you were giving up any of your favorite foods. Points plus also fit into my busy life style. Since switching over to the new smart points I have found myself starving and binge eating the foods that are now frowned upon. My frozen yogurt went from 10pts for 8 oz to 21+ points. I don't see this new plan as a life style change for me. Would not recommend for someone as a long term solution. Very sad.

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  24. I'm not fond of Smart Points. Though I eat healthy most of the time, I like to indulge every once in a while - this program punishes you for doing so. They keep telling you to eat more and more protein...this helps if after I've eaten dinner and I find myself still hungry, I can eat an additional protein....but hours later when I may want a snack - a chicken breast, can of tuna, etc.. isn't going to do it. Right now I'm trying to decide which of the free calorie counting apps will work best for me.

    When WW said they were making the biggest change in 50 years - I actually thought they were doing away with points completely and was happy about it. When I discovered it was just another point program, it was disappointing. They lied.

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  25. I just started tracking again this week. The first few days I tracked calories and then a few days I used the itrackbites app (WW knockoff). While snacking on a carrot I realized why I prefer the WW points plus method - specifically the not "counting" fruits and veggies. It just seems like less work to me. I can eat a carrot and not have to weigh it and look up how many calories it is. I'm not even going to think about Smart Points. I have used PP before and maybe it's the familiarity that's comforting too. Plus that app only cost $3. It's not as nice as the WW one was, but it's usable. I lost 3 lbs this week!

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  26. To each their own. The right program for each person (in an oversimplified way) is the one that they will stick to. I counted calories and I lost weight, but I wasn't focused on nutrition at all. I am enjoying the new plan more than anything ever before. The app and website not working when it first started was maddening, though. I can lose weight with any program I've tried, but it never changed my habits to healthier ones until SmartPoints, so it didn't last and I felt thinner but not better. I was thinner on the outside but my organs were still fatty on the inside. I still have dessert most days on SmartPoints, I go out to eat a lot and eat at friends' houses. And I feel better enough to exercise, which is somewhat of a miracle. The principle of budgeting your food is still the same, but now I like to have sugar and I have it, rather than feeling like I have to have it and a lot of it. I still eat pizza and French fries and ice cream and chocolate and carbs and processed food, but I don't binge on them. They have this social media thing now called Connect, too, that is amazing for ideas of how different people do the program in a way that fits their life. I get ideas from there constantly and I don't feel deprived.

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  27. I googled "SmartPoints binge" and found this post. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, and especially for tracking your calories and SmartPoints - a great experiment that helps me with my decision to drop WW and go to MFP full time. Like you, I started WW with the original Points Plan and loved the flexibility. It was the first diet that did not make me feel crazy and restricted. With PointsPlus, I had a harder time, but I could still do it. Now, I feel very restricted and have been binging. Never a good thing! I know a lot of successful calorie counters but have been nervous to completely leave WW behind, but I think this is it. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts as they are so similar to my own. :)

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  28. Thanks for this, it answered a lot of questions I had. A question - How do you know that your maintenance target for SP would be 36?

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    Replies
    1. When I went to Weight Watchers, they calculated it for me.

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  29. Very interesting post... I just started weight watchers and Smart Points has been awesome. I started 2 weeks ago (at 263) and I've lost 7.8lbs. I lived on any type of chips you can find, tacos, chocolate and pepsi. What I love about Smart points is that I HAVE to focus on getting the most bang for my buck and I do that by avoiding sugar and only having small amounts of carbs. It's also returned my focus towards vegetables and fruits again...which I like, but never chose. It was Valentine's Day yesterday, and I chose to use my weeklies and eat junk...I'm back on track today and not feeling a bit guilty because I'm still tracking and within my points. I can imagine that for those who started with Points Plus, the transition must be tough. However, with us newbies...we are none the wiser and I'm happy feeling to be moving towards wholeness in nutrition and in health.

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  30. I just started the Smarts Point program on Friday. I am so hungry I could eat a couch.
    With the Points Plus program I NEVER felt this way. I rarely used any of my weekly points and was doing well until some life circumstances got in the way and I had to leave WW. Fell off the wagon and now I'm back. The Points Plus program worked well for me.
    As I did on the PP program, I am trying to stay within my daily points and not use my weekly allotment. I was soooo tired!!! I decided to see how many calories I was using so I pulled up the Calorie Count site and plugged in my food for the day.
    OMG---yesterday was 883 calories! I used up ALL my daily points and barely came up to starvation level!
    My home scale shows a good loss but this kind of drastic cut in calories is NOT good, especially for me. I have been on these kinds of diets (and yes, it is a DIET) before and the minute I stray I pack on the pounds like crazy.
    Disappointed when I see how many of my old favorites have gone way up in points with the SP program but now I am worried that this so-called "healthy" turn that WW has taken is not healthy at all!
    I'll give it a try but will also stay aware of the extremely low calorie allowance and work from there.
    So far, it's not even a week and I am starting to hate this already. Why should I be paying money for something that I know will ultimately not work for me? Why should I have to double-check my WW day with the Calorie Count site??

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  31. Thanks for this post. I'm starving on 30 points a day, where even a Lean Cuisine meal that was once 8 points is now 12, and I find myself feeling guilty for "binging" on all my weeklies. But even when I do eat more points than allowed, I'm still losing, which makes me think the program isn't being calculated correctly. I also have so much less energy to go to the gym unless I eat a little more. So I am losing a lot, but something feels off, and it doesn't feel sustainable.

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  32. You've pretty much summed up my feelings about smartpoints! Sure, I've lost weight, but after three weeks I'm struggling with the limits on treats and cheese. I lost weight on PP and it felt so much easier because I could indulge in my treats. I understand sugar and saturated fats are not healthy, but I need to learn how to eat them in moderation in order to be able to not regain the weight. This is definitely NOT a long term sustainable program for me. I hear WW is losing subscribers - I know why!

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  33. I was so happy with PP which helped me eat in moderation. I could eat without feeling deprived and not feel hungry. SP is literally starving me. After using ALL my daily points and even some weekly points, I jumped over to MFP and calculated and was only at 1000 calories?! If it's not broke-dont fix it.If I wanted to do a low carb diet, I would be on the Atkins. I have since cancelled WW and just rely on mfp and exercise with success!

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  34. Thank you for this! Everything I've seen on the internet has been so overwhelmingly positive, but I really felt that the new plan was quite punishing - if I got "stuck" somewhere and was hungry and had even a couple of nachos to help me to not be starving, I would either have to make sure that I had something in my purse or not track it, which just seems very cloak-and-dagger to me, and not something I really wanted to pursue. Anyway, thank you for being honest about this and not being so rainbows and kittens about it. I appreciate your honesty, and I appreciate that it made me feel much less alone.

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  35. I did the exact same thing! I knew I couldn't make the new WW plan work for me so changed to counting calories instead and lost almost 3 pounds in the first week. Like you, I wasn't going to be able to cut out the indulgences. I have a sweet tooth and love food so not being able to have the sweets/treats/indulgences was never going to be something I could maintain as a lifestyle. I've been doing MFP since December and I love it. Just got to my goal weight today so we'll see how the maintenance goes. I know many like the new plan and have been successful and that's great. I just knew it wasn't something I was ever going to be able to do for a lifetime! I say do whatever works for you.

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  36. So many of these stories are my story! I rejoined WW this week with my husband, because I'd had good results with points & points plus in the past. Two days of very healthy eating (no processed foods, only small servings of whole grains, lots of veg/fruit) I was literally in pain from being hungry & going over my 30 points. I plugged in my food to MFP - 998 calories on Monday (35 SP for WW), and on my binge day I ate 1200 calories (48 SP for WW). I knew this wasn't for me. I have given myself severe bradycardia from extreme dieting in the past, and I do not want to go back to a place of extreme dieting which hurts my heart, metabolism, etc. I cancelled and demanded our money back. We are switching over to MFP again.

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  37. Everyone is different so should do what works for them. I think what WW is doing is trying to get people off sugar. As a nation that is the one thing that is deemed a culprit for weight gain and a lot of diseases. I for one am enjoying Smart Points and consistently loosing. To each his own.

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  38. Yeah sugar is bad for you, but I think WW has taken this way too far. If SP works for anyone reading this, then that's awesome for you, rock what works. Me? I'm just going to stick with PP with ProTracker Plus.

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  39. So glad I'm not the only one not liking this new plan. I'm having a really hard time with this diet. I get that sugar is 'bad' but upping food items that I used to eat with no problem and cutting the extra points in half? This feels more restrictive. Plus, I'm always hungry! Thinking I'll go back to Atkins where I actually lost some weight. As of January? I'll only lost 4 pounds!

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  41. I have been on the last 3 different WW plan lost with all of them. Got to LTM on ProPoints and was maintaining well and moved to SmartPoints to continue maintenance. I love the direction WW have moved in. It is far more health focused and fits well around my training. I don't have the cravings that I used to and I love the fact that if I want a sugar laden food that desperately I can still have it, just like I could on any of the other two plans. Let's face it, WW has always been restrictive to a point (pardon the pun), it is about weight loss after all, but it's still life friendly and now it's more body friendly. I don't wan to be able to fit chocolate and biscuits into my diet so easily again, that's what got me to where I needed WW in the first place!!

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  42. I've struggled with SP, started Jan 1 2016 and as of last Saturday lost a grand total of 8.6#. Ups and downs,I've never used all weekly points and fitpoints, logged all food and weighed/measured everything that isn't 0 points. I'm so frustrated I could have a hissy fit. I'm training for a half marathon in July; tues/thurs 45 min group runs and long runs on Sunday. I added 2 miles daily m-f because I work in an office and thought I needed more activity. My daily points are 30, weekly add are 40. My fitpoints average 100. what the hell?

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  43. Thanks so much for writing this out. I'm truly stumped myself. I reached goal in 2012. I've put on 2 lbs per year since then and now I am 10-15 lbs above where I want to be. The SmartPoints is really challenging for me. I eat very healthy - gluten free, dairy free, soy free b/c of allergies. Lately I've been tracking calories and points. I spoke with a personal trainer who said my resting metabolic assessment says I should eat 1444 calories if I do nothing all day. And 1980 ish if I exercise and burn 300-500 calories.

    I'd appreciate any suggestions you have. I workout 6 days a week 1 to 1.5 hours a day including cardio, weight lifting, figure skating, stretching. I can't figure out if I am supposed to eat less or more. The scale doesn't move either way.

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  44. I started points plus in January and have lost 40 lbs. I love it! you can have whatever you want, just not all at once. Yes, too much sugar and saturated fat is unhealthy! I have pasta, rice and all sorts of carbs, all you have to do is track and count your points. If you want ice cream, have it, but not everyday!

    Smart points is a diet and a lifestyle.

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  45. This post expresses perfectly why I am having trouble with SP. I lost 10 on momentum and then 32 on Points. I am now 10 pounds above my lowest and am struggling just to get back to normal BMI (2 lbs away). Went to MFP and hope to do well with it.

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  46. I'm glad I stumbled upon this. 4 years ago I lost 42 pounds on my fitness pal and because quite the expert on weight loss (eating a good amount of calories - not starving myself, how to exercise and how to eat those exercise calories, why muscle is better, what breaks down faster, yada yada). I maintained that for a year and felt really great. Then I got pregnant and then 2 years later got pregnant again. Two kids later I've gained a bit back, of course. Nursing kids has thrown calorie counting for a loop and it took a lot of trial and error to hit the sweet spot.
    I joined weight watchers just a few months ago and I liked it at first because it had an option for nursing. I started off losing weight quickly.... like ALL programs. But now 3 months later I have only lost 11 total pounds because I just can't keep on top of the points. I'd be fine with that but I was feeling frustrated but couldn't pinpoint why. After reading your blog now I know why. I feel the same. There is little room for "treats" and it sometimes encourages you to eat the fake stuff.... low fat cheese, fake butter, cool whip, splenda... stuff that really just isn't good for you but you eat it because it gets you better bang for your buck. It bothered me at first, but now it REALLY bothers me. I went out for my anniversary and used up all my weekly points in one sitting, which also happened to be day 1. So then the rest of the week this tiny points total stared me in the face and it was unsettling. I also hate how the fit points are really just there for nothing. Back on MFP, if I worked out for 1/2 hour doing some HIIT, I'd burn about 250 cals. To me, that meant that I could have another little something. With WW, it really means squat, even though I can choose to swap fit points it just doesn't calculate the same.

    Anyway, with all that rambling... I just wanted to thank you for hitting the nail on the head with me. I was also comparing the calories vs smart points this last week and the differences were crazy. If I was maintaining my weight, my calorie count would be quite low - much lower than what I was eating when I was maintaining my weight 3 years ago. If I wasn't nursing it would be crystal clear what I need to do. Even still, I think going back to calorie counting and trial and error with nursing will just work better for me. Thank you!

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  47. I just came upon this as I was searching for some information on WW. I've done WW in the past and this summer joined again to do the Smartpoints. I lost 10 pounds over the summer, but now have plateaued. (I'd like to lose another 5-10 pounds). I started tracking the last two weeks in MyFitness Pal and found that some days I was eating less than 1200 calories and couple of high days on the weekends were about 1400 - maybe a 1600 day here or there. That just seems crazy to me. And that is with eating every single extra point I can get for the Weekly Allowance and points I earn for exercise. Probably time to go back to just counting calories.

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  48. This is a fantastic post! I have used WW 3 times. Twice in past on the PP system, and I just re-joined under the new SP program last week. I came back to WW because it has been the most effective program I have tried. In fact, my husband tried to encourage me to use the Lose It! app with him (calorie counter similar to MFP) and I declined saying I know what works for me. Here are the reasons I believed PP worked for me over the calorie counting app:
    1. Free fruits and veggies. Because of this staple I knew I could NEVER really starve. After all, I can eat 0-point foods. And there are plenty of times where a fruit snack or rounding out a meal with fruits and veggies went a long way to making me feel satiated. Under a calorie counter those 3-4 servings can add up,
    2. I really could eat what I wanted within moderation. And over the long term PP helped me to understand the relationship between food choices and how to manage them.

    Here is the reason I am not loving SP vs PP:
    1. I feel like the foundation on which WW rests (that makes it successful for so many) is that it allows for freedom of choice and lifestyle. SP is so restrictive that it doesn't really allow for that any more. Sure, you CAN eat that bread, chocolate and wine, but you won't be eating anything else. And here's the thing: while SP may be edging people in a healthier direction than PP did, PP still nudged you in the right direction. Moderately. You couldn't have loads of sugar and saturated fats with PP either - that would also rack up points. But you could choose to have some.

    Where I think WW may have gone wrong:
    It almost seems like PP could have been stage 1 of a weight loss program and SP could have been stage 2 (or likewise an alternative choice for people looking for more optimal, but restrictive eating standards). They took away moderation. And we all know, that is key.

    What I am going to do about it:
    I did find that PP had some pitfalls. Perhaps it awarded too many weekly points. I found that under PP I could eat my daily 28 plus the weekly 49 (all of 'em) and as long as I didn't dip into my earned activity points I lost weight at a steady rate.
    I did not do any fancy calculating to compare points under the PP vs SP system, but here is what I intuit about it - I used to get 28x7=196 + 49 = 245 per week. Now I get 30x7=210 + 21= 231. That's automatically a difference of (-14) per week. In addition, the point values on MANY things have gone up. By my estimation (not actually calculated) it's about a 20% difference. 20% of my old PPV is 49 points. 49+14=63.
    By my standards I am getting 63 fewer points per week - that is more than two days worth of food! So as I experienced with PP, I may need to adjust SP a bit to work for me. I can tell you I will definitely be consuming every SP I have in a week and I WILL be eating the equivalent in earned Fit points as well. If I need to add more points from there, so be it. But I am bummed because the psychology of banking unused points (PP) feels a lot better than adding on additional ones (SP)-whether I'm loosing weight or not.

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  49. This is a fantastic post! I have used WW 3 times. Twice in past on the PP system, and I just re-joined under the new SP program last week. I came back to WW because it has been the most effective program I have tried. In fact, my husband tried to encourage me to use the Lose It! app with him (calorie counter similar to MFP) and I declined saying I know what works for me. Here are the reasons I believed PP worked for me over the calorie counting app:
    1. Free fruits and veggies. Because of this staple I knew I could NEVER really starve. After all, I can eat 0-point foods. And there are plenty of times where a fruit snack or rounding out a meal with fruits and veggies went a long way to making me feel satiated. Under a calorie counter those 3-4 servings can add up,
    2. I really could eat what I wanted within moderation. And over the long term PP helped me to understand the relationship between food choices and how to manage them.

    Here is the reason I am not loving SP vs PP:
    1. I feel like the foundation on which WW rests (that makes it successful for so many) is that it allows for freedom of choice and lifestyle. SP is so restrictive that it doesn't really allow for that any more. Sure, you CAN eat that bread, chocolate and wine, but you won't be eating anything else. And here's the thing: while SP may be edging people in a healthier direction than PP did, PP still nudged you in the right direction. Moderately. You couldn't have loads of sugar and saturated fats with PP either - that would also rack up points. But you could choose to have some.

    Where I think WW may have gone wrong:
    It almost seems like PP could have been stage 1 of a weight loss program and SP could have been stage 2 (or likewise an alternative choice for people looking for more optimal, but restrictive eating standards). They took away moderation. And we all know, that is key.

    What I am going to do about it:
    I did find that PP had some pitfalls. Perhaps it awarded too many weekly points. I found that under PP I could eat my daily 28 plus the weekly 49 (all of 'em) and as long as I didn't dip into my earned activity points I lost weight at a steady rate.
    I did not do any fancy calculating to compare points under the PP vs SP system, but here is what I intuit about it - I used to get 28x7=196 + 49 = 245 per week. Now I get 30x7=210 + 21= 231. That's automatically a difference of (-14) per week. In addition, the point values on MANY things have gone up. By my estimation (not actually calculated) it's about a 20% difference. 20% of my old PPV is 49 points. 49+14=63.
    By my standards I am getting 63 fewer points per week - that is more than two days worth of food! So as I experienced with PP, I may need to adjust SP a bit to work for me. I can tell you I will definitely be consuming every SP I have in a week and I WILL be eating the equivalent in earned Fit points as well. If I need to add more points from there, so be it. But I am bummed because the psychology of banking unused points (PP) feels a lot better than adding on additional ones (SP)-whether I'm loosing weight or not.

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    Replies
    1. I'm in the UK and I've done WW for 30+ years -a lot of that time my weight has been ok but12 years ago I ballooned and struggled ever since. I lost over 2st on PP but regained it. The upshot is I'm 3 stones heavier than when I joined WW as a 22 year old with obvious body image issues. My goal is higher than my starting weight now I'm happy at a bmi of 27. SPs penalise healthy foods ie avocado, almonds and other fats and yet promote the sugar free aspartame bars. I too did the comparison and was way over points at 1500 calories. I love the weigh in but the meetings are a disincentive listening to everyone like me who's been there, done it and got all the t shirts. Thanks Ros

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  50. Man, I'm only on day 5 of my first week in WW, using the Smart Points, and I really wish I had read this beforehand. I've already blown through this week's "extra" points and when I tracked the actual calories of what I'm eating - it's super low! I don't want to get to frustrated and give up just yet (because I do need to drop some LBs), but I just don't know how long I'll be able to maintain their system. Like you said, if I liked eating super healthy then I wouldn't need their help! I think I need the accountability of having someone weigh me each week, but I may fall back to regular calorie counting.

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I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :)