Wired magazine just posted an article on 1/3/2012 about Weight Watchers “revamping its Magic Formula”. What does this mean? Can we really trust weight watchers given this breaking news about their changes to their famous weight loss and fat burning program? I read the article, and below are my key takeaways from this relative to safe weight loss as well as changes to healthy food options they incorporate in their program.
The Weight Watchers News for Healthy Foods to Eat
If you’ve been reading my blog around how to cut body fat, you know that I determine weight watchers wasn’t the best program for me. It’s not because it is a bad program, or not effective in helping burn body fat. It’s just that I don’t need a lot of the support mechanisms built into the program that make it so successful. I’m more on the intellectual side, and understanding how my body works, what foods are healthy options for what my body needs, and knowing a bit about the underlying science works better for me.
In the latest update as reported by Wired magazine, they discuss the long standing basis of weight watchers around the point system, and how you can basically substitute a lot of different foods for each meal or snack as long as you comply with the point assignments of each food, and the total number of points allowed.
One of my favorite quotes from the article around fat and weight is this: “In 1980, 15 percent of adult Americans were obese, defined as having a minimum body mass index of 30, or roughly 200 pounds on a 5′ 8″ frame. Today, more than a third of us qualify. Throw in the pudgy and portly—a BMI of 25 or more, or 165 pounds on that 5′ 8″ frame—and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that two-thirds of us are overweight.”
WOW. 2/3 of all Americans are overweight? What happened? Why us?
The good news is the article points to numerous studies done with Weight Watchers showing it is an effective program if you follow it, and if it is a fit for you. That’s good news, as thousands of people are helping improve their health by following this program. But if it is so effective, why change it now? Can we not trust the prior claims around weight loss, healthy eating, and positive results to expect?
Well, yes and maybe no
Caloric Restriction for Weight Loss (Losing Body Fat via Diet)
According to the article, the previous weight watcher program had been based on caloric restriction. Basic math tells you that if you burn more calories a day than you take in then your body will burn some of your reserve fat to make up the difference. However, from my research and eventual selection of the Diet Solution Program, this didn’t add up for me since our bodies handle each type of food, and calories, differently. For example – 100 calories of pure sugar are going to be of a different use to our bodies than 100 calories of vegetables – get the point?
From the article: ” A member could theoretically go on an all-donut diet and still be in the program’s good graces.”. This doesn’t seem good to me, and apparently didn’t sound good to David Kirchhoff – the CEO of weight watchers.
The problem is that all calories are not created equal – and if you are looking to lose body fat and improve your overall health, you need to understand more about how your body processes all types of food. Once key approach to this is understanding the glyecmic index of foods, and what the term even means.
From the Wired.com Article: “As part of her job, Miller-Kovach and her team constantly follow the latest trends in nutritional science. A few years before the meeting, for example, they had explored a concept called the glycemic index, or GI, which establishes a hierarchy of carbohydrates based on their effect on blood glucose. ”
I think it is fantastic that Weight Watchers is expanding their program based on the latest research. One of the things [among MANY] that lead me to the Diet Solution Program is Isabel [the author, certified nutritionist] provides a lot of scientific research and justification for her approach to the diet she recommends for you – including a lot of data and background on how the glycemic index relates to what your body does with your food – and bases her recommended approach and meal plans around this latest research.
In terms of Weight Watchers – they have kept the same basic approach to making the program simple in terms of points and a point budget, as well as awesome support mechanisms such as face to face meetings and discussions. However, they have incorporate this latest nutrition research now into their program – “This new formula distinguishes among calories and ascribes values to a given food based on its makeup of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fat. From an eater’s perspective, the formula brings both good and bad news. Members receive more points under the new system. But many foods cost more points now, including alcohol. ”
Although they’ve made this dramatic change [one of the largest since Weight Watchers was founded in the 1960s] fairly recently, and the results won’t be known for a while – I think it is the right approach. While this program isn’t right for me personally, it is getting closer to some of the science behind the program I chose to follow, and I think long term they are definitely doing the right thing for their customer base from a health perspective.
Before deciding to make an ongoing investment in Weight Watchers, however, I’d encourage you to at least review the information available on the program I chose – The Diet Solution – and see if that may be a better option for you from a research, information, meal plan, and cost perspective. It was for me, and it costs NOTHING to at least click on the link and go to Isabel’s site to review her materials first hand. THEN you can make an informed decision as to which program will help you accomplish your goals relative to weight loss, burning or losing body fat, and eating healthier.
Good luck as always on your journey – it isn’t easy!