Just about everyone knows Weight Watchers, one of the world's most recognizable diet plans. And with its rebranded name (WW) and new wellness focus, Weight Watchers ads and foods seem to be everywhere. But the burning question is: Does it really work — and is it possible to lose a fast 5 pounds?
Of course, everyone is different and one weight-loss program does not fit all. But it is possible to lose weight fairly quickly with Weight Watchers, depending on the person and how drastic the changes are compared to past dieting attempts, explains Monique Richards, RDN, an integrative dietitian nutritionist and owner of Nutrition-In-Sight.
"For example, I've seen significant weight loss in one week if the person was more overweight to begin with, or had other medical conditions that were addressed with dietary changes, such as fluid retention and edema," she notes.
So, you may be able to lose 5 pounds in your first week or two on Weight Watchers, but as you get used to the plan, you may plateau and will probably slow down to just a couple of pounds per week.
But when it comes to long-term success, a smaller goal is usually better anyway. Richards says that losing between 1 and 3 pounds a week is more typical — and more sustainable. "Some of my clients lose just a half pound a week — but over a year, that translates into significant progress," she says.
For more help with shedding pounds on Weight Watchers, here are the step-by-step details.
Choose the Right WW Plan
To begin, you'll need to sign up to become a WW member. Read up on the three plan options and decide which one will work best for your budget and lifestyle.
With the digital plan, you can access the WW app and website and take advantage of the 24/7 online chat help. The next level of membership includes the digital perks plus in-person weigh-ins and weekly meetings, while the top tier gives you all of the above as well as access to a coaching plan, including unlimited calls and messages with a coach.
Want to save some money? Check with your employer to see if they cover any of the costs associated with Weight Watchers. Some larger companies have their own WW meetings, which means you can start on a weight-loss journey with folks you already know.
Get to Know the Points System
Once your particular points allotment has been calculated (it's based on your current weight, height, age and sex), check the Weight Watchers site to learn how many points are in the foods you like. You can use the on-site calculator or the brand's app to figure out the point values of foods that aren't already in the system.
Keep in mind that food with low energy density (aka fewer calories) are your best options on any type of weight-loss program. According to the Mayo Clinic, a diet that consists mostly of foods that have low energy density, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains, can help you feel fuller on fewer calories.
Each day, use your online tracking tool to note the foods you eat and the points they contain, and be careful not to exceed your points total.
Read more: Which Foods Are 'Free' on Weight Watchers?
Think Beyond the Points
Weight loss isn't just about getting the right foods into your body, Richards points out. When the body, mind and spirit are adequately nourished and lifestyle factors such as sleep, activity and fresh air are addressed, weight loss is often a positive and welcome result, she says.
Sleep is an important factor when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Per the NSF, the less people sleep, the more they weigh — and the more likely they are to add extra weight over time. For example, middle-aged adults who sleep less than seven hours a night tend to weigh more, and are more likely to be obese than those who get seven hours of shut-eye or more.
It's important to make time for exercise in your daily routine. Just as working out burns calories, Weight Watchers rewards exercise with activity points that can be used to offset small cheats you make in your diet.
And when you're ready to lace up your sneakers, you'll reap more benefits if you head outside to sweat. Per the American Council on Exercise, because of the changing terrain underfoot and resistance from the wind, outdoor exercise is a greater challenge to the body and can burn more calories than an indoor routine.
Read more: How to Get Started Working Out at Home
- Weight Watchers: "Weight Watchers Reimagined"
- Weight Watchers: "Get a totally customized game plan"
- Mayo Clinic: "How to eat more and lose weight"
- American Council on Exercise: "6 Benefits of Exercising Outdoors"
- National Sleep Foundation: "A Good Night's Sleep Can Help You Maintain A Healthy Weight"