Weight Watchers is one of the world's most recognizable diet plans. With its rebrand as WW and emphasis on wellness, you might be curious if the program is right for you. And, perhaps you're wondering if it's possible to lose a fast 5 pounds.
Every person is different, and a weight-loss program that works for one individual may not necessarily work for another. Still, depending on the person and how drastic the changes are compared to past dieting attempts, it is possible to lose weight fairly quickly with Weight Watchers, says Monique Richards, RDN, an integrative dietitian nutritionist and owner of Nutrition-In-Sight.
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"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 says.
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. Not only is this normal, but it's also preferable.
While you may be eager to shed pounds fast, gradual, steady weight loss tends to support long-term success. 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.
4 Tips for Losing Weight on Weight Watchers
To make the most of your investment in WW and in your health, here are some tips for finding success on the plan, including losing up to 5 pounds in your first week.
1. Choose the Right WW Plan
To begin, you'll need to sign up to become a WW member. There are several options, including the Digital plan, the Digital 360 plan, the Unlimited Workshops plan and the 1-on-1 Coaching plan; you'll want to read up on all of these and then decide which works best for your budget and lifestyle.
With the digital plan — the most basic of the options — you can access the WW app and website and take advantage of the 24/7 online chat help. The next level of membership includes these digital perks plus in-person weigh-ins and weekly meetings. The next level includes all of this and unlimited weekly workshops, while the top tier provides access to everything mentioned and, in addition, 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 companies have their own WW meetings, which means you can start on a weight-loss journey with folks you already know.
2. Get to Know the Points System
Once your specific 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 associated with the foods you enjoy and eat often 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 foods with low energy density (aka fewer calories) tend to be your best food options on any type of weight-loss program. 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, per the Mayo Clinic.
You'll want to use your online tracking tool to note the foods you eat and the points they contain every day, while being careful to not to exceed your points total.
3. Think Beyond Points
Weight loss isn't just about getting the right foods into your body, Richards says. When you take a holistic approach to losing weight — which includes nourishing your body, mind and spirit and properly tending to lifestyle factors such as sleep and physical activity — you'll likely bring about positive change, she says.
Sleep is an especially important factor when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). The fewer hours of sleep people get, the more they weigh, and the more likely they are to gain weight over time, per the NSF. For example, middle-aged adults who sleep fewer 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.
Sleep — or lack thereof — can affect the types of foods you crave (in this case, foods with higher point values). Sleep deprivation activates parts of the brain associated with motivation and reward, which can intensify food cravings, especially for unhealthy foods, according to a March 2016 study in Sleep.
4. Incorporate Exercise
While WW focuses on your eating habits, it's just as important to focus on your exercise habits and to make time for movement in your daily routine. On a WW plan, exercise doesn't only offer endorphins, but extra points: Weight Watchers rewards exercise with activity points that can be used to offset indulgences you incorporate into your eating plan.
If you can, take your cardio exercise outdoors. 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, per the American Council on Exercise.
- 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"
- Sleep: "Hungry for Sleep: A Role for Endocannabinoids?"