The periodical U.S. News & World Report ranks Weight Watchers as the best diet for those trying to lose weight. It's one of the better commercial diet programs and relatively easy to follow, since it doesn't outright ban any food or food group. You can take steps to speed up your weight-loss results, however, while you are on this diet. Check with your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program to make sure it is safe for you.
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Don't Guess or Estimate
Two of the mistakes that can often sabotage weight loss results on Weight Watchers are guessing portion sizes and estimating points. Measure foods so that you're eating the proper portion sizes and look up the proper points -- called SmartPoints since late 2015 -- value. These values aren't just based on calories, so it isn't possible to accurately guess them as it was with the old system. Either of these mistakes could make it so you accidentally eat more food than you should for weight loss. Inaccurately estimating portion sizes is very common. A study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism in 2012 found that about 68 percent of participants underestimated how much they were eating.
Fill Up on Free Foods
Foods that are very low in calories, very nutritious or both make it onto the list of free foods for those following the Weight Watchers diet, including foods that are low in energy density, or calories per gram. Free foods, which have 0 points, include fresh fruits and non-starchy vegetables, all of which are particularly filling because of their high water and fiber contents. Filling up on these foods can help make it so you don't eat as much of the other, higher point foods allowed on the diet, potentially speeding up your weight loss. For the most weight loss, use non-starchy vegetables to fill up more often than fruit, which some people tend to eat even after they're full because of its sweet taste.
Foods low in energy density, such as the 0-point foods, can help with weight loss, according to a review article published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2012. Salads and broth-based soups are other good low-energy-density foods to start your meals.
Increase Your Protein Intake
Eating a diet higher in protein may help speed up weight loss. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2015 found that eating at least 25 to 30 grams of protein at each meal may help with appetite and weight loss. Just stick with the protein-rich foods that are lower in saturated fat, such as eggs, legumes, seafood and skinless poultry, to help limit your overall calorie and fat intake while increasing your protein consumption. Weight Watchers helps encourage protein intake by giving lean protein-rich foods lower points than carbohydrate-rich processed foods with the same number of calories.
Add Exercise to Lose Weight Faster
Weight Watchers recommends fitting in exercise when you can, preferably at least 30 minutes 5 days a week. This exercise gives you more points to use, but you'll lose weight more quickly if you don't use your exercise points -- called "FitPoints" since December 2015. Exercise is a great way to speed up your weight-loss results while improving your body composition. For the best results, get at least 300 minutes of cardio and participate in at least two strength training sessions per week. Adding resistance training to a high-protein diet improves both weight loss results and body composition, according to a study published in Diabetes Care in 2010. While cardio increases the number of calories you're burning, strength training increases the amount of muscle you have, which in turn helps to increase your metabolism so you burn more calories even when resting. Without strength training, a significant portion of any weight you lose will come from muscle instead of fat.
Limit Weight Watchers Extra Points
People on the Weight Watchers diet plan get extra points each week to use however they want, the amount depending on a number of factors, including your age and height. While this can make it easier to fit in a few extra treats, not using these points will help you lose weight a little bit faster. This doesn't mean that you won't be able to have any treats at all, just that you'd need to plan for them and fit them into your regular daily point allotment. It could also mean having smaller treats, such as a single square of dark chocolate instead of an entire candy bar, or just a few bites of your favorite dessert instead of a whole slice.
You also don't want to go way below the recommended regular points, however, as this could slow down your metabolism and your weight loss results.
- U.S. News & World Report: Weight Watchers Diet
- Today's Dietitian: Weight Watchers’ PointsPlus Reconfigures Points System
- Weight Watchers: New - Weight Watchers FlexPoints
- Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Dietary Energy Density and Body Weight in Adults and Children: A Systematic Review
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: The Role of Protein in Weight Loss and Maintenance
- Drugs.com: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour
- Diabetes Care: A High-Protein Diet With Resistance Exercise Training Improves Weight Loss and Body Composition in Overweight and Obese Patients With Type 2 Diabetes
- Weight Watchers: Starting the PointsPlus® Program: 5 Things Not To Do!
- Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism: Underestimating a Serving Size May Lead to Increased Food Consumption When Using Canada's Food Guide