Weight Watchers Online Review – My Opinion

Old Weight Watchers Diet Requires You to Eat 3 Fruits a Day
Three pieces of fruit per day were required
on the Old Weight Watchers Exchange Diet

Are you thinking about joining Weight Watchers Online? Do you think it will be similar to weekly meetings, but less expensive? That's what I thought too. In 2012, I decided to give the Weight Watchers Online option a try. In this post, I walk you through the basic PointsPlus Online program and share my reactions to the features you get -- what I liked and what I didn't.



Ten days ago, I joined the new Weight Watchers PlusPoints Online program and . . .

I’m not impressed.

I had to sign up for three months in advance to get the free registration they advertise.

I can easily understand why they insist you do it that way because I was tempted to cut my losses and run after the very first three days. But I decided to stick it out a little bit longer and give it a fair chance to work.

If someone was doing an Atkins Induction and wanted to run in the midst of the Atkins flu, this is what I would have counseled them to do:

"Stick it out for a least 4 to 6 weeks before giving up."

So why treat Weight Watchers any differently?

My original plan was to give Weight Watchers Online a full month trail to see if it actually worked, or not. Unfortunately, I’m not going to make it that long. I was really hoping this online program would work for me. That's why I was willing to hand over the 90-day fee without knowing what I was getting myself into.

I have never had any experience with tracking Points before. This was my first time for that. Where the exchange program from years ago simply let you check off servings of various foods as you consumed them throughout the day, this new system of converting foods into a Points Value is a big pain.


I Liked the Weight Watchers Online Tracker and Recipe Software - But it had a Glitch


In all fairness, Weight Watchers Online offers a nice online tracking form where you can input your daily menu.

When you add a food, it causes a pop-up to appear. From the pop-up, you can sort through a list of choices similar to Fitday. Fitday is an free online calculator that lets you track your daily:
  • calories
  • carbohydrates
  • fats
  • fiber
  • protein
  • and activity
If the exact choice you’re looking for isn’t there, you can create a new food. This Fitday option is quite handy for those who have to eat gluten free.

Keeping track of your recipes at Weight Watchers Online works in a similar way. You input each ingredient, choose from the list of choices, and the tracking system automatically computes the points for you.

If there's an ingredient that isn't on their list, you can create a new one. The new ingredient will then be available to all other Weight Watchers members. 

The downside to this Weight Watchers online tracker is this:

Black Recipe Card and Wooden Spoon
Recipe function of Weight Watchers Online has a glitch:
create all new ingredients BEFORE you start!


If you get part way through your recipe and realize they don’t have the right ingredient that you need, creating a new ingredient at this point in the process wipes out everything you’ve done so far.

You have to start completely over.

Currently, I'm trying to figure out how to import the Points from my gluten-free flour mix recipe into other recipes. Apparently, you can’t combine recipes in this way.

Without that capability, the whole recipe thing is worthless for me. 


The Basic PointsPlus Program


The PointsPlus program is designed to make you think you are not counting calories. This may, or may not, be deliberate to trick the mind. I'm not sure about that aspect. You don’t input calories into the converter. Instead, you input:
  • fats
  • proteins
  • carbohydrate
  • and fiber grams
However, that’s all the data a computer needs to track calories.
  • fats are 9 calories per gram
  • proteins and carbohydrates are 4 calories per gram
  • fiber is 1.5 to 2 calories per gram
So when you input the information for how much you're eating, the computer program knows exactly how many calories you are eating every day. That makes PointsPlus a glorified way of simply counting calories. 

There is nothing wrong with this, but I just wanted to clear up that misunderstanding.

In addition, there is no way to guesstimate a serving size. You must weigh and measure your food for the Points Value to be accurate.


Food Scale
Weight Watchers Online Calculator can tell you the
number of Points in the food you eat, but only if
you actually weigh and measure out your food.


The software does point you toward making healthier alternatives, or at least what they believe are healthier alternatives:
  • low sodium
  • low fat
  • low sugar choices
Weight Watchers has a fundamental nutritional choice list that they ask you to shoot for each day, but the requirements are extremely minimal:
  • five servings of fruits and veggies (for zero points)
  • two cups of milk (I never get a happy face for this one, since I’m dairy free)
  • one or two servings of protein (this amount would leave you extremely protein deficient; I was shocked that they would even recommend only one serving of protein per day!)
  • choose whole grains, when possible (whole grains is a myth and makes me sick, so I don't eat them)
  • two teaspoons of what they consider healthy oils (most choices are heavily processed with genetically modified corn de-foamers and high in Omega-6)
  • drink six cups of water or other liquid (this included diet soda, which is dehydrating)
  • take a multivitamin (most contain cornstarch and/or gluten, so be careful if gluten intolerant)
  • get a minimum of 30 minutes of daily exercise
They have a Power Foods List based on their low-fat, low-sodium, low-sugar philosophy, but I haven’t looked at it yet. Their claim is that these power foods are highest in nutrition and will keep you feeling fuller than other choices. My guess is that the foods are going to be lean proteins and whole grains that fall low on the Glycemic Index.

Newsletter Sample
Instead of going to Weight Watchers lectures,
they have several weight-loss articles to help keep
you inspired to ditch the weight.



Weight Watchers Online has several weight-loss articles available. I'm guessing that these take the place of the lectures you'd get if you went to physical weekly meetings. I don't know if the topics of the articles coincide with what they teach at their weekly meetings, or not.

I found them to be extremely basic, and nothing different than what you can find all over the web for free.

They do have a forum where you can discuss your problems and successes with other members. However, there were only a few members talking there when I was there. And there was no one around to answer any questions you might have or give helpful advice.

They do have recipes, of course, and an easy way to purchase any Weight Watchers products that you feel you need.

Overall, the Weight Watchers Online Program was Disappointing


As for the program itself, I found it discouraging and difficult.

Although, the website claims their system is easy to use, that would only be true if you memorized the points values for the hundreds of food choices available to you. Otherwise, you have to re-enter the food each time you eat it.

They infer that having to remember point values is easier than having to remember calorie counts. But I didn't find that to be true. No matter which system you use, you still have to associate a number with a particular food.

Getting to eat whatever you want keeps you from feeling deprived, I admit. However, their old system only had you track calories for your weekly extras. We didn’t have to keep track of calories on a daily basis, only those we ate outside of traditional exchanges, so it wasn't as difficult as points are to remember.

I can see how this might work well for someone wanting to make lower carbohydrate choices on a daily basis, but the average American isn’t used to eating this way.

Amusingly, they didn't come right out and tell you to lower your carbohydrates. I'm guessing that they don't want to be associated with low-carb diets. Instead, they tell you that since protein and fiber take more calories to process than fats and carbohydrates, (which is true), you should pick more proteins and fiber-rich vegetables.

Odd twist:

Weight Watchers members tell me that at their physical meetings, they are encouraged to choose more carbohydrates, not less. That means there are serious conflicts with what Weight Watchers recommends online and what's being recommended at their physical meetings.

I suppose what’s irritating me the most is that this whole thing is a gimmick, but unlike the low-carb game, buying into their theories about drastic reductions in dietary fat (fats inside foods are now penalized, rather than counting them as exchanges as they used to do), sodium, and sugar could easily go either way.

They have increased the number of daily points people are allowed. From what I’ve read, they’ve jumped from 21 to 26 for the average woman now. That's a lot more daily calories, especially when you consider that fruits are as free to eat as vegetables are and you can cash in your activity points.

There is a large potential for calorie abuse, which means no weight loss if you don't pay attention to what you eat and keep mindful of the drawbacks and pot holes in the program.

On the other hand, if you don’t eat your weekly points, which many women don’t do, you can easily find yourself tanking on a diet that only provides 800 to 900 calories per day, depending on your food choices. To me, Points makes it more difficult to determine why you might have stalled.

Who Might Like Weight Watchers Online


I suppose if you:
  • like numbers and counting
  • don't need much support from others who are following the plan
  • want to try their newest version out of curiosity
Then online is most likely the best way to go. Weight Watchers meetings will set you back $80 per month, I'm told, while the online trackers and meager forum support will only strip your pocketbook for $18.95.

*Since I wrote this Weight Watchers Online review, I've discovered that the cost for attending meetings in person differs by geographical area. As of right now, July 2017, Online Plus starts at $4.30 a week, for select plans, meeting plus Online Plus start at $8.34 a week, for select plans, and One-on-One support plus Online Plus starts at $9.96 per week, for select plans. But I did not click through to see what the "catch" was.

My Personal Reaction to Weight Watchers Online


Personally, I don’t see the benefits that Weight Watchers offers over keeping track of your calories on a free online tracker like Fitday yourself. In my estimation, what you get with Weight Watchers Online is about $5 worth of services per month.

There is a group of Weight Watchers members and those using the old system at Low Carb Friends. There are Weight Watchers members writing blogs. There are hundreds of weight-loss articles all over the web that are just as informative as what Weight Watchers is charging me for.

The main benefit of joining the program seems to be the face-to-face support you get from fellow dieters.

I’m going to give myself another week to finish exploring the site, then probably cut my losses and run.

I won’t get very much money back.

They will charge me the equivalent of what joining the site without paying the three months in advance would have cost me. Their standard sign-up fee at the time I tried this program was a hefty $48 for the first month.

As of today, I’ve lost 1.4 pounds in 10 days. I keep bouncing up and down between a pound or two. While 10 days isn’t enough time to decide whether portion control is something I need to look into, I can do that for myself cheaper elsewhere.

I don’t need to pay Weight Watchers to tell me to cut down on the amount of food I’m eating. So far:
  • my hair has dried out. 
  • my feet are cracked and bleeding. 
  • something I’m eating from the Weight Watchers list of foods has glutened me.
I really need to spend my time figuring out what that is before I move forward with my personal transformation.


*For an opposite opinion, you can check out Deborah-Diane's review of the new Weight Watcher's Points Plus plan at InfoBarrel. She gives several reasons why it works well for her, including an app they have for her phone that helps her keep track of her points at work. 

Since I have an older style flip phone still, I don't personally know if the app would change my opinion or not since I still wouldn't be able to use the recipe-points calculator.

**Deborah-Diane ended up leaving the program when it stopped working for her.

Comments

  1. If I were on the Weightwatchers program I'd be even bigger than I am already because their ideas about weight loss (calories in/calories out) is simplistic and outdated.

    Quite frankly, they haven't kept up with research.

    Also, as you say, the value of what's offered is maybe $5 because you can get 99% of it for free elsewhere.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Weight watchers is not outdated. I am a 57 year old woman who has already lost 10 pounds in one month using the online program. It's all about portion control and eating foods that are better for you; hence the reason they changed it to points plus and allow vegetables and fruit to be free. If a woman my age can lose weight with this program than it WORKS!! And yes... you can get a lot of the things online for free, however, I like the convenience of having all in one spot. What is $50 to improve health??
    Don't discourage people. I have done every diet online and this is hands down the best!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I joined yesterday and am ready to ditch it. I am an educated exercise trainer and know how/when to exercise, eat, etc, yet with menopause, gaining pounds unexpectedly. So I thought I'd give this much-praised program a try for the summer. I have several high-end computer systems and the tracker is SLOW on all; tracker has limited food base - much less than any of the excellent free programs; cannot edit easily if you want to go back and correct an over/underestimation a day or so later, and this point system is bogus. We are all adults, why do we have to be coddled into not understanding calories as well as nutritional components??? It's not rocket science. I'm going to switch to LIVESTRONG's site that uses the ADA's FREE tracking system, MYPLATE......also includes activity monitoring and I'll "eat" the $60 bucks I just paid for joining 3 months.....

    ReplyDelete
  4. People really need to watch and control their weight. Live a healthy life style.

    www.testdrivecollege.com/

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm still not understanding the attraction so many have to "points" other than the new Weight Watcher's program gives you permission to eat whatever you want. You aren't asked to eat a particular way as their old program asked you to. I still haven't started yet because I'm not able to go grocery shopping for a couple more weeks, but I'm pretty certain the exchange program is the way I'm going to go. It's way more balanced.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Just try getting a refund from WW online! I joined and within 10 minutes - before I even logged in changed my mind and had to go through HELL to get WW to give me a refund. Finally after day three of them putting me off I sent them an email with the following points:

    1) I did not register on the website. I did not enter a username, password. Therefore under the terms and conditions I deserve a refund.
    2) I pointed out how Better Business Bureau gives them a very bad rating on their refund policy;
    3) That they are illegally automatically billing people months after the 'trial period'.

    I love your Blog. Please keep it up.

    Thank you.
    Nolasusan

    ReplyDelete

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