Old Weight Watchers Exchange Program Adaption from ILRulesGrrrl

Egg and Spinach Scramble with Sliced Tomatoes
How to tweak the Old Weight Watchers Exchange Program
to make it work better for you.

The Old Weight Watchers Exchange program is a good plan, but it doesn't hold up to modern-day perspectives on protein and healthy fats. 

However, that's easy to fix. 

To show you how it's done, this post was submitted by one of our readers, ILRulesGrrrl, who wanted to share her WW Paleo plan with you.

I received an email from ILRulesGrrrl recently. 

She wasn’t able to post her comments to my blog post about the Old Weight Watchers Exchange Program for some reason.

The email shared how she plans to adapt the old Weight Watchers Exchange program to fit her current paleo lifestyle. 

She gave me permission to publish that email in its entirety for you. I originally published this exactly how she wrote it, but with so many readers using mobile devices, I've taken the liberty to format it to be phone-friendly.

I hope this helps someone who might need to know how to tweak the Old Weight Watchers Exchange Program to fit their personal lifestyle:

ILRulesGrrrl's Adaptions to the Old Weight Watchers Exchange Program

I have trackers and booklets from back then as well as a couple of cookbooks and binders. 

I lost 80 pounds in 1995-1996 and kept it off for three years. 

I was 138-140 at my lightest (at 5'4") and wore size 6 Calvin Klein "skinny" jeans. 

Over the next ten years, all but 20 pounds of the weight came back, such that I'm now a size 14 again, around 198 pounds. 

I discovered Wheat Belly in the Fall of 2011 and realized that, while I don't have celiac disease (I was tested for that plus lactose intolerance) I am MUCH better off eating no grains, and in fact, much closer to a paleo diet (no legumes and very limited dairy). 

Very low carb (less than 40 net grams per day), high fat, no grains has improved my blood work by a mile; triglycerides dropped from 261 to 87, A1C and CRP are back in normal range. 

However, my initial weight loss of 17 pounds has been stalled for a year and I even put a few pounds back on. I suspect because I've been eating too much, period. 

So I'm thinking of going back to the old Weight Watchers exchanges for a while, but eating more proteins and a couple more fats and no bread or fruit (fructose is the enemy), plus lots of greens and veggies. 

I maintain pretty well on paleo, overall, but at age 52 (with many attempts at low-carb behind me), it doesn't seem to work in getting weight OFF me.

Because I started WW at 220 pounds at age 35, I was allowed more protein exchanges even in the first week than women in general. As you lost weight, you would reach milestones where you would have to start giving up proteins in order to keep losing weight. 

The plan was (for me at that time):
  • 5 1-ounce protein exchanges (up to 60 calories each; all but the SMASH fish – salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring – counted two ounces for 1 protein);
  • 2 milk exchanges (no more than 90 calories each, which I probably will consume as proteins @ 1.5 protein per former milk unit for the calorie count, so this would equate to 3 proteins);
  • 3 Breads (no more than 80 calories each, which I will now eat as protein instead; 3 breads @ 240 calories = 4 proteins @ 60 calories);
  • 3 fats (no more than 40 calories each and limited to non-sat fats like olive oil. I won’t each any vegetable or canola oil as I believe they are toxic. I love coconut oil, but it's saturated and so I'll forego it for now.);
  • 3 fruits (no more than 60 calories each, which I probably will eat as some starchy veggies like butternut squash. I believe fructose is more detrimental to health than just about anything else you can eat except for grains. I might have berries once or twice per week, or half an apple in this category.);
  • at least 3 non-starch vegetable servings (I eat a LOT of veggies);
  • 100 optional calories per day for things like ketchup or gum, or sat fats like bacon or butter that don't fit anywhere else. 

“In 1995-6, I noticed the weeks when I ate too much bread I would gain, and the weeks when I ate too much protein, I would lose. There were no extra 21 exchanges allowed (that came later), however, you could save up your 100 optional calories per day all week if you wanted to have a weekend splurge.

Also, with every half hour or so of aerobic exercise, you got one more food exchange of your choice. If you forego these, you will lose faster in my experience. 

You were allowed 3 oz of hard cheese per week, and I think 3 eggs. I don't believe in limiting eggs now as they are so good for you, and will simply count them as 1.5 proteins apiece (due to the higher calorie count).

So I am going to try: 
  • Up to 12 oz protein
  • 3 non-saturated fat servings
  • unlimited leafy/green and low-cal veggies
  • 3 servings fruit or starchy veggies
(no corn – that's a grain – but butternut squash, rutabaga, garbanzo beans/hummus or something that has a lot of good nutrients in it but happens to be starchy)
  • and 100 optional calories 
(which I'll probably use for 85% dark chocolate or maybe a little sushi rice a couple times per month). 

I'm going to stay in ketosis as it's easy for me. No alcohol.

THANKS ILRulesGrrrl!

If there's anyone else who has adapted the diet to fit their own peculiar health issues or is trying something else even, drop me a comment below or send me an email.

Related Article:

Looking for the Old Weight Watchers Exchange Program?


  1. Hi Vickie. Look this version of old ww diet plan. It's interesting too and i think that is your decision to make it more flexible to your habits:

    Good luck!

  2. Thanks for including the link. I really appreciate it. Life for me has been very crazy the last couple of years, but things are finally starting to calm down now, so I'm getting back to both blogging and beginning to implement these lifestyle changes.

    1. Hi can you remember how many carbohydrate we can have aday thankyou

    2. Weight Watcher's doesn't count carbohydrates. They just limit serving sizes.


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