Diet Types: Point System Diets
Point system diets, most notably Weight Watchers, assign every food a point value (higher equals more calories; lower equals less calories.) The goal is simply to stay under the number of points allocated each day. In the new Weight Watchers Point Plus program, calories still count toward points. However, foods rich in protein and fiber are allocated fewer points than foods low in protein and fiber with the same number of calories. Calorie-dense foods that contain more fat and simple carbohydrates are allocated more points. Lastly, fruits and non-starchy vegetables are not given any points.
Weight Watchers, specifically, is the most sensible weight loss plan available. The goal of any weight loss program is obviously to lose weight. However, it is equally important that weight loss is attained in a healthy and sustainable manner. Weight Watchers achieves this goal by promoting the consumption of healthy foods, like whole-grains, fruits, and vegetables, while also factoring “good” and “bad” carbohydrates into the point system. The program encourages the consumption of protein and fiber that enhance the feeling of fullness, slow digestion, and improve regularity. It also promotes awareness of portion sizes. Lastly, the program adapts to real world wants and needs. For example, if an individual enjoys sensible complex carbohydrates like quinoa, he is out of luck with a low-carbohydrate or fasting type diet. With Weight Watchers, however, such a sensible choice is perfectly acceptable within the plan.
There are two drawbacks to Weight Watchers. First, for this plan to succeed, one must keep a regular log of all the points “consumed.” This requirement can be taxing for some, especially over the long-term. Nevertheless, counting points (e.g. calories) certainly helps monitor caloric intake, especially at the onset of a weight loss program.
Second, the plan fails to fully integrate aerobic and resistance exercises as tools to aid in weight loss. As noted in Weight Loss Guidelines, one of the greatest threats to long-term, successful weight loss comes from a loss of lean body mass during decreased caloric intake and the resulting decrease in resting metabolism. Incorporation of aerobic and resistance exercises into a weight loss plan is a necessary component both to preserving lean body mass and to maintaining long-term, successful weight loss.