UnFoodie Masters Weight Watchers PointsPlus

July 31, 2012

By Karen

Part 3 – What All the Counting’s About

Weight Watchers® has weathered every dieting fad since the 1960s and is widely recognized as the safest way to lose weight. If you stick to the plan, it does work — but you’ll never eat like a “normal” American again.

Weight Watchers translates calories to “points” based on certain factors, which change as nutritional science evolves. The latest plan is PointsPlus+™ 2012, and P+ values comprise, among other things…

  • Fat
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fiber
  • Protein

The other things are fruits and vegetables which, for the first time, have 0 points.

For the first two weeks, I became semi-anorexic, afraid to eat anything and blow it before I got a handle on points. And I lost 5 lbs.

I get 26 points a day, based on my starting weight of 177. Heavier people will get more points, which get reduced as they lose, but I think 26 is the lowest it goes.

I also get 49 mad points weekly, sort of an overdraft account I can tap when faced with normal food, like burgers and fries and birthday cake.

You can also earn exercise points to exchange for food.

P+ are higher on many foods than previously because WW is back-dooring fruits and vegetables. So even though they say some things are worth 0, there’s no free lunch.

Just to give you some idea of P+, a 3-oz. serving of chicken or shrimp is 3 points, but a 3-oz. steak is 7.

Here’s where it gets tricky: Sometimes when you double the quantity of a food, its P+ value more than doubles.

For example, a teaspoon of canola oil is 1, but a tablespoon (3 teaspoons) is 4.

Kashi Go-Lean Crunch cereal: ½ cup is 2, but a full cup 5.

It also happens with some Light Progresso soups, which bear P+ values on their labels — for half a can. If one serving is 2, the whole can may be only 3 — or 5.

Two Eggo whole-grain blueberry waffles are 5, but one waffle is 2. Two tbsp. Smuckers Blueberry Syrup is 3, but you can hit every waffle dent using only ½ tsp. worth 0.

WW claims you can eat ANYTHING, but you’re punished pretty severely for most carbs, even the healthy ones. A 2-oz. (dry) serving of any whole-grain pasta is 5 — this is maybe 4-5 forkfuls — and that’s before sauce or cheese.

So having embraced PointsPlus, I find myself thinking about food a LOT, and it’s mostly scheming to game the system to survive on the fewest points while avoiding total veganism.

I load a plate with veggies, add a lousy deck-of-cards-sized chicken breast, and my eyes are fooled into thinking I’ve got a huge meal for only 3 points.

It’s impossible to accurately calculate P+ in your head, so WW sells a special calculator for $14.95, which will keep you from making fatal errors at the grocery store. (Tip: Buy it at a local WW chapter and save the outrageous $8.95 shipping the site charges.)

With my calculator, I went through my kitchen with a Sharpie, writing P+ values on everything. When I discovered that one ultra-thin slice of Sargento cheese is 3, I gave it away. Now it’s Laughing Cow wedges for 1.

Next…PointsPlus vs. reality.

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