Weight Watchers, is the most popular of commercial diets. We have seen countless women who have said that they have tried Weight Watchers but unlike their friends or family members who were also doing the diet, they weren’t having much success at weight loss despite following the diet as prescribed. Some even admitted to gaining weight on it! Did you?
Here are 5 reasons why most women won’t have much success with the Weight Watchers diet:
Focus is on Points, Not GI
While the Weight Watchers diet does advocate the benefits of whole grains and most recently, sugar, it doesn’t focus on the glycemic index (GI). Just because a food is whole grain and low in sugar doesn’t mean it will have a low GI. Having a point allowance for the day without much structure could result in a diet that is high in carbohydrates and too low in protein and/or fat. When given the choice, some people would rather eat 20 points worth of brownies rather than 20 points worth of apples.
Ever notice how Weight Watchers keeps changing its program? If it worked so well, why the need for change? The new Freestyle Program now includes over 200 foods that are zero points. This includes many protein foods like chicken and carbohydrate containing foods such beans and fruits. If it’s zero points, you don’t have to log it. Less logging = less work and a happier customer.
The problem with Weight Watchers in regards to most women, is that it promotes the message of unlimited “zero points” foods. All foods should be enjoyed in moderation. Doing so will help manage insulin levels. You still need to be aware of what you are consuming and how many calories you are getting each day.
Fruits are carbohydrates by nature. Just because fruit contains carbs doesn’t make it a “bad” food. Fruits are wonderful as they provide numerous health benefits including lowering insulin, blood pressure, cholesterol, and reducing the risk of cancer. Eating too much fruit in your diet, especially fruit not paired with protein or fat, or too much fruit consumed at one setting will raise insulin levels.
It’s a common saying: You want to gain weight? Go on a diet. Like any diet, Weight Watchers restricts your amount of food and puts rules on what you can or can’t eat. Anyone who works in the field of eating disorders or distorted eating knows that the best way to gain weight is to go on a diet. Feeling deprived often leads to weight gain in the long run and affects your ability to self regulate your intake. Many women with PCOS or Hypothyroid issues struggle with binge eating because of food restriction caused by dieting.
Ignores Internal Regulation
Weight Watchers (and other diet plans) ignores our bodies’ internal regulation for food. The focus on points pulls one away from internal signals of hunger and fullness. If a person is hungrier one day then the points allow, she either has to “starve” or eat beyond her points. Eating beyond points promotes guilt and the intention to make up the points the next day. This creates a vicious cycle of starving and overeating that leads to eating disorders. It teaches women to trust the diet, not their own bodies for how much food to have. In fact, much time is given in nutrition counseling sessions to challenge this negative thinking and create a healthier relationship with food.
One diet does not fit all. PCOS is a syndrome that is associated with many other health conditions including insulin resistance, hypothyroidism (low thyroid) and high cholesterol which require more individualized and involved nutrition changes that a general commercial diet can provide.
Some women with PCOS may have success following the Weight Watchers diet initially, but end up gaining weight back down the road. It’s not because they weren’t compliant enough or didn’t try hard enough. It’s because the diet didn’t work for them.
In our experience, we have found that Weight Watchers overall isn’t the best diet for women with health issues because of the reasons discussed above. Following a low GI diet focusing on whole foods that include whole grains, moderate fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins are the keys for successful and sustainable weight management in women with hormonal imbalances and health issues.
Angela Grassi, MS, RDN, LDN