Weight Watchers Points™

The first thing you do when you get started with Weight Watchers is determine your Points allowance, so that you know how much food you’re supposed to eat each day. Eating all of your Points worth of food, and tracking all of the Points from the foods that you eat are the key to losing weight by following the Weight Watchers plan.

Calculating Your Daily Points Allowance
Calculating your points is easy, it just takes a little simple addition.

1. Weigh Yourself: take the first two numbers of your weight. If you weigh 178 lbs, 17 would be the number. If you weigh 341 lbs, then 34 is your number.

2. Gender: Females add 2, Males add 8

3. Age: 17-26 add 4, 27-37 add 3, 38-47 add 2, 48-58 add 1, 58+ add none

4. Height: under 5’1″ add 0, 5’1″ to 5’10” add 1, over 5’10” add 2

5. Do you spend most of your work day: Sitting down add 0, Occasionally sitting but mainly standing add 2, Walking add 4, Physically hard work add 6

6. Nursing Moms: Solely breastfeeding add 10, Supplementing breastfeeding with solid foods/formula add 5

Add all of that together and you have your Daily Points Allowance. If you have more than 44 Points (like me) then you reduce it to 44 since that’s the most you can have. The least you can have is 18, so if you end up with less than 18 then you need to bump it up to 18.

Always eat all of your Daily Allowance Points if you want to be successful.

Weekly Points Allowance
In addition to your Daily Allowance you also have a Weekly Allowance of 35 points that you can spend throughout the week. These you spend after consuming your Daily Allowance for the day. Using my value for example: If I eat 14 Points for breakfast, 2 Points on snacks before lunch, 15 Points for lunch, another 2 points on snacks before dinner, and then 15 Points for Dinner then I’ve consumed 14 + 2 + 15 + 2 + 15 = 48 Points for the day. My allowance is only 44 though, so the other 48 – 44 = 4 Points would come out of my Weekly Allowance, leaving me with 35 – 4 = 31 for the rest of the week.

Whether you use your Weekly Points or not is up to you. Some people use them all, some people only use some of them, and some try to avoid using them all together. I found that I lose more weight by eating all of my Weekly Points, so I try to use them up every week. Jenny has found that she does better by trying not to use her Weekly Points, so she tries to stick to just her Daily Allowance on most days.

Calculating Points Costs
The best way to calculate the Points Cost of your food is to use a Weight Watchers Calculator like this one:

There are also several different slider tools and such that you get with your “kit” when you sign up for Weight Watchers, as well as several online tools and so forth.

But, for those of you who aren’t doing Weight Watchers right now and want to have some idea of how it works, this is how you calculate your points.

A = Total Calories / 50

B = Total Fat / 12

C = Dietary Fiber / 5 *

(A + B) – C = Points

When adding A and B, and when subtracting C, you want to use general rounding rules on those numbers, so if there’s a decimal below 0.5 then round down and if it’s 0.5 or higher then round up. Weight Watchers used to allow half-Points to be calculated, but with their current system they deal only in whole numbers, so go ahead and round everything. If you end up with 2.5 Points from Calories and 1 Point from Fat, then you still have 4 Points worth of food from rounding up, but if you end up with 2.4 from Calories and 1 from Fat, then you would end up with 3 Points from rounding down.

A special rule applies to the Dietary Fiber. You can only count a total of 4 Points worth (20 grams) of Fiber in a calculation, as beyond that point it does you no good.

The biggest contributer to Points values is Calories, and that’s the most important number for you to look out for when deciding what to eat. Look at the Calories first and decide from that whether you want to even bother looking at the other two numbers or not. You can make a quick estimation of the Points just by dividing the Calories by 50, or if you’re a little rusty on your math skills then divide it by 100 and remember that’s how much it would cost to eat just half of it.

So a food with 400 Calories is going to cost you (400 / 50 = 8) at least 8 Points, or 4 Points (400 / 100 = 4) if you eat just half of it. If the item in question is a large portion of your meal then you might consider eating it, but if it’s just something you want to snack on then you may want to reconsider.

Checking just the Calories should only be used to give a simple yes/no on whether or not you want to even consider eating it. Always be sure to calculate the points value of everything you eat, and track it all to be sure you meet your total for the day.

Spending Points Wisely
The key to losing weight with Weight Watchers is eating all of your points each day, but that’s not all there is to it. You also need to spend those points on things that are actually healthy for you. You’re not going to lose weight by eating 44 Points worth of ice cream every day, it’s just not going to happen. So when you spend your points, make sure that it’s not on junk food. You don’t have to spend your points on “healthy” foods so much as you need to not spend them on non-healthy foods.

Portion control is a big part of this, and paying attention to your body is the best way to do that. No matter what restaurants tell us by handing us massive plates covered with food, we don’t need to eat that much food. Take a second to look at the palm of your hand. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Did you see how big it was? Go ahead and look at it again. That’s about the right size for a serving of meat/fish/poultry for you.

If you’re at a computer, take a look at your mouse. If it’s an average mouse, nothing real fancy about it and not made for a special purpose, then that’s about the same size as a half-cup worth of fruits or vegetables. I happen to use a special ergonomic mouse, so mine’s closer to the size of a full cup serving, but a typical generic mouse is roughly the same size as a half-cup.

When you’re eating, pay attention to your body. If you find yourself sitting back a bit in your chair or suddenly sighing, then your body just told you that it’s satisfied and that you can stop eating. Those two signals are almost universal, but there’s no rule saying that you can’t have some other signal. So pay attention to your body the next time you go sit down and have a meal somewhere. If you sit back and take a breath, then be sure to think about how your body feels before you eat any more, and chances are you’ll realize that you can go ahead and stop where you’re at.

More Than Just Points
There’s more to losing weight and being successful than just counting your points though. You also want to make sure that you’re eating enough of the good things to make all that points tracking and calculation worth your time and effort. The big things in this category are Water, Dairy, and Fruits and Vegetables.

You want to make sure you’re drinking at least six, 8 oz. servings of water every day. It was a huge adjustment for me when I first started because I’m a soda drinking fool. I manage it by taking a bottle of water with me to work every day, drinking all of it, and then refilling it from the dispensers. When I drink the bottled water the first time I go ahead and do so as-is, and each subsequent time I generally flavor it with things like Hawaiian Punch or similar flavor packets that contain only 5 calories.

The bottled water that we buy comes in 16 oz servings, so I know that each bottle counts as two of my daily requirements, and that I need to drink at least two refills worth per day. Most days I end up with at least 64 oz of straight water like this along with whatever else I drink during meal times.

You also want at least three servings of Dairy each day. These can come from a glass of milk, cheese sticks, ice cream, or any number of other dairy products. Jenny can’t stand drinking milk, so she gets her servings from eating dairy products. If you have medical reasons to avoid dairy, then obviously you don’t have to have the dairy, but otherwise it is best for your body to have it so try to give it what it needs.

You also need five servings of fruits and/or vegetables each day. General serving size is a half-cup for each serving, except for leafy greens like lettuce which requires a full cup to count as a serving. I don’t like veggies, so I get most of my servings here via fruit. It doesn’t matter whether you’re eating fruits for veggies for this, just remember that most vegetables are “free”, meaning they have a Points value of 0, where almost every fruit has a Points value of at least 1.

They also advise you to take a multivitamin every day, something like Once A Day or a similar product.

Moving Forward
There’s more to Weight Watchers than just Points, but this is the foundation. Knowing your Points Allowances and tracking the Points value of the foods that you eat are at the very core of the plan and will be major factors in whether or not you succeed. When it comes to calculating and tracking points, always remember to be honest with yourself, don’t give yourself “free” food by not counting the points for it or you’re just sabotaging your own success.

There’s more to Weight Watchers than just the Points of course, but we’ll get into the other things later.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Disciplinary Action
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 12:55:31

    That’s so interesting. I’ve always wondered how it works!


  2. Andrew Flores
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 07:38:22

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!


  3. Psynister
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 08:14:58

    Thanks, Andrew.

    You can take this post and throw it in the trash though, because the way that Points are calculated for you and for the food that you eat just changed this week.

    We don’t get the details until Thursday, but we’ll have a new post up describing it as soon as we know more.


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