Weight Watchers PointsPlus™ Plan

Last night we received our formal introduction to the PointsPlus™ plan. We use the online tools to track our weight and our Points spent each day and those were actually updated earlier this week on Sunday. The plan has changed quite a bit in some ways, but it stayed the same in a lot of ways too.

We’ll get into some of the details of the plan here in a minute, but first let’s talk about weigh-in.

Jenny: Lost 1 lbs
Jason: Lost 3.2 lbs

This weigh-in was slightly different than normal because it covered two weeks instead of one because of Thanksgiving. For both of us to come out with losses after something like Thanksgiving is a feat worthy of celebration.

Thanksgiving was definitely different this year as we payed attention to what we ate, and we both did an excellent job. I only went back for more food once and only got more of the thing I enjoyed the most (ham), and I limited myself to only a single slice (1/8th) of pumpkin pie where normally I eat an entire pie by myself plus 1/4 to 1/2 of the other pumpkin pie, as well as a slice of one or two other pies and a cheesecake if we happen to have one.

Jenny similarly monitored her meals, eating less than normal. She was never a four-helpings-plus-desert eater like I was, but even if you’re used to just a single trip back for seconds or something similar you still have room to cut back a little more and focus on eating the things you really want to eat or things that you don’t usually have access to at other times of the year.

How PointsPlus Works
The new system, like I said, is both different and the same. The basic idea and way that the plan works stayed the same. The big difference is that now we don’t use Calories in our calculations; instead we use Protein and Carbs.

Because of this change a few things happen. First, your daily points allowance increases. Second, the points value of many foods increased. Third, some foods that used to cost points are now free (mostly fruits).

The reason we switched from Calories to Carbs and Protein is because Calories aren’t necessarily good or bad for you by definition, they could be one or the other based on what the food was. You could spend 5 Points eating completely empty Calories that were bad for you, or you could spend 5 Points on something with the same amount of Calories but that were good for you.

The Calories system basically worked as a method of restricting you from overeating by giving you a limit. You had a certain number of points and you wanted to spend the on that much food and no more. Carbs and Protein require more energy for your body to process them, so by basing the Points values on them you’re now forcing your body to burn more calories and use more energy to process your food.

With the Carb/Protein system you’re instead eating to reach a certain goal. Instead of the Points Allowance being a restriction it’s more of a goal. You still don’t want to eat and eat and eat, blowing passed your Points Allowance, but you want to make sure you’re eating the foods that you need to in order to reach your allowance.

Examples of Change
Jenny’s daily allowance increased by about 25%, going from 36 to 47. I ended up with almost a 50% increase in my daily points going from the previous maximum of 44 up to 67.

Some of our foods went up in value as well, especially some of our snacks. One of our favorites is the Giant Fudge Bar that used to cost 1 Point, but now costs 3 Points. We generally had those to finish off our Points for the day so that could have a nice snack without spending a lot of Points. We can still do that, but now that same treat costs three times as much. And that can be both good and bad because having a higher cost means we get to spend more of our increased allowance, but at the same time it means snacking at the end of a day can be more tricky.

We used to use fruit as a way to spend our Points and force ourselves to do it in a healthy way. Fruits don’t have any cost now, though so they don’t help us get through the Points.

For Jenny, getting through her Points isn’t too big of a deal as she now has about the same as what I had before and foods generally increased in value so she’s not eating significantly more or less than she was. For me – that’s not quite the case. With an extra 23 Points to spend I basically have to eat a forth meal every day. Sure, I could snack on stuff all the time to burn some extra Points, but burning points just to do it isn’t exactly healthy. And since fruit is free and I don’t care much for vegetables, I really don’t have any options for “healthy snacking”. I can do healthier snacking, but not exactly healthy.

A problem that this is causing is that I have so many more Points than her that it’s hard for Jenny to eat with me because she’s basically watching me eat more food than her for every meal. I have enough Points that I could enjoy an appetizer or a dessert when we go out to eat, where she can’t. I’m not going to do that to her, of course, but it’s there. It also gives me enough points to order foods that she might really enjoy but can’t justify the Points to eat.

It puts us both in a bit of a bind that we need to work out because I need to eat all of my Points in order to loose weight, but I can’t spend my Points in front of her without making her feel bad or jealous, or without seeming like I’m eating all of this extra food in front of her. It almost puts us in the situation where it seems like she has to diet alone.

Our plan to fight that is that I’ll eat more while we’re at work where she doesn’t have to see what I’m eating. But being in IT I’m in the wonderful world of “anything can break at any given time” and if things go to crap then there’s no time to snack. That’s how we end up with dinners where I could eat a whole medium pizza and still be within my Points allowance and she has enough for a sandwich. In other words, it has the potential to really suck.

Add to that the statistical fact that men lose weight easier than women and you can see that it has a lot of potential to make the plan seem unfair if you’re doing it with a husband/wife or similar team. Men are going to lose more weight, and they’re going to do it faster. And, they’re also going to eat more while they do it. We’re all a bunch of dirty, worthless cheaters, I know. I’m sorry.

PointsPlus Formula
The calculation for points isn’t as easy as it used to be, and I haven’t had much luck in finding the exact formula. But I can give you a close estimate of how you calculate the value of your foods

Every 10 Carbs = 1 Point, 4 Fat = 1 Point, 12-14 Protein = 1 Point, 5 Fiber = -1 Point

So: (Carbs/10 + Fat/4 + Protein/12) – Fiber/5 = PointsPlus™ Value

That’s an estimate on my part as I haven’t found the true formula yet. I sat down with the points calculator and threw some values at it until I could nail down the values for each one. I had some odd results on the Protein which is why I’m not sure which number I should actually use.

Initial Impression of PointsPlus
I think Jenny and I can both see the potential that this new plan has. I can see how the changes can really prove to be beneficial and I’m looking forward to our success with these changes. At the same time, it’s readily apparent to us just how hard the new plan can be for people who are doing Weight Watchers together when they don’t have similar Daily Allowances.

There are very few meals that Jenny and I do not eat together, and with the large gap in Points it can really make it hard. My extra Points come mostly from being a man and a few come from our age difference as well.

If you’re going to follow this plan with a buddy and you don’t like feeling that you’re in an unfair fight, it might be best for you to do it with someone who’s comparable in weight and preferably the same gender so that you have similar Points allowances for the day. It’s easier to know you’re both on track by eating the same kinds of foods if you know that the value of the Points are the same. Since I have so many more Points than Jenny it’s almost like I get a discount on all of my foods because I can eat so much more.

But remember what I said up above, that this new system isn’t based on being a restriction but rather a goal. Your Points allowance isn’t stop sign anymore, now it’s a finish line. You want to reach it, but you don’t have to come to a screeching halt before you get there. So while it seems like I get to eat a lot more food, in reality I have to eat more food; I have to take an extra lap around the track before I get to finish.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cynwise
    Dec 03, 2010 @ 19:42:05

    Okay, I’m still trying to wrap my head around “fruits don’t count.” I think this is going to take a while to sink in.

    Still – continued congratulations on your loss! Keep it up! The little things add up!

    Reply

  2. fynralyl
    Dec 03, 2010 @ 19:52:13

    Yeah, it’s a little odd. I mean each serving is 0 points, but that doesn’t mean you can eat piles everyday and still not have it count. The idea is that if they’re “free” then you’re more likely to eat them and get your daily servings in, rather than passing on fruit to have something else that you want. Now there’s no conflict. Also, the energy you use to process fruit counterbalances the couple of points we previously paid. Fruit juice (100%) still has a pointsplus value because your body does almost nothing to process it.

    Reply

  3. eleganterica
    Dec 08, 2010 @ 12:00:44

    According to what my husband and I figured out, the formula is:

    pp = (Fat)(9/35) + (Carbs)(19/175) + (Protein)(16/175) – (Fiber)(2/25)

    This has been confirmed by a couple of people in different places. I think Wikipedia already has the correct one up; the one that was up before (that added fiber) was incorrect.

    I like your estimate though. I’ve been looking for a way to *try* to do the new formula in my head (which is what I loved so much about the old program).

    We haven’t been able to find the formula for the daily points allowance by taking apart eTools like we did for the pointsplus formula, but we’re working on it 🙂

    Reply

    • Psynister
      Dec 08, 2010 @ 13:03:23

      If I could commit all of that to memory I guess I could get back to doing it in my head, but that’s a heck of a hassle compared to what it was before. *sigh*

      So far going off of my estimate has kept me fairly close, typically only 1-2 points off on something with big numbers. It at least gives you something fairly close that is easily calculable.

      And I’m right there with you on not being able to figure out how to calculate the daily allowance. If you figure it out let me know. If I ever get it I’ll be sure to put it in the blog.

      Reply

  4. Asmenedas
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 15:00:12

    It’s great that you guys are going so well. I had heard about the Points+
    thing coming but haven’t had much info with it. However I theorycrafted
    something for the old system that you might find helpful/interesting/useful.

    Remind me tonight if you think about it and I’ll try to email you my spreadsheet with the old equation and some other Nutritional Assistance
    calculations. I’m sure you can adjust the equation and have a visual
    (with charts) to help at that point.

    Reply

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