Getting into shape is no easy feat. It's a major lifestyle change that suddenly uproots you from the couch, makes you dump half the items in your fridge that make your mouth water, and requires you to get a little help or guidance from someone who can keep you accountable. For some, that's a personal trainer who'll make you do burpees and make you stop eating foods that make you burp. For others, it's a weight-loss program, one of the most popular being Weight Watchers, the famous program that Oprah Winfrey constantly boasts about.
Weight Watchers has been ranked 2017's No. 4 best diet overall, the No. 1 best weight-loss diet, and the No. 1 best fast weight-loss diet by U.S. News, so chances are, you've heard someone, somewhere, talk about how they are counting their points. The diet doesn't focus on burning a certain amount of calories a day; it focuses on the foods you eat.
Every single food gets assigned a point value, which Weight Watchers calls SmartPoints, based on sugar, protein, saturated fat, and calories. Everyone on the diet gets allotted a different amount of points, based on age, gender, height, and weight. The diet lets you have your cake and eat it too, as long as you log those points.
But in December, Weight Watchers introduced an update to its popular SmartPoints program called Freestyle, which it says gives people more freedom, flexibility, and better results. Here's what you need to know about how it works.
SmartPoints Are Still Smart
The foundation of the Weight Watchers program is still in play. SmartPoints are still counted, and the value for each food or drink hasn't gone up in value, though some foods have gone down to 0 points. The amount of points you're allotted depends on personal factors, and you can find out your weekly allowance through its calculator. You are allowed a set number of SmartPoints per day, but you also have another bank of weekly points that you can tap into should you need more points on any given day.
There Are Now More 0-Point Foods
The biggest change with this program is that now the list of foods participants can eat that have 0 points and don't have to be logged has grown a lot. There's now over 200 foods that have a value of 0, including some surprises like chicken, fish, eggs, corn, and beans.
Points Roll Over
Just like unused minutes sometimes roll over on your phone plan, Freestyle lets participants roll points over. It gives them the flexibility to use fewer SmartPoints one day and have up to four extras rolled over into their weekly SmartPoints bank for the days they need them the most — like a Saturday night happy hour feast with the girls.
The Results Claim to Be Bigger and Better
Weight Watchers did a six-month clinical trial of its Freestyle program, which was conducted by the University of North Carolina Weight Research Lab. The major findings were that participants experienced an average weight loss of 7.9 percent after six months, 82.2 percent said that it was an easier program to keep up with, and 92.6 percent said that the program gave them flexibility in their food choices.
If you're looking to join, Weight Watchers offers two plan options. The first is an online-only option, starting at $3.45 a week, where you can use its tools and work on the program on your own terms. The second option is an online and in-person plan for $8.47, where you can attend weekly meetings, connect with other members, and have access to their online tools.