Weight Watchers Review: Will Weight Watchers Help Me Lose Weight?

Will weight watchers help me lose weightWeight Watchers widely popular online weight loss program   that is relatively easy to use and cost effective, but the question you should be asking is "Will it help me lose weight?" 


Probably not. The Flex Plan gets a letter grade D because it is just not sustainable for the long term. The Core Plan gets a B because it encourages better nutrition and sustainable change, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.

Weight Watchers Review: Cost

The fee is $65 for a Weight Watchers Online 3-month membership or $45 for a one month membership. Both memberships have a $25 sign up fee. There is also a one week free trial. (Tip: If you sign up for the free trial, then cancel it, and then sign up for Weight Watchers again, the $25 sign up fee is waived.)


Weight Watchers Review: Features

1. Weight Tracker to record your weight

2. Impressive collection of over 1,000 recipes that show the points.

You can find recipes according to:

a. Points Values
b. Course
c. Dietary Preference
d. Cuisine
e. Prep Time
f. Level of difficulty
g. Occasion

Unfortunately, many of the recipes and meal suggestions are not based on whole foods nutrition and so I would not recommend them (although most of the Core meal suggestions are good).

3. Video demonstrations of exercises

These are short videos of stretching, moving and weight training. They are safe and easy enough for your great-grandmother to do with ease so don't expect to burn much fat with these.

4. Weight Watchers Message Boards

The community forum on Weight Watchers is very active. You can join 45 different discussion groups on topics such as:

- The Plan and the Site
- Food
- Fitness and Goals
- Family
- Spirituality

5. Community recipe swap

6. Detailed description of the diet plans

7. Lots of weight loss articles and tips

8. Options for recipe substitutions if you don't like one particular ingredient

9. Plan Manger

Allows you to plan what you will eat for the day by selecting food items and recipes which already have the points calculated. The problem with this is that is it confusing to use and time consuming. Let's say you want to eat a carrot. You have to search for carrot, select the carrot and the amount, and select the meal during which you will eat it.

I cannot imagine many people having the patience to use the Plan Manger. (And I know I'm not alone, because the "Contact Us" section lists "Plan Manager Support" at the top of their topic list.)

An easier and quicker option for meal planning is to go to the "Food & Recipes" section of the website, and in the "Recipe Toolbox" on the right you will see "Get quick meal ideas". This provides you with two weeks of meals, recipes and a shopping list. The reason I spelled out how to find it is because it took me 30 minutes of searching to find this. Weight Watchers Online has lots of room for improvement when it comes to site navigation.

Unfortunately, the meals, recipes and shopping lists are not provided with the Core Plan which is the only plan that is worth doing.

Weight Watchers Review of the Diet Plans

Clients have the option of choosing two plans, the Core Plan and the Flex Plan and it is clear to me that these plans are not created equally.

The Flex Plan involves the traditional point counting for which Weight Watchers is so famous. There is little to no nutritional information, although "healthier" food choices, those with high fiber, lower calories and lower fat, are given lower point values than high fat high calorie foods.

Clients are encouraged to develop better eating habits by eating more of the foods with lower point values, but the emphasis is still on low-fat, high-carb eating, which has been shown to be a poor way to lose weight and stay healthy.

Benefits of the Weight Watchers Flex Plan:

- Easy to maintain for people who eat out often or buy prepared foods - there are entire books of point values for these types of choices.
- Offers great flexibility for those who have limited time to cook.
- Will ultimately result in calorie reduction and loss of weight.
- Requires the most minimal change for people and so is easy to start with.

Drawbacks of the Weight Watchers Flex Plan:

- Although the points values reflect the health of the food to a degree, there is surprisingly little nutritional education.
- Difficult and frustrating to follow long-term because you constantly have to look up points.
- Doesn't educate the client at all on processed foods or general healthy eating.
- Points can be misleading in that two foods may have the same point value but completely different nutritional value.
- Constant weighing, counting and calculating points.
- Processed and artificial foods are included and even encouraged.
- Can lead to obsessions or compulsions surrounding foods and counting points.

The Core Plan is by far the better choice. This plan focuses on eating whole foods and encouraging good food choices plus gives you an optional 35 points a week so that you can include some of your comfort foods even if they are not the type of foods that are encouraged. Also the Core Plan does not emphasize low fat high carbohydrate eating to the degree that the flex plan does, which may provide greater potential for weight reduction.

Benefits of the Weight Watchers Core Plan:

- Great nutritional education which promotes overall health, not just weight loss.
- Actually educates the client about food so that they will make better choices throughout their lives, not just while on the program.
- The menu options are limitless and lots of great recipes are provided.
- Encourages meal preparation at home, which leads to healthier lifestyle and healthier eating.
- No need for constant counting, weighing and measuring.

Drawbacks of the Weight Watchers Core Plan:

- Requires more change so many people, especially those who don't cook, may feel overwhelmed.
- Meal plans may require more time than many people have to prepare.

So, Will Weight Watchers Help Me Lose Weight? The Bottom Line

There is much to click on for the Weight Watchers site but it all boils down to a paid membership for two structured plans for eating the Weight Watchers way. People need structure and guidance for their diets and this is why Weight Watchers has been so successful.

However, should you follow Weight Watchers advice when it comes to eating?

In my medical opinion, there are better plans for eating than Weight Watchers. For example, the Weight Watchers Flex Plan is based on calorie restriction not based on healthy nutrition.

The Core Plan is an improvement but still has many drawbacks like artificial sweeteners (which are toxic) and an emphasis on eating low-fat. I do not see Weight Watchers as being the beacon of truth for nutritional excellence.

The other key part of Weight Watchers is the community. Weight Watchers has lots of active participants in the discussion groups sharing information. This is important in our modern age where people feel stressed out, isolated and alone. However, the discussions do not appear to be moderated with anyone who has any expertise and so it the advice is questionable.

Weight Watchers Online Is On Autopilot

When you sign up you are paying for access to recipes, static information and a planner. There isn't any live support or interaction with experts. You can't even call to talk to a live person to discuss your bill, all contact is via fax or e-mail. I feel that live interaction with experts via forums, teleseminars, newsletters and coaching is crucial for motivation and proper guidance.

In general Weight Watchers helps many people by providing exercise and lifestyle tips as well as support groups and networks for those experiencing difficulty. Online tools make tracking your progress easy but it's not always clear what your next step should be. Also there is very little information on internal obstacles to weight loss such as hormone imbalance, toxicity, insomnia, or food allergies. Therefore many people may not see results even if they follow the program religiously.


Weight Watchers Review Bottom line: There are better weight loss programs out there. For information on the 500 calorie diet protocol recommended by Dr. Pearsall, watch this YouTube video


Want more information on natural weight loss? Sign up for the next Enlita Online Courses and subscribe to our free newsletter. 

About the Author:
Dr. Kendra Pearsall, N.M.D. is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor specializing in natural weight loss and food addiction. She created Enlita.com to help millions of people achieve optimal health, natural weight loss and life success with her free weekly e-newsletter (sign up at the top of this page.)