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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Weight Watchers: Is It Really as Good as Advertised?

I am going to ruffle some feathers with this post.  I know more than a few people, co-workers, friends and clients, who love Weight Watchers.  They think it is the best way to "sustain a realistic American lifestyle and still eat healthy".

Weight Watchers Members Lose Twice as Much Weight as Other Dieters (article)

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"Weight Watchers' approach to dieting seems to tighten the belt more than other approaches to weight loss, according to a new study published in the Lancet.  The new research, which was funded by Weight Watchers International..."
Read that last sentence again...  "Funded by Weight Watchers International"!  And the study compared Weight Watchers to "standard health care".  (This just in... a study conducted and funded by Michael Elliott found Michael Elliott is the best personal trainer in the world.  This study compared Michael to a group of chimpanzees...)  Great news reporting ABC!  Next time try reading the entire study before reporting the information as fact.

What I like about Weight Watchers:
  1. Weekly Group Meetings:  Having support is key.  "Come on, it's only one piece of cake."  "One brownie isn't going to kill you."  "Have a beer and relax, it's the weekend!"  People love forcing bad foods on people trying to lose weight.  It makes them feel better about themselves when others are partaking in the same bad habits.  Having a support system, which the Weight Watchers meetings provide, is a great way to learn how to deal with these situations.
  2. Weekly Weigh-ins:  Knowing you have to step on that scale in front of your peers is a great way to hold yourself accountable.
  3. They do an OK job at pushing fruits and vegetables:  Recently Weight Watchers changed their point system which makes it beneficial to eat more fruits and vegetables.  Any diet telling you to eat more fruits and vegetables is a good thing!
What I don't like about Weight Watchers: 
Starvation DietCan you lose weight on the Weight Watchers diet?  Yes!  Absolutely!  If you starve your body then you will lose weight.  Weight Watchers is much like the Twinkie Diet.  You starve your body of essential nutrients and force your body to eat away at itself. 

Weight Watchers is about losing weight, not health!The point based system used by weight watchers puts a priority on calories, not nutrient density or food quality.  Here are a couple examples...

Some foods worth 4 points:  Hint: these are good for you!

Almonds (22 nuts):  Full of heart healthy unsaturated fats, Vitamin E, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Riboflavin...
Bass (6oz.):  Great source of protein, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, Iron, Magnesium, Niacin, Phosphorus, Selenium...
Beef (2oz.):  All essential amino acids, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, Niacin, Selenium, Zinc...

Other foods worth 4 points (or less): Hint: these are bad for you!

Cupcake (3 points):  Great source of sugar... and that's about it!
Fudge (1oz.):  Great source of sugar... and that's about it!
Ice Cream Sandwich:  Great source of calcium... and SUGAR!
Jelly Beans (10): 2 Points!!!

OK Weight Watchers, you are telling me eating a cupcake is the same as eating a handful of almonds?  A piece of fudge is the same as a piece of fish?  Having an ice cream sandwich for dinner is just as good as having a steak?  I say BULL SH*T!  You may be able to lose weight eating cupcakes, fudge and jelly beans, but you are going to be malnourished.  Malnourishment dramatically decreases immune function which increases your risk of disease.  So great, you lost a bunch of weight but are weaker and get sick more!

Weight Watchers is a "Feel Good" diet:
What I mean by "feel good" is Weight Watchers wants to tell you it is OK to eat cupcakes and brownies.  "As long as you eat them in moderation!"  They want to tell you it is OK to eat bad foods.  Maybe it is my conservative upbringing coming out, but I say there are no excuses.  Eating bad food is bad, no matter how much or how little you eat!

I'm not saying you can never eat bad foods.  Heck, I eat my fair share of bad foods.  But I don't make excuses.  I know what I am putting into my mouth.  I'm not going to sugar coat it to make myself, or anybody else, feel better!

Weight Watchers can be a good program if done correctly.  I know a couple people that have had success on the program.  If you use the program to hold yourself accountable, and eat good nutrient dense foods, then it can lead to a healthy lifestyle.  But don't let yourself get caught up in the excuses.  Eating bad food is bad, no matter how much or how little you eat!

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