Friday, April 8, 2011

Weight Watchers Points Plus Questions and Answers

Here is an explanation of the points that are connected to all of my recipes.

What are the points?
The points that I refer to in my recipes are Weight Watchers Points Plus (the new program Weight Watchers initiated in 2011). I am using the Weight Watchers program to lose weight and therefore need to calculate the points of everything I eat. Since I have already gone to the trouble of calculating them, I include them in my recipes for others who are on Weight Watchers.
What do the points mean?
The points are based on the nutritional content of the food. Weight Watchers considers the fat, carbohydrate, fiber, and protein content of each item of food and assigns a point value based on those numbers. High fiber and protein, with low fat and carbohydrates, will yield the least amount of points. For example, an item with 1 gram fat, 1 gram carbohydrates, 10 grams fiber, and 10 grams protein would have a value of 0 points. An item with 10 grams fat, 10 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, and 1 gram protein would have a value of 4 points.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the points program?
That would take a long, long time to answer in detail. So, I will give you what I think are the two most important points on both sides. I believe the biggest strength is that the points values cause you to be more conscious of the quality of the food you are consuming.  If I see a recipe that has 15 points per serving, warning bells start going off in my head to alert me that this is a dish I should not be eating on a daily basis. I believe that the biggest weakness is that Weight Watchers does not differentiate between fats as they should. An avocado, for example, has a value of 10 points because of its fat content. That is roughly equivalent to ¼ cup of butter (12 points). This means that I, along with others on the program, avoid foods like avocados and nuts. From a nutritional standpoint, that is not a good thing – we need those healthy fats. It is my hope that Weight Watchers will rectify this in the future.

How many points should someone eat in one day?
Points vary depending on your gender, age, height, weight, and physical activity. The lowest daily point allowance is 29 points (that is my allowance). I am 5’ 3”, 33 years old, at the high end of “normal” weight, and I have my physical activity down as “sitting most of the day” (this is not true, but I put that in so that I could track my steps and physical activity – for which I earn extra points). If you are taller, younger, male, or do hard physical labor, you get more points. Also, the more you weigh, the more points you get. However, as you lose weight and your body has less to carry, points are subtracted from your allowance. You also get 49 flex points to use throughout the week for extra snacks or special means. Supposedly, you can still lose weight if you use those points. That has not been my experience, but that is the theory.

If you put on of my recipes into the points calculator on Weight Watchers, you will not get the same points that I am giving on my website. I decided, in April, that I would no longer use the recipe calculator to determine recipe points but would use the point values of the ingredients instead. Why? Because I think that the recipe calculator is asinine. According to Weight Watchers, the recipe calculator may be “different from what you expected” because they are calculating the “nutritional content” of the whole dish. Let me give you an example of “different from what you expected”. For breakfast, I had a scramble of four egg whites, 2 cups tomatoes, and ¼ cup fat free cheddar. If I calculate that by individual item it is:
4 cooked egg whites = 1 point
2 cups cooked tomatoes = 0 points
¼ cup fat free cheddar = 1 point
GRAND TOTAL = 2 points
If I put those ingredients into the recipe calculator I get:
4 cooked egg whites = 1 point
2 cups cooked tomatoes  = 3 points
¼ cup fat free cheddar = 1 point
GRAND TOTAL = 5 points
Asinine. I don’t think that Weight Watchers’ explanation of calculating “nutritional content” holds water. I think it is, to be crass, crap.
I struggled with the decision to calculate my points on the individual ingredient basis because I don’t want anyone to think that I am trying to make my recipes look lower in points than they are. I decided, in the end, that I simply cannot justify Weight Watchers’ recipe calculation math and that I don’t want to use something I believe to be illogical and flawed.

Please let me know if you have any other questions about the program that I could attempt to answer. As I tell my students,  if I don’t know the answer to your question, I will do my best to find out. 


  1. Thanks Angela for the thorough explanation. Good luck on the program.

  2. Yep. That's about it. And I still eat avocados - when the family is home to share. And when I use all the flex points - I don't lose. I don't gain but I don't lose. I do revel in the fruit though!

  3. Ann- thanks. It's working so far:)
    Claudia- I need more family members who live avocados. Love the point free fruit!

  4. god you're dedicated... I know i've said it before but what a list!

  5. You sure educated me this morning. I had no idea; thank you so much. You know that is why I come here; you are an inspiration.

  6. This is very interesting! Thanks so much for posting!
    I've been a 'weight watcher' on and off (mostly off!) for years.
    Why do you think they have calculated the tomatoes as 3 points? That sounds wrong.

  7. Just re-read my comment. It's come out wrong lol.
    I mean it sounds like ww have calculated wrongly, not you.
    Just to clarify. :-)

  8. I've definitely heard a lot of complaints about the way WW calculates points, especially for fruit and good fats. I figure...if calculating points your way is working for you then why not! I also think that nobody ever became fat from eating two cups of tomatoes. That's just insane.

  9. This post gives lot of info. You teach me about how to calculate point.

  10. I'm also doing this points system but in the UK it's called Pro-Points. It's great to find a blog with WW recipes, definitely be back!


  11. Hi Angela, thanks so much for such a great post. The point calculations are a bit odd, aren't they? Have a great week.

  12. I am a southern cook and need to know how to count the points in my personal recipes. Please Help !!!


Thanks for your comments!