What to Expect on Weight Watchers

Woman weighing herself
Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/ Getty Images

If you’ve decided to try Weight Watchers, there are several different membership options to choose from – including a digital-only option, a group meeting option, and a personalized coaching option. All three offer the same basic program; it’s simply the extra accountability and support that differs between them.

On the diet, you can expect to track your foods daily and stay within a specified range of SmartPoints. No foods are off-limits, and as long as you eat within your points budget each day – you’ll likely lose weight. However, some people do find that the constant tracking and focus on the scale can become bothersome.

What to Eat

Weight Watchers has evolved considerably since its inception in the 1960’s. Currently, the WW Freestyle program offers a lot of flexibility for compliant foods when following the program, and there are no foods that are specifically prohibited. There are some foods that tend to be very high in points, though, which you’ll need to limit.

Compliant Foods

  • Fruits and Vegetables

  • Meat and Seafood

  • Beans and Lentils

  • Eggs

  • Dairy

  • Grains

Non-Compliant Foods

  • None, but minimize high point value foods

Compliant Foods:

Fruits and Vegetables – Produce has always been integral to the Weight Watchers program, even in its initial exchange system. Almost every fresh fruit and vegetable (with a few exceptions, like potatoes and avocados) clock in at zero points, nudging those following the program to fill up on these nutrient-dense choices.

Poultry and Seafood – Though all types of poultry and seafood are allowed, preference is given to lean proteins like skinless chicken breast, turkey breast, and fish – all of which are zero points. Other meats can be included regularly in the diet within the SmartPoints allowance.

Beans and Lentils – As of the 2017 WW Freestyle update, all beans and lentils are now considered zero points. These foods are a great combination of healthy carbohydrates, fiber, and protein, making them an excellent addition to your plate.

Eggs – Though eggs were initially limited in early variations of Weight Watchers, they’re currently encouraged. In fact, eggs are now a zero point food, so enjoy some scrambled up with veggies for breakfast or add a hardboiled egg to your mid-afternoon snack.

Dairy – All dairy is allowed on Weight Watchers, though your ice cream will certainly cost more points than a glass of skim milk. Plain unsweetened yogurt is zero points, though, so combine it with fresh fruit for a healthy snack that won’t eat away at your point total.

Grains – There’s room for all grains on WW Freestyle, from brown rice to quinoa to amaranth. All grains have point values, so be sure to work them into your daily allowance.

Non-Compliant Foods:

Technically any food can fit into the WW Freestyle plan. However, some may be so high in SmartPoints that it would be hard to accommodate them into your routine regularly. Most of these are foods or portions that should only be consumed occasionally anyway in the realm of overall healthy eating.

Recommended Timing

There’s no official meal schedule while on Weight Watchers. Most people do well on a standard eating schedule, consuming three meals a day with a snack or two in between.

Even though you have a budget of points, you should also try to pay attention to your internal hunger and fullness cues when considering how to time your meals. Eat when truly hungry and stop when you are comfortably satisfied.

Resources and Tips

Program Options and Costs:

If you decide to use the Weight Watchers plan, you’ll choose from one of three paid options:

  • Digital – Provides your SmartPoints allowance and grants you access to the online app to track your foods. Costs around $3 to $7 per week, depending on the length of commitment and any special offers.
  • Workshop – Allows access to the digital components and also includes in-person group meetings. Costs around $5 to $9 per week, depending on the length of commitment and any special offers.
  • Coaching – Includes everything in the other two programs, and also includes one-on-one support from a personalized coach. Costs around $9 to $14 per week, depending on the length of commitment and any special offers.

Helpful Tips:

No matter which program you choose, here are a few helpful tips:

  • Download the Weight Watchers app to easily track your SmartPoints. The app allows you to quickly search for foods, add them to your daily food log, and access 24/7 chat support. You’ll also be able to use it to calculate SmartPoints for meals that you eat out.
  • Make the most of your zero points foods by including them in meals and snacks. These foods are generally low in calories and rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, or protein. For example, if you usually make a stir fry with mostly pork and rice, switch it up to be mostly vegetables (zero points) with smaller amounts of poultry and rice.
  • Weigh in weekly. Though not all experts agree with frequent weigh-ins, many other professionals do support this Weight Watchers tenant. Weighing in weekly helps people track trends on the scale. You can weigh in at home or at the in-person meetings (don’t worry, weigh ins are done privately and not in front of the group). Seeing a few pounds dropped can give you the continued motivation you need to stick with the program.
  • Exercise regularly. Though you can lose weight without exercising, staying fit will help with your overall wellness throughout life. Weight Watchers encourages you to earn FitPoints by staying active.

Try These Recipes

Need some meal-time inspiration? Try these recipes which should all clock in low in SmartPoints:

Modifications

Because there are no off-limits foods, Weight Watchers is pretty easy to modify to fit your needs. For example, if you’re not a fan of meat, you can easily incorporate beans or tofu in your meal plan. If you’re lactose-intolerant, you can look for lactose-free dairy options or alternatives that fit your SmartPoints balance.

However, there are a few groups for whom Weight Watchers prohibits use (and for good reason):

  • Pregnant women
  • Individuals with an eating disorder
  • Children under 18
  • Also, while those with a BMI of 18.5 or under may join Weight Watchers, they are not permitted to set a weight loss goal.

Weight Watchers does currently offer a program for teens, which has been controversial in the nutrition world. They do require that the teen falls at the 95th percentile or above on the BMI chart, and a signed doctor’s note that gives them permission to participate.

In addition, people with diabetes may need additional guidance while following Weight Watchers. For example, though fruits and beans are zero point foods, they still most definitely have an impact on blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, meet with a dietitian to discuss your individual needs (which can be combined with Weight Watchers if desired).

Even if you don’t have any contraindications to participating in Weight Watchers, remember that the program is not for everyone. If any diet becomes too restrictive and leads to unhappiness, it may be a signal that you should choose a different eating plan. For some people, though, Weight Watchers can offer just the right amount of structure to support their goals.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. New Weight Watchers Personal Coaching Offering. WW (Weight Watchers): Weight Loss & Wellness Help.

  2. Everything You Need to Know About SmartPoints. How SmartPoints Works & Helps Your Weight Loss Goals | WW USA.

  3. How WW Freestyle Works. Track Your Points Easily on Weight Watchers Freestyle Program | WW USA.

  4. Complete ZeroPoint™ foods list from WW (the new Weight Watchers). Complete List of WW (Weight Watchers) ZeroPoint™ Foods | WW UK.

  5. Weinstein B, Scarbrough M. Most Valuable Ingredient: Quinoa. WW USA.

  6. Weight Watchers Canada. What Can I Eat With 30 SmartPoints? WW Canada.

  7. Compare Weight Loss Plans & Weekly Pricing. Compare Weight Watchers Weight Loss Plans & Weekly Pricing | WW USA.

  8. Weight Watchers International, Inc. App. ‎WW (Weight Watchers). App Store.

  9. Health Notices. Weight Watchers Health Terms and Conditions. | WW USA.

  10. Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes Weight Loss Program. | WW USA.