I’ve had some fantastic results from doing WeightWatchers over the years. During my last stint, I lost over 30lbs, so I’m definitely a fan of the WeightWatchers program. However, nothing in life is perfect, which is why I decided to put together this article, detailing the honest pros and cons of WeightWatchers.
WHILE YOU’RE HERE: You may also want to check out my new write up of my first impressions of Weight Watchers Personal Points.
I’ve gone into detail about each of the WeightWatchers pros and cons below. But for those who want just a quick overview, here’s a summary. I do recommend reading the article in full in order to understand the nuance of these points.
Pros of WeightWatchers
- Weight Watchers DOES Work!
- The app is great.
- You can choose between online, in-person groups, or both.
- You tend to feel healthy on WeightWatchers.
- You learn good, healthy habits.
- There’s a great range of snacks, ready meals and recipes.
Cons of WeightWatchers
- It’s quite easy to put the weight back on.
- Some foods can knock you way off track.
- You can find yourself feeling hungry.
- The snacks, recipes and ready meals aren’t all that great.
- Counting points gets tiresome.
Now, let’s dive into a little more detail:
The Pros and Cons of WeightWatchers
1. It Does Work!
I’ve used WeightWatchers several times, going back over about ten years.
The most crucial point to make is that WeightWatchers DOES work – so long as you follow the plan properly.
I’ve found that my weight tends to drop by 1-2lbs per week when I’m following the WeightWatchers plan. Sometimes it comes off a little quicker at the start (and if you have a lot to lose), but 1-2lbs per week is a fair average, and what the plan teaches you to expect.
2. WeightWatchers has a Great App
The WeightWatchers app is the most refined I’ve used for any diet plan – and this does make the plan easy to follow. When I did a WeightWatchers vs Slimming World comparison, the Slimming World app seemed WAY more primitive.
There’s a lot of functionality packed into the WeightWatchers app, from point counting to recipes to exercise classes – but it all works really well and doesn’t overwhelm you.
3. You Can Choose Online or In-Person
WeightWatchers started out as an “in person” thing, where everybody would attend local groups, and step on the scales for the dreaded “weigh in.”
It’s still possible to attend a group, but you can also follow the program entirely online, which is my personal preference. It’s great to have the choice, especially if you’d like the social element of attending a group.
4. WeightWatchers FEELS Healthy
I feel GOOD when I’m on WeightWatchers – and that matters. I don’t feel as good on Slimming World.
I already eat a reasonably healthy diet, but WeightWatchers levels it up more. The FitPoints (Activity Points) encourage you to keep moving as well, so all in all you end up with a general feeling of well-being (even if you do feel hungry and deprived at times – more on that in the cons of WeightWatchers below!)
5. WeightWatchers Teaches you Good Habits
There’s a clear trend in weight loss these days: Diet plans like to present themselves as “a lifestyle” rather than “a diet,” and WeightWatchers is no different.
I must be honest and say that I’d never want to be permanently on WeightWatchers! It IS being on a diet, however you dress it up. However, it does teach you good habits that you can take forward afterwards.
Some personal examples: I use WAY less oil, having learned that I really don’t notice the difference when using cooking spray on things like potato wedges. Roasted vegetables are actually WAY better with cooking spray!
You also learn a lot about portion control, and about food that really does you no favours weight-wise (Chinese takeaways spring to mind!)
Of course you do have to stick to these habits, and not let old behaviours and defaults creep back in. That’s not always that easy – as I have found myself in some areas – but that’s for another article!
6. WeightWatchers Snacks, Ready Meals and Recipes are Easy to Find
One thing that makes WeightWatchers much easier to follow is how widespread it is and how easily you can access recipes, ready meals, and pointed snacks. If you’re in the US or the UK, there are big ranges of snacks and ready meals available, and it takes a lot of the pressure off when you can simply grab a “two point snack” or “eight point meal.”
This goes beyond the own-brand WeightWatchers stuff too. You can find plenty of online recipes where people have already calculated the WW points, and look up popular snacks in the app.
1. You Can (Quite) Easily Put the Weight Back On
Time for a confession:
I stopped doing WeightWatchers about six months ago at the time of writing. Since then I’ve regained around 5lbs of the 35lbs I lost last year.
In the interests of full disclosure, I’ve been pigging out rather a lot lately! We’ve just started enjoying social occasions again, the barbecue season is underway, and I’ve got quite a taste for chocolate since giving up drinking alcohol.
I’m still WAY lighter than I was, but I’m mentioning this to point out something quite obvious: If you finish WeightWatchers and then slip back into old habits, you WILL put the weight back on.
If you suspect you’d struggle to take any of the good habits forward into everyday life, you could end up feeling like you’re doing the classic “yo-yo diet” thing. In my case, I know that it won’t take much to limit the weight gain and get back on track. But it would be disingenuous not to admit that I’d probably put every pound back on I carried on eating at my current pace!
2. Some Food Are Off Limits (Really)
WeightWatchers claims that no foods are “off limits” – and it is true in theory. You can look up or calculate the points for anything and everything, and there’s nothing to stop you eating it.
But back in the real world, you quickly find that there are certain things that will completely blow your points budget. If in any doubt, look up the points in a chicken tikka masala from the Indian takeaway, or in some of your favourite bars of chocolate.
Yes you can – technically – incorporate anything you like. But realistically, you have to ban yourself from some things, or you can easily blow a week’s weight loss in one unwise meal.
3. You DO Feel Hungry
There’s no way to sugar-coat this one: You do feel hungry some of the time on WeightWatchers. It’s particularly noticeable during your first week of doing the plan. After that your system seems to get used to smaller portions.
While you do tend to feel good when I’m following WeightWatchers, I can’t deny there are some days when you do feel a bit deprived.
4. The Snacks, Ready Meals and Recipes are a Bit “Hit and Miss”
I’ve already complemented the availability of WeightWatchers snacks, ready meals and recipes. The flip-side is that they’re not all that great.
After spending months on WeightWatchers, I found that the recipes split into two: there are some that are fantastic: filling, tasty and healthy, including some that I still make all the time when I’m not on Weight Watchers. But there are also a fair few, both from the app and from the WeightWatchers recipe books, that are bland and forgettable.
The same applies with the snacks and ready meals. Some are great, but some are packed with artificial sweetener or – let’s be honest – just not very nice (those bitter WeightWatchers plain chocolate bars still lurking in my cupboard – I’m looking at you).
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have the wide ranges to choose from, but they do end up whittled down to much smaller ranges that you actually enjoy. And once you’ve been doing the plan for weeks and months, this does result in a certain level of fatigue and boredom.
5. Point Counting is Hard Work
WeightWatchers points are at the core of the plan. They are what make it work, and what make it easy to follow.
In the early days, using the app and counting points is (almost) fun. It’s a bit of a “gameified” experience and doesn’t feel like much hassle.
But over time…yeah, it gets old. This is one of the reasons I suggest taking breaks in my WeightWatchers tips article. It can end up feeling like you’re a slave to the app, especially if you plan to stay on Weight Watchers for any length of time.
So there you have it – my honest pros and cons of WeightWatchers. I’d love some feedback, and to learn of any additional pros and cons you think are significant. Let me know in the comments, or drop me a line on Twitter.
While You’re Here!
- Find WeightWatchers snacks and other products here.
- Check out my tips for WeightWatchers.
- Have a look at my comparison of WeightWatchers and Slimming World.