Weight Watchers has been life-changing for me. But in truth, it’s taken me several attempts to feel like I’d really cracked it. I’ve always lost weight on Weight Watchers. Nowadays I actually enjoy following the plan too. These Weight Watchers tips will help you do the same.
Before I start, I should emphasise that it’s important to go “all in” with Weight Watchers. That means sticking to your points and not cheating.
One cheat tends to lead to another, which leads to a disappointing weigh in. And that leads to a loss of motivation and a strong possibility you’ll throw the towel in.
These Weight Watchers tips have all helped me tremendously over the years. At the time of writing, I’m using Weight Watchers on the “Green” My WW plan. I have lost a rather pleasing 27lbs so far.
15 Essential Weight Watchers Tips
Remember that the First Week is the Hardest
The best way to deal with your first week of Weight Watchers is to accept that you’re going to feel hungry quite often!
The good news is that things quickly change. I find that somewhere between day five and day seven, my body gets used to eating less. I also find I stop craving carbs and get used to protein filling me up. Not only that, I start to prefer it, and feel better for it.
So if it’s your first time on Weight Watchers, don’t give up after a few days because you feel hungry and annoyed – it does change. You will likely also feel healthier and more energetic once you adjust.
Menu Plan (At Least) a Week Ahead
Every Saturday morning, I surround myself with Weight Watchers recipe books, the My WW Magazine, and the app.
I plan our main meals for the whole week ahead, allowing for one takeaway night. I then do our online supermarket order and ensure we have all the ingredients.
Now, believe me, this isn’t always what I fancy doing at the start of the weekend, but it’s totally worth it. All in all, combined with doing the rest of the grocery order, it takes a couple of hours.
But it makes the week SO easy. As you can see, we know exactly what we’re having, where to find each recipe, and how many points are in each meal.
If I didn’t follow this process, Weight Watchers would be MUCH harder. You end up with problems like having to use a jar of sauce that comes out at a ludicrous number of points. Even worse, you order takeaways because there’s nothing planned and the whole thing goes south.
Menu plans are absolutely worth the time investment.
Stick to Low Point Evening Meals
This tip for Weight Watchers is simply my own opinion, but I’ve found it best to generally stick to low point main evening meals. By “low point” I usually mean less than nine on the green plan. This is why:
If you have a decent-sized breakfast and know you’ve got a 12 point dinner planned, you spend the majority of the day aware that you can’t have a very big lunch. You also know that you’ll be cracking into weekly or activity points if you want anything extra. I don’t enjoy staring snack-free evenings in the face!
So when I’m menu planning, I try to keep this rule in mind for all of our week-day meals. If I want something more indulgent, I tend to save it for the weekend. We often go for a big brunch and a late afternoon feast at the weekend with snacks built around it. This “two big meals” approach makes the points stretch much further.
Eat Evening Meals Early
Different cultures have vastly different dining times. I’ve personally lived in southern Europe where eating an evening meal really late is the done thing. Lots of friends and family comment that we tend to eat later than them, so it seems we never quite shook off the tradition.
But when I want to lose weight, we eat early.
For starters, if you’re on Weight Watchers you’re generally hungry enough to want to eat early! But the science backs it up too, as does my personal experience. The one thing likely to see you waking up a pound heavier than the day before is to eat too late in the day.
Decide How to Use your Weekly Points and Fit Points
As you are probably aware, on Weight Watchers you get a daily points allowance and a weekly points allowance. You also get “Fit Points” for exercise.
You are allowed (and encouraged) to eat all of the dailies and weeklies (although I don’t tend to get through all of my weekly points). You can also eat most of your fit points in addition if you wish, essentially earning extra food through exercise.
What you may NOT know, because it’s not very widely publicised, is that you have the option of using your Fit Points OR your weeklies first. The setting is hidden away under “Food Settings” and “Swapping” in the profile area of the My WW app.
It’s worth giving some thought to how YOU prefer to use your points.
I personally use my weeklies first – the “not swapping” option shown above. However, my wife and some other people I know prefer to use FitPoints first.
It’s a personal decision. My wife does it that way because she walks a tremendous amount of steps each day and likes to “earn” her food. She’s also much lighter than me(!) and tends to use all of her weekly points every single week. As I don’t usually get through my weeklies, it makes little difference. But it could make a significant difference to you.
Choose When to Weigh
Of all the tips for Weight Watchers here, this is probably the one that could spark most debate.
A family member of mine is doing Weight Watchers with me at the moment. She doesn’t go near the scale between weekly weigh-ins. I’m the complete opposite, and step on almost every time I’m in the bathroom!
The funny thing is that we both fervently believe that the opposite approach would stress us out.
So it has to be your own decision. I like to see how I’m doing from day to day, trying to spot patterns in the ups and downs, and knowing whether I’m on track. After doing that for several months, I’m pretty good at predicting whether I will have lost, gained or stayed the same from day to day.
However, I understand that this could be like an unhealthy obsession for some. Decide which method is a better fit for you, and stick to it.
Have the Treats Mid Week
Treats are important on Weight Watchers – they keep you sane! As I’ve already said, our weekly plan allows for a takeaway.
But one thing I would never do is have the takeaway a night or two before weigh-in!
We usually have the takeaway on a Friday night, with weigh-in each Monday morning. That gives me the weekend to “repair the damage!” The weekend is also when I do most exercise.
I know that it’s the long-term trajectory that matters, but seeing a good loss on weigh-in is always encouraging and keeps you motivated. Weight Watchers allows plenty of scope for treats, but it’s good to be mindful of exactly when you have them!
Don’t Waste Points
Once you have spent hours playing with the My WW app, you learn that some very similar foods can vary significantly in their number of points.
For example, there are bags of crisps that are two points, and others that are five. The same with soft drinks. It’s really unwise to “waste” those points when choosing the lower point option can mean you get another snack later in the day!
Use Quality Ingredients
Whenever I’ve been doing WW for more than a few weeks I become conscious that I’m eating an awful lot of chicken breasts!
It does sound like a bit of a cliché, but many of the meat recipes do revolve around chicken. Breast meat is lean and therefore low points.
As such (and if you eat meat), I strongly recommend buying the best free-range, corn fed chicken you can afford. It tastes SO much better and is also better from an ethical and animal welfare perspective.
This WW tip isn’t just about chicken. When you’re counting points for everything you eat, you should enjoy that food as much as possible. Decent quality ingredients can be the make or break for many Weight Watchers recipes.
Find Exercise you Enjoy
Weight Watchers sells itself as a lifestyle more than a diet plan. It starts you off with a very achievable FitPoints target, which then increases quite steeply once you’ve stuck to it.
The key to actually sticking with the exercise (and earning those points) is finding exercise you like doing. I’ve personally found that walking has been transformed by decent all-weather gear, good Bluetooth earbuds and plenty of podcasts and Audible books.
The My WW app also includes some great features for exercise. I like the Aaptiv workouts, because they’re audio-led and really well explained. I get in a real muddle trying to copy somebody on a screen, so this has proved a great fit for me.
I should probably say, at this point, that I’ve spent many years of my life NOT doing much exercise, but once you train the habit, you really do start to crave it.
Stock up on Weight Watchers Snacks
Weight Watcher’s own snack products are a mixed bag. Some of the items are better than others.
The sweet things are often very sweet, and artificially so, but they do scratch an itch. Most importantly, the fact these snacks are already pre-pointed mean they are easy to grab and add to the app.
Weight Watchers is really strict on points when it comes to sweet snacks. I find it’s best not to have much in the way of “real” chocolate, cakes and biscuits around while I’m following the plan. The portions you’re allowed are so small it puts too much temptation in the way.
As you can see, we maintain a considerable stash of these products! Although some are available in supermarkets, I just tend to order a box-full direct from the WW online store from time to time.
At some point soon, I think I will post an article listing some of our favourites – and some I wouldn’t recommend as well.
Get “Takeaway Wise:” One of the Most Important Tips for Weight Watchers!
Weight Watchers plans may allow for you to eat anything you like, but once you start to look up the points, you’ll quickly realise that some things are pretty much off-limits.
The most impressively points-laden thing I’ve found so far is an Indian Restaurant Chicken Tikka Masala. At 83 points for a portion, I could blast through an entire day’s points AND all of my weeklies, before even thinking about rice, naan bread, poppadums and onion bahjees!
It’s wise to have an in-depth look at your takeaway options. It’s best just to accept some things will have to wait until after you’re done with Weight Watchers or you’re having a break. While it may seem “mean” that these things have so many points, it’s not like the WW people are lying. If I have the kind of Chinese takeaway I would once have had routinely, I can guarantee a 2lb weight increase by the following day.
However, I have a specific Dominos pizza order that comes in at 17 points and includes half a chicken side dish. It still feels like a treat, and allows me to sit with the rest of the family and enjoy the same thing as them.
There are still takeaway possibilities, but I strongly feel it’s worth planning them well. Lots of small treats throughout the week is better than hammering through all of your weekly points on one blow-out.
Learn to Love Fruit
Almost all fresh fruit is zero points on all Weight Watchers plans. In our house we eat a LOT of it. As well as getting tons of fruit on our weekly supermarket order, we also have a fruit box delivered by a local greengrocers mid-week!
Not only do we eat a lot of fresh fruit, we’ve also developed quite a taste for tinned. In contrast to Slimming World, Weight Watchers allows this for zero points, so long as it’s in juice and not syrup.
Fruits like peaches, pears and pineapples are VERY pleasant out of a tin, and it’s convenient to have them around.
Obviously fruit does have calories (and fruit sugars, as my dentist recently warned me), but as long as you’re not eating enormous boxes of strawberries, it’s a very sensible first port-of-call for snacking.
We’re all encouraged to eat our daily “five a day” of fruit and vegetables. When I’m on Weight Watchers, I think I often hit double that!
Schedule some “Planned Relapses”
Let’s be brutally honest: Weight Watchers can get boring. Sticking to the plan does take willpower, and willpower is a finite resource. I’ve found that “planned relapses” are a good way to keep it up over a prolonged period.
So what do I mean by “planned relapse?”
An example: As part of my most recent Weight Watchers journey I decided right at the beginning to have a full “day off” once I hit a certain weight. I had a Chinese takeaway and a load of chocolate, and resolved not to even count the points.
Similarly, I took a week off work and decided that I’d eat whatever I liked and not bother pointing any of my food or exercise. Unsurprisingly, I put a little weight back on, but I knew I would. The escapism of just not being on Weight Watchers for a bit gave me the resolve to not just get back to but enjoy getting back to a life of chicken breasts, fat free greek yogurt and lots of daily steps!
At the time of writing this, Christmas is coming. Of all my Weight Watchers tips this is perhaps the most unorthodox, but I’m actually aiming at a target weight that specifically allows for me to put some weight back on eating chocolate and cheese! I already have a stash of WW snacks ready for January.
This obviously isn’t official Weight Watchers advice, but it works for me. There’s absolutely no way I want to be counting points or wondering if I’m allowed another chocolate truffle during the Christmas break. But knowing I have the tools to lose the weight again afterwards feels empowering.
Remember the Lessons you Learn
This is probably the most important Weight Watchers advice of all – and I hope I manage to follow it myself.
Weight Watchers teaches you a lot: About portion control, about food with “empty calories,” and about which meals really should be seen as indulgent treats rather than something you order in just because you’ve had a tiring day.
But old habits are really easy to slip back into. About two months into my most recent WW stint, it occurred to me that I’d barely touched a bottle of olive oil on the kitchen worktop. We’d usually buy a new one every 4-6 weeks, but on Weight Watchers we use 1 calorie cooking spray.
Has our enjoyment of any meal been compromised by this? No, not at all. And the same largely goes for things like low-fat spread, skimmed milk, less sugary breakfast cereal, and pieces of actual fruit and a glass of water rather than juice packed with sugar and calories.
I don’t intend to do Weight Watchers permanently. I’m only a few pounds off a healthy target weight, and once I’ve lost it again after this Christmas I will stop. But I know very well that the more healthy habits I manage to retain, the longer it will be until I need to sign up again!
Coming off Weight Watchers doesn’t mean going on a rampage involving sugar, butter, chocolate and cream. If that’s what you do, you WILL be one of those people who complains that you “always put all the weight back on.” In actual fact, you CAN eat a little more and maintain the weight you’ve achieved.
Or at least you can in theory 🙂
While You’re Here:
- Find out why I prefer Weight Watchers to Slimming World.
- Read about my experiences of quitting alcohol.