WeightWatchers vs Slimming World: I Did Both

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When I last embarked on a weight loss mission, I was surprised how hard it was to find a really comprehensive WeightWatchers vs Slimming World comparison. So I did the logical thing: created one of my own. And that’s what you’re reading right now.

First off, a bit of background. This is NOT a quickly thrown together article. I signed up to BOTH WeightWatchers and Slimming World. I downloaded the apps, bought all the recipe books, snacks and accessories, and fully committed to each of the plans to see how they worked for me.

In total (at the time of writing), I have lost 31lbs across both plans.

Me carrying the weight I lost on Weight Watchers and Slimming World in pasta form
Me carrying the weight I lost on WeightWatchers and Slimming World

Here’s a quick spoiler for you: I consistently lost weight on both WeightWatchers and Slimming World. Both plans suggest you will lose around one to two lbs per week, and that rang true for me. My average is a solid 2lbs per week, with frustrating 1lb weeks and joyful 3lb weeks scattered here and there.

In this comprehensive WeightWatchers vs Slimming World guide, I take you through all the different elements of losing weight using these popular plans. For each part, I choose a winner between the two, and at the end, I pick an overall victor.

Before we begin, I should emphasise that both plans work, and both have their pros and cons. I would highly recommend reading this through, as you may find that the best fit for YOU may not marry up with the best fit for ME.

To kick things off, let’s take a look at the basics of the plans and how they work.

ALSO ON THE SITE: My new guide to WW PersonalPoints.

The Basics

There’s rather a lot to take in when you join either WeightWatchers or Slimming World. In this section, I attempt to distill the basics of each of the plans.

It’s worth nothing that both diet plans started out with a group-based, in-person business model. In both cases, there are still local groups you can join in across the world. But there’s also the option of following the plans entirely online using the companies’ websites and apps.

The latter option is particularly popular nowadays, especially in the era of social distancing. For the purposes of this comparison, I used the online option for both diets.

An Introduction to WeightWatchers

WeightWatchers has been around since the 1960s, and has changed and evolved numerous times over the years. There have been lots of tweaks to the points systems and nutritional approaches. I’ve used Weight Watchers several times over the years, and experienced several different points systems.

Find Weight Watchers products such as snacks and recipe books here.

NOTE: There’s recently been a significant update to the WeightWatchers plan, with the launch of Personal Points – read about them here. (Will open in a new tab, so you don’t lose your place).

The key difference between these plans is the list of “Free Foods” you are permitted to eat without counting points, which come off your daily and weekly allowances.

  • “Green” the option I mainly concentrate on here, is the “strictest,” with only most fruits and vegetables on the free list. However, this gives the highest allowance of points to use on the foods of your choice.
  • “Blue” adds on some lean proteins and low fat dairy products to the free list.
  • “Purple” adds carbs like potatoes and pastas. It’s actually awfully close to Slimming World’s approach! Due to the much more relaxed approach to free foods, you get far fewer points to spend on other foods.

When you first sign up, you are asked some basic details on your goals, and allocated a plan. If you’d prefer to switch to a different option, you can do so. I personally find the “Green” plan suits me the best, and it certainly feels the closest to the original Weight Watchers ethos.

An Introduction to Slimming World

Slimming World launched in the UK in 1969. More recently it branched out into the the US market in 2016. Like Weight Watchers it started out as an in-person service with people attending local groups, but it’s now possible to sign up and follow the program entirely online.

Find Slimming World Products Here.

Slimming World’s diet plan is built on the foundation of a large list of “Free Foods,” which include almost all fruit and vegetables. You can eat these without any restrictions or – in theory at least – portion control.

It is, of course, important to note that you won’t lose any weight if you binge on the “Free” Foods.” You see this list of foods also includes plenty of carbohydrates such as potatoes and pasta – so it’s very much possible to overdo it!

Beyond the Free Foods, you have “Healthy Extras” which allow you to choose from a selection of dairy products and fibre-rich foods each day. (You’re allowed one from the fibre list and two from the dairy list).

Beyond that, you have “Syns.” These are foods that don’t appear on any of the lists and are broadly the things people consider as treats: bars of chocolate, bags of crisps and glasses of wine. You are given a daily “Syns” allowance for these indulgences.

While there are obviously some similarities between WeightWatchers and Slimming World, there are big differences too. Slimming World doesn’t require you to count and track nearly as many points. There’s also an emphasis on filling up with a lot of carbs which, in theory, keeps you away from the snacks.

Does the approach work? You’ll have to read on to find out!

WeightWatchers vs Slimming World: Pricing

Both WeightWatchers and Slimming World are sold on a monthly subscription basis. It’s worth noting that there are almost always introductory offers available. For the purposes of this article, we concentrate on the STANDARD pricing, which is what you will be paying after any promotional period ends.

As Slimming World is primarily UK-based, we’ve concentrated on UK pricing here. If you’re located elsewhere, this pricing can vary.

WeightWatchers Pricing

WeightWatchers is available as either a “Digital” membership, or “Workshop + Digital.” The latter gives you access to “in person” workshops, either via local groups or online over Zoom.

Weight Watchers price plans

As you can see from the screenshot above, promotions rather muddy the waters of exactly what Weight Watchers costs. However, at the time of writing, the UK price is £13.95 per month for “Digital” or £22.95 per month for “Workshop + Digital.”

Slimming World Pricing

Slimming World is priced rather differently. You have a choice of three packages when you first sign up to the online service. You sign up for the first three months in one go.

Weight Watchers Price Plans

The fundamental difference between “Bronze,” “Silver” and “Gold” is what you get in terms of “goodies” when you sign up. “Bronze” is entirely online content; “Silver” gets you seven issues of the Slimming World magazine; “Gold” also gets you a couple of introductory books.

For those who don’t enjoy reading from a screen, it’s worth paying for “Gold” for the “Food Optimising” book that teaches you all the basics of the plan. You still get access to this but it’s arguably much more awkward to constantly refer to PDFs in the early days.

After your initial payment, Slimming World’s standard online cost is £20 per month.

If you wish to join an in-person group, these cost £9.95 per week for the first week, and £4.95 per week after that.

WeightWatchers vs Slimming World: Which is the Best Value?

Once you set aside the many sign-up promotions, Weight Watchers’ online My WW service is cheaper than Slimming World. The lowest cost option costs £13.95 per month vs. £20 per month for Slimming World.

As such, WeightWatchers wins on cost. However, it’s worth noting that neither diet scores particularly highly on making it completely clear on what you’ll end up paying.

WINNER? WeightWatchers.

The Diets

As I explained at the start, I’ve personally used both diet plans and successfully lost weight on both too. I should emphasise that what I say in this section is my own subjective view. Things that appeal to me may not appeal to you, and my “normal” eating habits may well be different to yours too.

WeightWatchers does feel like being on a diet. However generous your allocated points allowance seems, the reality check soon arrives when you find out how many you need for a chocolate treat, or even something simple like a jacket potato.

On the “Green” plan, my preferred option, you need to keep track of the points in almost everything you eat, beyond the majority of fruits and vegetables. This does make it all feel quite regimented. However, the trade-off for this is that you can always be confident you’re accurately following the plan.

You can expect to spend a lot of time over the first couple of weeks looking up points, weighing things, and coming to terms with the fact that 30 grams of breakfast cereal really isn’t that much!

Slimming World feels way more relaxed. The inclusion of things like pasta and potatoes on the “free” list means you can have quite a lot of meals without touching your “Syn” points at all. However, the “Healthy Extras” take some getting used to in the early days.

There are also “Speed Free Foods” which theoretically allow you to lose weight even faster. You should expect to spend a lot of time consulting the instructions while you get used to all the technicalities.

The reality check you get when you start looking up the “Syns” is much the same as when you check out your favourite chocolate bar on WeightWatchers. You can certainly get through your “Syns” quickly. One quirk of Slimming World is that you get notably more “Syns” if you’re male. That meant I felt like I had a fair bit of scope, but I’ve no doubt I’d feel deprived of treats with the standard female allowance.

WINNER: Draw. Both diets have a learning curve and require you to do some weighing and tracking. Since I lost an equal amount of weight on both plans, it seems only fair to mark them equally here.

WeightWatchers App vs. Slimming World App

Both WeightWatchers and Slimming World have mobile apps, and you can also access the full functionality on their websites.

Broadly, the apps offer a matching set of features:

  • The ability to record your weight as you progress.
  • Search facilities for foods and ingredients to check the points or “Syns.”
  • Tracking features for what you eat so you can stay on plan.
  • Ways to log exercise / physical activity.
  • Recipes.
  • Social and community features.
The MyWW Weight Watchers App

The Weight Watchers App

The WeightWatchers app is very refined and intuitive. Its food database, which is the thing you’ll use most often, is well populated, whether you’re looking for the points in a snack, a recipe or an ingredient.

This is helped by the fact that the community can add pointed products which means that the majority of things you search for are already present. If not, you can input nutritional information from the product packaging and calculate points yourself.

The activity features are really well integrated too. WeightWatchers has partnerships with Aaptiv and FitOn, so you can access both video and audio-led workouts and know exactly how many “FitPoints” you will get if you complete one. This does really help you to stay motivated to exercise, and I found a couple of audio workouts that I enjoyed and was motivated to complete regularly.

Recipe searching is strong too, with recipe suggestions appearing when you search for specific foods. That said, despite the huge library of recipes, I did begin to feel that I was seeing them again and again after a few weeks.

There are lots of community features too, including access to support and what feels like a trimmed down and bespoke version of Instagram for WeightWatchers members. I did get involved with this in the early days, but soon started to think that if I was going to share photos of my meals I might as well do it on Instagram itself.

The Slimming World App

Slimming World App

If I’d used Slimming World first, I’d probably have been quite happy with the Slimming World app. Unfortunately, when compared to the WeightWatchers app it feels like a serious downgrade.

First off, there aren’t nearly as many foods in the database, leaving me to have to guess “Syns” or find something roughly equivalent.

The usability also isn’t as good. The WeightWatchers app does simple things in the background that you take for granted. If, for example, you want to log what you ate, it will automatically select the most likely meal time based on the time of day. But if you start logging breakfast later in the day, it will assume the next item you key in is part of that meal. It’s a simple thing, but it saves a bunch of time when you’re in and out of the app multiple times each day.

By comparison, I often felt like I was wrestling with the Slimming World app. There were similar annoyances with the website, with a separate search functions for ingredients and recipes, which kept annoying me.

The activity tracker is super-basic as well, with none of the features WeightWatchers includes to encourage exercise.

WINNER: WeightWatchers. Slimming World’s app is competent but feels almost primitive by comparison.

Recipes

I cooked a LOT of recipes from both WeightWatchers and Slimming World. In both cases I found plenty of inspiration, both from the books, which I purchased several of, and the apps and websites.

Every week, I produced a menu plan, complete with the points or “Syns” pre-marked.

Menu plan screenshot
A typical weekly WeightWatchers Menu Plan

I cooked plenty of very enjoyable meals on both diets, and none that were a complete disaster. But there were a fair few that were a little uninspiring and mediocre. This is diet food after all.

WeightWatchers recipes tend to divide equally into big hits and rather bland and dull dishes that never make the menu plan more than once. They typically have fairly compact ingredient lists, and despite some sometimes sketchy instructions usually turn out as expected.

Slimming World recipes are often more exciting, but the cost of that is that they’re fussier and often have more ingredients you need to buy. As with many things on Slimming World, there’s often a focus on “fakeaways” and dishes that aren’t intended to feel like “slimming food.”

This tends to work with a varying degree of success. I’m not a fan of the unnecessary use of sweeteners, and they do pop up in quite a few Slimming World recipes. And while I made some very tasty meals on Slimming World, one pattern I did find was that recipes for four often didn’t scale down well to feed just my wife and I, with sauces often evaporating into nothing.

Frying Pan Tacos on Weight Watchers
Frying Pan Tacos on WeightWatchers

WINNER: Draw. WeightWatchers recipes are a little more consistent but also not generally quite as interesting. You’ll find plenty of hits and misses for both diet plans.

Books and Magazines

While I was comparing WeightWatchers vs Slimming World, I found that digging into their respective books and magazines was a good way to stay motivated and seek recipe inspiration.

Really there’s not a huge amount to choose between them. Both companies offer a small range of recipe books and a monthly magazine.

When it comes to the books, I’d say that the WeightWatchers titles have rather better production values and feel more like good quality books. But the recipes are a little “samey” and perhaps less inspiring than those in the Slimming World books.

The magazines both offer a mixture of recipes, weight loss stories, and other inspirational content. How inspiring each issue is is generally down to how many of the recipes grab your attention.

WINNER: Draw. Both Slimming World andWeight Watchers offer good books and magazines to get stuck into.

Snacks and Ready Meals

As well and books and magazines, Weight Watchers and Slimming World both have a range of snack foods and ready meals.

Let’s talk snacks first: The main thing Slimming World offers is a range of chocolate / cereal snack bars called HiFi bars. These count as a “Healthy Extra” or use just 3 “Syns.” They are FANTASTIC, with a taste and texture that doesn’t feel like a diet food. I got through stacks of them and was very impressed.

Slimming World sweet snacks

WeightWatchers offers FAR more variety when it comes to snacks, from crisps and other savouries to chocolate bars and biscuits. Some of these are great, and they certainly makes following the plan easier. I bought a cupboard full, so I could easily grab a two or three point “something” when the urge to snack struck.

However, it’s fair to say that WeightWatchers snacks are hit and miss. They’re also often very (artificially) sweet, which certainly helps them scratch an itch but doesn’t always appeal. One big fail was their plain chocolate bars, which seemed very appealing at just a few points each, but were inedibly bitter.

Conversely, the WeightWatchers protein bars are great – two points each and very filling.

Weight Watchers Snacks
Our WeightWatchers Snack Stash

The “hit and miss” theme continues when it comes to both WeightWatchers and Slimming World ready meals. Let’s face it, ready meals aren’t always that great at the best of times. Add in the fact they have to be low calorie and you can’t expect very much.

I bought lots of the ready meals to try out. While the WeightWatchers ones were often bland and uninspiring they were…OK. A couple were worth a repeat purchase, such as the chicken tikka masala. While it was far from exciting, genuine Indian food has extremely high points values on WW, so it scratched an itch here and there.

Slimming World ready meals are huge. As I’ve said, SW likes to fill you up with carbs so you don’t snack, and these meals were often bigger plates of food than I’d feed myself when I’m not dieting.

Unfortunately they’re just not very nice. Think large economy class airline meal that has your house smelling like the plane does after the food has come around.

I wish I could be more positive than this. Slimming World has obviously put a lot of thought into its ready meals, delivered through a partnership with Iceland. But having tried them all with an open mind, I still retain a considerable stock of them in my freezer and I just can’t see myself eating them. They don’t lack flavour, and some are OK, but – no – they don’t feel healthy, look healthy or smell healthy. I’m not a fan.

WINNER: WeightWatchers – but with a “notable mention” for Slimming World’s HiFi bars.

Fitness Tools

When comparing Slimming World vs WeightWatchers, you’ll notice that both sell themselves as lifestyles more than diet plans (allegedly).

But once you get into the detail of what’s on offer, WeightWatchers provides WAY more to motivate you to exercise, and lays it all out for you in an actionable way.

If you sign up to Slimming World Gold, one of the books you get is about ramping up your physical activity. But it’s not nearly as easy as the gamification of completing an online workout and immediately claiming your “FitPoints” for it.

The reality is that I end up doing more exercise on WeightWatchers because it feels like there’s far more incentive to. I found myself taking long Sunday walks in order to smash my FitPoints target the day before the counters reset.

In fairness to Slimming World, the theory is that you can still expect to lose weight regardless of if you make exercise part of your strategy. But I feel like they’re really only nudging you in that direction and not actively encouraging you.

WINNER: WeightWatchers.

Community Features

Slimming World has an online notice board where you can post your food pictures and status updates, the same as the WeightWatchers “Connect” section in the app.

Both plans also give you access to lots of articles, and continually provide new seasonal recipes. There’s plenty to dive into and be inspired by regardless of which you pick.

Obviously you have the option of adding in “real life” meetings on both diets to, but it’s not something I chose to do so I won’t comment on that here.

WINNER: Draw – both plans offer extensive community features.

How Did I FEEL on WeightWatchers vs. Slimming World?

This section is a really important one, and the headline is that I felt WAY healthier on WeightWatchers. That said, it also feels more like you’re on a diet, which could be a notable disadvantage for some.

The fact is that despite their similarities, WeightWatchers and Slimming World are very different diets. Once into the flow of WeightWatchers, I tend to feel JUST full enough most of the time, and generally quite energised and, well, healthy.

On Slimming World I feel a lot more “up and down,” and that applies to both my weight and my mood. It’s all very well to be “allowed” to fill up on filling simple carbohydrates, but feeling full isn’t the same as feeling well. The Slimming World ready meals are a case in point: On the lunchtimes when I ate one I felt too full, and not with good nutritious food!

The irony is that Slimming World does encourage you to eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. But in the real world, there’s a strong possibility you will fill up on carbs if you’re allowed to. On WeightWatchers, you tend to eat much more fresh produce because that’s what’s on offer.

When I’m on a diet I tend to weight myself a LOT. I feel it teaches me a lot about how my body is working. On Slimming World my weight fluctuates far more from day to day, although the overall weight loss from week to week tends to end up very much in line with WeightWatchers.

WINNER: WeightWatchers. Your mileage may vary, but my mind and body are much happier when I choose Weight Watchers vs Slimming World.

Conclusion

Before I conclude, let’s take a look at who I declared the winner for each section:

Weigh Watchers vs Slimming World comparison table

As you can see, for me at least WeightWatchers has emerged as the winner. It is, without question, my favourite of the two, and this analysis shows why.

However, I really should emphasise that that doesn’t mean it will be the best choice for everybody. I tend to eat pretty healthy food even when I’m not on a diet. As such, the more diet-like WeightWatchers recipes appeal to me. Some people may baulk at the idea of eating rather a lot of chickpeas, beans, chicken breasts and tomatoes! If that applies to you, Slimming World’s “fakeaways” and much more carb-heavy recipes could be a better fit.

I should also mention once again that I lost weight equally on both diets. They appear to work just as well as each other, so if the Slimming World method appeals to you more, there’s no reason to believe that WeightWatchers is inherently “better.”

But it’s definitely better for me, and will be by “go to” choice next time I need to lose some weight.

WeightWatchers Pros and Cons

The Good

  • Great app that makes it easy to track food AND exercise.
  • Built-in fitness and mindfulness workouts that make it feel like more than just a diet.
  • A wide range of “pointed” snacks and meals to make snacks and light meals easy.
  • Consistent weight loss.
  • Following the plan “feels” healthy.

The Bad

  • Does feel like being on a diet – some meals, such as Indian takeaways, seem truly off-limits.
  • Recipes can get a bit “samey” and some are rather bland.
  • Constant evolution of the WeightWatchers plans mean you have to keep relearning when it changes.

Slimming World Pros and Cons

The Good

  • Helps you lose weight consistently without feeling deprived or hungry.
  • No limits on foods like pasta and potatoes.
  • Delicious “HiFi” snack bars.
  • Good recipes that don’t feel like diet recipes.

The Bad

  • Limited resources to encourage fitness.
  • Ready meals aren’t very appealing.
  • Easy to sabotage your weight loss if you binge on “free” foods.
  • App and website could do with improvement.

WeightWatchers is Best For:

  • People who are willing to put a bit of work into losing weight.
  • People who already enjoy healthier food choices and want to learn about portion control.
  • Those who enjoy (and are motivated by) fitness apps.

Slimming World is Best For:

  • People who want to lose weight without feeling like they’re on too much of a diet.
  • Those who don’t enjoy “healthy” foods and want to discover healthier versions of their usual food choices.
  • People who don’t cook much and are used to eating ready meals.

While You’re Here:

13 thoughts on “WeightWatchers vs Slimming World: I Did Both”

  1. Thank heavens for you! I have to lose a serious amount of weight for health reasons and was looking around for a comparison site for WW and Slimming World both of which I’ve tried in the past, unsuccessfully, but my circumstances are very different now. You’ve helped me to make an informed decision on who will work best for me, WW if you’re interested, because of the points you made. Many thanks, keep up the good work!

    June

    Reply
  2. I’ve tried both too, and settled with weight watchers, which I now use for maintenance. I am also interested in noom and look forward to hearing about it

    Reply
    • Hi Liz – I was going to be starting it around now but I got a dose of food poisoning so lost a bit of weight that way! I’ll definitely be giving it a go between now and Christmas!

      Reply
  3. high ben i have tried slimming world did lose weight on it

    but i could not cope with the sins i dont get it and found the diet very hard to follow

    i am now with ww and find it a better diet i know 10 people that have been with slimming world

    and have put the weight back on. there was 3 woman who have won awards and put the

    weight back on. which to me is not a very good advert for slimming world and i dont

    think it is a very good example. so i feel go with a diet that suits you and one

    that helps you lose the weight sensably and healthy and keeps the weight off

    trish

    Reply
  4. Hi Ben
    I found your article extremely interesting, thank you. As a serial “dieter” for over 50 years with both WW and SW, I now unfortunately find myself pre-diabetic. I need to lose about 16lbs, not a huge amount but am useless doing it on my own.
    I need to rejoin one of the two, my quandary is which one offers the most suitable sugar-free plan? I’ve also stopped eating meat this year, other than chicken. Think I’m favouring WW green plan after reading your article, but I’m better when attending weekly groups for weigh-ins, chats etc, but none near me and I hate Zoom….
    Any advice? TIA Jenny

    Reply
    • Hi Jennifer,

      I reached out to a family member about this, as she is diabetic and vegan, and has tried both diets. She said this:

      “I’d say WW as it does take the diabetic thing (and no meat) into account when it sets up personal points. I know SW didn’t when I did it, although that’s a while ago now so could’ve changed. On WW, you’d probably want to select ‘diabetic’ even if you’re ‘only’ pre diabetic as I don’t think it’ll adjust otherwise.”

      Even without her input, I would have said WW, simply because I always FEEL much better on WW than on Slimming World – it just makes my body happier! On both diets, sugar is discouraged and costs you a bunch of points / syns.

      As for the group element, there’s little you can do about that with no meetings nearby. All I would say is that video meetings do get much more comfortable once you get used to them.

      Hope that helps!

      Best wishes,

      Ben

      Reply
  5. I’ve been doing WW for about a week and it just doesn’t feel sustainable. I’ve previously done the 5:2 (or sometimes 6:1) at various points and I worked out my points allowance is not far off doing a low calorie day every day! I am literally ravenous and shaky all day with an awful headache if I stick to the points which I have been trying to do. I have identified that part of this is that I’m not a huge fan of veggies so am simply choosing not to eat rather than filling up on them (this is also partly because I did a big shop before starting and didn’t get a variety of veg in) but I really feel quite unwell and like I don’t really know what I can eat. I am seeing the results on the scales – I’ve lost 4lbs in a week but I think it’s basically down to starving myself! I think I’m going to have to try Slimming World – I may fit the profile you mentioned of liking the fake aways and I did try a sample menu of theirs before and loved that I could still have carbs (though I know I’d need to watch my portions). The only issue I have is that I got a month’s WW online for free but Slimming World don’t seem to offer any equivalent. I take it (as I have looked around for it) that there are no free trials? It’s just that £60 upfront seems a bit much – if I’d paid that for WW and was thinking of switching after a week I’d be well miffed! On that basis I’m thinking I’ll have to do in person meetings as it’s more PAYG although I would probably really prefer online. Anyway, I know I’ve rambled on a lot here and I’m not really sure if I’m asking anything but I guess would be interested in any thoughts?! I suppose a main one would be if I went to a few meetings could I get enough info – cookbook etc to then do it by myself?

    Reply
    • From what you’ve said, I think maybe Slimming World would be a better fit for you. I love fruit and vegetables, so WW works for me. I’s also say that I ALWAYS feel hungry for about 5-6 days after starting WW, but after that my body gets used to it and I start being more filled up by the protein. As for doing SW for free, I guess you could always try, with the aid of online resources, but I think it would make it much more complicated not having the app. Good luck!

      Reply
  6. Hey Ben
    Thanks for this- really interesting!
    Did you ever do Noom, and if so, would you recommend? I may have missed it but not sure if you did a review?

    Reply
    • Hi Candice,

      I’ve not got around to it yet as I’m generally able to keep my weight under control (mainly with thanks to things I learned from doing Weight Watchers). That said, it is my intention to use it next time I’m on a weight loss mission.

      Best wishes,

      Ben

      Reply

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