The right Weight Watchers tricks can help you turbo-charge your weight loss — and keep the pounds off in the long run. As you likely know, Weight Watchers has been a rock for millions of women who want solid advice and steady results. But some people do struggle with the points-based program, finding it a challenge to stay on track or to maintain their early successes.
Yet after asking around, we discovered that for every struggling Weight Watcher, there’s another who truly excels in the plan, which allows her to eat significantly more food when she makes healthier choices. “Members now have to ‘work the system’ to see exciting numbers on the scale — and many of them are doing just that,” reveals Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson Marjorie Nolan, R.D. Adds LiveStrong.com diet expert Mike Roussell, Ph.D.: “The things these women do can help every single dieter out there — whether she uses Weight Watchers or not — double, even triple her pounds lost!”
Here are some of the best Weight Watchers tricks that are working for real people. While not every piece of advice may be relevant for you, you should be able to glean plenty of helpful tips for maximizing your weight loss on the Weight Watchers plan — and for staying slim and healthy long-term.
To pinpoint the secrets of turbocharged Weight-Watchers-style fat melting, we assembled a panel of members who’ve whisked off an average of 70 pounds apiece. Use their tips with the special Weight-Watchers-inspired eating plan, or with whatever healthy diet you already use. Promises Roussell: “You won’t be disappointed.”
Ask 100-pounds-slimmer Jill Grunenwald how she got wow Weight Watchers results, and the 30-year-old Cleveland librarian says: “I always, always eat a big breakfast. It literally keeps me on track all day.” Science backs her up. One study even found that a big breakfast shifts hormonal balance heavily in favor of skinny jeans — lowering hunger hormones, increasing at least two different hormones linked to faster calorie burning and increasing overall weight loss by about 300 percent.
“Weight Watchers now allows unlimited fruit and more whole grains — a healthy change. However,” cautions Nolan, “even these good carbs raise blood sugar. If sugar spikes enough, it triggers hormones that slow fat burning.” So when frustrated Weight Watchers hit Internet message boards, fast losers urge them to eat good carbs in combination. “Protein and good fat counteract the fattening impact of carbs on blood sugar,” says Nolan. For 20-pounds-slimmer Jackie Just, that means “I learned to have almonds with my fruit, eggs with my whole grain toast.” The Minneapolis mom, 35, used the combo trick to triple her weight loss.
Weight Watchers doesn’t limit zero-cal drinks, but they’re not all equal. “Diet soda makes me crave junk,” reveals Ontario reader Trish Morley, 27, down up to 10 pounds in two weeks. “By comparison, green tea curbs my urge to eat.” Bonus: Studies show that six cups of the brew daily boosts metabolism by 4 percent.
Occasional frozen dinners are fine, but eating too many can slow progress. Why? They’re usually loaded with salt, “which stimulates hunger,” notes Roussell. A Brazilian study also hints that too much salt activates hormones that make fat cells fi ll faster. “Frozen meals left me perpetually bloated,” says New York mom Lourdes Brezo, 52, who lost eight pounds in a week while testing tips on these pages. “I cut salt for a week, and it made as big a difference as a personal trainer.”
Back when panel member Jackie Just was scrimping every single day, the scale was not her friend. She hit on a much better strategy: Saving extra “points” or calories, say 500 calories or so, for a big weekend indulgence. “I go out to eat, I have a delicious meal, drink wine — and I lose faster than with nonstop deprivation.” The scientific explanation: Keeping calories at a continuous low brings on psychological cravings and slows metabolism. By contrast, Cornell University researchers found that a splurge revs metabolism by about 14 percent.
Weight Watchers gives members a daily allotment of food measured in “points.” They get weekly bonus points to use whenever they like and even more extra points if they exercise. “I only use them if I’m hungry,” says 116-pounds-slimmer Massachusetts bookkeeper Jen Gadowski, 56, echoing the sentiments of many big losers. Roussell gives the strategy thumbs-up. “Eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full, and you’ll almost always eat less overall and yet feel more satisfied,” he insists. “Weight Watchers or any other plan is just a blueprint. It gets you going in the right direction, but you have to adapt it to what works best for your body.”
Our nutrition team worked with a panel of super-successful Weight Watchers’ members to create this quick-results plan. (The menus average about 27 “points” or 1,500 calories a day.) Very-low-calorie extras (herbs, spices, vinegar) are unlimited. Water and other zero-cal beverages are also unlimited, but do consider opting for 3-6 cups of green tea daily. Add a 500-calorie weekend splurge. As always, get a doctor’s okay to try any new plan.
Option 1: Brown-bag breakfast: 2 hard-boiled eggs, 1 stick string cheese, 100-cal pack nuts, 1 piece fruit
Option 2: 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, 1 cup berries, 3/4 cup whole-grain cereal, 2 Tbs. toasted almonds or walnuts, 2 tsp. Honey
Option 3: 4- 5 egg whites scrambled with 1/4 cup reduced-fat cheese, loads of peppers and onion with 1 whole-wheat English muffin
Option 1: 1 cup low-sodium broth simmered with unlimited vegetables, lemon juice, and seasoning; top with 1 Tbs. Parmesan 1/ 2 cup reduced-fat cheese on 1 multigrain sandwich thin; grill using cooking spray
Option 2: 2 oz. cooked chicken or turkey breast, 1 Tbs. hummus, unlimited vegetables (tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, pepperoncini), 1/2 whole-wheat pita and 100-cal pack almonds or walnuts
Option 3: 3 oz. canned tuna or chicken, 2 Tbs. plain fat-free Greek yogurt, chopped apple, celery, onion and seasonings (such as onion powder and garlic powder) to taste, ½ whole-wheat pita or 1 multigrain sandwich thin with 100-cal pack almonds or walnuts
Option 1: 6 oz. chicken or shrimp stir-fried with unlimited vegetables and 5 chopped cashews in 1 tsp. oil and 1/2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce with ginger and garlic to taste with 1/2 cup brown rice and 1 piece fruit, such as an orange
Option 2: 6 oz. fish baked with 2 tsp. olive oil plus herbs and lemon juice to taste with unlimited steamed veggies with lemon juice, 1 ear of corn and 1 piece fruit, such as an apple
Option 3: 5 oz. extra-lean burger, 1 slice low-fat cheese; enjoy bunless with lettuce, tomato, onion and 1 tsp. ketchup with 1 large baked or grilled sweet potato, 1/2 cup fruit, such as pineapple
Option 1: 1 oz. reduced-fat cheese with 1 piece fruit or 1 fresh tomato with basil to taste
Option 2: 1/ 2 cup plain fat-free cottage cheese or Greek yogurt 1 piece or 1/2 cup fruit
Option 3: 1 1/2 cups plain popcorn mixed with 1 Tbs. toasted almonds
Option 4: 8 oz. fat-free latte with 1 piece fruit
Weight Watchers keeps their points system top secret, but our nutrition team has created some guidelines to help you achieve similar results:
Start with a 1,400-1,500 calorie budget. Keep a running tally using info from labels and Internet sites like LiveStrong.com.
Aim for a healthy mix at meals. Allow yourself about 200 calories protein, 100 calories whole grain, and unlimited fruit/vegetables per meal.
Add healthy extras. Incorporate two 100-calorie servings dairy and 100 calories of healthy fat each day.
Snack if you’re hungry. Add one or two 150-calorie snacks as needed. If snacking on a food rich in carbs, be sure to balance it with some protein or good fat.
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