After 60 years in the slim-down business, WW — best known as Weight Watchers — is still the go-to for millions of women who want solid advice and steady results. For those who don’t know, WeightWatchers assigns a “point” value to each food based on its calories and nutrient content, then gives members a personalized point budget (taking things like gender, age and activity level into account) that can be spent on literally any food. It’s no surprise that flexibility is one of the big draws of the approach. But with such a wide variety of choices, there’s also a wide variation in results, with some folks disappointed by just how slow “slow and steady” can be. So how to lose weight faster on Weight Watchers? Read on for six science-backed tips helping women like 149-pounds-smaller Becky Allen 63, shrink at a very nice pace. The big bonus: These simple strategies not only can optimize results on Weight Watchers, they can also “help every single dieter double, even triple her pounds lost,” says LiveStrong.com nutrition expert Mike Roussell, PhD.
How to lose weight faster on Weight Watchers
All of these hacks earn raves from scientists and busy women losing weight in the real world. Try any or all. “You won’t be disappointed,” Roussell promises.
1. Dig in at breakfast
If it works for your schedule, consider making your morning meal your biggest of the day, suggests Daniela Jakubowicz, MD, author of The Big Breakfast Diet and a leading researcher on the timing of meals. The doctor’s studies have shown that simply eating earlier leads to “many rapid and positive effects” compared to eating later in the day. One study comparing big breakfast eaters to those eating more at night found that the breakfast group experienced “better weight loss, less hunger and better diabetes control,” according Dr. Jakubowicz, a professor of medicine at Tel Aviv University. In fact, the big breakfast group lost about 300% more weight and went on to shed about 48 pounds on average. The small-breakfast group shed an average of just 11 pounds.
“The hour of the day is more important than what you eat and how many calories you eat,” Dr. Jakubowicz notes. Because our bodies’ natural rhythms cause metabolism and blood sugar response to change throughout the day, she says, “a slice of bread consumed at breakfast is less fattening than an identical slice of bread consumed in the evening.”
2. Go for protein early in the day
No matter the size of the breakfast you choose, you want to make sure your first sitting of the day is big on protein. And while you’re at it, plan to eat protein before your other food too. Why? Turns out, emphasizing protein has a very slimming effect on our bodies, says triple-board-certified nutrition expert JJ Virgin, who created a Protein First Challenge to help women look and feel their best with minimal effort. She was inspired by studies like one demonstrating that that when pre-diabetic women aged 40 to 60 were coached to eat protein first, they lost significantly more weight and doubled their rate of belly-fat loss versus a group on a traditional diet.
Virgin explains that when we emphasize protein and eat it first, the nutrient helps slow digestion and keep food in our system 50% longer, even if we consume fat and carbs later in the meal. Studies show this helps fill us up and may cause blood sugar to rise 300% more gradually, helping to reduce spikes of the belly-fattening hormone insulin. As a result, we can enjoy more food and still lose more weight.
Weight Watchers before and after: Becky Pifer, 60
When Becky Pifer had 250 pounds on her tiny frame, “my doctor was quite concerned about my sugar levels, because my family has a history of diabetes,” shares the South Carolina retiree. So she rejoined Weight Watchers and tried to get into a sugar-stabilizing groove. Using tips from meetings and the Internet, Becky began focusing on protein first, trading sugary morning meals for protein-rich eggs or protein waffles. At lunch and dinner, protein-rich fare like chicken, Greek yogurt and salmon took center stage. She’d even snack on protein crisps. Becky, who also became an avid walker, steadily shed 111 pounds as her bloodwork and her life turned around. At age 60, she says: “I’ve never been this healthy before!”
3. Look for Mother Nature’s seal of approval
When choosing what to eat, it’s wise to favor options that look a lot like they did when Mother Nature first grew them. Why? A Stanford University study found that folks who choose the least processed foods lose most on any type of diet — up to 400% more than those who favor processed fare. Why? Roussell notes that packaged foods tend to be loaded with appetite stimulants like sugar, refined flour and salt. They also tend to lack good stuff like protein and fiber that helps shut down appetite. “When you eat whole foods, you feel content after far fewer calories,” notes Boston University’s Caroline Apovian, MD.
Also key: Dr. Apovian says there’s a jackpot of nutrients in whole foods not found in processed foods. And those nutrients are proven to help lower production fat-storage hormones and increase the rate of fat burning. Whole foods also help reduce inflammation hiding inside us that many experts now believe is a key driver of weight gain.
4. Drink a cup of water before every meal
One British study found that simply sipping 16 ounces of water before meals led obese adults to drop 438% more weight than folks using a different pre-meal trick. It’s easy, effective and something WW already encourages — and yet so few of us do it consistently. And that’s exactly why TikTok’s #watertok trend has become so wildly popular. It’s all about dressing up ordinary water with zero-sugar syrups, drink powders, fruit slices, spices and more. The idea is to make water so fun to we finally start getting enough.
WaterTok before and after: Becky Allen, 63
It worked for Becky Allen, who never got all the water Weight Watchers recommended until her friend turned her on to TikTok’s fun water recipes. Skeptical but intrigued, she decided to try a “Vegas Bomb.” She mixed Skittles kiwi lime, Crush pineapple and Crush strawberry zero-sugar drink mixes in an old orange juice jug with water and ice. She took a sip. “I loved it!” she shares. That day, Becky quadrupled her water intake.
Like so many WaterTok fans, Becky began filling her pantry with mixes and syrups. Her drinks grew more whimsical by the day. Her favorites: a Rubber Ducky (made with piña colada syrup and Tang) and the Pink Panther (berry punch and “unicorn” syrup). All told, Becky, 63, has lost 149 pounds. When people ask for advice, she says, “Just try to love and take care of yourself. And have fun—even if you’re just drinking water. You’ll be surprised how far that can take you!”
5. Sip some green tea
Weight Watchers doesn’t limit zero-calorie drinks, but they’re not all equal. Green tea is an extremely rich source of catechins, compounds proven to speed fat burning by up to 35%. Catechins also slash stress hormones, a trick very good at preventing carb and sugar cravings, says 60 Seconds to Slim author Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD. Another bonus: Tufts University scientists found catechins “ignite” belly fat when we’re active, so we burn off midsection flab significantly faster.
Green tea before and after: Susan Powers, 68
Retired Maryland teacher Susan Powers says she’s proof it works. She tried sipping tea after reading it could help with metabolism and found it also really helped with her stress eating. “I wish I’d known how much tea would help me sooner,” she shares. All told, Sue shed 87 pounds and lost about 14 inches from her waist. “I’m not fighting my cravings anymore. I ended up healthier at 66 than I was years ago.”
6. Enjoy metabolism-shocking splurges
WeightWatchers members have an allotment of points to use daily plus additional “weekly” points to use for any sitting where they might need or want extra calories. Many women we’ve spoken to don’t use them. But keeping calories at a continuous low brings on psychological cravings and slows metabolism, say experts. By contrast, Cornell University researchers found that a splurge revs metabolism by about 14%. “It might not sound like enough to make a difference, but continuously switching up your calorie intake throws the body off-kilter in a way that stimulates extra fat burning,” shares Met Flex Diet author Ian K. Smith, MD. In fact, New Zealand scientists recently found the approach doubles fat loss compared to eating low-cal every single day. So if you’re following WW, use your ”weeklies.” And if you’re not, consider eating light some days and indulging on others.
Cheat day before and after: Paula Briner, 68
Indiana retiree says Paula Briner says mixing up your food formulas a really fun way to boost results. Eating lightly some days, indulging a bit on others and tucking into at least one huge high-fat meal a week, “it makes me feel satisfied, and my body loves it,” she shares. “The huge meals didn’t shut down my weight loss. They boosted my metabolism and got me where I am today!” says Paula, 68,down 207 pounds and maintaining for three years.
Jump-start weight loss with Weight Watchers’ Zero Point Plan
Looking for a no-fuss way to speed off a few pounds in a hurry? Then we have the perfect little plan for you. Created by the 110-pounds-slimmer Sara Borgstede of TheHolyMess.com, the gist is this: For three days, you eat only options found on WeightWatchers’ ZeroPoints foods list. That’s it. You don’t have to track or measure anything — just eat your fill of ZeroPoints pancakes, chili, even burgers. “It’s a way I discovered to kick-start my own weight loss, and I thought it would be nice to share,” says the blogger, 50.
Using her plan is easy: Simply make yourself three satisfying meals and one snack a day with virtually any minimally processed type of fruit, nonstarchy veggie, corn, beans, plain nonfat yogurt, eggs, seafood or poultry. Add herbs/spices freely; drink plenty of water. If you wish, include coffee, tea and zero-calorie sweeteners in moderation.
How many Weight Watchers points is 1,200 calories?
WW assigns points to foods using a formula that factors in calories as well as the effect nutrients in food have on weight loss. Foods that enhance results are very low in points or may even have zero points. Years ago, primarily only nonstarchy veggies had zero points, and all other foods were assigned values that worked out to about 40-45 calories per point. But as researchers made new discoveries about how beneficial nutrients can enhance results — such as protein in dairy and meat and special fiber in beans potatoes — the list of foods with zero points has expanded to well over 200 options. So these days, it’s possible to eat your fill of things like chicken breast, salad with yogurt-based dressing, chickpeas and fruit for no points at all.
Easy meal ideas to get you started
Here is a sample day’s menu that can fill you up and help speed weight loss for zero points.
Enjoy eggs, any style, with a side of your favorite veggies roasted with cooking spray and seasoning to taste.
Brown 1 lb. ground turkey and 1 chopped onion; add 1 can tomatoes, 1 can beans or corn, 6 oz. tomato paste and 1 Tbs. chili powder; simmer 15 minutes. Serves 4
Rinse 2 cans chickpeas; let dry. Spread on lined sheet, mist with cooking spray, toss with ½ packet powdered dressing mix; bake at 400ºF 45 minutes, stirring twice.
Roast chicken (no skin) and veggies with herbs; serve with steamed cauliflower mashed with Greek yogurt and salt.
Bonus recipe: Pumpkin Pancakes with zero points
These healthy treats make a delicious breakfast or snack
- 3 eggs
- 1 very ripe banana
- ¼ cup pumpkin puree
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- Blitz all ingredients in blender.
- Using about 3 Tbs. batter per pancake, cook on a medium-hot griddle coated with cooking spray until bubbles form; flip and cook 2 minutes more.
- Enjoy with fruit and sugar-free syrup. Serves 2
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This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.