Everyone wants to feel their healthiest—at the beginning of the new year, it’s practically the number-one thing on most people’s minds. In fact, as people think about their goals in 2022, the majority (78%) say maintaining or improving their health and wellness is important to them, according to WW’s Global Health and Wellness Survey. But why should that be something people only commit to in January?
True healthier living comes from embracing sustainable habits every day, year-round. And that’s the catalyst behind WW’s proven approach to weight loss. WW’s new PersonalPoints™ Program doesn’t limit your calories, your social plans, or any other aspect of your full, fun life. Their feel-good method revolves around a super customized, science-based plan. It’s a healthy-eating program you’ll actually be excited to start—and stick with.
What Is the WW PersonalPoints Program?
Weight Watchers (now WW) has been known for its point system. A food’s baseline points were established by its calories; then saturated fat and sugar drove the value up, while beneficial qualities like protein drove it down. The idea was to keep your points under a certain daily budget to encourage weight loss while ensuring you get optimal nutrition.
No diet is one-size-fits-all, so the latest iteration is all about personalization. “It’s scientifically proven that individualized approaches lead to greater engagement,” says Laura Smith, WW Director of Program Innovation and Nutritionist. Because you get to choose how you spend your PersonalPoints Budget (and can add more points along the way), you have total control over your daily nutrition—which makes you more likely to stick with it long after people on other plans throw in the towel.
Meet the Expert
- Laura Smith is a nutritionist and PhD candidate in Behavioral Nutrition at Colombia University. Currently, she's the Director of Program Innovation at WW. There, Smith works on global food data and nutrition strategy.
The Benefits of WW PersonalPoints Program and What to Expect?
After answering questions about your food preferences and lifestyle, you’ll get a PersonalPoints Budget that helps guide you throughout the day, says Smith.
WW is crunching more nutritional data than ever, and their science team has been able to revisit how many Points certain foods have. “Now, foods with fiber (to help you stay full) and better-for-you fats are lower in Points than before,” explains Smith. The updated Points distinctions help you focus on fueling your body with the foods you love versus simply limiting calories.
Understanding the “Budget”:
Your PersonalPoints Budget is tailored specifically to your life and what you like to eat, so no foods (seriously, nothing!) are off-limits.
Users also get a personalized list of ZeroPoint™ foods list (more on that in a minute). These foods don’t count towards your daily Budget—no tracking, no measuring—so you always have delicious choices at hand to help you stay satisfied.
Finally, “you can actually grow your daily Budget by building certain healthy habits that will help you reach your goals,” says Smith. Eat and track non-starchy vegetables, reach a daily water goal, and carve out time for activity, and you’ll get bonus points for the day. Research published in 2018 in BMC Psychology showed that pleasure and intrinsic motivation (i.e. getting more of what you love) can aid habit formation.
The ZeroPoint Foods:
This is totally customized to you, so no two lists will look the same. But the foods on your ZeroPoint foods list are nutritional powerhouses recommended by national and international guidelines (including the World Health Organization) to be eaten often. They’re full of lean protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and add bulk and flavor to your meals. Some examples are potatoes, avocados, whole-wheat pasta and noodles, fish and shellfish, fruits, eggs—even popcorn.
“ZeroPoint foods are foods that are specifically chosen because they are nutrient-, vitamin-, and mineral-packed,” says Smith. “We want to encourage you to reach for them often, which is why you don’t have to weigh, measure, or track them.” Think about it this way: The less thought, energy, and effort you have to expend, the more likely you are to do something, which helps you maintain habits over time.
Having a robust array of ZeroPoint foods to choose from encourages variety—and variety is one of the quickest tickets to a healthy diet. And since these ZeroPoint foods tend to be the regular, everyday foods you like to keep on hand anyway and grab frequently, they make eating simple while offering flexibility. “Your ZeroPoint foods work in concert with your PersonalPoints Budget to support weight loss,” says Smith.
If Weight Loss Is Your Goal:
“Research on behavioral weight loss is clear. The best approach—meaning the one that is most likely to lead to sustained weight loss—is the one that fits your life and your preferences,” Smith explains. “We designed the PersonalPoints Program to do exactly that. No foods are off the menu and we guide you toward eating foods that you love and that help you develop healthy habits.” That’s a win-win.
A huge part of the PersonalPoints Program is the behavioral science principle of reinforcement, says Smith. “Being able to add PersonalPoints for being active, eating non-starchy veggies, and for drinking water is a game-changer because, for the first time ever, it shifts the focus of the weight loss and wellness journey from being about what you should cut back on or do less of toward what you can add and do more of,” she explains.
This is especially powerful when it comes to building long-term healthy habits. “Repetition—doing the same simple behavior over and over—is critical for creating new habits,” she explains. “And the more we can turn healthy behaviors into habits that we don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about or planning for, the better!”
How to Know If It’s Right for You?
There’s been a lot of talk about Points so far, right? Even if you’re not used to tracking what you eat, most WW subscribers find logging what they eat to be valuable, offering a clear picture of what they’re taking in and keeping them on track.
It’s also not a quick fix. WW encourages slow, sustainable weight loss. And for good reason: People who make changes in lifestyle and diet gradually and steadily are more successful, according to the CDC.
There’s a reason WW has been around for over five decades: It works. “Commit to this program if you’re ready to approach the weight loss journey in a sustainable, science-backed way,” says Smith. “You’ll ‘come out on the other side’ not just having lost the weight you want to lose, but having developed healthier habits you can sustain for the long run.”
The BestFIT trial: A SMART approach to developing individualized weight loss treatments. Contemporary Clinical Trials. 2016;47:209-216.
Judah G, Gardner B, Kenward MG, DeStavola B, Aunger R. Exploratory study of the impact of perceived reward on habit formation. BMC Psychology. 2018;6(1):62.
MPH MT MD. Behavioral weight loss programs are effective, but where to find them? Harvard Health.
CDC. Healthy weight loss. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.