Dream figure with WW Freestyle – does it work? Our editor has gathered her own experiences. Plus: info on the concept, points, costs, app, and meetings.
It is the best-known diet of all and has helped thousands of users – in Germany and internationally – to achieve a feel-good weight: Weight Watchers.
But the American company is reinventing itself – and renaming itself: WW.
With its WW Freestyle program, however, it continues to stand by its promise: to lose weight quickly, easily, and deliciously.
After all, the registered brand WW is a three-time test winner in the category “Best program for losing weight” – and the program is also supposed to make you sleep better and generally feel happier.
But does that really work?
How the Weight Watchers principle works
Weight Watchers is not a classic diet, but a change of diet. Those who start with Weight Watchers must follow these four steps to get to their desired weight:
- Keep a diary
The nuts and bolts of the diet change are to keep a regular diary of everything you eat – either in writing in a booklet available at the meeting or in the app.
- Count SmartPoints
Each food and drink is assigned a number of points instead of calories. These SmartPoints are the currency in the Weight Watchers world: instead of calories, each food and drink counts for points. Each participant has an individual points budget that they are allowed to consume each day. This budget is calculated from age, height, weight, and gender. In addition, there is a weekly extra.
- Meal planning
Meals, meal invitations, and purchases are planned from now on. Support is provided by the app with many recipes, Weight Watchers cookbooks, and information material such as shopping lists from the meetings.
- Using the app and the community
The diary can be kept digitally via the app. Additional tools such as a barcode scanner for shopping in the supermarket, recipes, and a community for mutual motivation are part of the offer.
WW Freestyle: The new Weight Watchers program
Weight Watchers’ program is called WW Freestyle and promises to be easy and flexible to use.
What am I allowed to eat in one day?
Example calculation: A roll with butter and Gouda already has 13 points, and a cappuccino with whole milk has two points. This means that for an average breakfast, more than half of the daily budget of 30 points would be used up.
Better: a low-fat quark with raspberries and agave syrup, which only earns three points.
The SmartPoints help to eat a low-calorie, balanced and healthy diet. The more sugar and saturated fat a food contain, the higher its SmartPoints value; the more protein, the lower. No matter if veggie, fast, or elaborate: WW Freestyle has the right meal plan for everyone.
What are Zero Points foods?
There are also Zero Points foods: these are low-calorie foods that should form the basis of your diet. They don’t count points, so they don’t have to be weighed and help you eat your fill in moderation.
Weight Watchers program developer Julia Peetz explains: “Participants can eat without points until they are full. Using them as a basis for meals and snacks creates an ideal foundation for a healthy, balanced diet.”
These foods include:
- Skim milk yogurt
- Most fruits and vegetables
You can even eat only Zero Points foods in a day. Greek yogurt with fruit, frittata with smoked tofu and peppers, and pollock with carrots and basil cream for dinner – doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
How do the Weekly Extra and ActivPoints work?
Flexibility offers an individual weekly extra (14 to 42 points) that can be used additionally: once for outliers, occasionally for a glass of red wine or to top up the daily budget. Up to four points from the normal budget can be saved daily and credited to the weekly extra – in case a big party is coming up for which you need a buffer.
Sports and exercise provide additional ActivPoints, support faster weight loss, and make you feel better about your body.
How much do Weight Watchers cost?
One month for the total package of meeting with the coach, app, and online use costs 43.00 euros and is available in 3-, 6- and 12-month versions. Online membership and app use alone are available for 25.00 euros per month.
Weight Watchers products
For the program itself, Weight Watchers sells cookbooks, food, cooking boxes, kitchen gadgets, and fitness gadgets via its own store to support the weight loss process. For example, snacks with a maximum of four Smartpoints or bread, sauces, and porridge.
But WW wants to be more and is expanding its wellness and healthy lifestyle program.
Recently, you can also book the Wellness Wins program: A rewards program that inspires you to live healthy habits step by step, helping you reach your goal faster.
Healthy meals or physical activity can be exchanged for rewards, such as headphones or a sports bag.
Differences: Weight Watchers Digital vs. Studio
Which model you choose depends on your type. Some participants need the weekly Weight Watchers meeting (studio) to share and discipline their eating behaviors.
During the meetings, the coach can address questions individually and provide one-on-one support to the group if problems arise.
Digital: WW Freestyle App and Digital
Those who use Weight Watchers Online get the program explained in individual steps, via video and using testimonial success stories. Meal plans, including shopping lists, help you get started.
At the heart of the program is the diary, in which everything that is eaten and drunk is recorded, and ActivPoints for sports and exercise are recorded.
A database with over 8,000 recipes helps when ideas for cooking run out. Typical restaurant dishes are scored under the “Eat Out” heading. Over 63,000 foods are listed in the database. Participants exchange ideas in a very active community. Online, you’re more flexible, but on your own and possibly less focused.
The Weight Watchers app is a mobile tool for the go. As with the online version, you can access the diary, community, and recipe database via smartphone or tablet. Another practical feature is the barcode scanner, which can be used to check the points of individual foods in the supermarket. The app is not available without online membership.
New in the app: mindfulness and meditation exercises that help people become more relaxed in everyday life.
Studio: More motivation through meetings
Weight Watchers shows in a study that participants lose eight times more weight in a meeting than on their own because they discipline themselves more. So those who lose weight together are more successful. The meetings also motivate participants to stay on the ball and not slip up.
The WW meetings are held throughout Germany, and you can find out online when and where the next meeting will take place. But they mean one more meeting per week and higher costs – 25 euros more per month.
Online tools such as the diary and the app are automatically included in the monthly pass.
Advantages and disadvantages of Weight Watchers
These are the advantages of the WW diet
- Losing weight with Weight Watchers is a scientifically based, time-tested method for targeted weight loss. With on- and offline tools, one is thoroughly supported in losing weight and in the long run learns a way of eating that is individually tailored to the participant.
- With the Weight Watchers point system, both the amount and the type and composition of meals are easy to follow. And: The taste of the recipes is super.
- The flexible interpretation of the points plan makes balanced nutrition possible in the direction of ideal weight. Automatically one reaches for healthy food since this means fewer points and a larger saturation feeling.
- Even people who have little discipline are motivated by the weekly checks and the coach in the group.
- Exercise and fitness are credited as ActivPoints, leading to a healthy lifestyle.
- The program is revised and updated annually.
These are the disadvantages of the diet
- The meetings are expensive, a monthly pass costs 42.95 euros, and it becomes cheaper with a longer membership.
- The meetings are highly dependent on the quality of the coach, who are not nutritionists, but former participants who have lost weight themselves with Weight
- Watchers are trained internally.
- Meetings are closed regularly, so you are not always flexible in your choice.
- The huge range of Weight Watchers products from cookbooks to pedometers and kitchen scales to countless convenience products is very commercial.
- If you don’t stick to it consistently, your weight will go up again.
Vegan and Weight Watchers – is that possible?
Being vegan has long ceased to be a trend, but is being lived by more and more people. In supermarkets, vegan alternatives are a must in the standard assortment and ever more new products follow. In the meantime, you can find recipes everywhere that do not use animal ingredients.v
This has not passed by WW either and a vegan lifestyle is supported there with great recipes, expert tips, and guides.
On the WW blog, you’ll find lots of goodies to try, vegan of course!
Report: Our experience with Weight Watchers
Anke Sörensen, the editor, did the self-test: She wanted to lose 12 kilos. Find out whether she succeeded in her experience report.
Weight Watchers: Tips and experiences with the points system
Okay, I’ll give it a try. I am convinced that Weight Watchers is not a short-term diet, but a long-term dietary change based on the guidelines of the DGE (German Nutrition Society). And that there is freedom, I can eat anything if it fits into the budget.
I dutifully note every candy bar in the diary and browse the Weight Watchers app when I’m looking for recipes, suggestions, or points for food or a meal at a restaurant.
Compatibility with everyday life: Initial successes …
I plan small steps and write down my goal: 12 kilos should go down! So off I go:
- I cook twice as much as I used to, and when I go shopping I end up with masses of vegetables, fruit, and low-fat curd cheese in my cart.
- Thanks to the new Weight Watchers cookbooks, light, family-friendly meals are on my plate at the weekend, and I take pre-cooked meals to the office instead of eating a sandwich at the coffee shop.
- Latte macchiato is eliminated and replaced by cappuccino (saves 4 points).
- I compensate for slips with sports and note my weight online every week. With success: a nice downward curve, despite Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Every three kilos lost is rewarded with a star, 5 percent with a smiley, and 10 percent with a key ring from the coach. After 4 months, 8 kilos are gone – I want 4 more, then I’ll have reached my goal.
… and intermediate crises with Weight Watchers
Sure I have slumped. Then I eat chocolate (each piece 1 point), sneak around the peanut flips, and get in a bad mood because the weight stagnates. Most of the time I then write a frustrated WhatsApp to my girlfriend, note my sins in the diary and get back on track the next day.
Or eat only a 0-point vegetable soup in the evening when I’ve snacked too much. It gets worse when my girlfriend weakens, boycotts her diary, and inventively shirks meetings. She has to get back to it, too! Because all alone I still do not want to Weight Watchers…
My first Weight Watchers meeting
At first, I am skeptical about the meetings. My girlfriend tries to persuade me. “You’re always open to this kind of thing. I don’t want to do it alone.” Open? Me? Not a trace.
My defenses are rattling: this costs time and money, where to put the kids, how am I supposed to fit in another appointment? And before Christmas is completely the wrong time to lose weight! “There’s always something,” she insists. Also true, for years I’ve wanted to slim down and nothing happens. Despite all the celebrity testimonials in the ads, I’m afraid of contact before the meeting: “If we squat there alone between loud frustrated fat women, I’ll leave immediately.”
Upon entering, I’m pleasantly surprised: the clientele is broadly mixed, from schoolgirls to businesswomen to older ladies, and everything is represented in Hamburg-Wellingsbüttel. Some are totally slim (what do they want here?), most are strong to round, men are rare.
First of all, everyone gets on the scales with their clothes and shoes on. How good that I have ballerinas on today. The weight is noted in private and the coach briefly answers personal questions. A weekly topic is discussed in the group, then the program is explained to us newcomers.
Self-help group with insider tips
Each week is dedicated to a nutritional or seasonal theme (like “losing weight at work”). Now I understand where the slim women are coming from. These are Gold members who have reached their desired weight and attend the meeting for free so they don’t fall into old dietary patterns. Very motivating: There are many of them at Weight Watchers – with insider tips.
One hops around on her trampoline for an hour every day, and the other rides an ergometer for half an hour every morning before work and has already lost 12 kilos since August.
I feel a bit weird in the first hour like I’m in a support group, but at least there’s a lot of laughing. In the end, losing weight with Weight Watchers doesn’t sound bad at all.
I’m not as omniscient as I felt as an editor. After all, I learned today that a decent shot of oil in the pan is equivalent to four tablespoons. But for sautéing, one teaspoon is enough.