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How Does the Weight Watchers Points Plan Work?

By Annie Mueller ; Updated July 27, 2017

Daily Points Range

The Weight Watchers Points Plan works by calculating a Daily Points Range for each participant. The Daily Points Plan depends on a person's height and weight and BMI (body mass index) and the desired amount of weight to lose. The Weight Watchers program advises trying to lose 5 to 10 percent of body weight at a time; once that goal is achieved, a new Daily Points Range can be calculated and a new goal set.

Points Assigned to Food

Every food has a certain number of points assigned to it. Weight Watchers produces reference books that list many common basic foods, snack foods, restaurant foods and purchased food products, so that participants can quickly determine how many points a food is worth. Weight Watchers also teaches participants how to calculate points by using information on the nutritional label of a food product.

Points Tracking

A Weight Watchers participant can eat food that equals the amount of their Daily Points Range every day. Thus, no food is off-limits, but if a participant "uses" all the points early in the day then there are no points left to use on dinner or a snack later in the day. Alternately, a participant can make careful decisions throughout the day and "save" points in order to be able to indulge in a special treat or dessert.

Free Day and Earning Points

Weight Watchers participants take one free day every week, in which they do not have to track points. This gives them a chance to enjoy the food they like without worrying about points, so they do not feel continually deprived. By limiting this opportunity to once a week, however, the fat and calories taken in by such meals is limited, as well. Weight Watchers participants can also "earn" more points for their Daily Points Range by doing regular exercise. How many points they gain depends on their total Daily Points Range, their weight-loss goals, and the type of exercise and time spent on exercise.

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