There are many Weight Watchers Smart Points Options to consider as you continue on your weight loss journey. Currently, there are three different program options offered directly from Weight Watchers. The best deal can be found through Ebates, so be sure to click my referral link here to get a $10 gift card and $10 back in rebates through 5/30/16. That’s $20 plus whatever deal Weight Watchers is running (currently the promotion is to join for free).
Once you decide which option works for you, you can use the plan alongside your current nutritional plan. From the “eat anything in moderation” mindset to the “cave man Paleo” plan. Any nutrition plan can work with Weight Watchers. If you need additional structure beyond the standard Weight Watchers Smart Points Options, read on.
Weight Watchers Smart Points Options
There are three Weight Watchers Smart Points Options. You can choose from online only, meetings plus online, and coaching plus online. Every Smart Points option comes with the online plan. The plans start at under $4 per week and go up to $11.50 per week depending on your location. I had the personal coaching plan for quite some time, but downgraded as I found I was using the service less. Currently, I’m on the online-only option because it works well with my busy schedule.
Smart Points and Paleo
The Paleo plan works fabulously as one of the many Weight Watchers Smart Points options. It’s use of vegetables; fruits and lean meats are the perfect combination of foods to ensure you don’t go over on your Smart Points allotment. Be careful with the following approved Paleo foods: fresh juices, butters, coconut sugars, nuts, oils, chocolate, dried fruit, and alcohol.
Smart Points and Atkins
The low-carb Atkins plan will also work well as a Smart Points option. The only problem is that it limits the types of fruit and vegetables. The bars will also get you on Smart Points values. Favor lean meats and vegetables if you’re planning on incorporating an Atkins plan along side your Weight Watchers plan.
Smart Points and Clean Eating
There are a number of Weight Watchers followers that incorporate clean eating into their plan. Clean eating is basically eating food as close to its natural state as possible. This means that you’re reducing the quantity of processed foods that you eat and are likely to eat more fruits and vegetables, lean meats and complex carbohydrates. It’s definitely a win when it comes to Smart Points.
Smart Points Options and Other Plans
If you’re already set on a specific nutritional plan, you can still use Weight Watchers. I’ve personally done the 21-day fix plan alongside the Weight Watcher’s program. It helps me vary my meals and exercise if I switch it up. In other words, I don’t get bored and am always challenged. I’m the kind of gal who thrives on setting goals and achieving them.
Any plan with high amounts of vegetables and fruit (and less of the other food categories) that aren’t blended into a smoothie will work well on the Smart Points plan. Low-fat programs won’t work since sugar is often used to make the food taste better. You take a huge hit in Smart Points anytime you eat processed sugar. It’s not forbidden; nothing is really forbidden on the plan, but you pay the price in points.
The Best Option
The best option is the plan that works for you. I’m moving more towards clean eating these days as I need a bit more structure in my plan. The “everything in moderation” never has worked well for me. Without structure and planning, I pretty much eat everything that’s processed and yummy if it’s readily available.
People ask me why I stay on Weight Watchers if I incorporate other plans. Again, it’s the structure. But, I also like the community and the convenience of asking a personal coach if I have a question. As I get better and better at nutrition, I’ll likely be fine on my own, but may stay with Weight Watchers for the community aspect of it.
Next month, I’ll continue my clean eating journey with a nutrition coach. I’ll be working with Dee McCaffrey, the author of The Science of Skinny and Processed Free America. As I learn more and more about better nutrition, I’ll be happy to share it with you. This will be a tough challenge, but I’m confident it’s the right move for me.
I’d love to know if you combine other nutrition plans with your Weight Watchers plan. What Weight Watchers Smart Points options have worked for you?
Let’s face it. It’s not all that difficult to start an exercise habit. After all, most of us have done it more than once. The challenge is with sticking with the plan. More often than not, our initial enthusiasm wanes, we’re distracted by other things transpiring in our lives, or we’re disappointed when we don’t see results fast enough, and we simply give up.
Nevertheless, we’ve all known those people who find a way to hang in there, and would no sooner miss their morning exercises than they would their morning shower. So, what’s their secret? In most cases it comes down to starting an exercise habit and committing to it.
How I started my exercise habit
A few years ago, I was approaching the 230-pound mark. My knees hurt from all of the excess weight they carried and I was tired all of the time. I blamed my knee problems on my arthritis that was a result of a growth deformity that was corrected by surgery in 2006. My knee problems were my perfect excuse not to exercise. So, I buried my head in work because that’s where I could win.
Between 2006 and 2013, I would exercise. I’d get to the gym and ride my bike while reading a book. I figured I was getting some exercise, and it was a nice escape from my daily routine. The exercise was relaxing, and I loved it. But, I exercised on and off for the next few years; always using my crazy life and two-hour daily commute as an excuse to kick my exercise habit to the curb.
In 2013, I suffered from major back problems that lead me to a chiropractor 2-3 times a week for about a year. I couldn’t walk very far. In fact, I couldn’t even walk around my block. It was too exhausting and painful.
After a year of that madness, I went to my primary care physician to see if he could run some tests on me. He sat down with me, and we talked for a bit. Rarely, do I see a physician who will actually take the time to talk to me. Usually, they spend about 4 minutes telling me what’s wrong with me without asking one single question. Sigh. After a few tests, he looked at me and said, “You’re healthy…your core isn’t. You need to strengthen your core”.
Six months of physical therapy later, I began walking again. It was slow and embarrassing at first. I’d walk around the block and call it quits when I got home. The next week or so, I’d walk around the block twice in one session.
Soon, I was walking a mile, then 2 miles and now I walk 3 miles. In fact, I workout about 2-3 hours a day. Yup…I workout that much and the needle still doesn’t move on the scale. But, no worries! I look great!
My exercise routine starts in the morning. Mostly, because if I do it first, I don’t have an excuse not to go. Plus, I figure that by taking care of me, I can take care of others. I’ll do about 30 minutes on the elliptical and then about an hours worth of strength or yoga, alternating on odd days, five days a week. Sometimes I walk the dogs at lunch. That’s the benefit of working from home I suppose. Then, I finish my day with a 3-mile walk with the hubs.
How to Start an Exercise Habit
So, how do you start an exercise habit? The following tips will help.
1. Pick a day and time that’s easy and convenient to stick to. Some medical and fitness experts feel that it’s best to exercise in the morning. If you work out at a gym, choose one that’s conveniently located between home and work. Exercise, take a shower, and you’re ready to face the day, energized. If you prefer to exercise at night, do it on your way home from work. If you go home first, there’s a good chance you’ll lose motivation.
2. Start out slowly and build from there because in the beginning it’s more important to get into a routine. Some suggestions include taking a brisk walk through the neighborhood or a local park, use the treadmill for 15 minutes, play tag with the kids, swim a few laps in the pool. Come up with a variety of activities that you enjoy doing and keep in mind that, there’s no hard set rule that says you have to buy exercise equipment or go to a gym.
3. Keep going (even when you don’t want to) and develop the habit of “going”. If you stick to the plan and don’t give in to the temptation of not going, within 3 to 4 weeks you’ll have a habit in place that can last for the rest of your life, with periods of reminding yourself why you’re staying the course.
4. Every week, increase your activity levels which can be as simple as increasing the incline on your treadmill, going on a longer walk or adding an extra day to your weekly workout plan.
5. Work up to 30 minutes of cardio a day during the first month of your new exercise plan. Then in the second month, add on yoga and strength training and something else in month #3, like kick boxing or Zumba. Creating a plan that involves several activities like running, walking, cycling, tennis, weight lifting and varied aerobics classes will not only keep exercising from being boring but ensures that you’ll have something do to, even on bad weather days.
7. Commit to keeping up with the routine. That said, if you do fall off track, and the best of us do from time to time, get back on track right away.
The best exercise equipment is a decent pair of shoes. They don’t have to be expensive. I wear Filas and they work fine for me. Besides my shoes here are other things I like:
Phone or MP3 player – perfect for playing podcasts and music.
Gym membership – around here gym memberships start at $10 per month, can’t beat that!
Yoga mat – great for stretching, yoga and crunches.
Weights – perfect for keeping my muscles toned.
LifeSpan stretching partner – I LOVE this for helping me stretch.
Recumbent bike – I like to read on this…old habits die hard.
Elliptical – I use one every day at the gym
If you’re going to buy exercise equipment get a discount on it. If you follow my blog you know how much I LOVE Ebates. It’s how I get the very best deal on everything I buy. I even get a discount on Amazon! If you’re new to Ebates, you can support this blog by clicking here and getting your $10 gift card. I’ll get a referral equal to half that, so thank you. It helps me run this blog.
Making behavior changes can be difficult, but once you start an exercise habit, it will be easier to maintain. Rewarding yourself for creating and sticking to healthy habits is also a good way to stay motivated. Start by setting a goal, determine a reward and then work towards it. You might consider buying yourself a new pair of fun walking shoes, workout clothes, or treat yourself to a massage for working out every day for a month. These are just a few examples – Do whatever motivates you the most.
This week I learned how to turn one Smart Point into four Smart Points through the magical power of blending. Yup, you heard me. My unblended smoothie was only one Smart Point and 30 seconds later it was four Smart Points. This lead me down the rabbit hole of researching Weight Watchers smoothies and trying to understand why.
But, before I go off on my rant, I need to give credit where credit is due. If you follow the Weight Watchers program, you will lose weight. A recent study from the Annals of Internal Medicine shared that at 12 months Weight Watchers participants achieved at least 2.6% greater weight loss than those assigned to the control group who had no intervention, printed materials only, or three sessions or less with a provider. This means that structure combined with social support and accountability rule in weight loss.
If you can find a healthy program that gives all of what you need for free or at a lower cost, go for it. If not, try finding the right program for you and getting it cheaper through my referral link on Ebates. You’ll find discounts for Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Beachbody, Medifast, 24 Hour Fitness, P90X and more. If you’re new, you’ll also get a $10 gift card, and I’ll get a $5 referral credit, which is basically like buying me a smoothie. Thank you!
Why Do Weight Watchers Smoothies Increase Smart Points?
When you decide to turn your solid foods into liquids, Weight Watchers dramatically increases the Smart Points values. It’s not funny and it’s hard to swallow if you’re a Weight Watcher’s fan like me. To illustrate, I created a recipe that I call my Premier Protein Green Smoothie (recipe below) that started out as one Smart Point until I blended it into four Smart Points. So frustrating.
I asked my Weight Watchers personal coach to elaborate on why this happens, and she pointed me to an article on the Weight Watcher’s Website that explained their reasoning. I’ll sum it up next, but you can read it from the horse’s mouth here as well.
In short, the reason why you have to count your Smart Points when you blend them is because you won’t feel the same amount of fullness had you eaten them in their solid form. According to my coach, “the intent is to recognize how detrimental beverage consumption can be to a healthy diet and weight loss efforts.”
I think my Weight Watcher’s personal coach needs a bit more training because the Weight Watcher’s article specifically states that the smoothie will be gone in a few sips resulting in the feeling of being hungry much sooner. It’s not the beverage that’s detrimental; it’s the speed of eating or drinking that leads to the hunger. Except, Weight Watcher’s didn’t explain it that way. They alluded to it, so I’ll give them “points” (pun intended) for trying. Let’s continue.
Weight Watchers is Right – Sort of
When I asked my Weight Watcher’s chat coach to explain why a bowl of soup with the same ingredients of my smoothie would have fewer points, I was told that my body digests it differently. The article my coach referenced was the exact same one from Weight Watchers that I referenced at the beginning of this article. Unfortunately, it doesn’t explain why my body would digest it differently. The coach couldn’t find an alternative article, so I’m guessing that maybe she meant I’d have a quick insulin spike.
In the Weight Watcher’s article, they indicate that the research proves that liquids don’t match solids in satiety with the source as Cassady BA, Considine RV, Mattes RD. Beverage consumption, appetite, and energy intake: what did you expect? Am J Clin Nutr 2012;95:587-93. Weight Watchers didn’t include a link in their article, but I found the study here. I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, but I did wonder why would soup not be considered in the same category as a smoothie.
If you’re going to cite an article about liquids, then go all in. A liquid is a liquid regardless of whether or not it’s a smoothie or soup. So why do fruits and veggies get a pass when it comes to soup, salsa, sauce or stews but not when it’s in smoothie form?
The answer is time.
It’s More Important to Eat Slowly
As indicated in the Weight Watcher article, most people down smoothies and drinks like my ShihTzu gobbles down his treats. Drinks are convenient, easy to consume and are perfect for people on the go. But, it’s not the form of the food that matters, and that’s where I think Weight Watcher’s came up short in their explanation. They gave a one sentence explanation of this under the image in their article, but for the most part I felt they were explaining it the same way my high school teachers said to me back in the day: “because I said so”.
There’s a newer study out that found that it’s not the form of the fruits and vegetables, but rather the time that it takes to consume them that drives satiety. M J Martens, MS Westerterp-Plantenga. Mode of consumption plays a role in alleviating hunger and thirst. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2012 Mar;20(3):517-24.
Soups and salsa simply take more time to consume than a smoothie, so if you drink your smoothie slower the results should be the same. I did my non-scientific experiment and found that I didn’t get as hungry if I took 30 minutes to drink my smoothie. The very best researched illustration of this point is from Michael Greger, M.D. at Nutrition.org:
When you slow down, your brain recognizes that you’re full before you’ve had a chance to shove the entire plate in your mouth. When you’re drinking Weight Watchers smoothies fast, you don’t give your brain a chance to figure out if you’re full or not. Of course, there is some speculation that drinking a smoothie slower results in oxidation of some of the nutrients, but I was unable to find a scientific study to prove that.
Does Sugar Absorption Play a Role?
I pondered about what my coach said about the insulin spike and wondered if it’s rapid sugar absorption that causes the hunger? There was one study that demonstrated that downing an apple puree quickly, caused insulin spike.
Why does this matter? Well, your body prefers a steady stream of sugar so it uses insulin and glucagon to regulate itself. For a detailed explanation, see the article from Harvard School of Public Health. Otherwise, here’s the simple version of what happens:
Your digestive system has to break down whatever you eat.
Carbohydrates from your smoothie break down into sugar.
That sugar enters your blood stream.
Your pancreas responds by producing a hormone called insulin.
Insulin tells your body’s cells to absorb the blood sugar into energy or store it for later in your liver.
As the cells absorb the sugar, the levels of blood sugar start to fall.
Your pancreas responds again by producing a hormone called glucagon.
Glucagon tells your liver to release the stored sugar it didn’t use earlier.
When so much demand is placed on your cells, they get tired and eventually stop producing insulin. Enter type 2 diabetes.
Even if you don’t have diabetes, sometimes when you get a rush of sugar, your insulin and glucagon work hard enough and fast enough to reduce your blood sugar and you become hypoglycemic. In that case, you may feel tired or lethargic and reach for another carbohydrate to pick you back up. I know I do.
Even if you don’t become hypoglycemic, you may be come tired. When your body is tired the best thing to do is to rest. But, we don’t live in a society that values a nap in the middle of the work day. That’s why we grab coffee, energy drinks and food to bring up our energy levels. Maybe a short meditation or a quick break would do us some good?
So the answer is that sugar absorption probably doesn’t play a huge role as long as you’re using the right fruit. What’s the right fruit? Most studies are pointing to berries as being better than others.
Don’t Give Up on Smoothies
I believe that the right type of beverage consumption is healthy, and I’ve seen people do really well on liquid diets. Look at Joe Cross, who sold a ton of Breville juicers after he produced the documentary, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. A ton of people started consuming healthy beverages, and some of them were really successful at losing and keeping the weight off. On a side note, that movie was probably the best piece of content marketing I’ve ever seen.
I have juiced in the past, but honestly, I prefer smoothies. The truth is that you may actually get more nutrition from smoothies. In some studies, including this one, the particle size of the fruit or vegetable increased nutrition absorption significantly.
So, if you’re going to have a smoothie, drink it slowly. You can add some flaxseed to it to thicken it up and drink it through a straw over the span of 30 minutes. Then, your smoothie will act just like soup. But, you don’t get a pass from Weight Watchers on this theory. You’ll still need to count those points! Hey…if you’re going to be on Weight Watchers, you should at least play by the rules. Otherwise, you can’t blame them if it doesn’t work. A program is a program whether you like it or not.
Smoothies are a great way to get the nutrients you need. Not convinced? See this video:
Do What Works For You
My weight loss journey is not a temporary quick fix. I know this. I’ve tried everything to lose weight and some things have worked fabulously, while other things haven’t. My journey is long, but one day I’ll find the perfect combination of diet, exercise, mind and spirit that works for me.
In the meantime, I’ll keep with Weight Watchers and continue researching nutrition. Who knows? Maybe I’ll become a holistic nutritionist one day. Wouldn’t that be something? For now…I’m just a gal on a mission to get healthy and lose a few pounds in the process.
Here’s the Green Smoothies Recipe that I promised. It’s four smart points after you blend it, which as you’ve read so far is typical of Weight Watchers smoothies. I hope you like it!
Premier Protein Green Smoothie Recipe
½ Premier Protein Vanilla Shake
2 cups organic spring mix
¼ cup strawberries
Add all of the ingredients in your blender in the order above. Blend until you can only see micro-sized green pieces. Drink and enjoy!
So there you have it, the somewhat researched reason why Weight Watchers smoothies increase Smart Points when you blend fruit and vegetables in a smoothie. Is it right? Well…it’s their program and they make the rules. So technically, it’s right. From a science perspective, they’re probably not right. Calories don’t increase just because you blend them (but apparently, Smart Points do).
I’d love to hear what you think. Do you think Weight Watchers smoothies should go up in Smart Points because you’re blending the fruits and vegetables? Leave your comment below or join the discussion on Facebook.