Weight Watchers Smoothies: Blending 1 Smart Point into 4

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.Weight Watchers smoothies

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?

The good news for smoothie drinkers is that studies have shown that smoothies don’t necessarily cause a mega spike in insulin. For example, this study: Bioactives in blueberries improve insulin sensitivity in obese, insulin-resistant men and women demonstrated the same insulin response to smoothie berries as it did to non-pureed blueberries.

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
  • ½ banana

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.

Reduce Carbs for Weight Watchers Smart Points Success

If you’re new to the Weight Watchers Smart Points program, you’ll notice that it penalizes you for eating processed carbohydrates. Reduce Carbs for Weight Watchers Smart PointsFoods that used to be a few points on the old PointsPlus program are now twice or triple what they used to be. To do well on the new program, you’ll need to reduce carbs.

When you join Weight Watchers, you will receive a diet program tailored to your individual goals.  Your personal age, gender, height and weight influence your diet plan. There are two approaches to Weight Watchers Smart Points.
You can follow the Smart Points system and eat whatever you want. All you have to do is count Smart Points by using your daily or weekly point allowances.
Or you can choose the Simply Filling no count plan and just eat healthy foods on the Simply Filling food lists. You will have a weekly allowance of foods not on the list.

Weight Watchers Smart Points Program Emphasizes Low Carbs

In the Weight Watchers Smart Points Program, low carbs are the key to losing weight. For years, low carb diets have been popular. From the famous Atkins diets to the Paleo plan,  it’s no surprise the Weight Watchers Smart Points program also recommends the proven method.

You might find it difficult to reduce carbs at first. Foods like pasta, rice and sweets are part of everyday meals, but they have many calories that come from carbs. You can still eat amazing food on a low carb diet.
It’s not as hard as you think once you realize what you can eat.

Why Does a Low Carbohydrate Diet Work?

Carbs are important because they are a source of energy. But all carbs are not the same. A low-carb diet restricts foods high in sugar and empty carbs.
In Weight Watchers Smart Points, you will avoid processed foods, foods high in sugar and trans fats. This diet reduces body fat and the risk of diabetes.

Tips for Reducing Carbs

I’ve found that I need about 4-5 days of detoxing from carbs in order to stick to a low carb plan. By this, I mean that I eat no processed carbs at all. No Rice Krispy treats, no cereal, no chocolate. Nothing packaged. I do still enjoy fruits and vegetables, but only in moderation and only if I’ve eaten proteins first.

If you’re not as daring as me, you can try some of the tips below to reduce your carb intake without feeling hungry! Weight Watchers Smart Points makes it easy to enjoy delicious food and lose weight at the same time. Smart substitutes can make lowering carbs pain-free.

  • Avoid foods high in sugar, trans fats and artificial sweeteners.
  • Replace canola, corn and grape seed oil with coconut oil and butter.
  • Eat a high protein breakfast including foods like eggs and turkey sausage. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and cook omelets with bacon bits and vegetables. Eggs are a quick and fulfilling breakfast choice.
  • Substitute oatmeal instead of granola.
  • Eat smaller portions of carb heavy foods. For example, instead of eating a regular pizza crust, pick thin crust or try substituting eggplant for the crust.
  • Avoid eating rice and pasta as much as possible. Instead, eat a high protein super-grain like quinoa or substitute rice with grated cauliflower. Trader Joe’s has my favorite brand of frozen riced cauliflower.
  • Stop buying low-fat products. Low-fat products make up the flavor by adding sugar.
  • Include a lot of vegetables in your diet. Try eating them with proteins before adding fruit or anything with carbs into your stomach.

To be successful on  Weight Watchers Smart Points program, you’ll need to have a mindset focused on fewer carbs. If you’re ready to begin, the best cheapest way to start is by using Ebates. Using my referral link (click here) you’ll get $5 back plus $10 if you’re new to Ebates. Also, you can get $20 off and a free Weight Watcher’s starter kit until April 18th, 2016. Here’s to your success!

Weight Watchers Smart Points Food List for Walmart Groceries

I put together this Weight Watchers Smart Points Food List for Walmart Groceries because I’m always looking for a deal on things I need. And well…everyone needs to eat. Luckily Walmart Groceries started delivering in my area and they gave me a $10 coupon to try it. Here’s one for you in case you’re lucky enough to get grocery delivery service in your area.

How Walmart Groceries Work

Weight Watchers Smart Points Food List for Walmart GroceriesTo use Walmart Groceries, navigate to their website by clicking here for your $10 off coupon first. Then, you start shopping for what you need. You might also get another $10 off if you use code REALEASY until 11/1/16. It seems to be a fruit promotion and there’s a minimum order of $50, but I doubt you need to spend the whole $50 on fruit.

If your cost conscious like I am, you can sort departments by the Walmart brand or you can sort by price. That way you can get a generic for the lower price. Generics aren’t always the best substitute, but I’ve found some items that I like on the Weight Watchers Smart Points plan.

Once you’re done, you’ll select a location for the drop-off and book your time. The location I go to is about five minutes from my work. I drive up, they load it in my car, and I leave. My drop off location usually has water and a few snacks to sample. I’m not sure if it’s the same for every location.

All in all, I save lots of time and money using this service. Mostly, because I’m a wanderer and I’ll wander the grocery aisles all day long putting stuff I don’t need in my cart. I’m a retailer’s dream shopper. That’s why I try to do most of my shopping online using a rebate site like Ebates (currently giving a $10 gift card to new members), combined with a coupon, combined with a rebate, combined with a rewards card like Discover Card (currently giving a $50 bonus to new card members). Yes, that’s how I get the very best deals online. I wrote an entire post about that strategy for weight watchers coupons here. I also wrote an entire post about saving money online here. I hope these posts help you save money too.

Weight Watchers Smart Points Food List for Walmart Groceries

Now that you know how to get the best deal using your Walmart Groceries coupon, here’s my  Weight Watchers Smart Points Food List:

Fruit and Veggies – 0 Weight Watchers Smart Points

I’m not going to list all of the fruits and vegetables that you can buy from Walmart Groceries. That would be a waste of your time and mine. Instead, I’ll tell you that I normally buy bananas, apples, oranges, tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce every week. Depending on my mood, I’ll snag some bell peppers, eggplant, celery, onions, cauliflower, mushrooms, and squash. Then I try to eat them as fast as possible so they don’t spoil. Most fruits and vegetables are 0 smart points unless you blend them in a smoothie. Then you’ll count them in the recipe per the Weight Watchers Smart Points program manual.

Coffee Creamer – 0 – 1 Weight Watchers Smart Points

Coffee creamer was the hardest switch for me on the Weight Watchers program because I love Coffee Mate Coconut flavor creamer. I didn’t care if it cost another 100 calories when I poured it in my travel sized mug until I realized that my coffee was costing me 5 smart points in the morning. I tried Premier Protein vanilla drink in my coffee first and it’s pretty decent. Then I found Great Value Sugar Free French Vanilla creamer. It’s only 1 smart point for a tablespoon, which I find to be a bit much. If I’m only using 1 tsp, then it’s 0 smart points. I try to stay in that range when possible.

If I’m in the mood for chocolate flavored creamer, I’ll use the Nestle Coffee-Mate Chocolate Sugar-Free creamer. It’s 1 smart point for 1 tsp, but so worth the points.

Jilly’s Sugar-Free Gelatin Dessert – 0 Weight Watchers Smart Points

Sugar-Free Gelatin is only 0 Weight Watchers Smart Points. I like convenience so I try to buy them already made, but will also make them if I’m saving a few cents that week. Jilly’s gelatin runs under $3 for 12 of them, which is much cheaper than the Jell-O brand.

Great Value Sugar-Free Chocolate Flavored Syrup – 0 Smart Points

I use a little bit of this chocolate flavored syrup on my frozen bananas. It makes a great afternoon treat. At only 0 smart points, it’s hard not to have a frozen banana split every day.

I have to be careful with putting sugar-free substitutes in my body. I wish I could be an organic loving, natural sugar, no junk food eating kind of gal, but right now I’m not there. I tried to do that a few years ago but ended up giving up. I think it takes more than a month to create better food habits. I think it takes years. Sugar-free items are yummy, but can lead to cramps and other unhealthy results. Like everything, sugar-free substitutes should be used in moderation.

Almond Milk Unsweetened – 0-1 Weight Watchers Smart Points

I buy the Great Value almond milk brand because it’s cheaper than most brands. It’s 1 smart point per cup. However, I believe the Silk brand is 0 smart points according to my Weight Watchers app. If you’re looking for the least amount of points, use that brand. Otherwise, to save a buck or so try the Great Value brand. I find all of the unsweetened almond milk brands taste the same in my protein shake, cereal or coffee.

Starkist Tuna Salad – 1 Weight Watchers Smart Points

I can eat Starkist Tuna Salad right out of the pouch. In fact, I love it so much I emailed the company and told them never to discontinue it! Of course, they responded with an envelope containing a free coupon, which I appreciated but didn’t ask for. I love making tuna melts with it. I use the Sara Lee 45 calorie bread toasted, top it with my Starkist Tuna Salad (I use the entire pouch), and sprinkle some cheese on top of it. It’s so good! Walmart is by far the cheapest place to buy these tuna pouches at less than $1 each.

Turkey Snack Sticks – 1 Weight Watchers Smart Point

With 3 boys in the house, I can’t keep turkey snack sticks in stock. I’m always out right as I go to grab one, so I started putting the prewrapped ones in my purse. That way I’ll have some on hand when I want one and when I’m out and about. The Butterball brand comes individually wrapped and is 3 for 2 smart points. They run about $4 at my Walmart Grocery for 12 sticks. The Old Wisconsin brand contains almost twice as many and runs about the same price. It’s also yummy but doesn’t come individually wrapped. I buy the Old Wisconsin brand for the boys. They make great road trip snacks!

Sugar-Free Snack Pack Pudding – 2 Weight Watchers Smart Points

The sugar-free snack pack pudding is only 2 smart points. It’s pretty good cold with a dab of whipped cream on top. If you prefer to pretend you’re eating chocolate pie, sprinkle some graham crackers on top of your pudding with a little whipped cream and you’ve got a low smart points substitute that will cost you 3-4 smart points depending on how many graham crackers you use.

Turkey Pepperoni –  2 Weight Watchers Smart Points

I love the Hormel turkey pepperoni. It’s 2 smart points for 17 slices. I usually use about ¼ of a serving size when I make my eggplant pizza. To make yours simply grill slices of eggplant, spread some prepared pizza sauce or tomato sauce on top, sprinkle a little cheese, add some more vegetables (I like mushrooms and peppers), and top with turkey pepperoni. You’ll end up with dinner or lunch for less than 4 smart points depending on how much sauce and cheese you use.

Turkey Franks – 2-4 Weight Watchers Smart Points

Turkey Franks generally run from 2 to 4 Weight Watchers smart points.  I’ve tried both the Foster Farms turkey franks and the Oscar Mayer’s Select turkey franks. Both are great. The Foster Farms turkey franks are 3 smart points and the Oscar Mayer’s Select turkey franks are 4 smart points. I prefer the Jennie-O turkey franks at only 2 smart points, but my Walmart Groceries doesn’t carry them.

How to get Your Walmart Groceries Coupon

These are my favorite finds for this week. I hope this list helps you.

If Walmart Groceries delivers in your area, you just need a referral to get the $10 coupon. Click here for your coupon. If you decide to use the Walmart Groceries coupon that you get from my referral link or any affiliate link on this site, I’ll receive a referral credit for groceries too. Haven’t received any discounts from Walmart Groceries so far, but maybe one day I will! Thank you!