(12/6 – Details on SmartPoints and Beyond the Scale from my meeting on 12/6 and from the program materials.)
Weight Watchers Beyond the Scale, using SmartPoints, is now live in the United States. When you go to the Weight Watchers website, the first thing you see is a short introduction to Beyond the Scale.
Once I was logged in there was a page with a longer introduction to Beyond the Scale. I have previously posted about what I thought the program would be like, based upon information gleaned from moving my computer date forward to my next weigh in date and on information from the Australian Weight Watchers website. I had also noticed that when I used the SmartPoints calculator that only the numbers for calories, saturated fat, sugar and protein mattered for calculating SmartPoints. You were asked to put in the total fat, total carbs and total fiber; however, those values didn’t matter to the SmartPoints value. At the time, I made my posts I cautioned that I was going off of limited information and maybe the live program would be different.
It now is clear that the program is basically as I described it, although there are some additional details on the Weight Watchers site now. Essentially, instead of calculating PointsPlus we will calculate SmartPoints. This is not a minor tweak to the points formula. The Weight Watchers site confirms that SmartPoints are based upon calories, saturated fat, sugar and protein. The SmartsPoint valuation basically penalizes sugar and saturated fat and gives an advantage to protein. That is, saturated fat and sugar increase the SmartsPoint value, while protein decreases it. Of course, calories are taken into consideration as well.
This can result in dramatic differences in points from what something would be under PointsPlus. High sugar foods can have a SmartsPoint value that is double or almost double the PointsPlus value. Foods with high saturated fat content will have higher SmartPoints as well, but that is sometimes mitigated by the protein in many foods with high saturated fat. On the other hand, foods that are high in lean protein can be lower in SmartPoints than PointsPlus. Many foods that are sort of a mixed batch – a little protein, some saturated fat, a little sugar – may be a point or two higher than with PointsPlus. Still other foods are unchanged in point value. Overall, using SmartPoints last week I used 14 more points than I used on PointsPlus. In my case, I get 7 more SmartPoints a week than I got using PointsPlus. So, I ended up using more of my Weekly points, but it wasn’t a huge difference (I had some left under either program).
The information on the Weight Watchers site does give a few additional details beyond what I have reported before. There is confirmation that the changes for each member will go into effect on the member’s first weigh in day after December 6. For example, I usually weigh in on Saturday so when I go to the calculator, it still asks me to input PointsPlus (of course, it is possible to get the SmartPoints value by moving my computer ahead to the 12th).
The Weight Watchers site in the U.S. has similar information as on the Australian site, but some things are explained more clearly on one site or the other. It is still not entirely clear to me how weekly points are calculated. It is clear that both the daily and weekly SmartPoints that you get are personalized to you. The Australian Weight Watchers website makes it clear that the daily SmartPoints are based upon weight, gender, age and height. But, it doesn’t say what weekly SmartPoints are based upon. I haven’t yet found anything saying clearly what they are based upon.
The U.S. Weight Watchers site also emphasizes that most people don’t need to swap their FitPoints for foods, but that if you want that option you can change the default in Settings. I did go check the Settings and noticed that there was now a default to not swap FitPoints for food. You are still allowed, however, to do so and can choose to swap them either after Weekly Points (which I always did) or before them. For now, I’ve left my default at not swapping as I usually didn’t swap them anyway.
This was actually very interesting to me. I know that I will end up getting 28 weekly points on the new program. That is a lot less than the 49 weekly points I had on PointsPlus. It is true that my daily SmartPoints are higher. They are high enough that on Saturday I didn’t even meet my minimum of 30 SmartPoints. I ate 27 SmartPoints which would have been 28 on PointsPlus. So, on PointsPlus I ate my minimum plus 2 weekly points; on SmartPoints I was 3 points below my minimum. So, yes, for a lot of days, 30 SmartPoints or just above it will be fine. But, I ate very carefully last week and only had 8 weekly SmartPoints left. On a week where I didn’t eat as carefully or ate out more, I would have used them all up. And, frankly, I don’t eat a lot of high sugar foods and I don’t eat beef at all. Someone who does either of those will have a lot more adjustment on SmartPoints. I had thought that maybe this would encourage people to get more activity so they could earn FitPoints to swap for food. It seems clear that Weight Watchers, while not outright prohibiting that, is discouraging it pretty strongly. The bottom line, I think, is that Weight Watchers really doesn’t want people swapping FitPoints so they can eat more high sugar or high saturated fat foods. They are willing to allow people to swap if they really want to, but they recommend against it. Basically, unless you are really athletic where you need the extra food, then you really shouldn’t swap them.
Based upon everything I’ve seen thus far, I still think Beyond the Scale looks awesome. SmartPoints will be an adjustment for almost everyone, but I think will be a good adjustment.
Oh, one other thing. The introduction indicates that Oprah Winfrey has been using the SmartPoints plan since she became a member in August. I had assumed this, but it was interesting to get the confirmation.
More, later, after I go to a Sunday morning meeting.