How to Estimate SmartPoints in Food

Sometimes I just need to know how to quickly estimate the number of SmartPoints in food based upon the available nutritional information. Of course, I can get an exact calculation of SmartPoints a variety of ways.  I can go to the Weight Watchers site on my browser and use the calculator there.  I can use the calculator on my phone. I can even use the handy handheld calculator.  Even though I mostly do stuff online or on my phone, I find it very handy to have a low tech handheld calculator.

Despite all of this, I sometimes don’t have any of that at hand.  I’m at the grocery store and didn’t bring my phone in with me or I don’t have two hands free to use it or the handheld calculator.  In that case, I just want to estimate the number of SmartPoints in something. Or I am at a restaurant and have the nutritional information on my phone and don’t want to switch back and forth to the calculator on the phone.  I just want to look at the information and make a reasonable estimate.

I don’t have to be exactly accurate.  If it is within a point or so of accuracy, I’m good.  And, I want something I can easily do in my head with as little dividing and multiplying as possible.  I have previously posted about this article conjecturing as to the Weight Watchers SmartPoints formula.  While I don’t know for sure that is exactly accurate, it seems to work.  The article has a version of a simpler estimator, which also works.  But, it has too much dividing for me and isn’t easy for me to actually remember there in the store or restaurant.  What I use is a variation of that estimator that I find easier to use out in the field, so to speak. This is my SmartPoints Estimator:

Estimator

While this isn’t exact and you have to pay attention to rounding it works remarkably well for me.

What I do to quickly estimate the SmartPoints in food (or drink for that matter) is this:

  1. For every 100 calories, I add 3 SmartPoints.
  2. For every 4g of saturated fat, I add 1 SmartPoint.
  3. For every 8g of sugar, I add 1 SmartPoint.
  4. For every 10g of protein, I subtract 1 Smartpoint.
  5. The result is the total number of SmartPoints in the food.

I have done this with a lot of foods and it is correct most of the time and, if off, is usually not off more than 1 SmartPoint.

Here are a few examples.

Quest Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar.

  1. 190 Calories  – 6 SmartPoints.
  2. 2.5 g Saturated Fat – 1 SmartPoint (I round up at about 2g)
  3. 1g Sugar – 0 SmartPoint
  4. 21g Protein – Subtract 2 SmartPoints
  5. Result is 5 SmartPoints – Correct!

Outback Grilled Chicken on the Barbie with Mixed Veggies

  1. 409 Calories – 12 SmartPoints
  2. 2g Saturated Fat – 1 SmartPoint
  3. 14g Sugar – 2 SmartPoints (rounding up – I usually round up at about 4g)
  4. 60g Protein – Subtract 6 SmartPoints
  5. Result is 9 SmartPoints – Correct!

Chipotle Brown Rice

  1. 210 Calories – 6 SmartPoints
  2. 1g Saturated Fat – 0 SmartPoint
  3. 0g Sugar – 0 SmartPoint
  4. 4g Protein – 0 SmartPoint
  5. Result is 6 SmartPoints – Correct! (In this food nothing modifies the SmartPoints from calories)

Noodles & Company, Indonesian Peanut Saute (small)

  1. 450 Calories – 14 SmartPoints
  2. 2g Saturated Fat – 1 SmartPoint
  3. 14g Sugar – 2 SmartPoints
  4. 9g Protein – Subtract 1 SmartPoint
  5. Result is 16 SmartPoints – Actual is 15.  (The combination of rounding up on the calories and rounding up on the saturated fat resulted in the estimation being 1 SmartPoint too high).

Wild Salmon Burger

  1. 300 Calories – 9 SmartPoints
  2. 6g Saturated Fat – 2 SmartPoints
  3. 0g Sugar – 0 SmartPoint
  4. 27g Protein – Subtract 3 SmartPoints
  5. Result is 8 SmartPoints – Correct!

Sweet Tomatoes Chocolate Frozen Yogurt (nonfat)

  1. 110 Calories – 3 SmartPoints
  2. 0 Saturated Fat – 0 SmartPoint
  3. 17g Sugar – 2 SmartPoints
  4. 4g Protein – 0 SmartPoints
  5. Result is 5 SmartPoints – Correct!

Starbucks Hot Chocolate Tall with Nonfat Milk, no whip

  1. 190 Calories – 6 SmartPoints
  2. 1g Saturated Fat – 0 SmartPoints
  3. 32g Sugar! – 4 SmartPoints
  4. 11g Protein – Subtract 1 SmartPoint
  5. Result is 9 SmartPoints – Correct!

Panera Bread Cinnamon Crunch Bagel

  1. 420 Calories – 13 SmartPoints
  2. 4g Saturated Fat – 1 SmartPoint
  3. 31g Sugar – 4 SmartPoints
  4. 9g Protein – Subtract 1 SmartPoint
  5. Result is 17 SmartPoints – Correct!

Luvo Chicken Chile Verde, with Polenta & Black Beans

  1. 320 Calories – 10 SmartPoints
  2. 4.5g Saturated Fat – 1 SmartPoint
  3. 5g Sugar – 1 SmartPoint
  4. 27g Protein – Subtract 3 SmartPoints
  5. Result is 9 SmartPoints – Correct!

Amy’s Cheese Enchilada Dinner

  1. 370 calories – 11 SmartPoints
  2. 7g Saturated Fat – 2 SmartPoint
  3. 6g Sugar – 1 Smart Point
  4. 17g Protein – Subtract 2 SmartPoints
  5. Result is 12 SmartPoints – Correct!

Chili’s Baby Back Ribs, 1/3 rack

  1. 304 Calories – 9 SmartPoints
  2. 7g Saturated Fat – 2 SmartPoints
  3. 7g Sugar – 1 Sugar
  4. 25g Protein – Deduct 3 SmartPoints (Rounding up, but could round down)
  5. Result is 9 SmartPoints – Actual is 10 SmartPoints (should have rounded down on the protein)

I find this very easy to do in my head.  I find that I am most likely to be off by one SmartPoint when the food has 2 values where I have to decide whether to round up or down.  Usually the less rounding I have to do, the more like it is to come up with a result that is correct when measured against the actual SmartPoints calculator.

Again, I use this as an estimate when I don’t have another calculator available or it is inconvenient to use one.  This is not a substitute for actually figuring out the correct SmartPoints using a Weight Watchers calculator.  I also am a big believer in tracking, so I would always check for the actual value when I tracked a food.

Oh, some restaurants give nutritional information but may not always give you the values for sugar or saturated fat.  If you know the food doesn’t have much of either then you can use 0 for this numbers (see brown rice for an example).  But, restaurant food may have a lot of hidden saturated fat or sugar so that is risky to do.  What I do is fine another restaurant that serves a similar dish and estimate from there scaling up on the calories.  So, if the restaurant I am at  says a serving is 300 calories and gives no sugar information, and another restaurant says their disk is 200 calories with 6g of sugar then I would plug in 9g of sugar to mine.  To get that information for other restaurants you can check online in the Weight Watchers database or, for foods not shown there, can go to someplace like MyFitnessPal and check there.

Comments

  1. says

    Is that for WWs all over the world because I live in Australia? That would be a good formula to have on a laminated paper in my bag if it applies for everyone.
    Sharon recently posted…WholenessMy Profile

  2. Ella says

    omg, I am so grateful I found this! I am rejoining WW for 2017…grudgingly. I loved figuring pointsplus in my head. I heard you just just can’t do that with Smartpoints, and it’s very difficult to figure the points. You are a genius for giving us this information…I am stubborn and always hated having to depend on the WW calculator (or even the old slider!) I always figured pointsplus by using the old “40 cals is one point” routine so many used.

    THANK YOU! I cut and pasted this post into Word. I will be following your blog from now on and am forever grateful. I really need to l lose weight for my health. You already made it easier. I sure hope WW Int’l. appreciates you!

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