Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Initial thoughts on the new WW ProPoints plan

As those of you following Weight Watchers may have heard, yesterday saw the launch of their new ProPoints plan. It's a little more complicated and I don't think they've done themselves many favours with the new website or indeed some of the explanations, but I'm going to post here the email that I sent to my dad (who is also doing WW, and is also a type-2 diabetic like me), which is basically my annotation on the promo blurb.

Here we go. WW's words from their website (copyright to WW, of course!)are in bold and my notes are in italics; these are my first impressions (which I believe are correct), and in no way shape or form represent the good folks of Weight Watchers. DID YOU HEAR THAT WEIGHT WATCHERS? DON'T SUE ME. Righty ho then.

A New System that Takes into Account How Food is Processed by the Body
Every food and drink is assigned a ProPoints value. This takes into account the way your body processes the nutrients in food, to give you a more accurate measurement of the calories available to your body, after you've eaten it.

Introducing the New Plan
The new ProPoints plan uses the latest nutritional science that reflects how your body processes food. You'll discover foods that'll keep you satisfied and that are healthy, and foods that'll make life enjoyable as you're getting to the weight you want to be.

The ProPoints plan is about your food, your life - your weight loss.
ProPoints plan is based on the latest nutritional science which is more accurate for weight loss than traditional calorie counting approaches. Most diets are dominated by calorie counting, but the new plan is different. It takes into account how protein, carbohydrates, fat and fibre are processed by your body.

This bit was really interesting - Julie (our leader) showed us a picture of two "breakfasts" that were 300 calories each but were very different values on the new plan. The "good" one (ie, most filling, lowest GI, lowest sugar, most nutritionally sound), was three pieces of lean bacon, two poached eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes, followed by a strawberry and banana home made smoothie with 0% yogurt. The "bad" one was a single English muffin with a scrape of jam and a small skimmed capuccino from Costa/Starbucks or similar. I was really surprised they were the same calories but according to the ProPoints, the muffiny one would have been nearly twice as many Points as it would have released loads more...wait for it...SUGARS (hooray! Finally there's a bit more acknowledgement!) into the blood. So, despite it being fiddly, it DOES seem to fit better with the diabetes management.

A New System that Takes into Account How Food is Processed by the Body
Every food and drink is assigned a ProPoints value. This takes into account the way your body processes the nutrients in food, to give you a more accurate measurement of the calories available to your body, after you've eaten it.

A New Freedom for You to Enjoy Life as it Happens and Still Lose Weight
There's more room for real life with the weekly ProPoints allowance. This is in addition to a personal daily ProPoints allowance. So alongside your day-to-day eating you know you have the capacity to fit in unplanned events and surprises and still lose weight.

So, with the new plan, you get your daily Points allowance as before but you CAN'T save any to carry over, like you used to before if you were going out for dinner or whatever. Either you use them all every day or you don't. What you DO get though - and everyone gets exactly the same amount - is 49 allocated Points per WEEK to use for if you want a treat, a bigger portion, etc. You don't have to use them all at once (or even at all) but the idea is that you've always got this little fallback in your pocket as it were in case you were out and wanted to have, say, a dessert or popcorn at the pictures or whatever. The intentions are that a: you don't end up playing catch-up if you do have a blow-out and b: that everyone eats about the same amount of "treats" per week - it's based on the healthy amount, rather than your (old) Points allowance, where if you were on 40 Points a day and only ate vegetable soup for lunch and porridge for breakfast you COULD have a MacDonalds every day. It does also mean that if you work out what 49 Points relates to, you can probably only really go for one meal out a week sensibly, and it will stop you from having five courses of breaded deep fried cheese with a 72oz steak smothered in clarified butter...haha. Anyway the big news is that our leaders and helpers have been doing it for four weeks with an average weightloss of around 9lb each in the last four weeks, so...apparently it is working.

A New Focus on Foods that'll Help to Keep You Feeling Satisfied and Healthy
Filling & Healthy foods take the guesswork out of finding foods that'll keep you feeling fuller for longer. The added benefit is Filling & Healthy foods are also healthy choices. For each food group we've carefully selected choices that are higher in fibre and/or lower in salt, sugar and saturated fat.

It does really pick up on which foods are actually nutritionally better for you - so although the calorific value might be the same, going back to the "grill-up and the smoothie" vs the "skinny latte and muffin", you can clearly see which would be better for you, with more lean proteins and fruits. I think we might actually get on really well with this because I think once we've got our heads around it it will combine the benefits of Slimming World's core plan approach (ie, encouraging you to eat the right foods nutritionally) with the traditional WW guidance to portions (which I think you can have problems with long term on something like Slimming World, if you don't address your eating issues*).

A New Way to S-T-R-E-T-C-H Your ProPoints Budget Further with Zero ProPoints Value Fruit and Veg
Eating 5-a-day has never been easier. All fresh and frozen fruits - and most vegetables - won't cost you any ProPoints values at all, so you can fill up, and enjoy healthy choices as you lose weight.

This has made a difference - bananas for example are now 0 Points; this makes a big difference, well for me anyway - I have one with my porridge. Obviously you can't eat five pineapples a day because it will mess up your blood sugar but it will be nice to have a bit extra. The only vegetables that I can see you have to Point are the same as before - potatoes and sweet potatoes, parsnips, peas, avocados. I think we'll be grand.

Initially things will look really high with ProPoints. For example I worked out that three slices of the bread that Chris
[my husband type] likes for his sandwiches - without the spread, sandwich filing etc - are NINE ProPoints, but - BUT - Chris's Points allowance is (get this) 51!!! So actually he CAN have that if he wants, or a really big portion of pasta or rice or whatever. My main concern with the bread in my case is that it's not as good for the blood sugars, but if yours are looking good then, you know, there we go.

Things to be careful of:

- Yes fruit is zero points, but we can't literally eat as much as we want becuase of the blood sugar
- Things do look high in ProPoints value, but it's because the actual amount a "Point" (or "ProPoint") is worth is smaller, hence you've got more of them. They are much more precise. So, as a guide, you've got 49 Points per week for treats; a standard bar of Cadbury's (not that we would, but as a guide) is about 19 Points. So in a week you'd be able to have maybe two standard chocolate bars as extras to your healthy diet. Which is how thin folks eat innit. It does make sense, it's just a bit kerfuffly. I think you will get on well with it when you've seen the books with the "pick and mix" menus in them.

*I should just say that this is an issue that I have had with SW. I appreciate that many people have great success with it. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME SLIMMING WORLD okay thanks.

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