Why WeightWatchers fails for long-term weight loss

If you join WeightWatchers and stick to its program, you'll likely lose some weight; but what happens after? Discover why WeightWatchers may not be the best option for achieving lasting weight loss results.

The limitations of WeightWatchers

WeightWatchers, like any other diet, has its limitations when it comes to long-term weight loss.

1. Restrictive Points Budgets

WeightWatchers is restrictive in nature, despite its claims otherwise. WeightWatchers relies on a Points Budget where foods are assigned value by Points; healthier foods have fewer points than unhealthier food. WeightWatchers emphasizes its no-deprivation approach by encouraging its members to spend their Points on any food they like. Here's the catch: you can eat what you want on WeightWatchers, so long as you stay within your Points budget.

That means that, if you meet your daily or weekly Points Budget, you'll have to stick to consuming ZeroPoint foods for the remainder of the Budget timeframe in order to follow the program--so you can't really eat what you want. ZeroPoint foods have fewer calories, sugars, and fats and are higher in protein and fiber compared to other foods. Because these foods don't subtract from your Points Budget, many people risk overconsumption of these foods, which can stall weight loss. 

2. Strict Tracking

Additionally, WeightWatchers requires you to track all meals and snacks (outside of ZeroPoint foods, which don't need to be tracked). The intensity of WeightWatchers food tracking is tedious and unsustainable for most people. 

3. "Expert" Coaches

WeightWatchers' biggest flaw is its coaches. WeightWatchers touts their coaches as "experts," and this is a specific type of deceit called paltering--that is, lying by telling the truth. What WeightWatchers really means is that their coaches are experts in WeightWatchers itself--not weight loss. 

Anyone can become a WeightWatchers coach, so long as they did well on WeightWatchers. People who successfully meet their goal weight with WeightWatchers can become Lifetime Members, which qualifies them to become coaches. WeightWatchers describing their coaches as "experts" is purposefully meant to mislead potential customers to believe that they'll have the opportunity to work with professional, educated, or certified health and weight loss coaches, which unfortunately isn't true.

These limitations are why WeightWatchers has such a successful business model--they contribute to weight regain, which keeps customers coming back for decades.

How many people maintain their weight loss after WeightWatchers?

Over time, a significant percentage of people regain the weight they lost on WeightWatchers. Many studies that support the notion that people who lose weight with WeightWatchers are able to keep it off define "long term" as 6 to 12 months, which hardly qualifies the weight loss as lasting.

Other studies indicate that, after a few years, the weight comes back for a large number of people. One such study originating from the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University found that, after 5 years, only a modest 8% of WeightWatchers participants were able to keep the weight off.

How long it takes to regain weight after WeightWatchers

The time it takes for individuals to regain the weight they lost on WeightWatchers can vary. However, most people who regain weight after WeightWatchers do so within 2 years. For a smaller amount of people, it occurs within a few months. 

However, it is important to note that weight regain can occur at different rates for different individuals. Factors such as genetics, lifestyle changes, and overall health can influence the speed at which weight is regained.

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