- By Mary Caldwell For the AJC
If you've made a New Year's resolution to lose weight, you'll have a huge number of weight-loss plans to choose from, including Weight Watchers.
Many diets can be somewhat restrictive and hard to follow in the long-term, forcing you to forgo or severely limit entire food categories, like carbs. Weight Watchers, however, has built its success on making no food off-limits. And with Oprah Winfrey signing on as the company's part owner and celebrity pitchwoman, the weight-loss plan has gained even more popularity over the past year.
Interest in joining Oprah's club? Here are five things you need to know:
How does it work?
Weight Watchers is based on a SmartPoints system that you'll budget as you choose, according to the weight-loss plan's website. Foods are assigned specific points, which encourages you to make healthier choices such as eating more fruits, vegetables and lean protein and fewer sweets and unhealthy fats.
Points can roll over to the next day, and over 200 foods are assigned zero points, so you don't have to worry about tracking them. These include chicken, corn and eggs.
If you'd like to try Weight Watchers, you can join online and connect with other members. The plan still offers the in-person group meetings that it's well-known for, but, if you'd prefer to stick to the online version, you can.
Is exercise a part of the plan?
Weight Watchers added a fitness plan that allows you to track your activity on the plan's app and website. You'll be given a FitPoints goal for the week, and almost every activity earns points – even cleaning your house – so if you're new to exercising, you'll still be able to participate.
How much weight can you expect to lose?
Weight Watchers says that people who follow the plan can expect to lose one to two pounds per week.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a slow, steady weight loss of a pound or two a week is a more successful long-term approach than losing weight more quickly.
What are the pros of Weight Watchers?
The program is effective and easy to follow, and dieters who followed Weight Watchers' plan lost more weight than people who tried to lose weight on their own, according to WebMD.
In fact, U.S. News & World Report named Weight Watchers the top weight loss diet in its evaluation of 38 popular diet plans. It also tied for the top spot as the easiest diet to follow.
And since it's so flexible, people who follow vegan or vegetarian diets can also participate in Weight Watchers.
What are its cons?
If you'd like to take full advantage of the program, it can be a bit costly, according to WebMD. But, the site says, the potential health benefits make it worth the cost.
A starter fee of $20 is sometimes charged, and online access starts at $3.84 a week with a subscription plan. Adding meetings costs an extra $8.84 a week, and personal coaching starts at $10.77 a week.