Points vs PointsPlus

This post isn’t for everyone, so if you’re not into the Weight Watchers thing or learning more about it, rest assured there will be pictures of my bunny insulting me in the next post.

…or in this post. Rude.

I’ve been on and off Weight Watchers (WW) for about 4 years. When I started the program, I lost 26lbs in the first 4 1/2 months and then stayed on the program and maintained my weight for about 3 years.

After that 3 years, I got seriously tired of counting points. So, even though I was still counting them, I wasn’t very strict about it and gained a few pounds back. Then I decided I needed a change and for a year I counted calories instead. Counting calories helped maintain my weight, but I never really lost what I had gained back.

When the Points system switched to the new PointsPlus system, I decided to give WW another shot.

For those of you who don’t know, the basic idea behind WW is that every food has a PointsPlus value and you get a certain amount of PointsPlus values you can eat each day. WW also has Weekly Points values, which are “extra” points you can use if you go over your daily allotment. Activity Points can be earned from doing exercise. More Points = more eating.

For 3 years I was all about WW and counting Points. I was one of those people that worked out all the time, but never lost weight because I didn’t realize what I was putting in my mouth. WW didn’t restrict any foods from my diet and really taught me how to make better food choices. 

For the last 3 or 4 months, I have been doing the PointsPlus system. Now that I’ve tried both Points and PointsPlus, I thought I would talk about differences between both systems and my general impressions.

*Note: I have never gone to a WW meeting. I have only used the online tools. So that is where my experience lies.

WW gives you a fancy little tool to track your food and excercise each day and use of their tools is about $17 a month. When I first started, the online tools weren’t so “high-tech” and they worked much better than their glamed-up counterpart.

The online searchable food database sucks. While you can find certain foods, other foods are missing completely. (For example, you won’t find any Lean Cuisine dinners in the database because that’s competition for the frozen Weight Watchers meals. Lame.)


WW also has a smartphone app that allows you to track food and it syncs with your regular online tracker. The phone app (I used the one for my Droid X) is painfully slow and annoying.

The online tracker also allows you to see nifty little charts that you’ll be enthralled with for about a month. Also, it lists all your weight statistics and measurements, if you choose to put those in.

No matter how many times I used the online tracking tools, a “Welcome to the Plan Manager” pop up would appear. And no matter how many times I clicked the “Get Started” button and went through the orientation, the pop up would appear like I was a brand new user everytime I logged on. Super annoying.

Here are the main differences I found between the Points and PointsPlus system:

  • You get more PointsPlus per day. (I had 21 for Points value and 29 for PointsPlus.)
  • Most foods are higher in PointsPlus values. (For instance, a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich was 2 Points and is now 4 PointsPlus.)
  • Flex Points are now called Weekly Points.
  • There were 35 Flex Points for the week. There are now 49 Weekly Points for the week.
  • Activity Points roll over each day if you don’t “eat” them. They were zeroed out at the end of each day on the Points System. Now, remaining Activity Points are zeroed out on your weigh-in day each week.
  • If you have used any Weekly Points and then gain Activity Points, the Activity Points will replenish your Weekly Points.


No one knows, Jackie.

  • You can choose where you want PointsPlus overages deducted from first – your Activity Points or your Weekly Points. (Not sure why this even matters. If you eat, you eat.)
  • Activities are given higher PointsPlus values. (For example, I used to get 6 Points for 50 minutes of running. Now I get 9 PointsPlus for 45 minutes of running.) This makes up for higher food values.
  • WW accounts for protein in its values, when it didn’t before.
  • Fruit is now a zero PointsPlus food. (Fruit used to range from 1-2 Points values on the old program.)

Overall, I think WW is a great program. It really teaches you a lot about eating the right things and eating the naughty things in moderation. I think that the rollover Activity Points is the best change to the program and is the small advantage that makes PointsPlus better than the Points system. So, the new program is a slight improvement. With that said, I don’t think the differences in the programs matter that much. For me, eating 21 Points a day or eating 29 PointsPlus a day still equates to about 1200-1300 calories and not much food.

I think WW needs to improve its online tools with a bigger food database and a less annoying and convuluted system. They also need to add an area that shows a tally of daily nutritional values. When on WW, I have no idea how much protein/carbs/fat I eat each day and that’s important for me to keep track of with all of my workouts. I’m no longer on WW and am back to counting calories with my Tap and Track phone app, mainly for that reason.

Have you ever tried Weight Watchers or another diet (ahem, way of life) system? What are your thoughts? Did I miss anything?


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62 Responses to Points vs PointsPlus

  1. I’ve done the South Beach Diet which I really liked once I got past the super restrictive phase 1.
    My sisters has done weight watchers on and off since she was 12. She was overweight from thyroid disease at a young age and it’s definitely worked for her.

  2. I did reallllly well on Weight Watchers in college when you could bank points daily. Then I tried it recently several times, and I hated the leaders at the meetings (http://runeatdatesleep.com/2011/01/24/another-tragic-ww-meeting/). I would do it only online but there are so many free programs out there that basically do the same thing. I might start using my LoseIt! app again soon to count calories. I can’t stop gaining weight 🙁

  3. Pam

    I did the other WW in the past. I agree, it’s a great way to learn portion control and how to space out splurges better. But when I feel like I need to pay more attention, I go back to counting calories, not WW points. This is a good post! I’d wondered what they had changed in the new program.

  4. I was on Weight Watchers for a while but didn’t really make any progress with it because I was eating TOO LITTLE for the amount that I was working out 🙁

    Regardless, your before and after pictures are so inspiring! You look GREAT, girl 😉

  5. I first did WW in 2002 when it was called Winning Points. I lost 50lbs. on that program and was able to use it for years and years b/c it was easy to calculate points myself (I had a sliding paper calculator thing) and just record everything in a journal. Winning points used the same point formula as every other program up until the new points plus. However, the main difference was you had a point range (mine was 20-25) each day and if you didn’t use some points you could “bank” them to use later that week. Same basic concept as the flex points, but there was something about having that daily range that allowed me to stick to it better.

    I tried P+ when it came out last Nov and I quickly fell off track. I think with the 4 variables used to calculate points now it makes it very hard to “eyeball” points. I used to be able to do everything in my head without some fancy calculator or online tool, and now I can’t. I agree with you that things have seemed to get a bit confusing and the online application can be hard to manage and super frustrating!

    • That is true! I used to be able to tell the exact Points of food just by seeing nutritional values and now it’s a little harder. I can get close now, but I’m usually off by 1-3 points. I actually thought of you when I wrote this post too. I remember seeing on your blog that you did WW and then South Beach for awhile. 🙂

  6. So basically, I still prefer the old version b/c it allowed me more flexibility to be able to work the plan w/o being tied to my computer or phone to calculate things. Sorry, I am super long-winded today about this topic!! Probably because, once again, I’m feeling frustrated w/ my weight-loss efforts and have no clue what kind of program I should be following!

  7. I have never done WW, but my mom did a few years back and got really tiny. Mostly because she wasn’t eating very much. I think it’s a good way to be mindful of what you’re putting in your mouth, rather than letting all hell break loose. In the past, I’ve counted calories but I think it makes me too restrictive with my eating. Then I went through a super awful breakup and lost about 12 pounds. Not a diet plan I would recommend.

    I try for balance (as you know), but it’s definitely not easy. I do eat my fair share of frosting, but then I end up running a lot to burn it off. So basically, I have no answers. But one thing I have noticed is that if I eat sugar, I want more sugar. If I don’t, then I crave it much less.

    End most disorganized and random comment ever.

    • Yes! I agree about sugar. And then recently on PB Fingers, she said that she craves sugar when she has diet drinks. Since I drink diet coke like it’s always the last can on Earth, I wonder if I have the same problem. Oh, and I like disorganized and random comments.

  8. I did WW my first year of college. No meetings or anything, I just used my suitemate’s points guide to figure out how many points each meal was. I did lose about 10 pounds, but the jury is still out on if it was WW or the hangovers which kept me from eating. Maybe a combination of both, since I would save my points during the day for cocktails at night. Healthy, Melissa, real healthy…

    • Ha! Ok, I did that too. Which could be why I’m not losing weight on WW now. Because I eat my points and THEN drink the cocktails too. Life without cocktails is no life at all!

  9. Stefanie

    Hmmm, very interesting. I have never tried WW before, but I have always been curious about it. I have used both SparkPeople and Livestrong to track my calories. I have leaned more towards Livestrong, because they have a better database for their food and fitness items. However, I have found faults in both systems. I don’t really like how Livestrong calculates calorie intake, based on your goals. I like SparkPeople better in that respect. However, SparkPeople’s food database straight up sucks. Unless all you eat are whole foods, then it would be great for that. But, that doesn’t really work for me because I eat out every day for lunch because my boss buys for us girls in the office. (AWESOME. I know) Livestrong actually has meals from restaurants in it’s databse, which has been really helpful for me. Anyway…LONG COMMENT. 🙂

  10. Ooooh I’m so glad you wrote this!

    When I lost weight in 2007, it was on WW. I loved it. Hit Lifetime, became a receptionist and life was great…until it wasn’t.


    My friend Roni just blogged about how she tried the new plan to lose post-pregnancy weight, and has left it. So there are a lot of great reviews floating around!

  11. They wifey got me into doing WW with her about 7 years ago when we first started dating. We have been going on and off ever since. We had to do the meetings because we knew the online system wouldn’t keep us honest and it was almost like reporting in to a boss/teacher/etc. The downfall and why we weren’t consistent was because around weeks 5-6…we would get a little too comfortable and not be good Point counters which resulted in a us skipping a weigh-in to try and make it up the following week…..which resulted in still being Point counter slackers and then missing another meeting, etc. We did try the online system but stopped once we started the counting calories program a few months ago. But that has been on hold due to laziness leftover from vacation in July. We are hoping to start up the calorie counting program again on Monday. I liked WW because it seemed that I didn’t gain as fast when I would fall off the program in comparison to the other programs in the past.

    Hopefully, one day, I will curb my foodaholic ways. 🙂

  12. Amanda@FancyOatmeal

    I used to be a Jenny Craig weight loss consultant for 6 months. I like the idea of weekly check ins, and the food we sold to clients was pretty good. I was able to maintain my lowest weight while working/eating there. I think it was mostly because I was eating JUST their food and not all the fruits/veggies/milks they add into the menu and I was CONSTANTLY interrupted by clients and phone calls. I would recommend the program’s concept of weekly updates to a friend or family member and portioned controlled diet. But would I spend $400 for a yearly membership? Um no.

  13. That was way complicated for my little brain! I’ve done the eDiet’s before. I like for a program to tell me exactly what and when to eat. I’m lazy like that.

  14. LoriV.

    I’m confused, this post is way back on July 14? I though I was losing my mind!! Anyway, I am not down with the new PointsPlus system. At first I was excited for something new thinking it might relight my fire for the program, but sadly the opposite seems to have happened. Like many have said, not being able to eyeball PointsPlus values is a real downer. I am tempted to just keep track of calories. I know what to eat, and what is/is not healthy, so I just need to make sure I’m not eating too much. I also think their database sucks. And I hate when you type something in and you get no results, yet it gives you a suggestion of what you might have wanted to search on complete with a link to search on that new thing right then an there. So you click it and then get the no matches messages. Um, if there are no results for this item, don’t ask me to seach in it!!

    • Ah, crap. That’s my fault. Thanks Lori. I started writing this post on July 14 and had a saved draft forever. It’s just taken me awhile to put it together. Should be fixed now. I agree. I thought the new PointsPlus would rekindle my WW relationship but it didn’t. And yes! That search criteria is the worst! I forgot to mention that so I’m glad you did.

  15. Alecia

    I went Vegan once for 30 days. It was really just to see how hard it would be. I lost some weight. I think it’s because you’re so limited on what you can have.

  16. carlyslp

    I lost weight on the Points plan in 2007 and loved it. Being accountable for the things I was stuffing in my face really worked (go figure). I hit lifetime and maintained for ~1 year, but then I got married, moved away from my family, started a new job, and bought a house. I gained around 10 pounds and am currently on the PointsPlus plan. I really like it, mostly because it’s making me pay attention to the protein I’m eating every day (something I didn’t do before). But it is harder to try new foods because with the Points plan, it was easy to figure out the Points based on the nutrition label. Not so much anymore. Another big part of it for me is going to meetings. I can’t be responsible enough to hold myself accountable for my weight loss, so I have to have someone else weigh me in and keep me on track. Plus, I always end up learning something new at the meetings. 🙂

  17. I did WW online off and on. Butr really mostly off, haha. one week i lost 3 pounds because i followed the plan to a T, but i think that was the only time that worked for me.
    I now just do myfitnesspal.com to track calories and exercise. I try and stick to 1300-1500 a day. That is just the best for me. except on weekends when i go overboard, but i’ve been trying to get much better to not go above 1800 on weekends.

  18. I tried WW a few years back but like most things in my life, I gave up and moved on. I’ve been thinking about rejoining the program once we are in Germany since we’ll have full access to the American commissary for food.

  19. My mom swears by WW. I’ve never used it (or any equivalent) because I’d become to obsessed. (I almost went psycho after 2 days of “My Fitness Pal.”)*

  20. I did WW a millionty years ago when there was no online program. It’s a great program, but the online thing sounds too complicated, so I think I’ll stick to counting calories for now.

  21. Victoria

    Dude, I’m shocked that only comes out to 1200-1300 calories a day! I will readily admit that I know nothing about how many calories we should really be taking in, but it seems like that’s not very much with all the exercise you do. It seems like they didn’t recognize that you are a super active person. I mean, we burn that much off on one long run. Plus, the whole thing seems very confusing!

    I had a friend that did it and I think it turned her borderline anorexic. She was obsessed with seeing how few points she could get in a day. I think Katy wrote about that in her post about WW too.

    PS – I think you look amazing, WW or no WW!

    • Aww, thanks girl! <3 <3 And no, it's not a lot of food. 1200-1300 calories would be on a typcial no excercise day. That's why I mentioned the Activity Points that we gain and how more points means more eating. I would definitely eat over that on long run or cross-training days. I would not be able to stand up if I didn't! 🙂

  22. Carolina @ Peas in a Blog

    I don’t know much about WW but what I do know is that I love your tags on this post: Eff you fat thighs, I just want to eat cake. Ha! 🙂

  23. Shannon

    I’m a lifetime member of WWers, losing 80 lbs on the old points system. I’ve kept my weight off for over 4 years now.

    I hate the new program, I have yet to lose a pound, and instead have gained 5 pounds. I attend my meeting each week (except for the last 8 weeks due to summer), and will be weighing in this Saturday at my meeting (not looking forward to it).

    I think WWers was a great program, and I think that people who have a lot to lose will benefit with the POINTS+ plan, but for those that want to maintain or just lose a few pounds, good luck because I don’t the POINTS+ is made for that. (just from my personal experience) I will still attend my WWers weekly meetings, since they are free for me, and I will be using the myfitnesspal website for tools, hopefully this will help me get this last 5 fricken pounds off.

    I have now been using http://www.myfitnesspal.com, and it is FANTASTIC, and FREE, it has everything that Online WWers Tools has and MORE…

    • Nice! I’ll check that out. And that’s exactly how I am. I want to lose 5-8lbs. Not much. But it’s not happening on WW. Congrats on losing that 80lbs. That’s amazing!

  24. I have always been curious about weight watchers. I think the community aspect of it is what makes it especially effective and powerful. One thing I don’t like though is how artificial some of the weight watchers brand products are, which I don’t think sends a good message. I do love how they encourage lots of fruits & veggies on the plan, however.

  25. My husband and I have fallen in and out of WW the past 5 years- Its a great kick start to a healthy eating habits. In the end of the day, only your focus will keep you on track. You look great, and I love to read others similar journeys!

  26. Kim

    WW online worked for me in the past. I quit it and maintained, then some weird abdomen distension/breathing problem no one can figure out made me stop working out/ running / kickboxing and then, at the same time, getting married, made me eat like a troll under the bridge.in excess, only fun foods, and a lot. Previously on WW, along with giving up alcohol, (dont miss it at all, actually), upping water intake, and choosing healthy organic foods, I went from a size 18ish to a size 2. After this weird illness, im now 3 weeks on the WW online again, and have lost 7 lbs, will weigh in tomorrow again too, and I know I lost weight this week. Because i got back up to a 16… WW works for me.All I want to know is… how many points are brussels sprouts, steamed? PLEASE. Someone. I see 3 points, and I see 0 points. Help… me…..time….is….. running…… out……

    • Awesome job on the weight loss! It’s a life long battle for sure. I always though brussels spouts were 0 points. (for one serving)

  27. jeannie

    I was on WW about 13 years ago lost 35lbs kept it off til last year. Now that I’m starting over with the pointplus program I was curious about the difference. This is an excellent breakdown. Very helpful. Thank you for taking the time to lay it out!

  28. Gabrielle

    Love the way you break down the difference between the old and new WW programs. Thanks!!!

  29. candace sanchez

    I have stuck with the “old way” of the winning points…I lost 100lbs in 2003 and like you said I can look at something and know how many points it has…I have decided to go back and be more strict because I have gained 15lbs since I’m now staying at home full time ;/ I’m just journaling my food and trying to stay withing 21-22 pts a day (that’s not easy) but I’m doing it!!! I don’t see any reason to change what worked in the past ;/

  30. Sara

    My spouse and I used to be WW members. But recently we found an iPhone app called “iTrackBites” which is almost exactly like the WW interface, and only costs a one time fee of $2.99. Beats paying $19 a month for each of us. It has some add-ons like a Restaurant Guide, Snack Guide, and Beer Guide for a few dollars more. We are loving this app.

  31. Dawn

    Thank you so much. I have been trying to figure out all the differences between the old points system. This explained it well.

  32. Patrice Iniguez

    I was wondering the difference. Thanks for breaking down. I did really well on the old system, lost 68 pounds and maintained it for 2 years. The last 5 years I’ve slowly gained 38 pounds back. Time to get it back off, plus that stubborn last 15 I didn’t accomplish last time. I really liked meetings, and think I’ll enroll next paycheck. I’m one for visual accountability. Thanks again

  33. maureenpnelson

    You are a clever humorous writer. Hope you are selling articles to magazines.

  34. Carrie Perrell

    I learned pointsPlus 4 years ago. We were taught that activity points could NOT be rolled over.

  35. Karen

    I’ve followed WW’s diet off and one over the years. Each time I’ve tracked points, I’ve lost weight. Very encouraging. I was curious about the difference between Points and Pointsplus. I tried the pointsplus last year, and I too, found it not so great. I don’t go to meetings and scammed the Points Tracker and basic food points from a friend way back in the day. I am back at the old-school method with the sliding points tracker. As we all know, you have to approach this as a behavioral eating plan rather than a diet. The diet mentality, while helpful in shedding those extra pounds, needs to be a “way of life” eating plan to stay at a healthy weight. The eat health for a week mentality, and then eating crappy foods for a week, is a no win deal. It can be hard to follow when vacationing and on special occasions, but basically, it is a sound eating plan for life.

  36. http:// thanks for all the info! I seriously am still lost on the new ww system, but I did lose about 40 pounds on the one in 2005. But within a year gained it all back and some lovely extra! So now I’m counting calories which sucks! Anyone have advice on how to get started on a excersise program? Serious couch potatoe. Suzie

  37. Mickey

    Thanks this was helpful. But way better were your add-ones. I was cracking up and showing them to my daughter so we could have a good laugh!

  38. Mary E

    I really am trying to process the WW programs,so thank you for your help.
    So do I have it right?
    1. No points for fruits and vegetables if eaten fresh or steamed
    2. I do not need to track, carbs protein, fiber as long as I stay between 21-26 pts
    3. I can earn points with exercise, right?

    I to just want to lose5-8 lbs but given my age and height and build it makes a real difference in how I feel and look.
    Why can’t we all be slim and gorgeous.
    Thanks again for your help

    Thanks again for your time

  39. Frances Jackson

    The old points system works better for me.Joined on line points plus cancelled the same day too complicated for me.Like my slider to keep up with points .It always works for me.I do not go too meetings just do own my own.

    • Nan

      The new points system doesn’t work for me, either, and it is apple season from the orchards. I eat several fresh apples a week but give them all a point. They still contain sugar and calories. I can’t count them as none! That is why points plus didn’t work for me. Tried it one time and I think I gain 2 pounds! 🙂

  40. Lisa C

    I had very good results with the Winning Points system years ago. Got lazy and gained a lot of it back so I went back to WW. They had just started the Points Plus. I had very, very slow progress when I had progress. I could not figure out what I was doing wrong! I decided to follow the original points plan for a few weeks just to see if I was the problem or if the plan was the problem. I lost 4 pounds the first week back on Winning Points. Then 2 pounds the following two weeks. I will not go back to Points Plus. If I am not seeing results I lose motivation. I do make the extra effort to choose healthy foods over just low fat/low point fill up foods. Just wanted to share my experience. I am still losing 1 to 2 pounds almost every week and definitely trying to earn the activity points every chance I get. I forgot to mention my Mom has been a WWer many times over the years and has had success every time and reached goal weight and kept off most of the weight each time EXCEPT with the Points Plus. She has gone back to the old points system as well. Great blog by the way!

    • Thank you! It seems like a lot of people liked the old system better. Maybe PointsPlus just has a little too much freedom in it? I kept the calculator and all the literature just in case I want to go back to the old system some day.

  41. Nan

    This was a great post to find! Thanks a lot. I did ww old points 12 years ago and lost 30 pounds for son’s wedding. Hubby did too, and lost 40. (now passed away)

    But I like it ten x better than points plus. I just re-found tons of info, even including panera bread, etc, which as a widow sometimes there is no reason to race home to cook if I just did a step class or something. Tonight I gave myself the fun of stopping after Body Step with a little magazine, and I was delighted because I could pull up Dottie’s weight loss zone, which has about 125 restaurants on it with both old and points plus points. I was delighted to find that I could get a you pick two of tuna sandwich (1/2), and cup of chix noodle soup and baked chips for 11 points. I had 12-14 left so was doing a jig!!

    Actually there were several options that I loved. Another is the fuji apple chix salad. Whole salad as is (w/ pecans and blue cheese) was 12!!! 1/2 was 6. I NEED to eat out once in a while and that was fun. Been back on ww for about a week. Day four I felt like I could eat all day and all night and prayed my way thru it to stick with it. PHEW. I am hoping to see some great results. I agree with the writer of this too, that it helps you gain simple control and focus. I needed that. I too get about 1100 to 1200 calories top and I vary all the types. I do eat oatmeal every breakfast now for cholesterol, but I do homemade not pkg’d, and add rasins or apple and wanuts of almonds and it is 5 points.
    Hoping for great results this month. My stomach has flattened inches but I lose weight slow. I ‘ll weight myself every few days to see if anything is coming off yet. 🙂

    • I used to use Dottie’s too, I totally forgot about that site. I’m not on WW anymore. I maintained my weight for about 5 years, but gained a few on vacation this year so I’m doing a ketogenic diet until those come off and then I’ll go back to eating normally.

      Good luck now that you’re back on WW!

  42. Nan

    Thanks again for this blog Paula! Are you still posting? and has you been on ww lately? Or did you try other things?

  43. Does anyone have a copy of the sample menu from the original points plan from around 2007. I can’t stand the points plus and silly me-I tossed all my original plan stuff.

  44. Melany

    Thank you SO much for this post on the new weight watchers points system. I was on weight watchers back in 2003. Lost 15 pounds then stopped all the way up until now. I whipped out all my weight watchers brochures and most importantly the point’s finder to start the WW diet without having to actually sign up again (too friggin broke) . Anyway now with all the new points labeled on all the smart ones meals and seeing how they were higher, I was so confused and slightly panicked lol. I just stuck with the old school points finder but have been debating if I should actually sign up again just to see if the new points system is any better? Glad to have actual insight from someone who has tried both. Have you noticed much of a difference as far as appetite goes ? (Knowing the new system takes protein into consideration now, just curious)

    • No, I didn’t notice a difference even though I probably ate more on the new system because fruit was free. I think the new system gave me more freedom than the old system so it didn’t work as well for me.