Weight Watchers Just Changed Their Guidelines. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Need an excuse to eat more, but better, food? Weight Watchers just gave it to you with Freestyle, its new program.

Weight Watchers Meeting LocationPhoto: Shutterstock / Jonathan Weiss

Regardless of whether you’ve participated in their program or not, you’re probably familiar with how Weight Watchers works to help you toward your goal of healthy weight loss. As anyone who has tried to lose weight knows, it isn’t an easy journey, and you can use all the help you can get.

How Weight Watchers Works

Weight Watchers gives every food a point value that you track, making sure you stay under your set total of points each day. Points are determined by factors like calories, saturated fat, sugar, and protein. Generally, the more wholesome the food and the better its nutritional value, the fewer points it has.

Here’s What’s Changing

The change at Weight Watchers might help take a load off (pun intended) those of us who are struggling to keep our cravings in check. They just added 200 new “free” foods to the company’s database. These freebies have zero points, which means, in theory, you can eat as much as them as you’d like.

Weight Watchers Freestyle was created based on the company’s desire to be more flexible and focus on the quality of food over the quantity of calories. Because it now looks like just cutting calories alone isn’t the best way to lose weight. So the company is adding many more nutritious foods (even those higher in calories) into its zero points list, along with all those vegetables and fruits. A small 6-month study conducted at the University of North Carolina Weight Research Lab found that people on the program felt more satisfied, thought it was easier to follow than past diets, and lost some weight. All hopeful stuff.

Too Good to Be True?

How can you eat more instead of less and still lose weight? It sounds too good to be true, but the team at Weight Watchers thinks that the new free foods are things that people rarely overeat, anyway. Eggs, yogurt, lentils, corn, beans, skinless chicken breast, tofu and fish, for example, are now free. But you are probably not going to binge on any of those anytime soon.

Meanwhile, the SmartPoints (what Weight Watchers calls their points) you don’t want to go over will be recalculated, and the total might be less than before. Don’t be surprised if your 30 total SmartPoints are now 23—because all those lovely new free foods!

So while you are eating more of the healthy options, you’ll still have to strictly measure those major weight loss deterrents (I’m looking at you, chocolate cake).

Even if you don’t use Weight Watchers, there is something you can take away from their new announcement: It’s more about what you’re eating than how much you’re eating. Being healthy (and even losing weight) comes from choosing your foods based on nutritional value and finding that happy balance.

Eat smart with these skinny recipes.
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Amanda Tarlton
As both a freelance lifestyle writer and editor for a national teen magazine, Amanda spends most of her time creating #content. In those (rare) moments when she's not at her desk typing furiously, she's likely teaching a hot yoga class, reading the latest chick-lit or baking a batch of her famous scones.