Weight Watchers SmartPoints

PointsPlus vs SmartPoints – A Comparison

Towards the end of 2015, Weight Watchers ditched its popular PointsPlus system for a new approach - SmartPoints.

For thousands of Weight Watchers followers around the world, this meant a total recalibration of their diet, as they discovered that some of the foods they ate under the PointsPlus system might not be as permissible under SmartPoints.

So what's the difference between the two systems - and which one is more effective for weight loss and overall health? Let's take a look…

The Difference Between PointsPlus and SmartPoints

In order to gauge which system is the most effective, first we need to pinpoint the difference between the two. The key distinction between the two points systems is that Points Plus values were calculated based on how much fat, carbohydrates, fibre and protein there was in each food.

SmartPoints is initially calculated based on the number of calories in a certain food, but three other factors come into play; the amount of protein in the food can lower the point value, while the amount of saturated fat and sugar can increase the value (meaning those on the Weight Watchers plan can eat less of them and remain on track).

McCafé Chocolate ShakeMcDonalds McCafe Shakes: A big no no with SmartPoints

Which Foods Will Be Changing?

Over 50% of the points involved in the system will change as Weight Watchers converts to Smart Points. Foods with lean proteins will lower the points value quickly - lean meats like turkey, prawns and most seafood will love the fact that these foods are now just 1 SmartPoint, while chicken drops to just 2 SmartPoints (previously a serving of chicken breast was worth 3 PointsPlus).

Dairy products have gone up - even if they say 'non-fat' or 'low-fat' on the label. Sugar is also a huge no-go area now - one tablespoon of granulated white sugar used to have a Points Plus value of 1, but now it's shot up to 3; that's a big difference for those who like sugar in their tea, or a piece of chocolate after lunch!

Fruits and vegetables will remain point-free, with one vital change - fruits included in other recipes will now be free too. Here are some more examples of foods which will change:

  • Tuna: 3 PointsPlus, 1 SmartPoint
  • Fat-free yogurt: 6 PointsPlus, 11 SmartPoints
  • Oatmeal: 4 PointsPlus, 5 SmartPoints
  • Eggs: 2 PointsPlus, 2 SmartPoints

Why The Change?

The alteration comes as part of the Weight Watchers Beyond the Scale Program, a brand new launch that aims to get members to really think about what they're eating, and make better choices, rather than simply counting calories and eating what they like.

The new program also aims to encourage dieters to eat less sugar and less saturated fat. Sugar, as we all know, is the big bad ingredient behind the diabetes epidemic, which is slowly worsening as western diets incorporate more and more refined sugars.

The number of people suffering from diabetes has risen from just 108 million in 1980 to a staggering 422 million in 2014 - an enormous increase in just 35 years. The global prevalence of diabetes among adults has also risen from 4.7% to 8.5% in that time frame.

Weight Watchers is seemingly aware of the fact that sugar is fast becoming the enemy of dieters - some experts have even labelled it 'more addictive than cocaine' and just as harmful to the body when consumed regularly over long periods of time.

SugarSmartPoints aims to encourage dieters to eat less sugar and less saturated fat

Pros and Cons of SmartPoints

As with any new system, there will be upsides and downsides. Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons of using the new Smart Points approach:


  • SmartPoints closes various loopholes that previously existed within the PointsPlus approach. Encouraging people to eat low-fat foods, for example, was encouraging them to eat foods which were laden with sugars and other additives which made them taste just as good as their full-fat counterparts.
  • Under the new system, exercise was translated into more points which could be spent on food - it basically told participants that if they wanted to eat more, they should exercise more. This creates unhealthy ideas about food and how it should fuel our bodies. The new system separates the intake from the activity, so that they're no longer linked and food points can’t be 'traded' for exercise points.
  • The new system is less about weight loss and more about creating a healthier lifestyle overall. Where PointsPlus simply focused on calorie counting, SmartPoints encourages participants to choose the foods with the most protein and the least sugar - healthier choices for an all-round healthier lifestyle.


  • So what, if any, are the cons of the SmartPoints system? For many seasoned Weight Watchers members, the biggest con is getting used to a new system after they've spent many years enjoying success with PointsPlus. These members can still use the old system, but Weight Watchers is certainly phasing it out, with greater emphasis on the SmartPoints approach.
  • Many people have also claimed that the most attractive element of Weight Watchers was the amazing freedom and flexibility they enjoyed with PointsPlus. Some argue that the new system skews them away from some of these foods and towards others, turning Weight Watchers from a points system into something of a 'fad diet'.
  • The penalties for eating saturated fat and sugar are also much higher than the old penalties on the PointsPlus system. Could this lead to guilt-tinged binge eating among those who want to treat themselves? Some Weight Watchers fans have speculated that the points for cake and cookies are now so high, it might cause some members to veer 'off-plan' when they end up eating those foods, causing willpower to waver.


The new SmartPoints system has certainly got Weight Watchers members talking, and paying more attention to the nutritional values of what they're consuming. Only time will tell whether this method is a better approach.

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