100 lb. Club - Is plain ol' calorie counting easier than Weight Watchers?




Truffle
12-27-2009, 06:32 PM
I know we're all different, but which was easier for you to stick with for the longest time, plain ol' calorie counting, or Weight Watchers?

I didn't have much success in 2009. I ended up with a pathetic five pound loss for the year. Hoping for much better in 2010.

Leaning towards just calorie counting, but wanted to hear from those who might have tried both approaches.


Lori259
12-27-2009, 06:42 PM
I personally count calories due to seeing a friend who did it and lost alot of weight...Plus it is free(A BIG PLUS) Plus I can eat what I always eat just in smaller portions ~No diet products or food...And last but not least I read the following and was TOTALLY For calorie counting ever since~GOODLUCK! I would like to add ~that I think ww Is a super program though also..Very similair to Counting calories just a points program instead. I see lots of success from both and people maintaining well with both which is a plus.
Here that info:

Principles
Weight management may be difficult to achieve, but it certainly is not difficult to understand. When you consume food or drink, you consume calories. Your body burns calories to function, burning significantly more calories when you exercise. If you consume more calories than you burn, you gain weight. If you consume fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight.
Because your body requires energy simply to stay alive, you burn calories even when you are not exercising. In fact, you burn calories directly in proportion to your body weight. On average, a male burns 11 calories per day per pound of body weight. The average female burns 10 calories per day per pound of body weight. These figures are just averages. Some people will be higher or lower, since everyone's metabolism is a little different. Fitness Record allows you to specify the value which is appropriate for you. If you don't know, it is suggested that you start by using the average value for your gender.
For example, if John weighs 150 pounds, he burns approximately 150 x 11 = 1,650 calories per day. If he exercises, he will burn additional calories on top of that, depending on the exercise activity. However, if he does not exercise, he must eat 1,650 calories per day, just to maintain his body weight. If he eats more, he will gain weight. If he eats less, he'll lose weight.
For the purpose of calculating expected weight gain/loss, one pound is 3,500 calories. Each time you consume an extra 3,500 calories more than you burn, you will gain a pound. For example, Jane weighs 130 pounds, never exercises, and eats exactly 1,400 calories every day. Her metabolism is burning 1,300 calories per day, so she are consuming an extra 100 calories each day. If she does this indefinitely, she will gain a pound in 35 days, since 35 * 100 = 3,500.
Fitness Record uses another term, called Behavioral Weight. The idea is that over the long term, your weight is determined by your behaviors, and is best illustrated by example. Consider Jane above, who eats 1,400 calories per day. After 35 days of this behavior, she will weigh 131, instead of 130. This means her metabolism will burn slightly more calories than before. If she continues to eat 1,400 calories every day, she will continue to gain weight, but at a slightly slower pace. Eventually, she will weigh 140, at which time her metabolism will be burning 1,400 calories every day. At this point, she will stop gaining weight, since she is consuming the same number of calories that she burns. Therefore, by eating 1,400 calories in a day, Jane is behaving like a 140 pound person. Her "behavioral weight" is 140.
Exercise contributes to your calories burned. If Jane were to exercise, burning an additional 100 calories each day, then her calories burned would be in balance with her calories consumed. She could eat 1,400 calories per day, exercise 100 calories per day, and continue to way 130 indefinitely.
You may now be asking, "Why can't I just eat low fat foods?" You can eat whatever you want. But, non-fat foods can still have calories. Check the food label to find out if eating the non-fat version of a food is really saving you any calories -- sometimes it's not. Many programs recommend moderating your dietary fat intake, and that is obviously good advice. Eating low-fat foods happens to be an excellent guideline for keeping your calorie intake low. In addition, moderating your dietary fat intake may contribute to your health in other ways. However, it will not alter the mathematics of weight management -- you still have to eat fewer calories than you burn if you want to lose weight.
The problem with the way the human body works is that calories counting is tedious and difficult. Most weight-loss programs, as well as the so-called "fad diets", focus on other guidelines which are simpler to follow than calorie counting. However, none of these guidelines alter the underlying principles of weight management.

TJFitnessDiva
12-27-2009, 06:44 PM
I've tried both and since I just recently went back to counting points from counting calories...I'd have to say the easier thing for me is WW. It's what I'm used to and while both are very much the same, the smaller number to keep track the easier it is for me :)


mulder1921
12-27-2009, 06:47 PM
Thanks for the post, Lori. That really helped me too. I have done WW a ton of times, but this time I am just trying Calorie counting along with a GoWear Fit to help.

medinazarley
12-27-2009, 06:49 PM
I had success with weight watchers in the past, but the reason I am counting calories this time around is because it really frustrated me to have to calculate points for recipes and food that wasn't in my book. also, I don't want to pay for meetings and I have a hectic schedule so meetings are kind of out.

TJFitnessDiva
12-27-2009, 06:51 PM
I don't attend meetings anymore :) there is a whole board on here for people that do WW at home with or without the website!

I have family recipes that I had to find the calories and points for....both are tedious so I know what you are saying. It just boils down to personal preference.

19Deltawifey
12-27-2009, 06:52 PM
Ive done both and for me I felt like I was starving on WW, I had to cut out so much fat in my diet and felt like I was becoming very obsessed about how many points was this yada yada. Also one day I decided to see how many calories I was eating while following WW and at the end of eating my 24 points I had only eaten 1000 calories.

I count calories now and Im still losing weight at the same rate as when I was on WW but I feel that with counting calories I can eat a whole different variety or things without having to worry about fat content making my points really high. Counting calories has made me better at portion control. Plus counting calories is free

Lori259
12-27-2009, 06:52 PM
yw mulder~GOODLUCK!!! YOU ALL CAN DO THIS!! WE ALL CAN~START STRONG & STAY STRONG~!

LitChick
12-27-2009, 07:00 PM
Personally, I don't find much difference in the principles behind calorie counting and the weight watchers program. Weight watchers incorporates calories into the way points are calculated, and even so-called zero-point foods have to be counted if you eat more than one serving. And as I like to say, I did not get fat by eating too much broccoli.

For me, the big difference and appeal of WW is the accountability and support. I attend weekly meetings and weigh-in, regardless of whether I think I've lost or not. I get the support and encouragement from my meeting leader and other members. It has helped me to be more accountable to myself, the emphasis on tracking food intake, modifying food behaviors and eating healthy have all contributed to me seeing this as a permanent change to how I live and eat, not a short-term diet.

I started 2009 as a calorie counter and in 5 months lost about 10lbs. I joined WW at the end of May and have since lost 63 pounds. It wasn't so much the difference between counting calories and counting points that made me make the switch but I find myself sticking with a program months longer than I have attempted anything else, weighing less now than I have in 10+ years, and enjoying being physically active and working my body versus dreading any form of exercise. It was just the right time for something to click in my head. For me, WW works. For me, this was the right time and right method. Will it work for everyone? No, nothing works for everyone. But it does for me, and for me, that's what matters.

kuhrisuh
12-27-2009, 07:02 PM
I did try weight watchers for a short period of time when I was younger, but I never really gave it any serious effort. At least not like I'm giving now. Still, for me, it seems calorie counting is easier. It also could just be because I'm older now and understand what I need to do and all. Sooooo who knows. Guess I'm not really much help, haha, sorry! Either way, ill be thinking positive thoughts for you! :)

gloo
12-27-2009, 07:03 PM
Calorie counting and WW are definitely similar in theory -- calories in/calories out. I've done both, and found my success rate to be about equal.

My decision to go the calorie counting route this time around is largely financial, as calorie counting is as free as it gets.

Also, while I liked the WW program quite a bit, the meetings were hit and miss for me. I think a really great leader is integral to making meetings work for me, as well as a group I can relate to. I'm pretty mellow and outgoing, yet I didn't seem to find a group I really gelled with and eventually started seeing the meetings as a bit excruciating. Much of that had to do with constant WW product pushing my leaders engaged in. I know it's part of their job, and I also know that not all of the leaders employ such a WW brand-centric approach. Unfortunately much of my meeting time was spent listening to someone convince me that the path to weight loss happiness was through Fruities and $7.00 boxes of 100-calorie packs.

I kept on for awhile doing the program strictly online, until I found that I could do essentially the same thing for free by going back to my old friends fitday or dailyplate. For me it's about the logging and accountability; whether that comes from tracking points or calories is of less importance to me.

Again, this is just one dieter's perspective. I have friends and family who have done well on both (my sister just lost upwards of 80 lbs on WW), so it really comes down to what works for you.

Wishing you all the luck in whatever you choose! :)

Sarby
12-27-2009, 07:28 PM
I've tried both, but only lasted about two days with WW. For me, it was just too much trouble to figure out or look up points for everything. I'd rather just look at the calories and be done with it.

Tai
12-27-2009, 07:47 PM
I'm a calorie counter, but really only picked it because it was the simplest plan I could find that was free. I think the WW program looks really good; especially the support and accountability. I did try WW once in the 80's and lost on it, but it was a much different program.

In addition to the price being right; calorie counting has been very easy for me to stick with in maintenance.

Good luck with whatever you choose Truffle!

Truffle
12-27-2009, 07:49 PM
Ive done both and for me I felt like I was starving on WW, I had to cut out so much fat in my diet and felt like I was becoming very obsessed about how many points was this yada yada. Also one day I decided to see how many calories I was eating while following WW and at the end of eating my 24 points I had only eaten 1000 calories.

I count calories now and Im still losing weight at the same rate as when I was on WW but I feel that with counting calories I can eat a whole different variety or things without having to worry about fat content making my points really high. Counting calories has made me better at portion control. Plus counting calories is free


Thank you, everyone, for all the great replies. The different comments shed more light on the choice for me.

I've signed up at WW many times, and never lasted on it. I don't want to go to meetings, and I don't want to pay to lose weight. I don't want to do a low fat eating plan. I don't want to have to figure out Points.

So, calorie counting it will be. :)

kaplods
12-27-2009, 08:11 PM
I think it depends on your personality and what you find most helpful.

I find a supportive group meeting very helpful. The weekly accountability of a group weigh-in, and the information and support afterward helps me stay motivated. I found that TOPS groups to be a better support than Weight Watcher's, however (because it's much cheaper, you can follow any food plan you wish - including WW points, and there are group contests and activities, prizes, and even conferences, rallies, and retreats).

(I'm currently not following my own advice, but am considering rejoining).


I first started Weight Watcher's (and calorie counting) when I was 8. I've dieted for so many years that Calorie counting, exchange counting, and point counting (which have all been part of Weight Watcher's programs at one time or another since I first joined in the mid 70's) are mostly automatic. Whether I'm counting calories, points, or exchanges - I rarely need a resource to look them up- I've got them all memorized for almost everything I normally eat. So they're all equally as "easy."

I do find that I personally do the best on a lower carb exchange plan (of about 1800 calories). Since all foods within an exchange are roughly the same number of calories (within about a 15 calorie span), the calories take care of themselves, and it reminds me to get in food groups that I tend to avoid if just counting calories (like dairy).

On one hand, I think exchange plans build in a bit more balanced nutrition (though you can choose less healthy options in all of the food group categories), but on the other - I think I like it best, just because it's what I personally find easiest. It's easier for me to check off little boxes, than to write down calories or even points.

(I made my own, but TOPS.org site has free food diary page pages you can print out - with the boxes for each food category for 1200, 1500, and 1800 calorie plans)


http://www.tops.org/TOPSToolsDocs/ExchangeRecordFoodDiary.pdf

aangel22
12-27-2009, 08:57 PM
Personally I love WW. I lost about 30 lbs in 4 or 5 months, which I consider pretty good! I would still be following it now if I weren't pregnant and when I am ready, I will most likely count points again next year. I am just tracking calories right now because points are a bit too dangerous right now. It just depends on fat intake and all that but I don't want to risk eating too little. :)

PeanutsMom704
12-27-2009, 09:03 PM
for calorie counting, I highly recommend using one of the sites like Fitday, Sparkpeople, etc. I'm using Fitday and think it's great and very easy. I do have to calculate the various elements when I have something new but once it's in there, I can easily find it in my recent food list and just pop it into another day. It's also helpful for me to plan out my day's eating and make sure I'm coming close to the target I want to be for that day - I try to vary things up a bit, with lower days mixed in, esp. if I know I'll have a higher calorie day due to a meal out in a restaurant, etc.

Momto2Ms
12-27-2009, 09:04 PM
I agree with everyone else. You have to decide what works for your personality and lifestyle. I am a calorie counter because it works best for me.

Good luck figuring out what works for you!

JustBeckyV
12-27-2009, 09:09 PM
I have done both too. I originally lost 40 lbs on weight watchers but put it all back and then some lol I choose to count calories this time. I guess whatever works best for you and will keep you on track! v

LitChick
12-27-2009, 09:32 PM
Also, while I liked the WW program quite a bit, the meetings were hit and miss for me. I think a really great leader is integral to making meetings work for me, as well as a group I can relate to. I'm pretty mellow and outgoing, yet I didn't seem to find a group I really gelled with and eventually started seeing the meetings as a bit excruciating. Much of that had to do with constant WW product pushing my leaders engaged in. I know it's part of their job, and I also know that not all of the leaders employ such a WW brand-centric approach. Unfortunately much of my meeting time was spent listening to someone convince me that the path to weight loss happiness was through Fruities and $7.00 boxes of 100-calorie packs.

I completely agree with you on this. I originally joined WW a few years ago when we lived in Rhode Island - I had an awesome leader but we ended up moving to North Carolina several weeks after I started the program. In NC I tried WW again, but I didn't like the leaders or get much out of the meetings of the ones I tried, so I stopped just a few weeks in. My current leader rarely mentions the WW products and I never feel pressured to buy stuff. She is a 'real food' enthusiast though, so I think that makes a difference. One thing that strikes me as more than slightly hypocritical about WW is that while they emphasize healthy eating, including plenty of 'real food' and their cookbooks are the same way, all of their products are full of artificial sweeteners and chemicals. I tend to stay away from those.

I find a supportive group meeting very helpful. The weekly accountability of a group weigh-in, and the information and support afterward helps me stay motivated. I found that TOPS groups to be a better support than Weight Watcher's, however (because it's much cheaper, you can follow any food plan you wish - including WW points, and there are group contests and activities, prizes, and even conferences, rallies, and retreats).

I think TOPS sounds like a great resource. I actually looked into them prior to joining WW but the two locations remotely near me only have meeting times when I work. But for those looking for in-person support and accountability, I think they are a great option!

Trazey34
12-28-2009, 02:26 AM
I think it all depends on what you'll stay committed to ~ losing weight is the easy part (ha, right) it's the keeping it off that worries me the most. I've known tons of people on w.w. and they say it's the only thing that works for them - I can't help but think, if it REALLY works why do they have to keep going back to it and losing the weight over and over and over??? Not to say that calorie counters can't gain weight back, I'm just thinking with my cynical brain, how can i really trust a business whose success is predicated on my failure and returning for more?

rockinrobin
12-28-2009, 06:05 AM
They will both "work" as long as you are WILLING to stick with them.. Most diet plans will. The program works IF you work the program.

For me though it's CC hands down. I feel that if you're already counting something, you might as well count actual things (calories) as opposed to a "made up" system. I also don't like how WW approximates their points. It's too wide of a range for me and it kinda bugs me. Not that calorie counting is totally precise too, there is an element of guessimating going on, but I do feel it's more accurate and honest. And for this journey to be successful *this time*, I needed brutal honesty in every aspect. Another thing about WW for me is that they allow free food, which would never, ever, not in a million, trillion years work for me. Me and free food - NOT a good or winning combination.

But for me, I can't just count any old calories, where those calories come from really, really, REALLY MATTERS. I need to count HEALTHY, NUTRITIOUS calories. I can't spend my calories on those 100 calorie packs and the such. Also leaving sugar-y/flour-y type foods in my diet would have caused me to have more cravings and desires for those type foods, and they're foods that I over ATE a LOT, so I needed to pretty much eliminate them, VERY strict in the beginning in fact. They were foods that I just couldn't or wouldn't stop eating once I started - my solution therefore was not to START in the first place. Do away with them, make them absolute and definite NO's took away the chance that I would over eat them. Problem solved!!

I need to get the biggest bang for my buck so to speak. I need lots of volume and filling power from my calories. So counting calories ALONE also wouldn't have worked for me. I need the combo of the calorie counting + a focus on whole foods.

wendyland
12-28-2009, 10:27 AM
I need to get the biggest bang for my buck so to speak. I need lots of volume and filling power from my calories. So counting calories ALONE also wouldn't have worked for me. I need the combo of the calorie counting + a focus on whole foods.


I totally agree with rockinrobin. Neither work well if you're filling up on junk calories. I have to eat whole foods in order to be satisfied. I also find it easier once I have sugar and grains out of my diet. It's hard at first, but then I have no cravings. I'm starting to wean myself this week after eating way too many sweets this week. I use thedailyplate at livestrong.com to count my calories. I also keep track of carbs/fats.

lovemyboy
12-28-2009, 11:01 AM
First of all, congrats on the 5 pounds lost.

I've done calorie counting and WW (long time ago - exchange counting) and some unhealthy thing involving eating a lot of grapefruit. They worked but they were not something I could continue forever for assorted reasons. Right now I count calories and carbs. Watching the carbs keeps the cravings at bay and I feel full unlike simply counting cals or points making it much easier for me to continue. Someone mentioned the quality of food. You can eat 1600 calories of refined, processed, and artificially, flavored, colored and sweetened food and you may loose weight. You won't feel well and will likely have cravings, etc.

The beauty of this is that you'll learn about what works and what doesn't and you can always change what you do as you go to respond to yourneeds and your body. What works for one doesn't always work for another. That's why there are so many choices.

catowned
12-28-2009, 12:11 PM
I'm using the food mover by Simmons. It's an exchange program but it requires you to eat so many servings of each food group so it's different than ww. I've been going between that and the cookie diet the past few months.
Food mover is an exchange plan based on calories, you pick your calories and then you get so many portions of each food group.

greentara
12-28-2009, 12:22 PM
I am using weight watchers online. I don't like the weight watchers meetings, but I do like their online site. I weigh in once a week at home, and they have a really good program for logging daily food intake.

I like points because they are easier to calculate and work with than calories.

There really is no difference in terms of counting points or calories though. Points are just a bit easier to grasp conceptually for me.

Eliana
12-28-2009, 02:07 PM
I just wanted to pipe in because I'm reading with interest. My cousin had been losing weight and I knew she'd lost 100 lbs. Prior to inviting her over to the house I was prepared to ask her all about WW. It was time for me to bite the bullet and spend the money. So I asked her to explain WW to me because I was ready. She laughed and said she just counted calories. So that's what I ended up doing. But I've been wondering what the difference was. I've only heard good things about WW.

I'm really having a tremendous amount of success with calorie counting and I thought I'd tried everything. I feel like this is something I can do every day for the rest of my life. I don't feel deprived at all.

Arctic Mama
12-28-2009, 02:09 PM
WW was too expensive for me, and I find it distracted me from what I really needed, which was a permanent mindset change around food. For some reason my brain sees WW as a diet, but just plain food journalling and calorie counting as a 'lifestyle', and I find I make better food choices when CC. I am not super strict with either plan, but found WW just wasn't to my tastes.

The one thing I DO miss is all their great recipes!

matt_H
12-28-2009, 02:21 PM
Have you tried either approach?

I sort of combine the two. I go to WW and have got lots of support and information from them. Many of the strategies are really helpful (like "filling foods first" etc.). However, I usually try to hit a calorie mark that I keep track of in an unscientific guestimate sort of way ;).

I'd give each a shot and see what works best for you. Maybe what would work out is a hybrid approach as well :)

kaplods
12-28-2009, 02:59 PM
The one thing I DO miss is all their great recipes!

Do you mean recipes shared in the meetings, or in books and magazines - because WW recipes are fairly easy to "translate" back into calories.

If you mean in the meetings, many of those are shared by WW members here in the WW forums (and again, are fairly easy to translate).

Even though I follow an exchange plan, I use cookbooks and recipes from many dieting traditions, and find them easy to translate (if diets were languages, I'd be a linguist).

Calories, points, and exchanges are the easiest to translate from one to the other (translating an Atkins or South Beach recipe to one of the counting plans is a bit more work). In fact, it's so easy to translate from one counting plan to another, that I really consider tham all the same "language," and each merely a "dialect," of the larger language.

I think the similarities between calorie counting, point counting, and exchange counting far outnumber the differences. Variants or denominations (using the secular definition of the word, meaning "subtypes"), of a larger type, rather than entirely separate entitites. The differences are so few, that they're really almost interchangeable for many people.

For some people the differences are very important, and I won't argue that - but I think sometimes people get so wrapped up in the differences that they believe there is little or no common ground (People on this site tend to be much more rational, but on some sites there are virtual "holy wars" over the distinctions and differences between the groups - so the term denomination may be even more appropriate).

That's unfortunate, because I think the language metaphor is much more appropriate than the religious one - but I think the religious one sometimes gets more use. Instead of using our "language" to communicate, we often segregate by "denomination."

We'd share and learn a lot more if we treated our counting plans more like a common language (with dialect differences) than separate religions, and could come together in a "counting" thread or forum that included all the variants of counting, whether it be calorie counting (and it's subtypes), point counting, or exchange counting (and all of it's subtypes such as the Duke Diet, the old WW programs, diabetic exchanges, Healthy Exchanges by Joanna Lund, Richard Simmons, TOPS exchanges, First Place, DASH Diet, ....)

Just as Atkins, The Carbohydrate Addicts Diet, Neanderthin, Protein Power, The Schwarzbein principle, South Beach, Sugar Busters, Suzanne Somers, the Zone, and glycemic index/glycemic load diets and many other plans can be classified under the broader definition of "Lower Carb Food Plans," so too could the various "counting" plans be unified.

One of the reasons I like this site more than many others is because we get along better than most, and do acknowledge for the most part, our similarities. I rarely see hostility between the different camps, but there's still not as much sharing of common ground as I'd like to see. There's still quite a bit of "you're not one of us, because you don't do it specifically like this..." but I suppose that's somewhat natural - you find that within all of the larger whole of other programs as well (South Beach vs Sugar Busters vs Atkins).

Starting to ramble and rant.... sorry.

LitChick
12-28-2009, 09:10 PM
kaplods, I wish 3FC had a 'like' button for posts - I would definitely be clicking on yours!

TJFitnessDiva
12-28-2009, 09:15 PM
kaplods, I wish 3FC had a 'like' button for posts - I would definitely be clicking on yours!

I know right?!? :D

Thighs Be Gone
12-28-2009, 09:45 PM
Calorie counting with a strong emphasis on whole foods--most especially lean proteins, fruits and veggies and complex carbs in moderation. Healthy fats have also played an important role for me--I eat avacado, raw almonds, olive oil, peanut butter, etc daily--they help me feel satiated and keep me from bottoming out.

I am somewhat anti-consumer. I tried WW but didn't care for the meeting facilitator. I had already lost 20 pounds on my own before I walked into WW--I kept reading, kept going my own route and found 3FC.

Aclai4067
12-28-2009, 10:06 PM
for me calorie counting is too exact and it stresses me out. I'm more confident in my estimates with points

H8cake
12-29-2009, 01:07 PM
For years I thought calorie counting was too hard. I was writing it down on a note pad and looking up calories in a book that wasn't a very good source. Once I found the daily plate.com it became soooo much easier. I think I wasn't commited to the process enough before, but the online counters make it so much easier. I've never tried WW, the thought of being weighed in really freaked me out.