Weight Loss Support - Weight Watchers or Counting Calories

06-24-2011, 06:23 PM
I'm not sure this is the best place for this but I wasn't sure where to post it. I've lost weight on WW's before and it worked great. It was my own fault that I gained again. I am now working on getting back to my goal weight. I intended on doing WW's again but am hearing a lot about just counting calories. I'm wanting opinions on what the pros and cons of each are.:dizzy:

06-24-2011, 06:47 PM
I have done both but prefer counting calories.CC prepares you for life after goal, it is a life change. It makes you responsible for what you will eat , and it is free, a nice bonus. Over the years I have been on many diets and spent a lot of money, I have determined I will never again pay money to have someone tell me what to eat. On the other hand WW meetings can be very motivational and supportive.

06-24-2011, 07:38 PM
Hi! I too lost weight on the old WW system. I tried the new WW points plus and didn't like it as much...too many freebies for my weak will. The thing is to figure out the points, even using the slider, you need to look at the calories anyway. Isn't it easier to just add them up. On the other hand WW does kind of force you into making healthier choices by making you look at fiber and protein. I think that I am just going to try the calorie counting thins time. I also agree with the previous poster...I will not pay when I know I can do this if I just get up and move!

06-24-2011, 08:24 PM
When I started earlier this year I did WW. I loved it. It gave me something to focus on and got me started down the right road, but after about 2 months I got tired of having to know the calories anyway and go to the trouble of inputting that PLUS protein and all the other mess and converting it to points, then tracking that. Too many steps for something that could be much simpler.

I've been counting calories since. It is simpler. I don't need the novelty of WW anymore and I never did the meetings anyway.

I think it is all about what YOU need in a plan. If you're gonna go to meetings and make friends and benefit from the support of others, the accountability of weighing in front of other people, and all that...I suppose it's worth it.

I still think WW is a good plan because statistically it is the most successful "formal" diet plan, I just needed to simplify. Counting calories may not have all the bells and whistles and structure but it is pretty straightforward and I don't have to worry about anything else unless I want to. I track at livestrong which is free, so at a glance I can know my nutrient percentages if the whim arises. I gotta agree the fact that it's free is a plus.

06-24-2011, 08:28 PM
I prefer calorie counting to WW. Of course, when I did WW, I never went to the meetings anyway. I just didn't like that aspect of it. I figure that I can get all the support on I need on the various online forums (including 3 fat chicks, which is the BEST one IMHO). Besides, my motto of late has been KISS---"Keep it simple, stupid"---and calorie counting seems simpler than WW.

06-24-2011, 08:44 PM
Even the first time around I never went to the meetings. I bought the material and did it at home. Making it simple is the main reason I am considering CC instead of WW's. How would I determine the amount of calories needed for weight loss?

06-24-2011, 08:49 PM
I've done WW and never really liked it. I was always hungry and felt like I was being restricted. I just started CC and I've already lost 5 lbs in about a week and a half.

BTW, how did you guys get the little tracker picture/ number line on the bottom of your posts? :)

06-24-2011, 09:25 PM
I'm a Weight Watchers member, so I'm just going to do a Pro/Con list for you:

-A plan already laid out.
-Promotes choosing healthier foods, through their good health guidelines.
-Promotes adding in activity in all forms. Through an actual work-out to taking the stairs over an elevator.
-Still allows flexibility to fit a person's life, and to enjoy certain foods in moderation.
-Specific materials to help a person stay on plan each week.
-In Person Support & Encouragement through meetings.
-In Person accountability through weigh-ins.
-Meetings have a different healthy topic they go over each week.
-Meeting leaders are there to help! They've SUCCESSFULLY followed the program.
-Website that includes a food tracking program and their own forums filled with thousands of people also using WW, as well as healthy articles and scientific articles!
-Phone application for tracking on the go.

-You still need to do the work on your own. Like any plan, YOU are in charge of following the plan or not.
-It can cost a hefty sum for people on a tight budget. (Note! Some health insurance companies do cover part of the costs, so everyone should look into that if considering WW.)
-Meetings worthless if you DON'T GO. For a person who doesn't want/need in person encouragement and accountability... then the meeting part of the system isn't really going to be worth it for them whatsoever.
-Points, while not the same as calories, can be similar to calorie counting. It's honestly just a matter of personal preference to whichever one fits a person better. (Calorie counting is free)
-There are actually a few in person support groups (like TOPS - tops.org) that allow people to attend for a smaller fee, and don't promote any one type of plan.
-Occasionally the meetings can be a little cheesy ;)
-Again, if you don't like weighing in front of people...the weigh-ins are going to be a drag.
-Some people do just pay for the online tools which is cheaper, but it doesn't include all the physical materials or the ability to go to meetings.

Here's the overall: Calorie Counting can accomplish the same things as the WW Program, but it takes a little more personal footwork to figure out certain things (like how many calories to start out with, percentages of types of foods), and it doesn't come with a "built in" support system. Following Calorie Counting means you have to do a little more specific reaching out (assuming you went to meetings before).

I have seen people lose significant amounts on both, and honestly the only difference is that the people needed to decide what worked best for them.

I'm the type of person where I know WW works. I enjoy the program emphasis on healthy choices and moving more, and so it keeps me positive and keeps me going. But, you'll also notice that I still frequent forums like 3FC in order to incorporate healthy ideas from all over. And I've DEFINITELY heard some great ideas from Calorie Counters, heck even Low Carbers, etc! People following any plan can have a healthy outlook. So, it comes down to what fits our lives individually.

You can make any plan healthy, conversely you can make any plan unhealthy. It's up to the individual.

I have OFTEN heard "Why are you doing WW when you can do CC for free?" Because calorie counting (for free) does not give ME what I need right now in my journey. That doesn't mean I don't see the value in it!

You have to decide which type of plan will give you what you need. There's nothing wrong with either choice! :)

Best of wishes with whatever you choose. 3FC will be here to support you no matter which you decide upon!

06-24-2011, 09:41 PM
Hi Mary - the way I determined the right amount of calories per day for me was to first calculate how many calories I burned daily without any exercise - aka my resting metabolic rate (rmr). There are several online tools to use but I found WebMD's really helpful (link: http://www.webmd.com/diet/calc-bmi-plus ). With my stats, I found my RMR was 2245 calories.

From there I had a lot of options to look at. I decided that I wanted to lose at least 1 lb per week, meaning I would have to create a daily deficit of 500 calories. It's helpful to know that a pound of fat equals 3500 calories - so 7 days of eating 500 calories less than my (or anyone's) RMR would yield about one pound a week of weight loss. Any exercise I get during the work is kind of like icing on the cake - some weeks I may lose 1 pound, but others where I'm more active I could get over 1.5 pounds of loss. Luckily, the Web MD calculator above gives you the option to pick between 1 or 2 pounds of weight loss a week so it will do the math for you to give you an idea of a good daily target for calories. In general, I've read in many places that it's not advised to eat less than 1200 calories a day for nutrition reasons.

I hope that gives you a good idea of where to start with calorie counting. It can take a week or two to find a good balance of calorie cutting and exercising before you find what works with you, so don't get discouraged! If you start at say 1500 a week but find you're consistently eating only 1300, that can be an indication that 1300 calories is enough for your body. The reverse is true - I tried to start at 1500 but I found that at my current weight that it was way too little so I upped it to 1700.

Just to add on after Lovely's great post - I totally agree that the choice should be based on what you need. I didn't have time or money to do Weight Watcher's and I didn't really care for the Points system because (as others pointed out), you still need to know calorie and nutrient info to calculate points. I find that I get plenty of support from 3FC alone and I also love the freedom of calorie counting. Whichever you choose, I wish you luck! :)

06-25-2011, 04:12 PM
Hi! I too lost weight on the old WW system. I tried the new WW points plus and didn't like it as much...too many freebies for my weak will. The thing is to figure out the points, even using the slider, you need to look at the calories anyway. Isn't it easier to just add them up. On the other hand WW does kind of force you into making healthier choices by making you look at fiber and protein. I think that I am just going to try the calorie counting thins time. I also agree with the previous poster...I will not pay when I know I can do this if I just get up and move!

I didn't like it for the same reason. :/ I'd commit to it for maybe 3-4 days and then just give up because I was tired of figuring out the points that I needed to eat. I also felt that I was eating too much food and not losing enough weight. I also don't think they take sugar content of foods or sodium content into account (unless something's changed?).

I find it a lot easier to just read the labels of my food and determine whether or not the food values on the label will help or hinder me. I think Weight Watchers is great if you're willing to commit to the plan and the snacks that they sell are pretty tasty. A couple members of my family were very successful on it, but it really does depend on commitment level.

06-26-2011, 04:13 PM
Common Sense in my new rule.

I've been on every diet in the book at one time or another - I've counted calories, I've counted carbs; I've done Weight Watchers, Atkins, Nutrisystem, etc., etc., etc. I've lost weight and regained it too
I gave up on dieting and was looking into weight loss surgery. While I was looking into surgery I was eating sensibly, but not counting calories or carbs, or tracking, or weighing myself because I figured I would just fail at any diet I tried. But when I went to see my PCP about the surgery, they weighed me and I discovered I lost over 50 pounds in less than a year. Not a super big number, but a sensible one. I realize just using common sense is the answer for me. I try to make good choices, but I admit there are times when I have pizza, KFC, etc. But I practice portion control now - so I don't feel guilty eating the pizza, etc - because I'm just being human.

I cant tell you how good I feel these days because I'm not dieting - I'm just eating like a "normal" person should eat. No sweat!!

Chose what feels comfortable for you -- and you'll do okay. Don't chose something that makes you feel like a prisoner to food.


06-29-2011, 03:04 PM
I've done WW and never really liked it. I was always hungry and felt like I was being restricted. I just started CC and I've already lost 5 lbs in about a week and a half.

BTW, how did you guys get the little tracker picture/ number line on the bottom of your posts? :)

To get the tracker you have to be a member for 20 days and have made 20 posts.

06-29-2011, 03:17 PM
I've always just counted calories (and sometimes carbs too now) which works out just fine when I do it.

Beach Patrol
06-29-2011, 03:35 PM
Weight Watchers is just one of many methods used to "count calories." And that's what most diets are!

The basic bottom line is: Do what is comfortable/sustainable for you. Some people find great success at low-carb diets because they have little to no problem giving up high-carb foods. Some people have great success at veggie diets because they find it easier than they imagined to give up animal proteins... and so forth.

Some diets cost more than others. If cost is a factor for you, then you will probably want to do something that isn't expensive.

Some diets don't set well with "your gut". If you have problems with certain foods, then it's smart to realize that those foods won't do well for you on any given diet.

I have done many diets in my life and have had major success with almost all of them. South Beach, Atkins, Metabolic Research, MediFast, Slim Fast, etc. But yet, without a maintenance plan, went back to eating the way I always ate before, & subsequently gained back everything I lost... PLUS MORE. :(

I finally came to the realization that if I really truly wanted to lose the weight AND keep it off, I had to come up with a diet plan that I could do for the rest of my life. So I started "researching" myself. WHAT DID I LIKE? WHAT DID I HATE? WHAT COULD I DO WITHOUT? WHAT COULD I ENJOY LITTLE AMOUNTS OF? WHAT WERE MY BINGE-TRIGGER FOODS? etc, etc. It was daunting! :dizzy:

But by doing this, I finally hit upon my current diet: COUNTING CALORIES. And for me, it includes NOT denying myself foods I love (never have a BBQ Frito again, say what?!?!?!) and NEVER eating foods I really DON'T LIKE just because they're "on the diet" (bean salad? -you must be joking!!) and I have learned that some substituting can be wonderful (i.e. Diet Mtn Dew instead of regular Mtn Dew, Light Mayo instead of low-fat mayo, etc.)

I can fit almost anything into my diet by counting the calories. I can still have pizza. I can have ice cream. I can have mac & cheese! And I CAN eat healthy and BE healthy and not go totally insane obsessing about food! This is what makes me know I can do this for life, and once the weight is off, I CAN maintain. Yay! :D

06-30-2011, 08:11 AM
I too have wondered about this. I have done both WW and counting calories.

For me, the pro's of WW are the group support, the leader to talk to if questions arise (if you do the meetings) and the online is easy to follow, can do it from any computer and there is a ww app too or at least for point counting, I think for some phones. The cons are that for me anyways it is hard to stick t counting points all my life, and it costs something. The weekly meetings can be kinda pricey after awhile.

For calorie counting, the pro's for me are that I can use any app to do it, like LiveStrong or MyFitnessPal and it is easy on my iPhone. Like WW I can eat what I what as long as I budget it in my calories. Calorie counting allows me to see just how much that food has in it as far as nutrition which is good and whether or not it is worth it. The down side for me of it is like points, I don't want to be doing it forever because it can be tedious after awhile. The cool thing about calorie counting is it is free too except for LiveStrong which I think is $3 or something like that. It's also easy to do from any computer.

They are both good!

06-30-2011, 06:57 PM
I think it honestly depends on your personality type. I love Weight Watchers, simply because I go with my family, my whole household is in the WW mentality, so there is rarely food in the house that will tempt me. I also enjoy the meetings, but I think this has a lot more to do with the people. I love talking with people, swapping recipes and being encourage on a weekly basis, even when I mess up. I also like the idea of the point system, it keeps me in check. There are also wonderful sites like exercise4weightloss.com that have the points for the Points system and the Points Plus system for every restaurant you can think of! Very helpful if you don't have access to WW online and want to eat out with friends. It helps you plan accordingly! :)

I personally love the new Points Plus program, mostly because fruit is free (if you don't over-indulge.) and curbs my sweet cravings when I have them. But, I wouldn't recommend using your Extra points. I've found I do better when I don't use them. (in terms of weight loss) but I will dip into them occasionally if I'm having a bad day, which is what they are for.

Another thing I picked up by doing WW is that you will have bad weeks. You will gain some weight back and that is okay!! Just keep going, keep trying!

My advice to you if you decide to do a strictly CC diet, is to watch the serving size! Sometimes something you think is only one serving is actually 2.5 servings! So, sometimes, things you think are healthy are just as bad as soda! For example, Vitamin Water is very deceiving. It says 50 calories on the back of the bottle, but it has 2.5 servings a bottle... so in reality you're drinking 250 calories... just as bad as any dark soda! I always had a problem counting calories because I felt like I was depriving myself... and for some reason I don't feel that way with WW.

But, in the end, the decision is yours to make, do what is right for YOU, and don't let anyone badger you into doing what you don't think will work for you PERSONALLY! We're all different and what could work for me, might not work for you and vice versa! :)

11-21-2011, 05:30 PM
I have done weight watchers and am currently counting calories. It is free, however, the WW meetings are very helpful too. Either plan involves the person to make a decision to follow healthy eating habits. Most overweight people usually make choices for the wrong types of food - myself included. I heard someone say in order to lose weight a person should have " controlled food management". It is true in my case. I need to control what type of food I eat and the amount. Bottom line - do what works for you.

11-21-2011, 05:54 PM
I am one of those switchers too. I started with WW (old formula, on my own at home) and switched to calorie counting a few months ago.
WW is a good start. Quick and easy to get into. However, the closer I got to goal the more I wanted more details and nutritional information.

I find calorie counting more accurate (no freebies) and detailed. Especially when working out, there are tons of tools to calculate calories burned.

You learn more about your body and how good/bad certain food is for you with calorie counting. But it is more work since everything has calories.

I was eating very clean and healthy before but now I know what a normal portion size is.

Overall, I would recommend calorie counting since it is free, detailed and works for sure. Especially with 3FC since here you get any questions answered and have support too.

11-21-2011, 06:02 PM
Personally, I chose neither (or in a sense, you could say I chose both).

You have to decide what you need and want in your plan, and either find or create a plan that fits your needs.

I've finally learned that to succeed comfortably (and not have to white-knuckle willpower through constant hunger), I need a plan with five components (roughly in order of importance).

1. Accountability
2. Support
3. Carb-control
4. Portion/calorie control
5. Activity/Exercise

Weight Watchers does provide or encourage all five components, all at a reasonable cost. It's a good value, but I'm a hard-core bargain hunger on a fixed income, and am always looking for the best value for my dollar. My bargain hunting led me to different ways to satisfy those five components.

I need support, and tons of it. I've finally learned that I do FAR, FAR better when I have the accountability and support of a meeting with weigh-in.

The support here is great, but it's anonymous. No one knows how I'm doing unless I choose to share it, so it's not the same incentive as having to show up and face people who are going to know how you've done.

1. Accountability

The in-person, weekly weigh-in. Really, there's only a few inexpensive options if you need this kind of accountability (I definitely do - without the peer pressure, I procrastinate).

I chose TOPS because it's far cheaper than WW, and there's more accountability (Unlike WW, in most TOPS groups, everyone shares whether they've lost, gained, or stayed the same... in my group we go a step further and share WHAT we have lost or gained as well). It's a bargain, because the yearly cost is $26 ($28 starting in January) for yearly dues (additional family members in the same family pay half price). Monthly dues are determined by the chapter - $5 in ours, and as long as you've had a loss the previous month, the next month's dues are free. There are also other ways to win small prizes for weight loss. My goal for this year is to "break even" making my yearly cost balance out to $0. It was my goal last year also, but I didn't quite make it. I ended up spending about $35 total (which is only about $3 per month - not bad).

2. Support

This is another area where I believe TOPS beats Weight Watchers, unless you're a person who needs or prefers a more anonymous, less intimate support. TOPS groups tend to be smaller, and more close knit. If you miss more than a meeting or two, someone is going to probably call, email, or write to see if you're ok, and to encourage you to come back.

If you're not confident or secure in your food plan, or your understanding of healthy nutrition, TOPS may not be the best value, because the leaders are all just ordinary members voted in. Opinions shared in the group are just that - personal opinions, so you have to realize not everyone in the group knows what they're talking about (but that's ok, if you do).

3. Carb-control and 4. Portion/calorie control

I like exchange plans for this, just because I was "raised on them." It allows me to count calories without having to count them (because exchange plans are calorie counting plans, the calorie counting has just already been done for you, as each exchange is a block of pre-counted calories - and carbs).

And it's free, so that's a real bargain (I actually did buy the book at my TOPS meeting, The Choice is Mine. Ordinarily $15, but I bought mine from a member who was selling hers for $5. I also bought the book Exchanges for All Occasions from Amazon.com for about $6.

5. Activity/Exercise

I spent $4 for a step-counting pedometer and clipped it to my shoes and every day tried to meet or beat the previous days record, even if only by a few steps.

I volunteered at the human society, walking dogs (free, and fun).

I got a referral from my doctor to the warm water therapy pool ($3 per visit, when I started). The price went up to the point that my husband and I joined the YMCA. We pay month-to-month, because in the warm weather, we will go back to "free" exercise.