Is Weight Watchers worth the money? Weight Watchers consistently ranks the highest amongst commercial diets for overall fat and weight loss (U.S. News and World Report 2018), making it arguably one of the most successful dieting programs available to consumers.
Unlike meal delivery dieting programs or ones that encourage dieters to count calories religiously, Weight Watchers attempts to change dieters’ entire relationship to food and fitness themselves.
Dieters track SmartPoints, assigned to foods according to fat, sugar, and fiber content. The result is a less restricted, more flexible dieting routine that emphasizes understanding and choosing smart nutrition.
Weight Watchers’ new FreeStyle program, which it calls its “best program ever,” is its most flexible. It gives participants a low-cost means of tracking SmartPoints, checking in with other members, and achieving their weight loss goals.
Right now, the Weight Watchers’ FreeStyle program costs about $20 per month, and you can add optional meetings for a $50 per month total. These costs are relatively low in comparison to other industry diets, but there are free apps out there like MyFitnessPal. So, is Weight Watchers really worth $20+ per month for the standard dieter?
In general, we think $20 per month is a good value for all of the features you grt! Here’s more insight into why, and what you get for your money.
The Weight Watchers Freestyle Program
Weight Watchers’ new Freestyle Program is ideal for on-the-go dieters who crave diet flexibility and a sense of community in their weight loss goals. All three plans–OnlinePlus, Meetings, and Coaching–include the following:
- Food and activity tracking via app and web
- Personalized diet and fitness goal setting
- Access to the Weight Watchers community via Weight Watchers Connect, meetings, or personal coaching
- 24/7 online chat support
- Syncing with fitness trackers
- Access to “exclusive content” (i.e., healthy recipes and knowledge banks)
The Freestyle Meetings plan additionally offers guidance from trained leaders, weekly group meetings, private weigh-ins, and guidebooks. In place of these benefits, the Coaching plan connects dieters with a dedicated coach, unlimited one-to-one phone calls with this coach, personalized action plans, and customized skill training.
In general, all plans are designed to hold dieters somewhat accountable by connecting them to people who are either in their same shoes or have walked a similar path.
The Coaching plan is by far the most personalized and most likely to hold Weight Watchers participants accountable to their weight loss goals. It’s not extremely popular, but a good option for women or men who don’t have time to attend meetings, but benefit from the extra support and accountability. Learn more…
*View their featured promotion (above) or all WW coupons
Is WW Online Worth It? – Potential Benefits and Results
Such access to the Weight Watchers community, whether via coach, meetings, or check-ins, is one of the most valuable components of this program.
In fact, this recent Lancet study discovered that dieters are far more likely to increase or even double their weight loss results when they go beyond self-imposed study and calorie-control!
While Weight Watchers does not guarantee specific benefits of the Freestyle program, it does state that participants are likely to lose an average of one to two pounds per week.
Dieters who commit to the program the longest are more likely to show more serious results than those who flit in and out for weeks or days at a time. These dieters are also far more likely to keep off the weight they’ve lost, a challenge many dieters face in the long run.
Most importantly, weight and fat loss via the Weight Watchers Freestyle program can dramatically reduce participants’ risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and stroke. All of this can be accomplished without fitness, too, an aspect of the program ideal for exercise-phobic dieters.
Most Weight Watchers “graduates” succeed in completely altering their relationship to food, finding the knowledge and confidence they need to make healthy choices on their own, long after their program is complete. In fact, some graduates go on to become Weight Watchers experts, leading meetings and inspiring other dieters.
This is often because the WW program does not focus on restriction; rather, it emphasizes community, dedication, and knowledge about healthy food and your own nutrition needs.
The Value of Weight Watchers Meetings & Connections
Weight Watchers recommends the Meetings Freestyle program to first-time dieters. Dieters on the Meetings plan get to connect in-person with other Freestyle dieters on a weekly basis, acquiring valuable support and encouragement.
Weight Watchers has thousands of meeting locations, making it easy for participants to connect, share stories, and get inspired. The meetings are led by experts who have lost weight themselves through Weight Watchers, and every meeting will have a different topic for discussion.
But are Weight Watchers meetings worth it?
Meetings give dieters a chance to go beyond their digital, app-based connections with other dieters, and studies show that meetings greatly increase the success rate. However, that’s a moot point if they don’t fit into your schedule, or there isn’t a convenient meeting location to attend. Weight Watchers meetings function much like any other support group–they are there to empower your journey and give you the tools you need to succeed.
In-person connection can also do wonders for accountability, which is one of the most difficult aspects of dieting itself. Meetings can also offer tangible strategies for improvement from people who truly understand your path.
Meetings plan participants also get to do weekly private weigh-ins with a team leader. This can be intimidating at first, but it can also be an empowering supplement to in-person meetings themselves.
If you opt for the Freestyle program’s cheapest plan, OnlinePlus, you still have access to the Weight Watchers community via the program’s app, where you can upload images, share success stories, and seek advice 24/7. This “Weight Watchers Connect” component of the Freestyle program can be vital for dieters who want a little more freedom and privacy yet still crave the support of a community.
*Weight Watchers Canada here
Weight Watchers vs. (Free Alternative) MyFitnessPal
MyFitnessPal is an app that’s a good free alternative to Weight Watchers. But is it as good as Weight Watchers? Let’s look at what both of them offer:
- A community of dieters with similar goals
- An app-based food and exercise tracker
- Access to a database of foods and recipes
So, why pay to use Weight Watchers? Well, unlike MyFitnessPal, WW doesn’t simply just count calories. In fact, the basis of their program is their point system which assigns point values to all foods and then gives you a budget to spend, which should result in healthy food choices and weight loss.
Why is this significant? Consider that a jelly donut might have the same number of calories as grilled salmon with vegetables. While MyFitnessPal sees these as the same, Weight Watchers does not. For this reason, I believe that counting points is a superior way to track food than counting calories.
Also, the Weight Watchers “Connect” community is a superior social network of supportive people who are also on the program. In my opinion when something is offered for “free,” the quality of the community and resources suffers as there is no cost or barrier to entry. It’s the same reason why “free” dating sites should be avoided, and “free” public pools in the city aren’t as nice as ones you pay to enter!
Justifying the Cost
In determining whether Weight Watchers is worth the money, let’s look at a few other monthly expenses and their cost:
- Starbucks coffee: A single ($4) Starbucks coffee each weekday morning sounds like a harmless habit, but that adds up to $80 per month!
- Cable TV: The average cost of cable TV just surpassed $100 per month for the first time!
- Wine / Alcohol: My husband and I enjoy a bottle of wine about twice a week. Even at only $10 per bottle, that’s an $80 per month habit.
- Smoking: Yuck, how do people still smoke in this day and age? Well, smoking half a pack a day will cost you $100+ per month
- Lottery Tickets: If you buy 5 ($2) lottery tickets once a week, that’s a $40 per month expense
- Personal Trainer: At $50 per session, twice a week, the assistance of a personal trainer is a $400 per month expense.
- Meal Delivery diets, like Nutrisystem, replace a lot of your meals but cost $300+ per month
- Obesity: America’s obesity epidemic costs the country hundreds of billions of dollars a year. When you calculate the related expenses, doctor visits, and lost days at work, it’s not an exaggeration to assume that being overweight can cost you $1000+ per month! (Wow, now that $20 per month for WW looks like a good investment!)
So, Is Weight Watchers Worth It?
“Is it worth it? Let me work it
I put my thing down, flip it, and reverse it!” – Work It, Missy Elliot
All in all, is Weight Watchers worth it for the average dieter?
In general, it usually is!
Many individuals struggling with weight are at risk of serious medical conditions, meaning that they may find themselves facing steep medical bills on a regular basis. In fact, obesity accounts for 21% of American medical spending every year!
Personal trainers, dieting coaches, and meal delivery plans can also be expensive, providing services that total in the hundreds and thousands of dollars. Given the fact that the most expensive Weight Watchers plan clocks in at about $20 per month, ($50 with meetings) the cost comparison is staggering, and makes WW look like a good value.
The Weight Watchers Freestyle program is also unique in its ability to truly connect dieters, helping them discover the accountability and inspiration they need to reach their goals. It can empower participants with knowledge in a way that most programs simply cannot, giving dieters the tools and awareness they need to craft the diet that is best for them.
The Freestyle program also has the potential for high success, particularly for dieters who commit to the program long-term and are invested in changing their relationship to food itself. Dieters who opt for the Meetings plan are especially set up for success, given this plan’s emphasis on community.
From this perspective, the Weight Watchers program offers a holistic approach to dieting that is hard to find elsewhere, and at such a convenient price. We’re not alone in our belief in the value of Weight Watchers, as it’s consistently rated as the #1 weight loss diet in America by U.S. News, ahead of any of the “free” or book-based alternatives.
Thinking about giving it a shot? Check out our Weight Watchers coupons here!