Points Plus

22 Aug

I was first attracted to Weight Watcher’s Points Plus program after hearing that fruits and most vegetables are “free”.  Rather than calories alone, the points value of a food are calculated based on the fat, protein, carbohydrate and fiber content.  Essentially, I’ve found that to best utilize the points plus system, you’re encouraged to choose lower fat foods that don’t have a lot of “empty” carbs.  By eating lots of fruits and vegetables, good carbs, lean proteins and a small amount of good fats, you can stay within your allotted points without going hungry.  On the other hand, the points plus system also allows for splurges when you want them, within reason.

To start, you get your allotment of daily points.  This is the number of points you get to use each day.  The lowest amount of daily points you can get is 29, which is where I started at and where I will remain.  This ensures that nobody is eating too few calories.  Of course, those who have more weigh to lose may start at a higher rate of daily points, which will be reduced as they lose weight.  Members are encouraged to use all of their daily points, rather than trying to eat less.

You also get weekly points, which you can use above your daily points as you see fit.  You can spread them over the week, save them for certain days or occasions, or choose not to use them.  I try to save my weekly points for splurges on the weekend and an occasional weeknight glass of wine.  You can also earn activity points through exercise,  For instance, today I earned 5 activity points for a 20 minute jog and a 10 minute brisk walk.  The more intense and longer the exercise, the more points you earn.  Like the daily points, the amount of activity points earned may be reduced accordingly as you lose weight.

You can choose whether to dip into activity points or weekly points first.  I’ve opted to use weekly points first, with the thinking that I would try not to use my activity points in an effort to lose a little more quickly.  Of course, this is easier said than done.  Actually, in each of my four weeks so far I have gone into the negative on points and had to earn more activity points to get out of the red.

The Weight Watchers website provides a guide with suggestions on how to spread your points throughout the day, and they list more points for dinner than any other meal.  I often take dinner leftovers for lunch the next day, so I like to spread my points out more evenly.  Here’s the points usage I aim for:

breakfast – 6
AM snack – 2-3
lunch – 8
PM snack – 3-5
dinner – 8

It takes a little time to get used to the points system, but you quickly learn the values of the foods you eat most often.  You also get an idea of how to put together meals that are about the amount of points you want to use.  For example, one cup of unsweetened almond milk is 1 point.  1 Tbs of nutritional yeast is zero points, but a larger amount would add up to one or more.  Whole wheat bread is usually two to three points per slice.

I have enjoyed using the points plus program so far, since it causes me to think about quality of food and portion size rather than just calories.  When I was calorie counting along, there was really no consequence for going over my suggested consumption, and I think knowing that, I would really go over when I went over.  With the points plus program, there are set bounds and I can plan my splurges to work within the system.

Monday, 8/22/11

breakfast – 3/4 cup multibran cereal with blueberries and 3/4 cup almond milk
AM snack – half a cantaloupe, coffee with hazelnut soy creamer
lunch – Field Roast Italian Sausage on french bread with ketchup, mustard and relish, small bag of barbecue chips (Yes, we had another hot dog lunch at work.)
PM snack – 3/4 cup plain soy yogurt with stevia
dinner – quinoa pasta shells with veggies (see below)

Exercise – Couch to 5K Week 5 Day 3 (20 minutes running, 10 minutes walking)

Daily points used:  29
Activity points earned:  5

I had planned on cooking a few recipes tonight, but I knew I would be too hungry after running so I threw this dinner together from my pantry instead.  I cooked 2 oz quinoa pasta shells, and made a sauce of 1 tsp olive oil, half a small onion, a clove of garlic, diced celery and carrot, red pepper flakes, dried parsley, oregano and basil, a Tablespoon of tomato paste, a few splashes of water, 1/2 cup frozen turnip greens and a Tablespoon of nutritional yeast.  This filling bowl of pasta came in at only six points, and it was one of the better on-the-fly dinners I have made!

Success of the day:  I ran 20 minutes in a row!  That’s longer than I’ve ran in many years.

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One Response to “Points Plus”

  1. thefitnessguy November 13, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    Thanks for the recommendations shared in your blog. Something else I would like to convey is that losing weight is not exactly about going on a fad diet and trying to shed as much weight as you\’re able in a few days. The most effective way to lose weight naturally is by getting it slowly and gradually and following some basic points which can allow you to make the most out of your attempt to lose weight. You may recognize and be following some of these tips, nevertheless reinforcing expertise never damages.

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