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Goodbye, 30 Smartpoints a day.

Jaime Ritter
December 15, 2017

Dieting around the holidays can be really hard, especially when there’s a plethora of delicious Christmas cookies, fried latkes, or family feasts to be enjoyed. I don’t want to deprive myself, which is why I love Weight Watchers (I’m not paid to say this—I use the program and it's helped me lose weight.)

The Smartpoints system assigns different foods “points” based on their calories, saturated fat, sugar, and protein. Typically, members are assigned 30 points per day as well as varying weekly points based on height, weight, and gender.

But, now, that’s changing—Weight Watchers has introduced a new update to their program where users can eat unlimited amounts of 200 new “zero-point foods”. Previously, the only zero-point foods were fruits, most veggies (with exceptions, such as peas), zero-calorie drinks, and a handful of condiments.

Now, surprisingly, some foods that used to be higher in points, such as salmon, beans, peas, corn, eggs, skinless chicken breasts, turkey breast, and even lobster, are now “free.” So, in theory, you can eat as much of these foods as you want.

Users no longer have to track these foods, but they will also see that their daily Smartpoints budget will decrease from 30 to 23—which encourages people to supplement with more of those “free” foods. Another interesting feature: Weight Watchers is implementing rollover points to give users flexibility to save their Smartpoints for another day.

This new update may sound a little too good to be true, but Gary Foster, Weight Watchers’ chief scientific officer and adjunct professor at University of Pennsylvania's medical school told Business Insider, “These foods get picked for a reason...the new system is designed to give people more healthy, nutrient-rich options that they're unlikely to overeat. The chances that someone is going to order a 10-egg omelet are slim.” 

Recent research has suggested that eating high-cholesterol foods (like eggs) doesn’t necessarily translate to high cholesterol, just as eating fatty foods (like salmon) doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll gain weight. And the new zero-point foods tend to be rich in protein, which means they will keep you fuller, longer.

Weight Watchers ran a six-month clinical trial at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and tested the new program with 152 participants. On their new app update, Weight Watchers says, “In clinical trials and pilots, people who have tried the new program are losing weight, seeing impressive changes off the scale, and raving about this new approach!”

One caveat: If you’re on the Weight Watchers program, you’ll need to wait until your weigh-in day to see the new updates and zero-point foods.