WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) is one of the most popular weight loss programs in the world. Millions of people — including celebrities like Oprah Winfrey — have joined it, hoping to drop pounds.
In 2020, the company launched its latest program, called myWW+, which is designed to provide even more flexibility and personalization than the original WW.
This article reviews how the myWW+ program works, so you can decide whether it’s the right weight loss solution for you.
Diet review scorecard
Overall: 4.25 out of 5
Weight loss/gain: 4.5
Healthy eating habits: 4.75
Whole body health: 4.5
Nutrition quality: 4
Evidence based: 4
WW was founded by Jean Nidetch in 1963 in her home in Queens, New York.
From its humble beginnings as a weekly weight loss group for her friends, WW quickly grew into one of the most sought-after diet plans in the world.
Initially, WW used an exchange system, where foods were counted according to servings, similar to the diabetes exchange system.
In the 1990s, it introduced a points-based system that assigned values to foods and drinks based on their fiber, fat, and calorie contents.
WW has overhauled the points-based system several times over the years, most recently launching the myWW+ program, which introduces a new level of individualization.
Getting started with myWW+
The first step for signing up for the new myWW+ system is to take the personal assessment, which asks questions about your current health habits and goals. These include:
- why you want to lose weight
- when you’re most likely to go off-track on an eating plan
- how much you exercise
- your sleep habits
- your current mindset
Once the assessment is complete, WW provides you with a report that identifies your strong habits, such as exercising, and areas where you could use some help, such as eating better or getting more sleep.
Next, you’ll choose your desired type of membership. Current options include:
- Digital. WW’s most basic option, the Digital plan offers access to the myWW+ app, along with a customized weight loss and wellness plan, tracking tools, workouts and meditations, and a weekly check-in with a WW coach. It starts at $2.94 per week.
- Digital 360. Digital 360 offers everything that the Digital plan offers, plus live and on-demand content available from WW coaches. It costs $3.38 per week.
- Unlimited Workshops. This plan offers everything from Digital and Digital 360, plus an unlimited number of support sessions with your own WW coach and a group of other WW members with similar goals. It costs $4.77 per week.
- 1-on-1 Coaching. This plan is ideal for those who want an extra level of accountability. It’s the same as the Digital plan, but with the addition of private 1-on-1 coaching with a WW coach. It costs $7.39 per week.
What are the new myWW+ plans?
One of the biggest changes with the new myWW+ program is the addition of three plan options.
The myWW+ program recognizes that while certain individuals need extra accountability, others do better with more flexibility. So, it offers three plans — Green, Blue, and Purple — that differ in the number of allotted SmartPoints and ZeroPoint foods.
SmartPoints are point values assigned to foods based on their nutritional content. More nutritious foods, like fish and vegetables, are assigned fewer points than more heavily processed foods, like candy and soda.
While no foods are off-limits, all plan groups recommend that you stay at or below your SmartPoints budget in order to lose weight, if that’s your goal.
ZeroPoint foods are ones that don’t count toward your SmartPoints budget. The number and types of foods considered to be ZeroPoint foods depends on the plan you choose.
Here’s how the three plans compare:
|Number of ZeroPoint foods||around 100||around 200||around 300|
|Types of ZeroPoint foods||fruits|
lentils and beans
most seafood and shellfish
starchy and non-starchy vegetables
lentils and beans
seafood and shellfish
some whole grains
While the Green plan is designed for people who do better with stricter guidelines, the Blue and Purple plans encourage users to focus on making healthier food choices, rather than on counting points.
The myWW+ app is packed with features for members, including a food tracker, a meal planning tool, personalized eating plans, and over 9,000 recipes.
In addition to encouraging healthy eating, WW also motivates users to stay active by assigning members a weekly fitness goal, referred to as FitPoints.
Members can log their activities using the myWW+ app, with the goal of reaching a designated number of FitPoints per week.
Activities like dancing, walking, and cleaning, in addition to more traditional workouts like running and weightlifting, all count toward your FitPoints goal.
The app also provides fitness videos and workout routines, along with a weekly review of your physical activity level.
Because sleep is a critical component of a healthy lifestyle, WW also offers a sleep tracker and services from Headspace, including sleep music, 5-minute behavior change coaching, and mini-meditations.
Another notable feature is the app’s built-in social network, which allows members to create posts, view other member’s posts, search by hashtags, and interact with others in group forums.
Finally, you can collect “Wins” on the app for completing healthy lifestyle activities, such as going for a run or eating three meals per day. These Wins can be exchanged for prizes, including WW keychains, fitness accessories, and kitchen tools.
The myWW+ program provides three plan options, which vary in the number of allotted SmartPoints and ZeroPoint foods. Members on myWW+ also have access to the myWW+ app, which offers features such as food and activity trackers, fitness videos, guided meditations, and community groups.
myWW+ uses a science-based approach to weight loss, emphasizing the importance of:
- portion control
- food choices
- slow, consistent weight loss
Unlike many fad diets that promise unrealistic results over short periods of time, WW explains to members that they should expect to lose 0.5 to 2 pounds (0.23 to 0.9 kg) per week, depending on their chosen plan.
The program highlights lifestyle modification and counsels members on how to make better decisions by using the SmartPoints system, which prioritizes healthy foods.
Many studies have shown that WW can help with weight loss.
In fact, WW is one of the few weight loss programs with proven results from randomized controlled trials, which are considered the “gold standard” of medical research.
One study found that people with overweight who were told to lose weight by their doctors lost twice as much weight on the WW program than those who received standard weight loss counseling from a primary care professional (
Though this study was funded by WW, data collection and analysis were coordinated by an independent research team.
Furthermore, a review of 39 controlled studies found that participants following the WW program lost 2.6% more weight than participants who received other types of counseling (
Another controlled study in over 1,200 adults with obesity found that participants who followed the WW program for 1 year lost significantly more weight than those who received self-help materials or brief weight loss advice (
What’s more, participants following WW for 1 year were more successful at maintaining their weight loss over 2 years, compared with other groups.
Keep in mind that these studies were performed prior to WW’s new myWW+ program. As a result, research on the effectiveness of myWW+ is needed, though the plans still emphasize many of the same basic principles as those WW programs studied, including the use of SmartPoints.
While many studies have proven that WW is an effective way to lose weight and keep it off, research on WW’s new myWW+ program specifically is lacking.
WW prides itself on being an adaptable and flexible way to lose weight.
Especially with the new myWW+ program, members are able to choose the plan that works best for them. While some involve counting SmartPoints more than others, the plans overall encourage members to choose healthier, more nutritious foods.
The plans also allow members to enjoy their favorite foods, as long as they fit into their allotted daily SmartPoints value.
Additionally, unlike diets that forbid certain foods, WW allows users to eat them within reason. This means members can go out to dinner or attend a party without worrying if the food served will fit into their diet plan.
Plus, myWW+ is a good choice for people with dietary restrictions, like vegans, or those with food allergies, since members choose how they spend their SmartPoints.
The myWW+ program stresses portion control, especially the Green plan, and the importance of physical activity — both vital to weight loss success.
Another benefit of the program is that it provides members with tools and resources for achieving a healthier lifestyle.
In particular, the myWW+ app includes community support to help members feel connected and stay motivated by engaging with fellow members.
The myWW+ program allows dieters to be flexible with their food choices and has many benefits, including a large support system.
While myWW+ has many benefits, there are several reasons why it may not be the best plan for everyone.
For example, to follow the program, you must be willing keep track of the foods — and their associated SmartPoints — that you consume each day, even if you choose the more relaxed Purple plan.
This tedious and time-consuming task may be a turnoff for some.
Conversely, the myWW+ program may be too lenient for those whose top concern is self-control, especially if they choose a plan with a greater number of ZeroPoint foods.
Additionally, while the program encourages the intake of nutrient-rich foods, members can theoretically choose to eat foods that are high in sugar and low in nutrients and still stay under their set amount of SmartPoints.
Another potential downfall is that it may be too expensive for some people.
Though monthly costs vary depending on the subscription plan, the total investment might be out of reach for those on a budget.
The myWW+ program has several potential downfalls, including the cost of the program, the need to count SmartPoints, and the freedom to choose less nutritious foods.
Although the WW point system emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods including vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins, no foods are off-limits.
While healthy choices are encouraged, members can choose any foods they want, as long as they stay under their daily SmartPoints allotment.
The myWW+ program also makes healthy food more tempting to members by offering ZeroPoint foods, which vary by plan:
- Green: fruits, non-starchy vegetables
- Blue: fruits, non-starchy vegetables, lean proteins, lentils and beans, nonfat dairy, eggs, and most seafood and shellfish
- Purple: fruits, starchy and non-starchy vegetables, lean proteins, lentils and beans, nonfat dairy, eggs, tofu, seafood and shellfish, and some whole grains
Foods encouraged on the WW plan include:
- lean proteins like skinless chicken, eggs, tofu, fish, shellfish, and nonfat yogurt
- non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, greens, cauliflower, and peppers
- fresh, frozen, and unsweetened canned fruit
- high-fiber carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, beans, and whole grain products
- healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, and nuts
myWW+ encourages members to make healthy choices and emphasizes whole foods.
While the SmartPoints system allows members to choose any food they like, myWW+ discourages eating foods that are highly processed or high in added sugar and saturated fats, such as:
- sugary drinks
- potato chips
- processed meats
- cakes and cookies
However, WW makes it clear that no foods are off-limits and members can eat their favorite snacks and desserts as long as they stay within their designated SmartPoints.
myWW+ encourages members to limits foods high in sugar and saturated fats, though no food is off-limits when following the program.
WW provides members with a database of more than 9,000 healthy recipes. These recipes help keep users motivated and prevent boredom in the kitchen.
Most meal ideas provided by WW focus on fresh, whole foods. Dessert recipes are available as well.
Here’s a 3-day sample menu using recipes from the WW website:
- Breakfast: poblano and egg breakfast sandwich
- Lunch: barbecue-ranch chicken salad
- Snack: banana–chocolate chip mini muffins
- Dinner: roasted salmon with chickpeas, zucchini, and red pepper
- Dessert: chocolate-almond “nice” cream
- Breakfast: cranberry-walnut oatmeal
- Lunch: Greek-inspired veggie burgers
- Dinner: spicy chicken soft tacos with goat cheese
- Snack: deviled eggs with capers and dill
- Dessert: Baked apples with vanilla drizzle
- Breakfast: Greek yogurt with warm blueberry sauce
- Lunch: pesto chicken salad sandwiches
- Dinner: easy shrimp and veggie bowl
- Snack: Parmesan-thyme popcorn
- Dessert: Mini brownie cupcake
Members can choose home-cooked recipes provided by WW or eat any food they desire, as long as it fits within their SmartPoints limit.
WW provides over 9,000 breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert recipes for members to choose from.
WW encourages members to keep weight loss friendly foods on hand.
Purchasing healthy foods makes it less likely that you’ll eat highly processed foods and ensures that members have the ingredients necessary to prepare fresh, tasty meals at home.
Here’s a sample grocery list of WW-approved foods:
- Produce: fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, plus fresh herbs
- Protein: lean meats, poultry, eggs, tofu, shellfish, frozen veggie burgers, and fish
- Dairy: low fat milk or nondairy milk substitutes like almond milk, low fat or fat-free unsweetened yogurt, fat-free cottage cheese, and regular or low fat cheeses
- Grains, breads, and pastas: brown rice, barley, quinoa, corn tortillas, whole grain bread, oatmeal, whole grain pasta or waffles, and shredded cereal
- Canned and prepared foods: tomato sauce, hummus, black bean dip, WW frozen entrees, salsa, canned beans, canned unsweetened fruits, and canned low salt vegetables
- Healthy fats: olive oil, avocados, peanut butter, nuts, and seeds
- Seasoning and condiments: vinegar, hot sauce, mustard, dried herbs, fat-free mayonnaise, reduced-sodium soy sauce, and fat-free or low fat salad dressing
- Snacks: fat-free popcorn, baked tortilla chips, sugar-free gelatin, and WW ice cream bars and sorbet
WW encourages members to choose nutrient-dense options when grocery shopping, including lean proteins, plenty of fresh and frozen fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
myWW+ is a popular weight loss program that attracts hundreds of thousands of new members every year.
Its flexible, points-based system and choice of plans appeal to many people and encourage an overall balanced lifestyle.
Plus, studies have found that WW is an effective way to lose weight and keep it off.
If you’re looking for an evidence-based weight loss program that lets you choose which foods to eat as long as you stay within your designated points, WW might help you reach your health and wellness goals.