To see desirable numerical results on your weighing scale, counting calories does count. If you look at the most effective and popular weight-loss plans over the past decades and even in recent years, they have one thing in common: whether intentionally or unintentionally, they work by causing a caloric deficit in the body. Between Weight Watchers and calorie counting, there is a distinct similarity but their differences hold more weight for effective, long-term weight-loss.
Weight Watchers vs Calorie Counting – Numbers Matter
Weight Watchers is all about the numbers. Their tried and tested formula works on the very premise that numbers matter. WW’s simple weight-loss strategy involves assigning points, called SmartPoints, to foods. The healthier the ingredient or food, the lower the points – food items that are rich in protein, for example, get lower SmartPoints. Less healthy foods, such as those that are high in calories, are given higher points. And they list more than 200 ingredients that have zero points, regardless of their measurement in weight or size.
How does the SmartPoints formula work? As a member, you will be given a daily points allotment based on their age, gender, height, current weight, and weight-loss goals, among others. You simply have to stay under your daily points limit to slowly but surely achieve weight loss.
To calculate your daily points accrual, you will have to log every food item you consume. The best way to maximize the system’s benefits is to input your meals ahead of time so you can guarantee that you are staying within your daily points limit. SmartPoints values are determined by the protein, fat, calorie, and sugar contents of every ingredient/meal, and its quantity.
You can plan your meals a day or week ahead, and opt for low-calorie meals and small portion sizes to see the best results. One great thing about WW that makes it extremely popular is the fact that no food is off-limits. As long as you stay under your allotted points per day, you can enjoy some of your guilty pleasures. But because these guilty pleasures have higher points, you’ll be restricting how much and how often you indulge.
Calorie counting for weight loss is based on the simple science that you have to burn more calories than you consume – or fewer calories in and more calories out. This creates a caloric deficit which eventually forces your body to burn excess fat for energy which, then, results in weight loss.
A calorie is used to measure both the amount of energy we get from foods and the amount of energy our body burns for its regular maintenance and during any physical activity. The average amount of calories you need each day to simply sustain your body’s regular processes (e.g. energy for basic organ functions, digestion, and physical activity) can be determined by calculating your Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR) and activity level. Or you can use an online app.
Once you know how many calories you burn on average per day, your goal is to consume fewer calories than what your body requires to create a caloric deficit. This is where calorie counting comes in. If the calories you derive from your diet are not sufficient for your body’s immediate needs, your body will draw from its energy reserves – your stores of excess fat.
A sustained caloric deficit can eventually result in weight loss. If you also increase your level of physical activity while reducing caloric intake, then you will create a greater caloric deficit and lose weight faster.
Calorie counting involves logging the number of calories of all the food you eat, whether it’s calories per meal, food portion, or ingredient. You will have to make a habit of checking food labels for calorie information and researching online how many calories a serving of any ingredient has.
Weight Watchers vs Calorie Counting – How are they different and how are they the same?
Weight Watchers is a paid plan that provides you professional guidance and support from WW-certified coaches and experts; access to an online database of thousands of WW-approved ingredients, recipes, and restaurant food options; fitness videos and workout routines; WW magazines and newsletters; 24/7 online chat support; a barcode scanner; and the SmartPoints app.
As with similar weight-loss programs, you will be given an initial assessment that will factor in your current level of fitness, lifestyle, and weight-loss goal. And then you will be assigned your daily SmartPoints allotment.
Using the Weight Watchers database, you will be able to easily log your food consumption and track your daily points accrual. The SmartPoints system is designed to emphasize whole foods, natural and fresh ingredients, low-calorie options, and small portion sizes.
There is no actual calorie counting involved. The assignment of high point values to high-calorie foods and low point values to low-calorie foods helps eliminate the need for calorie counting. With the Weight Watchers’ professional support system, members are constantly reminded and encouraged to make healthy food choices, even as they are also allowed to reasonably indulge their guilty pleasures.
A number of scientific studies have already established that WW’s diet formula works effectively in promoting sustained weight-loss through a sustained calorie deficit. With the SmartPoints system, you will be eating more of the foods with lower points (healthier, with fewer calories) and less of the foods with higher points (less healthy, with more calories).
You can expect slow but consistent weight loss every week – between 0.5 lbs and 2 lbs – with the WW diet. WW also offers the FitPoints system so you can log and track your daily physical activity and further boost your calorie deficit.
Member upgrades include one-on-one coaching and receiving weekly strategies and support from experts. WW members can supplement their weight-loss efforts with WW’s brand of packaged foods, which include chocolates, low-calorie ice cream, oatmeal, and frozen meals.
As a flexible weight-loss program that also provides substantial and effective guidance and support, you will find it relatively easy to commit to a low-calorie diet as it eliminates the usual struggle with food restrictions that many dieters face.
Calorie counting also requires keeping track of and logging all the food you eat. In addition, you have to find out how many calories correspond to every meal, food portion, and/or ingredient. Most of the time, the numbers you’ll get are simply estimates. But these estimates are often enough for you to figure out whether or not you’re under your daily calorie requirement.
Planning your meals – whether you prepare your meals at home or eat out – will help make it easier to keep track of your daily calorie consumption, compared to counting and logging calories as you eat.
Because calorie counting for weight loss is usually an independent effort, there will be a lot of room for inaccuracies, both intentional and unintentional. Keeping a food diary for counting calories will not work as desired if you are underestimating how much you eat and overestimating your level of physical activity. If the numbers on the weighing scale do not show any weight-loss, then you will have to go back to the drawing board, so to speak, and make more accurate and more honest calculations.
Done correctly, calorie counting can help you determine your eating patterns and where improvement is needed. Even just having an approximate baseline to work with is better than not knowing any relevant numbers at all, and will still help you keep better track of what and how much you eat. Finally, getting into the habit of tracking your consumption will help you develop mindful and more healthful eating.
There are plenty of calorie counting websites and apps you can use to help with your weight-loss efforts.
Weight Watchers vs Calorie Counting – Final Thoughts
If you need support and guidance from experts to help you achieve your weight-loss goals, Weight Watchers is a great option. If you are confident that you can make healthier choices on your own, keep an honest food diary, and make the effort to be more conscious about how many calories you consume, then counting calories can be an effective strategy for you.
Every weight-loss strategy works differently for different people. But the key to any successful long-term weight-loss plan is choosing to eat better quality foods – whole foods and fresh and natural foods that are rich in nutrients – every day, and becoming physically active. Check out Modern Fit‘s customized offerings for a healthier lifestyle!