DAY#379 - Can of Worms
I wanted to decide on a weight management program I could be on after I had completed my weight loss on HCG. I started about 3 months ago looking in earnest for the right program that would make me happy and that I could continuing learning to eat better. A close friend of mine told me a few weeks into my search that they had started Weight Watchers and after listening to them describe it I was hooked on finding out more. I joined their site for a week long free trial and tested the waters. I wanted to understand if it would work for me and I liked it. I liked the points, how it was simplified, how I could eat 'anything' as long as I kept my point count for each day and I could maintain my weight. I stuck Weight Watchers in my 'back pocket' as a maintenance program that I thought would work for me.
However, my first look was not good enough. I needed more info. The point thing intrigued me, but I wanted to know how they figured out points. Was it just simplified calories? 1 point = 100 calories, nah, that would be way too simple. So I started googling, my search found several point calculators and some Weight Watcher point formulas. Not all of them were exactly the same but they were all very similar. Here is the general consensus: Each Weight Watcher point is worth approximately 50 calories You take the total number of calories in an item, deduct bonus points for fiber eaten and add on penalty points for fat and divide by 50. Each point ends up being worth approximately 50 calories. However, if you eat a high fiber food you can eat more and if the food has fat in it you will have to eat less. So if you want to loose weight you need to consume less points than you need to live, etc. Basically Calories In, Calories Out. And clearly in Weight Watchers, fat is the naughty calorie that gets punished.
This seemed reasonable if you believe the old fashioned food pyramid and government hype where carbs are good and fat is bad. Unfortunately, I have issues with that nutritional belief system. Now, don't get me wrong, I do believe that if you consume less calories than you expend during the day you will lose weight. So using Weight Watchers you can loose weight. However, what weight are you loosing? Isn't the goal to loose fat vs. muscle weight? And my other goal of learning to eat better, does Weight Watchers really address that? Not really. I mean all they are really doing is regulating your calories and punishing you for eating fat. So if you want to have a box of Ritz crackers and eat nothing but that you could. Just don't eat more than your points worth. Does that teach you anything? Yeah, do not eat too much. That is the exact advice my grandma gave me 30 years ago. I don't need Weight Watchers to tell me that.
I really want to not only know how much to eat, I also want to know WHAT to eat. And specifically what to eat that will keep me lean and healthy. So while being clever enough to count calories in a simplified method, there were no guarantees I was gonna be lean or healthy with the Weight Watchers points system alone. (Maybe their meetings which I would never attend offer better nutritional counseling, but at least the point system looks like it encourages the old food pyramid, so a bummer)
The final nail in the Weight Watchers coffin for me was my reading of the book, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It (Borzoi Books)
. It made complete sense to me and gave proof to what I had already thought. (I reviewed this in a post a few weeks ago, but here is my short synopsis) Fat in our bodies is released and/or stored in our cells by the hormone Insulin. Insulin is controlled by the amount of sugar/carbs(starches, fruits, veggies, etc) in our bloodstream. So by eating carbs and raising your blood sugar which then raises your insulin you may not loose fat. In other words, you can be on Weight Watchers and following their plan and you can loose weight eating less calories then you expend. HOWEVER, if you are consuming too many carbs for your body you will be loosing Muscle Mass vs. loosing Fat.
This took me back to that image I have seen on several news & talk shows where they discuss YO-YO dieting. They show the outline of a human body with bones and fat and muscles inside. Then they show you loosing weight and when they show you loosing weight they show you loosing the muscle in your body and then they show you gaining back the weight and they show you gaining fat. (loose muscle, gain fat) They go on to tell you how unhealthy this is. I hate that image, the shrinking of my muscle the enlarging of my fat (ARGHHH). It represents to me so many failed dieting attempts. Why would I want to be on a diet where i have the potential to loose muscle mass? I want to loose fat.
So that then, pushed me back to: I need to eat less carbs and not worry so much about consuming protein or fat. Since Weight Watchers penalizes you for eating fat and encourages you to eat unlimited carbs, (through 0 point foods) I can not do it. Sorry, sounds like a bad plan to me. So to my friends, if you want to learn to eat better. I suggest tracking your food. I love using https://mynetdiary.com
. It counts my calories in the free version and even counts fat, protein & carb percentages. In the paid version you can track vitamins and minerals and sugar/starch and net carbs and all sorts of stuff too. This is teaching me about what I eat. What nutrients I am consuming, what I am missing out on and exactly how much sugar/carbs, fat & protein I am eating.
So for the last few weeks I have been operating on my hypothesis that there is still a magic number of calories I need to eat to maintain my weight. If i eat more I will gain, or my body will need to expend this energy in some way. If I eat less than that amount my body will lose weight. And if I want to lose fat I need to eat less carbs else I will lose muscle. I have been testing this out by watching exactly what I eat recording my calories, watching my carbs and making observations by weighing and measuring myself. And yes, I am so obsessed I even have a glucose machine to measure blood sugar. This has helped me see what different meals and foods do to me. I have identified some problem foods in my life and have seen that others pass through my stomach without a care.
What have I learned so far? I have learned that for me, this is the way to go. I am happy. I am eating a bunch of good food. My blood sugar is staying rock solid, my weight is behaving wonderfully and I have a ton of energy. I plan on continuing my experiment for another month or maybe two until I have my brain trained. Can I live this way forever? Yeah, I think I can. Will I be happy? Yup.
So what am I saying about Weight Watchers? Well, it isn't for me. I know that for sure. I also think that if you pick Weight Watchers you need to be careful to eat the right food while doing Weight Watchers, point counting just is not enough. I also am willing to bet that a good number of people on Weight Watchers that loose weight are loosing muscle too. So be careful. Be informed. Read. The other thing I guess I missed after re-reading this post is that the other simple thing about Weight Watchers is all their pre-packaged approved meals that make point counting easier are not necessarily that good for you chemical wise. Read the list of ingredients on the back of a Weight Watchers food. Do you know what all that stuff is? Just cause you know the point value, doesn't mean you know what you are eating. But that whole discussion is for another day.