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Weight Watchers "Core" vs. "Points" Plans

Sueeatmo asked me in this thread http://www.chowhound.com/topics/47339... why I chose Weight Watchers "core" plan vs. their "points" plan. I don't expect the weight loss to be any better or worse on core; I'm aiming to lose a pound or two a week and that's perfectly doable under either plan.

I chose the core plan because I don't like to weigh and measure and write down everything I eat (like you have to on the points plan). Instead, under core, I just know I'm allowed to eat lean meats, fruits, vegetables, nonfat milk products and whole grains more or less to my heart's content (basically, until I'm satisfied, but not "stuffed"). That's how I like to eat when I'm eating "healthy" anyway, so, it doesn't seem like that restrictive or that much of a "diet". The only thing I have to "track" is I have to make sure I eat the minimum number of servings (2) of dairy a day, the minimum serving (1 tsp) of fats per day, and my "discretionary" points for my splurges (more on that below).

What I find difficult about following the core plan is that refined starches--basically, all breads even whole grain breads--are pretty much off limits. If you follow the core plan you do get 35 "discretionary" points a week to cover your "splurges" if you want a slice of bread, upgrade your "nonfat" daily to low fat or you want some other food that isn't a "core food." But, especially this time of year (around the holidays) I've preferred to save my 35 points for those social occasions where I don't have control over the menu or for a glass of wine or small piece of dessert or something. Oh, and you get extra "points" on any day that you exercise (the more you exercise, the more points...)

Also, although it is possible to dine out under the core plan, as a practical matter, it is really difficult to find "core" dishes on most restaurant menus. Steakhouses aren't bad...you just get a 4 oz fillet, baked potato and a side of veggies (usually, you'll have to count some extra points for the butter you know they've added to the veggies...) Any place with a salad bar is fine... The rare restaurant that offers brown rice or whole wheat pasta isn't bad... But, mom and pop type ethnic restaurants seldom have "core" friendly foods on their menus, in my experience. I miss that a lot.

Anyway, that's it. The key is, chose the plan that fits best for you. In fact, you can even switch back and forth between the plans as often as weekly. (You can't switch daily--you have to stick with it for at least a week) and a lot of people do that to stave off boredom or when they think they've reached a plateau and need something new. I think the "points" plan appeals to people who want a lot more variety and freedom in their diets and who don't mind keeping a food diary.

My secondary goal for 2008 (losing the weight and getting fit) being the primary goal(s), is to come away from this with an expanded repertoire of healthy recipes I know how to cook. I have a zillion cookbooks, many of them "healthy" but seldom cook from them and, when I do, I later can't remember which cookbook they came from and can't replicate it. So, I'm also keeping a "recipe" log this year.


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  1. I've been following the Flex plan on WW since 2004, before Core was even introduced, I think. I have a few reasons for continuing on Flex:

    1. I'd always eaten relatively healthy food... just too much of it. Flex has taught me a lot about portion control, and that's the lesson I really needed to learn.

    2. I do not eat any sugar substitutes or fat substitutes, and I dislike that the Core plan allows SF/FF to be "free", but that I'd have to count against my extra points for 1 oz of regular cheese. I think if you do Core by concentrating on "real" food instead of "diet" food, it's a healthy choice, but not otherwise.

    Good luck with the Core plan and WW in 2008!

    3 Replies
    1. re: dustchick

      Hi dustchick--Thank you for "weighing in" (hehe) on the "points" side of the equation. You make some very excellent points, especially about portion control.

      As far as sugar free/fat free foods, well, that's not even food, is it. ;-) Seriously, though, except for an occasional diet pop, I steer away from that stuff altogether. I tried a recipe for "eggnog" pudding parfait that called for sugar free fat free pudding mix (to see if it would satisfy an eggnog craving)--it was so chemically-tasting, I couldn't even eat it, though it was lovely (layered with raspberries and with pears I'd sauteed in cinnamon.) Personally, I stick with only real foods and use my 35 discretionary points per week (plus my exercise points) when I want to add a little sugar, for instance. I don't even like sugar free/fat free yogurt--I like Fage so much I can eat it plain, or, just mixed in with some berries. The other thing that is a real mistake is fat free cheese--yuck. It doesn't really satisfy a cheese craving. As you say, better to use just a tiny bit of real cheese and count it against the 35 discretionary points you're allowed per week on core.

      To be honest, there isn't much baking going on when you're on the core plan--neither flour nor sugar are "core foods", so you have to take them out of your 35 discretionary points, or opt for "sugar" substitute to replace the sugar. So, if you're a person who likes to bake, the core plan is probably not for you. Really, fruit + dairy becomes your dessert when you're on core.

      I forgot --I do on occasion use butter substitute, like Molly McButter and that's been working for okay for me. It's really the only "articifial" food product I am happy to use. On a rare occasion, I'll use fat free salad dressing, but I don't prefer it. Instead, I use my two tsp of oils I'm allowed per day or my discretionary points for a little bit of the real stuff. I only use the fat free stuff if I'm out of points, which is not very often.

      One of the key components of the core plan is that to be successful, you have to learn to recognize your body's signals for "hunger" and "feeling full." So far, it's worked for me and, when I'm done losing the weight, I hope that it's a skill I keep, much like, hopefully, you keep your portion control skill.

      Good luck to you also!


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Hey TDQ, my support to you on your goals.

        My wife has used WeightWatchers after her pregnancies to get back to her desired weight. Originally, she was on the "tracking and counting everything" plan (is that the "Flex" or is it even more rudimentary?) and I played along just for fun. Because of my exercise routine and weight, I was alloted something like 50 points a day though. But, I stayed under and I was losing weight.

        Later on, when the core plan came out she started that. Again, I played along. For me personally, the core plan would not work. The minute I am able to not log some foods, it opens the door to cheating and/or getting lazy about paying attention to the minute details of my consumption. For me, the effort (inconvenience) of very closely accounting for every single food item consumed is what would keep me honest. I'm either in or I'm out. Every glass of water, every teaspoon of peanut butter, whatever. Again, that's just my personal style. If I'm not vigilant, I tend to let myself fall into the bad habits that several years ago had me creeping towards 280 pounds.

        By the way, since you mentioned it, Fage is just a wonderful product. A container of the zero with a teaspoon of honey to dip the spoon in -- I keep looking at the container in disbelief that the whole thing is 80 calories and 0g of fat (plus whatever the honey adds).

        1. re: MSPD

          Funny how different things work for different people, eh? Really, though, it's nice to have choices in case one plan suits your style better than another plan. And, you can always change to the other plan if whichever one you're on stops working for you or if you get bored or whatever.

          Thanks for sharing your (and your wife's) success stories. Very encouraging!


    2. You can still "journal" your daily food intake on the core plan- you just don't need to weigh/measure all the core foods you eat. It is good practice to write down all your foods regardless of the plan just to keep track of those additional 35 points...

      6 Replies
      1. re: MeffaBabe

        You're absolutely right--you certainly can keep a food diary while following core if you think that provides some extra discipline. Also, it can be a good way to look back over past week to see what works and doesn't work in case you reach a plateau or something.

        Personally, I don't write anything down but the non-core foods I eat so I can make sure I don't go over my 35 discretionary points per week (plus whichever points I earn daily from exercising.) And, to be honest, I hate the journaling so much that I will avoid eating a non-core food just so I don't have to write it down.

        I should also mention that WW has an online tool that helps you track your "activity/exercise" points, your "points" for those following the "points plan" and your "discretionary" points if you are following the core plan. If you find a WW recipe on their site, you can basically just add it to your food diary for the day and it will calculate the points for you (if you're following "points") and identify the non-core foods and calculate the points for those for you (for those following the core.) You can also type in a recipe of your own and it will, again, calc all the points. You can save any recipes, either a WW one or one you've put in yourself, to your "profile" for future use, too.

        To be honest, I find their website ridiculously overengineering and frustratingly slow, so I mostly use it to search for recipes. It's worth the price to me just for that. Just one more tool that's available for people who are interested.


        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          I do WW Online only, no meetings, and it's been great. The website is slower than it used to be, but takes me less time than going to a meeting would.

          You are right about needing to learn to eat until satisfied. I still struggle with that sometimes, especially during the holidays! And I'm a geek, so counting points and journaling is fun for me. I'm glad that WW is flexible enough for us all to find the method that best fits our needs.

          As an aside, FF cheese should be abolished. My childhood pet dog picked up a piece of FF cheese off the ground and immediately spit it out. I took that as a sign. ;)

          1. re: dustchick

            Good for you for doing it all online! I like the added (peer) pressure of having to weigh in in front of someone every week. It seems strange that I would care whether a stranger notices I've lost a pound or not, but, nevertheless, it is a motivator for me.


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Thanks! With WW Online, the excuse "I don't have time for meetings" slips away and all that's left is just following the plan. And being a Chowhound, of course.

              1. re: dustchick

                I do both - online and meetings. I get the sense a lot that people feel it's either/or. Online tools are great for figuring out recipes, too.

                1. re: krissywats

                  I do that, too. I go to meetings, but I use the online tools. I like the recipe builder, since almost everything I cook is from my own head, so I just plug the ingrediants in to the the points.

      2. This is a very interesting discussion. I've been wondering what would work the best for me...

        16 Replies
        1. re: baltoellen

          It's nice to have options! Whichever path you choose, good luck! And, remember, each week you have the option to continue with whichever you choose (core or points)--the goods news is that all of the cookbooks and other materials offer both core and points options. So, if you buy a WW cookbook and follow it for weeks or months "on core" and suddenly decide you want to switch to "points"--you can use your same cookbooks and other materials...


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Just curious: how many points does Fage have? The fat free and the low fat? (I never eat the full-fat stuff.)
            I could live on it, and I'm about to re-enroll in Flex points WW, and I don't want to find out it's got like, 20 points or something! :)

            1. re: ctscorp

              Well, if you're on Core (and it sounds like you're planning to do points instead of core) FF Fage is considered a core food and therefore, "free" or something that doesn't need to be tracked, except that you need to eat a minimum of

              Otherwise, for those following "points", a cup of FF, plain yogurt is 2 points and a cup of low-fat plain yogurt is 3 points. A person following "core" could upgrade from the FF plain yogurt (which is core, which means you don't have to count the 2 points) to LF and count it as one point. At least, that's how I do it.

              Just FYI, you can always exercise for about a half hour a day, which should earn you a couple of points depending on intensity etc. and earn yourself a FF Fage if you're out of points. :).

              Good luck to you!


              1. re: The Dairy Queen


                My wife proclaimed our soup tonight as "core". I guess she dug out her old WW materials. Plus, I just finished 32 minutes on the bike at high intensity!!! (Was supposed to be 60 but I got kicked out of the gym because my youngest had a "diaper issue" and I forgot to refill my gym bag with fresh ones...gah).

                Full fat tub o' Fage, here I come!

                By the way, I don't know if they're still around, but the little slide-y points calculator (for the points plan) was really handy. Just read the label, line up the fat with the calories and the dietary fiber and you have your points. Maybe it's a given but if not, I recommend it.

                1. re: MSPD

                  Those slidey things are still around--I love those, too.

                  What kind of soup was it?


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    It was a bunch of leftover ingredients from the past weekend's Christmas "blowout" at our place -- turkey breast shreds, tomatoes, barley, carrots, celery...I can't remember what else. Just some thrown-together turkey barley soup.

                    By the way TDQ, on the Core plan, do they account for things that don't contribute to fat weight, but are key in other health/diet considerations? My soup got me thinking -- it's core, but it had some salt in it. Store-bought soups may be core but have a very high sodium content. I suspect you could retain a great deal of water weight (not to mention get high blood pressure) if you eat high-sodium core foods to your heart's content. Maybe I'm not thinking this through enough.

                    1. re: MSPD

                      That soups sounds great--what a fantastic way to use leftovers, eh?

                      You know, they don't get much into issues of salt, that I recall, but they do have the "good health" guidelines, which require (daily) taking a multivitamin daily, a minimum of 2 servings of dairy, a minimum of 5 servings of produce, choosing whole grains over refined grains, drinking 6 glasses of water, 2 tsp of "healthy" fats, a minimum of 2 servings of protein, and limiting added sugar and alcohol (2 drinks).

                      Nevertheless, the way we're following the core plan (and I think this has a lot to do with being chowhounds, and, also, because we have gorgeous produce and chicken from our CSA), we're doing a lot of "from scratch" cooking rather than buying "WW" products or other kinds of "diet" products. I do fall back on a couple of cheats on occasion:

                      ~"Nile Spice" dehydrated split pea and lentil soups that I buy at the co-ops
                      ~premade polenta (you know, the "logs" you can buy at the co-op and most groceries)
                      ~packets of Uncle Ben's brown rice that you can microwave and have done in 90 seconds
                      ~"lite" microwave popcorn.

                      Aside from those items, which we fall back on in "emergencies" once, maybe twice a week, we are really cooking everything from scratch. It's also my "secondary" goal (my primary twin goals being to lose the weight and get fit/healthy) to expand my repertoire of healthy from-scratch recipes that I'll be able to draw on in the future after the weight is gone. I find so many of my issues around healthy eating have to do with bad habits. My hope is to not just lose weight, but to develop some really good habits, particularly around regular exercise and cooking more from scratch using healthful ingredients, even when crunched for time.


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        Yeah...those leftovers got a lot of use. I think turkey has to be one of the most economical foods out there -- $20 and you can eat for weeks.

                        I'm with you on the "from scratch". Next spring, I'm going to study up on canning. A few odds and ends out of our valuable CSA stuff went to waste -- it was a shame. I could have canned a lot of it for use at this time of year.

                        I also appreciate your mentions on specific products you've been buying. With the kids and hectic schedule, I don't have as much time to browse over at the co-op. But I notice good things like Fage creeping into Super Target and if I have specific items in mind, I can do a 5-minute blitz of the co-op on my way home from work.

                        1. re: MSPD

                          In addition to the Uncle Ben's brown rice packets, soups, ready made polenta, and microwave popcorn, here are some other products I always make sure I have on hand:

                          Fage 0% yogurt

                          Canadian bacon

                          Frozen shrimp

                          100% buckwheat soba noodles (it's core, fast and not "limited" to one meal a day the way whole wheat pasta is)

                          Takaokaya's "Teriyaki Nori Seasoned Seaweed"--I buy it in snack packs at my Asian grocery or a "jar" of 80 on Amazon.

                          Also, those "seasoned" packages of tofu from the fridge section of the co-op or whole foods (the "thai style" the italian style, etc.) --we through those into stir fries, sometimes as a "supplement" to shrimp etc.

                          Another couple of things for your freezer--veggies for stir fry, edamame, and blueberries.


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            Where do Canadian bacon and shrimp fall on the core plan? And, does that mean you can eat as much soba as you want? For real? That's awesome.

                            1. re: ctscorp

                              Basically, if you follow the core plan, they provide you with a list of foods (basically, lean meats/poultry/seafood, nonfat dairy, tofu+eggs, fresh (not dried or concentrated) fruits & veggies, and most whole grains) that you can eat "until satisfied" without having to count or measure them. In addition, you get 35 "discretionary" points per week to eat any "non core" foods, that is, foods that aren't on the list.

                              So, most of the things I mentioned above, 0% Fage, shrimp, Canadian bacon, jerky, hard boiled eggs, edamame, tofu, 100% soba noodles, polenta are "core" foods, which means, if you're following the core plan, you don't have to track or count them.

                              You can each as much of them as you want, as long as you still follow the good health guidelines (ie. minimum servings of produce and dairy a day, etc.) and as long as you don't "stuff" yourself with them. That is, you can eat enough until you feel "satisfied." If you feel stuffed, you've eaten too much, if you feel very hungry, not enough.

                              There are a few "limited" foods that are "core" (whole wheat pasta, brown rice, potatoes), meaning, you don't have to "count" them against your 35 discretionary points a week, but, you're limited to eating those to one meal per day.

                              Also, olive oil, canola oil, flax seed oil (and a couple of other oils that I can't remember off the top of my head), don't have to be counted against your discretionary points as long as you don't use more than 2 2 tsp per day of oil. Any more than that and you have to count it against your points. The "good health guidelines" require that you eat 2 tsp of those "healthy oils" a day, though...

                              Make sense?


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                That sounds great. I always had a problem with points because I'm just not that kind of person... but it sounds like I already eat along the core guidelines, just not with as much control. I think I'm going to have to suck it up and go re-join WW. Core sounds much more manageable.

                          2. re: MSPD

                            Oh, and I know this probably sounds ultra-lazy, but nevertheless, I’ve noticed Whole Foods carries hardboiled eggs, already peeled. I’ll bet other places sell them, too. I have a little machine that hard-boils eggs on a timer and turns itself off when it’s done, so I’ve never bought those bags of HB eggs…but, if you’re swamped for time…

                            Jars of pasta sauce are a staple. Cans of beans. Wild-rice (I noticed Von Hanson’s carries it pre-cooked I think in their freezers. Would

                            Various kinds of jerky are good to have on hand for snacks (sparingly, I think. Really, fruits and yogurts make the best snacks for me.)

                            On the topic of CSA’s and canning—I so much admire your plan to can. I’ve personally always been intimidated by canning, but we froze a lot of CSA stuff this year and next year, I plan to do even more. This was our first year (in the Twin Cities, I’ve done it elsewhere) and we just really had no idea how much of what we would get when. Now I realize that we should focus on gobbling up the stuff that can’t keep at all and putting up the things that will keep.

                            I now realize there is no point in eating A LOT (dare I say ANY?) zucchini in summer aside from what we get the first week or two to satisfy our zucchini craving. Instead, we shredded and drained it all and froze it in 2 cup increments. After overcoming an initial resistance to what may have seemed like a sneaky Jessica Seinfeld-like approach, we have been SO HAPPY to see our zucchini for our pasta sauces and chilies and soups…

                            We chopped and froze lots of onions in ½ cup increments.

                            We froze basil+ olive oil in 2 TBSP increments. (To be honest, we haven’t used as much of the frozen basil as we thought, but there’s still a few months of winter left…)

                            We froze bags of chopped chives…

                            Had I realized we were going to get a bag of carrots every week for the duration of the CSA, I would have shredded and froze those like I did with the zucchini. We couldn’t use all the pea shoots we got—had I known, I’d have frozen them the same way we did the basil.

                            Then, there were some vegetables we just didn’t know what to do with ended up throwing out until we could figure out what to do with them. We dumped out (SOB) a lot of fennel before discovering we LOVED it on the grill. We thought we hated rutabagas until we made a few soups with it… And so on. Next year, we are so psyched for our CSA to resume because we think we’ll feel like pros. J.

                            Good luck with your canning project. Let us know how it goes.


                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              The one that perpetually stumps me is when the burdock root shows up. I know they offer suggestions, but still...

                              You mentioned the edamame -- my kids slayed the whole bag as soon as they came in the CSA box. I'd boil them up and they were gone. Even the now-one-year-old was in on it.

                              I'm also a big fan of Von Hanson's turkey jerky.

                              Thanks for typing all of that up. Great ideas!

                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                    On the Fage points issue: According to the online points tracker (and I only do online if that makes a difference), there's not really an "upgrade allowance" from FF to LF. So, FF is free on core/2 points on flex, and LF is 3 points on both. In other words, if it's not a core ingredient, you count the entire points value.

                    1. re: porceluna

                      Thanks for that, porceluna. I wouldn't want to sabotage anyone's efforts with the occasional cheats I allow myself. :).


            2. I got used to counting points from I don't know how many years ago, so it's not much of a burden for me. Sometimes I wonder how my planner would look if I did Core. My diet is sort of a hybrid - I weigh & measure everything, but almost all my starches are whole grain or stuff like potato & winter squash. I do "cheat" - and count everything.

              1 Reply
              1. re: amymsmom

                Do you think you cheat less because you hold yourself accountable by writing it down? Or, nah.


              2. For me the flex plan was easier. I can eat anything and just keep track of points. Once you memorize the slide calculator you can determine how many points anything is by looking at it. I stuffed myself and still was under 25 pts a day. I just ate more fruits, salads, and nuts.
                I did WW mainly to lower my cholesterol and was successful and have now stopped WW as I lost too much weight.

                1 Reply
                1. re: tom porc

                  That is fantastic (not the losing too much weight part, but the rest.) Congrats to you for taking charge of your health and adopting some good habits with the produce and nuts, etc.


                2. What I like about the Flex plan is that you can eat whatever you want. And because you can eat whatever you want, you learn to make choices. Do I want a shot of bourbon? Or do I want a slice of bread? Do I want waffles for breakfast? Or will I be sufficiently satisfied with oatmeal so that I can have pork chops for dinner? And you learn what portion sizes really are. If you can have however much chicken you can stuff yourself with, you’re not learning how much chicken a single serving should be. I really do believe that understanding portion control and how to make appropriate choices is the only sensible way to learn to function in the real world.

                  Diets that restrict or eliminate certain foods are fine for the short haul. If you only need to lose 10 pounds, it doesn’t matter much what diet you choose. But if you want to retrain your eating habits and maintain an ideal weight for a lifetime, denying yourself entire categories of food is simply unrealistic.

                  I understand that for some, keeping track of everything you eat is onerous. But it can easily become second nature. And it’s the only way to know for sure whether or not you’re kidding yourself. It’s also the best way to go back and see what you did right on the weeks you lost weight and where you went wrong on those weeks that you didn’t.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: JoanN

                    I have been engaged in an argument with my mom and a few others. I believe that since it has zero points, I can eat as much plain broccoli as I can possibly choke down. What this often entails is me eating a meal that is an entire bunch of steamed broccoli (with just a little salt) with three ounces of lean protein, some starch and maybe a fat-free Fage for dessert. My mother still insists that portion size is important because we can train ourselves to be full on less food this way. I find that if my meal doesn't fill me, I pick -- usually on foods that have more points than that innocent broccoli. What are the WW success stories' takes on this? I'll be fine with being wrong, but I really do love gorging on a big bowl of naked brussels sprouts while watching tv in the evening....

                    1. re: ctscorp

                      I say, if you eat low-cal veggies (don't binge on avocado!) and that keeps you from eating higher-calorie foods, go for it. If you find that you aren't losing weight, then re-examine your eating patterns.

                      1. re: ctscorp

                        Far be if from me to criticize anything that is working for you. I was just talking about what I believe to be true for me.

                        That said, if you were on the Flex plan, 1 cup of broccoli would be 0 points; 2 cups would be 1 point; 3 cups would be 2 points; and 4 cups would be 3 points. Three points isn't very much, but it's not zero points, either.

                        1. re: JoanN

                          JoanN, I was just sticking my reply in there, not really replying to you. Sorry. Thanks for the calrification on the veggies. The WW rep I asked seemed to believe that 0 times any number is still 0 -- like, no matter how many portions, the veg are still worth 0. Your analysis makes much more sense. And to all, I don't mean to imply that I'm stuffing myself on vegetables; I'm just saying that I try to fill myself up on that stuff and use the other things as supplements. Like, for lunch I just sauteed some garlic in one tsp of olive oil and seared a whole grocery-store bundle of turnip greens. I'm full, I feel good... no one was injured.... I do love imagining me like Jabba the Hutt with veggie carcasses strewn about me, though! :)

                        2. re: ctscorp

                          I'll echo JoanN. Most veggies are 0 pts for ONE CUP. After that, the points rack up. Is it still healthier than 3 cups of chips? Yes, but not free of points.

                          I've had a lot of success on WW. I track every point, from individual M&Ms to individual grapes.

                          Good luck to you!

                          1. re: ctscorp

                            Well, first of all, there are certainly many kinds of extreme behaviors you can engage in and feel like you're following the "core" plan or the "points" plan, but, if you find yourself engaging in very extreme behavior, I would say that common sense would tell you that's not a good behavior. I would also speculate that, if you look closely at the plan (ie., all the good health guidelines and such), and you're being completely honest with yourself, you'll find that most "extreme" behaviors violate some aspect of the plan.

                            To give you an example, I joined WW many years ago when I had about 10 lbs to lose-- long before "points" and "core". Back then, you got so many "exchanges" (think portions) of each proteins, vegetables, fruits, dairy and grains per day. You couldn't eat more than that, you couldn't eat less than that. Sure, you had some discretionary exchanges, but basically that was it.

                            One time at a meeting the leader asked if anyone had any special tips to share. One gal stood up (this is a true story, I swear) and said that all she ate every day was Weight Watchers brand pumpkin pie. Somehow, the "exchanges" in the pie worked out that it you ate 5 or 6 slices a day, it would exactly meet all of your requirements for protein, dairy, fruit and grain. The leader FLIPPED OUT (I mean, she was trying to be nice, but it's clear she was absolutely mortified and flabbergasted). It was quite funny (and, at the same time, a little sad, because this woman really thought what she was doing was okay. And she'd been doing it a while, and having "success.") See, while that did fit the requirements of the plan, it was a behavior that common sense would tell you doesn't make sense.

                            Regarding your specific idea, I would say, your plan would fit into the core plan as long as you're following the good health guidelines:
                            ~drinking minimum 6 cups of water per day
                            ~having 2 servings of dairy per day
                            ~having at least 2 servings of protein per day
                            ~having some servings of whole grains per day
                            ~having 2 tsp of healthy fats per day
                            ~Exercising every day
                            ~as long as you keep yourself in the "satisfied" zone, not starving, not stuffed. Then, theoretically, your idea would be fine. I personally add another "good health guideline" of my own, which is eat a wide variety of foods throughout the week. Don't eat chicken as your primary source of protein day in and day out, even though you "could". Don't eat polenta as your only source of "grains" day in and day out, even though you "could", mix it up a bit.

                            But if you're really following the good health guidelines and keeping yourself in the "satisfied" zone, you'll probably discover you don't need to "binge" on anything.

                            Finally, if you are losing weight at greater than two pounds per week, (after the first couple of weeks), that's likely a sign that you're not eating enough and could be putting your health at risk. Not worth it just to lose weight very quickly.


                          2. re: JoanN

                            Just a fine point to JoanN: you aren't supposed to "stuff" yourself on the core plan, not with chicken (even though it's a core food"), not with anything. The requirements are specifically that you may eat only until you feel satisfied--not stuffed, not starving. That midpoint is what you're looking for. And, while I agree with you that folks who follow the "points" plan learn the specific skill of portion control, I also think that folks who follow the core plan learn a skill too. That skill is learning to recognize your body's signals for hunger and your body's signals for satisfaction. To me, this is also an important skill, if it's one you're lacking.

                            No foods are " off-limits" for the core plan--you still get 35 discretionary points a week, on top of your lean meats, fresh produce, nonfat dairy, and whole grains, to "spend" however you choose. In addition, you get all of the "points" you get from exercising.

                            With all due respect, while I understand (and generally agree with) your point that restrictive diets don't work, I don't think that a diet that calls for eating lean meats/poultry/seafood; fresh fruits and vegetables; nonfat dairy, and whole grains (PLUS a small amount of olive oil, canola oil or flax seed oil per day) PLUS additional items (up to 35 points per week plus all your activity points worth) in moderation. How is that unnecessarily restrictive? I can still have a small portion of dessert, a glass of wine, a bit of cheese, a slice of bread to make a sandwich, etc. But, I can't necessarily have all those things all at once--which means I'm learning to choose to have dessert OR a glass of wine with dinner. Or, get up a half hour earlier and exercise and have both. Or, I can save up my points and go out to dinner at my favorite restaurant. These are choices I'm still learning to make, even though I'm on core. And, I'll bet, if you look at the big picture, those are more or less the kinds of choices you have to make when following "points."

                            Many years ago I joined WW (back when I was a weight that I will KILL to be today, funnily enough) to drop about 10 pounds. That was before "points" and before "core." Everything then was measured in "exchanges"--basically, an exchange is what I think of today as a "portion." What I'll tell you is that I ultimately gravitated anyway to what are now called core foods. I found I felt fuller when I ate whole grains instead of refined grains. And I found I could eat more of the things I wanted to eat if I chose "nonfat" milk products over lowfat or full fat. It's how I wanted to eat anyway in order to not feel hungry.

                            Also, according to the good health guidelines (which applies to both core and "points" people), even "points" people are supposed to "choose whole-grain foods whenever possible" and "try to make at least half of the grains you eat whole grains."

                            Everyone is a little different and I understand why "points" works for many people. But, I don't agree that "core" IF FOLLOWED PROPERLY is an unusually restrictive plan. Really, all it does is steer you away from processed foods, processed grains in particular, and any dairy other than nonfat. I don't think that's so bad.


                          3. I recently started the Flex plan, and I guess I haven't gotten the hang of it yet because I'm starving at the end of the day and have to eat a bowl of 0 point soup at 11 pm every night. I am making healthy choices like chicken breast, fish, and tons of veggies, instead of eating 6 three point ice cream treats. It kills me to think that on the core plan I can have as many bananas and as much cottage cheese as it takes to be satisfied, but with the flex plans they take my precious points!
                            Oh well, I think at the end of my first week I'll switch to core and see which one I like better. Although I know what will lead to more weight loss...

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: Lixer

                              Hi Lixer, I'm sorry to hear you're hungry all the time--that just stinks. You can lose weight under either plan, honestly, I've tried them both. After the first couple of weeks, you're not supposed to lose more than about 2 lbs a week anyway (2 lbs is usually considered a healthy weight loss)--either plan will get you there. But, the plan you'll most the most weight with is the one you'll stick with and you're not going to stick to a plan if you're hungry.

                              It does sound like you're making pretty good choices by avoiding empty calories and eating lots of veggies (including that livesaver 0 point soup!)

                              A couple of thoughts--are you following the good health guidelines? They really do help you feel full and satisfied. Personally, when I'm hungry, it's usually because I haven't been following the GHGs
                              ~drinking minimum 6 glasses water per day? (that helps keep you full, honestly) I keep a 32 oz jug of water at my desk at work. I put those "true lime" packets in there for flavor. Herbal (non caffeinated) tea is "free" pointswise, tea. Carbonated water can make you feel fuller (I carbonate my own)
                              ~having at least 2 servings of dairy per day? Even if i've had my 2 servings, sometimes, when I'm hungry, I'll just have a glass of nonfat milk or a nonfat yogurt (try the 0% Fage). Maybe those cost you points on flex, but I figure I didn't get fat because of eating too much nonfat yogurt. If that one thing puts me over points for the day, at least it was a healthy thing that puts me over...
                              ~choosing whole grains whenever possible? (even under flex, you're supposed eat whole grains for at least half of your grain dishes)? Choose brown rice over white, whole grain pasta over regular pasta.
                              ~getting enough protein? I think protein helps keep you satisfied.

                              A couple of things have helped me in the past when on flex
                              ~94% fat free popcorn, very filling, not very many points (1, I think, for 5 cups)
                              ~supplementing meat dishes with tofu--you can get more bulk from tofu for the points, I've found. You might even try some of those Boca brand tofu products to see if you like them--you might be surprised. We like the sausages and the burgers and the riblets. I haven't checked the points value on those in awhile, but, I recall they were pretty flex friendly.
                              ~egg white omelets (or egg beaters) are very "cheap" pointswise and they do fill you up
                              ~I've found seafood to usually be "cheaper" pointswise than other kinds of animal based proteins...so, choose seafood whenever possible
                              ~Also, try to add vegetables to everything you can. Whenever I cook anything, I try to determine if I can sneak a cup of shredded zucchini or a handful of baby spinach in...
                              ~Are you using all of your points every day and remembering to use your weekly "allowance"? Those points are there for you to use.
                              ~Are you exercising but forgetting to give yourself extra "activity" points? Remember, if you're active you get to (perhaps even need to) eat more
                              ~You may also need to eat smaller meals so you can have a snack every 2-3 hours...

                              Switching to core may not be a bad idea, just to see if it works better for you. Hang in there. Let us know how it goes.

                              Also, goofy but true, but whenever the plan isn't working for me, I try to re-read my week 1 materials again, to see if I'm forgetting an element of the plan.

                              Finally, if this problem persists, you might mention it to your leader. If you bring your food diary to the meetings with you, s/he might be able to look it over with you and give you some very specific ideas. You are paying a weekly fee for their expert advice--don't be shy to take advantage of it.


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                Thanks for the tips!
                                I know I definitely could drink more water. I used to be really good about having a glass or two around the house, but after getting a cat I can't put a cup down anywhere or it seems to be tipped over in minutes! Maybe I should use a sipper style water bottle.
                                I do eat my dairy requirements and get plenty of protein and I think that's where all my points are going actually. Thank goodness veggies are 0! I haven't had anything as far as carbs go other than whole wheat english muffins (2 points!) or some sugar from a small square of dark chocolate.
                                I think fruits have also gotten pushed away as I would rather have yogurt which is more filling to me than a banana.
                                I'm a bit worried about school starting because my quick breakfasts aren't as filling, or higher in points, than the eggbeaters based breakfast I have time to make over the break.
                                On the upside, the Flex plan has really gotten me cooking more. I totally prefer baking but it has been fun to search an ingredient for dinner and find recipes for it then choose one that fits into my points plan. It is lots less overwhelming than looking in a cookbook and trying to pick something for dinner, and I'm not that creative with just making a meal from the pantry.
                                I fear that with the core plan I'll see that I can have a particular food, then just eat all my foods plain and individually!

                                Hehe, just an additional thought: Maybe things will get better when school starts since I'll have to go to sleep earlier and not have the ability to get hungry at midnight!

                                Also, I haven't really been using my extra points, only 3 points in the last 4 days. I guess they give them to us for a reason, but I'm the type that wants to save for a rainy day and they won't get used that way unless my friends go for ice cream. I do try to get 2 activity points everyday which I use for the aforementioned chocolate!

                                1. re: Lixer

                                  Activity points for chocolate - sounds good to me! But please, don't forget to use your extra points. They are there to be used. I did Flex, and during my whole time losing, I used every point I had every week. Sometimes for a few big splurges, sometimes for just a few extra points each day.

                                  Another counter-intuitive thing - don't forget to eat fats. An oz of cheese or nuts, olive oil in salad dressing or pasta sauce, etc... they go a long way to helping you feel satisfied.

                                  Good luck, and know that it works!

                                  1. re: dustchick

                                    Good point, dustchick, on the "healthy fats"--that's one of the good health guidelines I didn't mention, but it's important, the 2 tsp of healthy fats you should have per day.

                                    Lixer, a frittata would keep in the fridge if you made it in advance--you can just take a slice for breakfast every day, along with a piece of fruit and yogurt or something... Very quick and portable.

                                    Yeah, you might need a kitty proof bottle for your water!


                                  2. re: Lixer

                                    On the carb issue: I would definitely encourage you to eat more grains. I've done both Flex and Core, and occassionally find myself sacrificing carbs in order to eat more protein. The moment I add whole grains back into the mix, however, I am significantly more satisfied, both at meals and between. My energy also skyrockets. Try a bit of oatmeal at breakfast--the quick-cooking or instant (plain from a canister, not sugary chemically flavored packs) is fast and filling, and mashing in a banana adds a lot of sweetness for few points. Or cook a chopped apple in the microwave and mix into the oatmeal. Also, a half-cup of bulgur, quinoa, or brown rice is easy to boil up while you cook the rest of your dinner. I know how hard it is to get in all the food groups, especially once you lose weight and get down towards 19 or 20 points, but I promise some more grains will help fill you up, and boost your energy!

                                    1. re: Lixer

                                      Lixer, I wonder how you're doing?

                                      Anyway, I don't know why, but I suddenly remembered this omelet in a bag recipe they taught us at WW last week and thought it might be good for you "on the go" for when school starts. I posted the recipe in a thread on Home Cooking: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/47339...

                                      You could "assemble" your omelets the night before and boil them the next morning. Yes, it takes 13 minutes to boil, but that's all passive time, right? You can boil them while getting ready for school? And there's virtually no clean-up. Someone on allrecipes.com even says she takes these omelets camping with her--she assembles all of the ingredients in the baggies and freezes them. I haven't tried it, but I imagine if you're really pressed for time, you could try something like assembling a weeks worth of omelets, freeze them, then take one out of the freezer and place in the fridge to thaw for the next morning. I'm not sure how exactly it would work, but you might experiment with it a bit.


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Thanks for asking!! I'm still in the "figuring things out" mode. I had a good loss for my first weigh in,then gained half of it back the second so I need to figure out what's going on. The only difference was I ate all my weekly points the second week and none on my first. I know I can do it though!

                                        I did start school though so that's a new challenge.
                                        I'm not having a hunger issue any more at nights, just a snacky bored feeling when I get home. I need to pre chop some veggies for those moments.
                                        I made frittata like you suggested and I've been enjoying that and yogurt for breakfast. Next time though I'll use chopped spinach since I goofed and used whole leaf which is stringy and hard to cut and eat!

                                        Oh... and I discovered the amazing Pumpkin Fluff. Yum!

                                2. I've been on WW flex plan for a year. I like the accountability factor of the flex plan and as a home "chef" I like being able to use any ingredient I want as long as it's counted. One great tip that has helped me this time (as others I've tried WW many times but never got to goal) is eating basically the same thing for breakfast and lunch. Bkfst for me is always 2 slices of WW bread toasted with a slice of FULL fat cheese. This is very satisfying and only 3 pts. For lunch its either a simple salad with lean protein tuna, turkey etc). These combined usually take up about 10 pts leaving me the balance for dinner and a snack or glass of wine. Granted my weight loss has been gradual, but it's a year later and I'm still on program. And each time I have "fallen off the wagon", it's been pretty easy to get back on.

                                  Good luck all, and here's to getting to goal weight!

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: berna

                                    I think that's a pretty good idea! I've heard it can take a few weeks for beginners to find their groove with the points. Right now I'm experimenting but I would like to have a set game plan everyday. It takes a bit of thinking out of it, and I'm not the type to get bored with the same thing every day... it's consistency!

                                    1. re: Lixer

                                      I did WW a couple years ago - and it does take a bit of time to get used to the tracking and the eating. Soon it will be second nature though! I still tell my husband that I am out of points on days when I've eaten too much and don't want to have a big, rich dinner. :)

                                      If you like egg breakfasts and are worried about time, fritattas are great as berna mentioned. Or if you want to try a "quiche," I have a recipe for a bulgur crust that is MUCH lower in points than pastry dough.

                                      1. re: jnstarla

                                        jnstarla, I would love your bulgar crust recipe. Would you mind posting it, perhaps in this thread on Home Cooking?


                                        Thank you,


                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          Posted! It's barely a recipe, but it is a handy thing to have around.

                                  2. I'm a Flexer but consider a lot doing Core some time in the future. My group leader suggests it a lot for a boost when you hit a plateau and your body gets stuck in a rut. I also think it would be a great thing to do on holiday when using my online tools isn't an option. I think first I have to get through my binge issues (woohoo for therapy!). I think core is great for people that don't have any issues surrounding feeling 'full' and what it means to be full. Many people (myself included) have been out of touch with how are bodies feel for a long time so knowing when to stop is an issue.

                                    Funny side note: I started in Oct. and have lost 15lbs - my brother started a month ago and has already lost 19. And he is eating ALL of his points and not exercising. I hate men.

                                    One GREAT tip for the Flex people: my husband looked up the formula for how the points are figured and a basic rough estimate if you don't have your points calculator with you is to take the calories and divide by 50. If it has loads of fiber, subtract one. Loads of fat, add one (or more, depending). This gives a rough estimate as to how you're doing. So far by doing this I've been right on when compared with the online calculator.

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: krissywats

                                      I was on WW for 2 1/2 years. I have since moved to South Beach, but still LOVE the WW program and Way of Eating.

                                      Anywho - all of the leaders I had were on Core. All of them. They said after they met their goal, they needed a boost (like Krissywats says). And, it helps move your metabolism a bit.

                                      I always did Flex for ease and I had a hard time tuning into when I was full. I needed the control of the points.

                                      Good Luck to everyone on WW!

                                      1. re: stellamystar

                                        Congrats, stellamystar, and thanks for the encouragement. I was thinking about this in the context of something else and realized that, except that you need to severely limit your intakes of nuts, the core plan pretty much falls in line with the nutrition guidelines the USDA released a couple of years ago (aka the new food pyramid)--I think it is a healthy approach. http://www.mypyramid.gov/guidelines/i...

                                        I do wonder how it all works once you move to maintenance though. If I'm eating as much of these foods now as I feel "satisfied" and am losing weight, when I move to maintenance, how am I going to not lose weight eating that way?


                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          I have no clue! I know for the flex maintanance mode you add back 4 points or something (daily). But, not sure for the core program. I know there were some members who switched back and forth - went on Core for a boost. So, give Core a try, I'd say. I know that I got to a point in WW where I was staying flat but I resisted going to Core. So, I went off it altogether, and went on South Beach - which is kind of like Core and lost weight fast again.

                                          OMG - I miss those crazy WW meetings though.

                                          1. re: stellamystar

                                            I have a points question... not sure if I need to start a new thread. I've lapsed in attending meetings and SWEAR I'm going to start again tomorrow... but until then, I'm using my old FLEX materials. So I just had a FF Fage with a tsp of honey, figuring it's about 3 points. Another thing I've been subsisting on lately are wasabi peas. I get them at the grocery store and this particular brand doesn't have wheat (some do). Should I just use the points calculator, or does anyone know what these things are worth? Or, as I fear, should I just stop eating them altogether...? (They're not the Asian brand that comes in a can; they don't have msg, and they look to be relatively low in fat....)

                                            1. re: ctscorp

                                              Panic not. If you've got your old materials, those should be close enough. After all, if you were losing weight before using them, you should lose weight now. Seriously, I think they just "freshen" up the program every year as part of their marketing effort, so they can sell new cookbooks and materials (I am not overly cynical about that; I also think it's a sincere effort to keep the program at its best and competitive).

                                              I have some WW materials from 2004, the year flex/core was introduced and I have to say, the basic elements of the plans are unchanged. They tweak things here or there but the basics are the same and people lost weight in 2004 following those old materials.

                                              According to porceluna's above post, fat free Fage is 2 points. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/47500...

                                              1 tsp of honey is 1/2 point.

                                              "Tree of Life" wasabi peas is 2 points for 1/4 cup. Personally, for something like this, I think you'd be better off using your points calculator because different brands use different ingredients.

                                              Hang in there. Instead of starting tomorrow, why not start right now? At your next meal?


                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                Thanks, Dairy Queen! One of the reasons I stopped doing WW is that I was eating a lot of ethnic foods that I couldn't figure points for (Korean, in particular) and doing hot yoga and other things I couldn't figure out; since then, I'm noticing more online services that offer these figures, and I think it's time to reassess my relationship to WW -- which was, overall, successful. (Honestly, I'm sure I was just looking for an excuse to stop doing it!) Thanks again for your assurances!

                                                1. re: ctscorp

                                                  I agree--ethnic foods are pretty hard to figure out how to "count." If you order the most simple thing you can, eg., grilled meat and veggies and steamed rice, for instance, you can almost always just ballpark it in terms of portion size and, therefore, points. Same with activity--just choose something that you think is similar in exertion.

                                                  I think this approach is fine as long as it works for you--ie., you actually lose weight, and not more than about 2 lbs a week. If it doesn't work for you or suddenly stops working for you, then take a break and reassess.

                                                  I think this is where having a food diary can help...


                                                  1. re: ctscorp

                                                    The WW points book, the big one you buy for $10, has a section of ethnic foods in the beginning. It doesn't list everything, of course, but I find it helpful. I also try to "deconstructed" what is in the food, and figure out the points that way. So, if something is deep fried chicken cutlet in a sweet sauce over rice with broccoli, I try to figure the points for those items.

                                      2. I'm late to this thread by 6 months, but I figured I'd add in my two cents. I'm back on Weight Watchers after a 10-year absence after having gained back the 30 pounds I lost all those years ago. I turned 30 two years ago and then became largely sedentary due to the demands of my job, so you do the math:-) In any case, I went back to the Flex plan. The Core plan is how I would prefer to eat, but I'm not sure how practical it is for me. I'm fairly compulsive, so knowing when I am full is not one of my gifts. Plus, the Core plan requires a lot of "from scratch" cooking, which is hard to do when you're a single person with a full social life. Basically, my intention is to use the Flex plan to get back to my ideal weight and then use the Core plan as a maintenance method, where it won't matter SO much if I stray. I think it's a healthier way of living than the Flex plan, but without the structure of the Flex plan I would backslide too easily.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Heatherb

                                          Heatherb, I'm just reading your post for the first time. Sorry I didn't notice it until now. How's the plan going for you? Well, I hope!


                                        2. I agree, I loved the core plan when I followed it a few years ago. I lost weight every week, by just eliminating non-core food. It was easy to follow. I am interested in starting it again on my own and this site was helping in researching the food list and how to work the plan.