Thursday, January 18, 2007

Weight Wachters: Points Targets and UK vs US numbers

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Weight Watchers plan, a short explanation is, perhaps, in order.

The diet is based around a system of points scores for food, ranging from zero for all the veggies you can eat (with a few exceptions), to 20 points for 200g bar of chocolate. Your daily allowance is calculated from a quiz that takes into account height, weight, activity level, and whether or not you're trying to lose weight or just maintain your current weight.

The points values themselves are calculated from a formula which is protected by patents in the US, UK and many other countries. However, the actual formula is published in those patents, so there's nothing to stop you finding it out for yourself if you want to work the numbers out yourself. I'm not publishing them here, Google is your friend. Basically, the more calories, and the more saturated fat, the higher the points.

WW have modified the system slightly over the years, and tailored it for different countries. US points are higher for the same item of food, and are also lowered for food high in fibre. Because of the way the formula works, you can't convert one to 'tother without knowing either the calorie or fat content of the food.

SWMBO is on a might stricter rein than I am at around 22 points a day. I'm on 33 (though would be on 36 if I used the "old rules" to calculate my allowance). Those numbers drop by 1 when I get below 19 stone. I'm going over that most days at the moment. But I've said before, this is about habit changes, not following the WW diet asbolutely, and the points are just a convenient way to track the effectiveness of those changes in reducing calorie intake.

A pre-2007 day would have typically been between 50 and 60 points, possibly higher, and I'm hoping the habit changes will keep me below 40. That's the maintenance level for me, so it should work.

A final note for any non-UK readers. Most Brits think of their weight in stones and lbs, or kilos if they're younger. A stone is 14 lbs, so 19 stone 7 is (19*14)+7=273. A kilo is 2.2lbs, so the same wieght is 273/2.2 = 124.1 kilos.

Of course, the big question for me is how are these changes working out? Well, I'm not finding it too hard. I've generally been able to make consistently healthier choices than I would have done before Christmas, and I'm pretty good at stopping and thinking "which one should I have?" (instead of "which one do I want?") . The danger with trying to change habits is that it's easy to start with when it's all in the front of your mind, but as it becomes less conscious, it's easier to fall back to the old routine. As to the results, all I'm saying for now is that they're encouraging. There's be a more detailed post at the end of the month.

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