Monday, December 27, 2010

Eat More in 2011! Hungry to Learn How?'ll have to choose a lean hot dog and a whole grain bun but......

When it comes to weight control, calories still count, but the new PointsPlus program recently introduced by Weight Watchers International considers that some calories count more than others. For instance, foods higher in protein and fiber are assigned lower PointsPlus values because the body has to work harder to process them, essentially burning calories to convert protein and fiber into energy. Conversely, foods higher in fat and carbohydrate are assigned higher points values because the body more easily processes them and stores them as body fat. Atlanta dietitian, Marie Spano says, “Weight Watchers takes into account the principle that our body spends more energy processing protein and fiber whereas we spend little energy on carbs and fat.”

So, a calorie consumed really isn’t always a calorie in the human body.
The new PointsPlus approach is a big change for Weight Watchers, a diet program with a fifty year history. “A lot has changed in the science of nutrition since the original points system was developed,” explains registered dietitian Stephanie Rost, Director of Program Development for Weight Watchers International, “So it’s important to us looking at 2011 and beyond that our program reflects the latest research and that’s the main impetus for the completely new system.” Also part of the new math, taking into consideration the impact foods have on satiety. Lean protein foods, including non fat dairy products, and whole grain foods high in fiber, help dieters feel fuller longer so meals are more satisfying even if total calories in the meal is less.
Here’s an example comparing two breakfast meals each containing 270 calories.
A medium croissant with a pat of butter.
1 poached egg, 1 slice of light whole-wheat toast with pat of light butter and 3 ounces of Canadian bacon.
The croissant is assigned a 7 PointsPlus value.
The ham and eggs breakfast is assigned only a 6 PointsPlus value; because it’s higher in protein and fiber. Spano likes the new plan, “One thing I saw on the old program is that people would eat their points in processed carbs to stay within the limits and then they’d be hungry and overeat and their diet was unbalanced. This new plan seems more balanced and I’m thrilled to see that they are taking protein into account now.”
Fruits and Vegetables Go Free
Another big shift in Weight Watchers’ diet advice is that now most fruits and vegetables, including fresh, canned or frozen, have zero PointsPlus values. Rost explains that it’s a powerful incentive to improve diet quality. She says in the past for instance, a banana was 2 points and so was a 100 calorie snack pack, so members would skip the fruit to eat cookies, “It’s fun to see what you can add with zero points and amazing to being able to shift behavior to make healthier choices.” Spano points out that you still have to count points for some produce, “Certain veggies, especially the starchy ones such as corn, potatoes and peas do have higher PointsPlus values. 1 cup of corn kernels has 4 PointsPlus and corn on the cob has 2 PointsPlus. And that fast food baked potato with veggies and cheese – it will cost 11 PointsPlus while 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes has 3 PointsPlus.” Of course, any added butter or salad dressing will rack up additional PointsPlus; even when the veggie is a freebie. In the fruit category, grapes and oranges may have 0 PointsPlus, but turn them into juice and you’ll count 2 points per ½ cup. Dried fruit and fruits canned in syrup all have PointPlus values, too.
Even if you’re not a member of Weight Watchers International there are valuable lessons to learn from their time tested approach. What remains the same in the world of Weight Watchers is the focus on four pillars for weight loss success: diet, activity, behavior change and group support. But, now the fruit salad is free.

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