Calories v. WW Points

I was chopping veggies and making salad dressing yesterday morning and suddenly I looked up and realized I had to leave the house in ten minutes!  Thankfully, you all know I am low maintenance, and was out the door in 8 minutes.  Can I just be thankful that my hair is long enough to put back in a pony tail? 😀  But since I was spending so much time (okay, really it was only 10-15 minutes) on my lunch I quickly grabbed a Pommegrante Chobani and one of the oranges my MIL gave me.  I knew I had granola in my desk (the only thing that now resides there, thank you very much!) so yet another breakfast parfait.  I’ll explain the *** below.  By the way, I never thought citrus would work in a parfait – I was so wrong – it was delicious!

  • 338 calories, 3.28 fat, 62 carbs, 6.2 fiber and 18.25 protein ***
  • technically 7 WW points
  • total calorie points – 9 WW points

It was another hot one in Chicagoland yesterday, 81 when I left to run.  I ended up walking at a pretty good pace for 50 minutes, enough to sweat and raise my heart rate!  I saw lots of green!

And you can never get enough blue sky pics, right?

I have Smokin Chestnut to thank for my Mango Chicken Salad with Spicy Ginger Dressing.  I brought this to a co-worker to share, and he said “I’d Pay to Eat That in a Restaurant.”  Best words a cook likes to hear, right?

I did adapt it somewhat, based on what I had on hand.  I also reduced the amount of oil.  I am doing the dressing stats separately, since I thought the dressing was enough for 4 servings.  I just used a heaping tablespoon of the dressing and tossed it in a ziploc bag and the veggies were not over dressed in the least.

Spicy Ginger Dressing:  (4 servings, each one is 67 calories, 6.5 fat, 1.6 carbs, .2 fiber and 2.5 protein)

  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha (yep, a tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I didn’t have rice wine)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ginger pepper sauce ***

Mix well.  I put this in a baby jar with a lid to bring it to work.  Just a quick shake and a pour and I was good to go.

***  This is the ginger pepper sauce I used – I think Tony got it at Fresh Market or World Market – I’ll find out – its addicting!

Mango Chicken Salad (2 servings: 237 calories, 2.7 fat, 27 carbs, 5 fiber and 28 protein)

  • 5 ounces grilled chicken breast
  • 1 cup broccoli slaw
  • 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peapods
  • 1 chopped hot pepper (not sure what they are called – they were from my PIL) 😀
  • 1/2 a mango, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

I had the chicken in a separate bag (leftover from last nights chicken gyros) and when it got time for lunch, I separated half the chicken and half the salad into two ziploc bags, then tossed each with a heaping tablespoon of the ginger dressing, tossed and plated.  I borrowed Hannah’s tiny grater – she got it in a hot chocolate kit – it was meant to grate chocolate over cocoa, but I love using it to grate ginger and nutmeg.

I loved, loved, this salad.  It was bright, the veggies were crisp, the dressing wasn’t too overpowering and the chicken was still super tender.  And the hot peppers that my PIL gave me were a nice balance to the sweet mango.

I luckily was able to grill before the rain came through.  Before I met Tony, I never in a million years would have grilled a chuck roast.  I had always thought that cut of meat had to be cooked low and slow.   I cut the roast in half, put the second half in the freezer, and simply seasoned with salt and pepper.  This was relatively thick – I seared it on both sides for about 3 minutes a side, then set it on the top rack of my grill and it took about 30 minutes to get a nice medium rare.

I sliced 4 ounces of meat (eTools says 8 points?), served over chopped baby spinach, 1 cup egg noodles (5) and quick beef gravy sauce  (2).  This dinner was delicious – the meat was super flavorful and tender.

So if you’ve made it down this far, you are probably wondering what the hell my Calories v. WW Points conversation is all about.  After annoucing that I need to step up my game and that I plan on making some changes come April 1, my dear blog friend Helen sent me a long email.   She’s lost 20 pounds and reshaped her body these last few months following a Paleo diet.  She is an avid runner and is into muy thai (Helen, I know I didn’t spell that right!).  In any event, she reiterated in her email what I was already thinking about, and that is, calories matter.

She notes that I’ll say “1 tsp. of brown sugar is zero points” “2 cups of veggies is zero points” “3 servings of fruit is zero points!”  The truth of the matter is, that Helen believes there is really no such thing as zero point food.  Whether you do low carb, WW, Paleo, etc. calories do matter.  So after everything into eTools:

  • My total WW points for the day?  31 points.
  • If I use eTools calculator using the total calories consumed (1359 calories, 39 fat, 174 carbs, 17 fiber and 93 protein)
  • It is actually 36 points.
  • (51% of calories from carbs, 26% from fat and 23% from protein)

Not that 5 points is going to make that much difference in a day, but let’s just say I eat my activity points, that would be 4, which would be a total of 40 points for the day, or basically 14 over my daily points of 26 for the day.  I know I have my 49 flex points to take into consideration, but let’s just say this is my normal scenario, which it usually is, my 14 daily overage now is 98 extra points in a 7 day time frame, which is nearly double the 49 flex points allowed.  So the fact that I have maintained this past year really isn’t so much of a mystery to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the WW program, I like the weekly weigh ins, the accountability, the fact that they steer you away from processed food.  I just think I have to be a calorie counter first, a WW points person second.

What are your thoughts?  Danica, TJ, Renee, I am especially interested in hearing what you have to say!

I am still tweaking my plan for April – so far my goals will be to eat between 1400-1500 calories, under 100 grams of carbs, limiting my bread/grain carb consumption to just one meal a day and use the rest for fruits and veggies, keeping my percentage of calories from fat around 25% and try to up the fiber.  Oh, and exercise like a mo-fo! 😀

Oh, and Helen wants me to count points for wine – no fair! 😀

43 thoughts on “Calories v. WW Points

  1. I think it’s wise to consider the whole picture. I think maybe considering non-starchy veggies as 0 points makes more sense than fruit, since it’s so high in sugar, etc. I think it becomes easy to say “f it! I have x amount of points to go” or whatever and then things get thrown out the window. I think another interesting piece to consider adding to your April plan is maybe no eating out or only eating out once every week or two weeks. Maybe go back to longhand food journaling too?

  2. I have to agree with Helen on this. I did WW in the past and now I’m back at calorie counting. And yes, unfortunately I have to count my wine too 🙂

    WW is great to help you on the right track with food, veggies are 0 points because they are good for you but they do contain calories.

    If you are going to count I would suggest fatsecret to you. If I’m correct you have a blackberry too and their app is very easy to use. You can add your food immediately after you ate it and it synchronizes with the website. At the website you can see your daily intake with carbs, fat and proteins too.

    I’ve been tracking in the past but never stick to it, since I’m using fatsecret (started on March 1) I only missed 1 day tracking and that was a day I choose not to track (eating out).

    But I do need to eat less if I want to lose weight 🙂

    Good luck and have a great weekend.

  3. Hi Biz! Happy Friday! Hope you had a great birthday week, looks like you did between the beautiful weather, great workouts, wonderful food, and family!! I am still paleo (only a few purposeful cheats) but feel great and stronger. I don’t count calories on it because I know I am eating whole foods, eat when I am hungry, and pretty much feel full most of the time, cut my sugar cravings, and have a good energy through the day. We have to find what works for each of us and you are so good at making adjustments! A true inspriation to all of us! Have a great weekend. Hopefully you will be seeing the new BRK soon! Robin

  4. I am very much a calorie counter. It just is a good way to see where you are. I do like that WW wants to steer you to fruits and veggies by making them 0 points, but if you have a fruit smoothie for a couple hundred calories every day because it’s ‘free’, then a person could have issues with losing – or losing slow and not understanding why.

    I will lower my carbs and up my fat on the days I don’t eat wheat or grains. It’s nice that way to have full fat yogurt or nuts and really enjoy it.

    I know you can do it, Biz.

  5. I think that you have to do what is right for you, I know that I tried Weight Watchers multiple times along with everything else, but I’ve lost this 20 lbs with calorie counting. To me simple calories in vs calories out seems the easiest and keeps me on track. When I did WW, I was eating a lot of extra calories because they were “zero” points. I’ve been using, I use the app, but the website is easy to use too and both are free.

    No matter what you decide to do, I know you can do this!!

  6. Wow- what an amazing looking salad! And the ginger pepper sauce sounds great. My parents have a fresh market near their house- I will have to look for it next time I go. I think its always good to switch things up to see results, so I say- go for the calorie approach.

  7. First off…that salad…oh my….MUST make!!! Pinning!

    About the calorie vs point thing…interesting. Even though I post recipes with PP values and count PP values, I am really NOT much of a fan of the PP program…Even after giving it time to sink in….I lost the majority of my weight on the old program, when the only foods that were “free” were the nonstarchy veggies, which I feel when metabolized, are totally different from fruit. The body has to work so much harder to digest non starchy veggies than fruit, that it just may expend more energy to do that work, than the food itself has calories…thus giving you a true zero point food. ( but I am not a dietician and I have no scientific proof to back me up…so I could be wrong…but it makes sense to me) Fruits, however, don’t. I have STRUGGLED on the points plus plan…yet the weight came off pretty effortlessly with the old plan. I’ve never been one to eat much processed food…so the idea of “forcing you to make good choices” never really felt right for me. But in the end, I say, do whatever works for you…if you are not losing weight and following the program the way it was intended, then certainly, adjustments need to be made. I have really, really considered starting to count fruit as a point value again…maybe that will help ME succeed again. I can’t believe I am the only one who is not doing so well with PP…but it’s what they have forced us to use, so that is what I am sticking with, because WW is the ONLY real plan I have had any long term success with. the key being….long term….Good luck though, I think it is definitely worth a try to try the calorie counting in adjacent to the WW plan.

    and that’s my two cents! lol Have a great weekend Biz! Cooling off…and I want it to stay WARM! lol

  8. Well I won’t comment on the points vs. calories because you know how I feel. I’m already proud of you for counting both ways so you could see what I mean about zero point foods really adding up to slow weight loss!

    I will say, I am typing the ingredients for that salad into my grocery store app the minute I finish this comment. It looks and sounds absolutely fabulous!

    Have a great weekend. Don’t forget to track your wine 😉

  9. Interesting observation on the points/calories thing. I did WW for a long time but now I’m couting calories. Both work for me but right now I just find couting calories easier.

  10. (argh darn comment issue, apologies if this is a dup)

    That salad looks awesome, need to add that to my lunch rotation. I love WW too, but I found after awhile I could really “work” the system, and it just stopped working for me. The double-check on calories is a good plan to avoid the zero points from adding up.

    Side not, how the hell do you hold a plank for so long. Got my 3 month assessment test today and was amazed I could hold it 1 minute.

  11. I barely made it through your post, what with all the numbers! 😉

    Helen is a wise woman. Every calorie counts – that’s how I lost my weight, by counting calories. And NOT giving myself “bonus” eats for exercising (most of the time, anyway). Also, I rarely drank my calories (luckily I don’t drink alcohol so that was easier), but when I did, I counted them. Wine counts, unfortunately. I think you are going to see a real change if you keep this up and I am very excited for you!!!

  12. That salad looks amazing and the dressing sounds great too! Just printed both of them off 🙂 I’m making Sangria this weekend, I guess I’ll be consuming lots of calories…lol! 😉

  13. I love that mango chicken salad and I’m craving it for lunch. I think it’s smart every once in a while to double check that the zero points aren’t adding up. I learn so much from your blog.

  14. I think Helen has good advice. And I am a fan of the paleo diet, even though I can’t seem to stop eating bread 😀 MMMMM pizza. There is no secret “trick” to losing weight; it definitely comes down to calories. I did WW online for a month at the beginning of the year to see if I could lose the 7 pounds I gained at my new job (I didn’t yet) and the fact that I could eat fruit for zero points was terrible! Fruit is not zero calories, and even veggies can add up I suppose if you eat a ton of them. Good luck!

  15. You know, I am with Helen on this one as much as I hate to admit it. I hate counting calories for fruits and veggies. It works for me though, even more than WW did. I think I got carried away with zero points foods and didn’t think about how they add up over time.

    I use livestrong for calorie tracking, I love it!

  16. I’ve been very critical of WW and free fruit. Over and over, I see people start out with Weight Watchers and then they stall out after they lose a few pounds. I count each portion of fruit as one point. I do not count veggies like green beans, lettuce, tomato and the like but do count peas, beans, potatoes and such.

    Even my WW leader discourages us from eating activity points but I never did that anyway. Calories do count. I still love WW because they taught me about maintenance and the meetings are wonderful. BUT, as soon as they rolled out the Points Plus program, I knew I could not maintain on it. I can maintain at 29 points a day with NO weekly points. You are on the right track figuring out that you’ve been eating more than you can eat and still lose. Good luck.

  17. I think it will be good for you to switch it up. Try something new – changes is a good thing!! 🙂
    Happy Friday!

  18. I think it’s a good idea to be aware of the calories that we’re consuming. I love that WW encourages members to consume more filling fruits over a packaged 100 calorie pack, but I think the education needs to reflect that you’re still consuming calories.

    Have a great weekend!

  19. I agree about the calories thing – counting calories (and by that I mean everything that went into my mouth be it food or drink) was the only way I was able to lose weight. Your mileage may vary of course, but I do think it’s a good approach if other things haven’t been working. I like the website Spark People – you enter your current weight, goal weight, how long you want to take to lose it, and your ‘calories burned’ goal for each week, and then it gives you a calorie range goal for each day. You can enter in foods eaten (including recipes), as well as all your cardio exercise to make sure you are balancing everything out. I would always allow myself one ‘cheat’ day each week when I could go over my calorie range, but otherwise stick within the suggested guidelines, and this worked really well for me.

  20. I used to to ww’s points and I still love ww’s but when I put some of my day’s into a calorie counter some days were less than 1,000 calories while some were crazy high days.
    Right now I’m using calories on sparkpeople and it’s working for me!
    I have that Ginger Sauce and I love it 😉

  21. Comments wouldn’t let me check for follow up comments so I’m doing it again!

  22. I am a calorie counter. I’ve never gotten the whole WW points thing. I think it’s great for someone who is starting out and clueless about what they are eating. I think you’ll see better results with calorie counting. Wine DOES have calories by the way. 🙂

  23. marybcunningham

    I think the old WW points system was better. I still count points (in my head) but I keep track of calories etc on Sparkpeople.
    If you have to count wine, then you have to count those before bed pretzels too!

  24. Wow, that’s really interesting. Like you said, the points don’t seem all that different…but when you add them up over a week it’s quite a bit.
    I love the idea of adding citrus with yogurt. I never thought about that either. YUM!

  25. I like to track calories, I am not even dieting, but I like to know what I am consuming. I use the LiveStrong app on my ipad.

    Your salad looks great, I need to find some of that ginger pepper sauce.

    Oh and I did a total double take on that tiny grater 🙂

  26. I have the same questions as you. I have been on WW a couple of months and the weight is slowlllllly coming off. When I track my points and calories in My Fitness Pal, I am consuming way more calories than I need to. So, I think I am going to start counting my fruits as 1 (you know, like on the old ww plan) and see if that helps. Keep up the good work!!

  27. I think that part of being successful on WW or any other program is learning how to tweak it so it works for you. You’ve obviously got the WW basics worked out, maybe calorie counting will help you turn a corner. Hope so!

  28. I had Wallene come see the cute little grater and she agreed that it is adorable – now we both want one, but what really got her attention was your salad. “OMGoodness Mom – will you make that?” Absolutely kiddo. It is Bizzy approved.

    Hopefully I can find some decent [ripe] veggies and mango this weekend b/c this would make the perfect after church lunch. So easy to make ahead. Thank you for sharing Bizzy. And thank you to Smoking Chestnut for creating it. Very nice.

    Have a great weekend. 🙂

  29. Hey Biz!
    Regarding the calories v. points plus..
    I think that weight watchers had the best intentions when making fruits not count towards daily points. They pride themselves on being the best plan to fit the average American lifestyle.. a lifestyle that is uuuusually lacking vegetables and fruit.
    That being said, I think it may hurt those who already understand the importance of whole, natural foods. People who do not eat processed products are much more likely to grab fruit or veggies for a snack.. though they may go overboard simply because they are 0 points and do not have to be tracked.
    I think WW had the best intentions for the average American, but for those who read up on their nutrition (and for many people who follow weight loss/nutrition blogs) it may actually be hurting their weight loss.
    Just my thoughts, but in the end every body is different and needs to find what works for them!

  30. andreaswellnessnotes

    I don’t regularly count food calories (only once in a while to make sure I’m not going overboard, which I really usually know at that point as my clothes are getting a bit tight…), but I do keep track of liquid calories every day. It’s just too easy to drink way too many calories…

    Good luck with your new approach!

    Have a great weekend!

  31. I was doing weight watchers ( in New Zealand but it’s the same propoints plan) and came to this same conclusion a month or two ago. On WW i was filling myself up with free fruit and veg (and it took a lot to fill me up) to save points for a glass or two of wine and wondering why i wasn’t losing. Now i track propoints and calories side by side and find that my diet is better and i’m losing more weight.

    For me, it’s working to track both together, some low calorie foods are just crappy for you and WW has helped me to realise that. My diet it definately cleaner and less processed now.

  32. I bet counting calories will make a difference! I do like that the pp program encourages you to choose fruit and veggies over other snacks, but perhaps it only helps so far. Good luck!

  33. That is actually a faulty argument. You can’t put in your information for the whole day and expect WW to spit out the same PP value as if you ate those foods individually because the formula used to figure out PP stops considering fiber once you get to a certain amount. It used to be as low as 4 g, although I don’t know what it is now. So you could eat 30 grams of fiber in a day, but if you calculate the total you ate for the day as one, instead of taking each meal individually, you only get “credit” for a small portion of that fiber. And that is why you track each item you eat individually.

    WW did a TON of research before starting this program, so I can’t imagine they didn’t think about this aspect. I have found that when I work the program, it works for me. When I don’t, it doesn’t. I have spot-checked my calories in on occasion, and even when I eat five serving of fruit, I am never eating more than 1400-1500 calories, which still makes it a rather low-calorie plan. However, the tedium of counting calories is something I can’t handle doing for the rest of my life, and that is why my heart will always belong to WW.

  34. One more thing…a lot of people seem to think that WW is telling us fruits don’t ever need to be tracked. My leader tells us often that if you are eating your 5-7 SERVINGS (not as much as you want, but actual servings) of F/V per day, they don’t have to be tracked. However, if you are eating more than that, at some point the calories add up, and they have to be tracked. She is very up-front about that, so it appears that some people’s perception of what WW is now may be a little bit off.

  35. That dressing sounds Great and I could do a tbls of sriracha! Your salad looks great without the chicken for me. I’d love to know where to find that ginger sauce. Probably not anywhere near me in NJ. 😦

  36. Hi Biz! Super love this post and the well thought out comments too. I’ve never thought to use the sriracha (rooster sauce, as I call it) as an ingredient for dressing–what an incredible idea! I just love all of the comments about the WW points v. calories too. I’m not in WW, but I’m not counting calories much either–which is probably my downfall. And the comments reflect that.

    🙂 Marion

  37. I’m constantly weighing this in my head – WW PP vs Calorie Counting. I keep finding myself wanting to do both & see what the results are.

  38. I love that sweet ginger chili sauce by The Ginger People, it’s so good! I also have their organic ginger syrup at home right now which makes a fabulous sweet gingered carrot dish as well as tastes great when added to some vodka/club soda/lime for a refreshing cocktail 😉

  39. I came, I read this article, I conquered.

  40. At last! Something clear I can understand. Thanks!

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