On the surface, there are some similarities between tracking macros and Weight Watchers: Both the WW program and macro tracking involve logging your food in an app. Chances are that you’ll be eating more whole, real foods and fewer refined, processed and packaged foods. Both approaches can promise to get you weight loss results.
On the surface, it can look like WW and macros are basically the same thing, but I’m going to share 3 big ways that they are different—and why tracking macros is better than Weight Watchers for all-around health.
1. Tracking macros ensures you’re getting enough protein, fat AND carbohydrates to support your body.
A WW plan accounts for total calories and assigns a point value to that calorie goal. What it won’t tell you is how many of those calories should come from protein, fat and carbohydrates.
This is important because the macronutrients—protein, fat and carbohydrate—each have different roles in the body.
Here’s an example day for someone who is on Weight Watchers:
- Meal 1: 1 cup cereal + ½ cup of fruit
- Meal 2: veggie patty + handful carrots
- Snack: snack bag size popcorn + 8 M&Ms
- Meal 3: 1 cup broccoli cheese soup
At first glance, this day of eats might not raise any eyebrows and it might actually contribute to weight loss if you’re burning more than you’re consuming. However, this meal plan is pretty high in carbohydrates and fats, while low in protein—and that’s absolutely going to impact how you look, feel and perform. Without protein-rich meals, it might mean your cravings are hard to control by the afternoon, which leads you to whiteknuckle it to your snack time and feel famished by dinner. It might mean you wake up a little lighter on the scale, but with no muscle tone to show for all the activity that you do. It could mean the difference between showing up with energy for your evening workout or bonking halfway through.
Weight Watchers subscribes to a “calories in, calories out” mantra which can work for some people, depending on how they structure their meals to hit their point allotment. However, there likely comes a day when focus needs to turn to macronutrients in order to influence hormones, lean muscle gain, fat loss, blood sugar balance, energy, fullness and much more!
2. Weight Watchers encourages low fat eating, which isn’t always healthier.
Here are the facts: foods containing fat are the most calorically rich. This means that for every 1 gram of fat you eat, you’re eating more calories than for every 1 gram of carbohydrate or protein you eat. Foods that contain less fat are going to have fewer points in the WW system. This means you may unintentionally eat low fat and demonize this important macronutrient.
That matters because fat is very satiating. When you build a meal with healthy fat, you’ll stay fuller longer and probably prevent a desperate run to the vending machine for a snack to cure your munchies.
Fat is used to make hormones and is needed to absorb specific nutrients. Eating low fat might mean more poor nutrient status for vitamins like D, E and K causing downstream problems at the cellular level. But those might not show up for a while. What will? A very turbulent premenstrual period, mood swings, lousy focus, slow metabolism and more!
Fat also balances blood sugar. When we eat carbohydrates, we see an impact on blood sugar—a spike after meals and fall between meals, much like a roller coaster. Paired with adequate fat and protein as is encouraged by macro-tracking, however, that roller coaster can look more like rolling hills instead, which translates to sustained energy all day long.
3. Weight Watchers focuses on weight loss. Tracking macros focus on body composition change.
Weight loss and fat loss are distinctly different. While WW takes an approach that is intended to help you lose scale weight, tracking macros is an approach that can help you lose body fat. Turning focus to macronutrients allows for a leaner, stronger body shape and size.
Put another way, “calories” refer to the overall energy a food contributes. Manipulating calorie intake influences only body weight gain, loss, or maintenance. Alternatively, “macros” refer to the composition of a food or where the calories in the food came from.
Manipulating macro intake influences many things:
>> lean muscle gain or loss
>> body fat gain or loss
>> feelings of hunger and fullness
>> blood sugar balance and stability
>> hormone balance
>> sleep quality and duration
>> stable, consistent energy
>> energy for high intensity activity
>> cravings for sweet, salty, or crunchy foods
>> so much more!
That’s why if FAT loss is your goal, Weight Watchers probably will not necessarily work for you unless you’re a master meal planner who can balance your meals and points with ease. And, if that’s the case, you might as well augment your results even more by following a macro approach!
Instead of learning a whole new point system that can’t be translated to the real word in any way, skip to the part where you learn what your food consists of and adjust your meals to meet your personal needs: macros.