The Problem With the Weight Watchers DietThe problem with the Weight Watchers diet program is that the goal is to lose weight through a calorie restricted diet. It assigns people points to optimize fat loss, by taking people down to about 1,000 calories a day below their Maintenance Level. This gives people an average loss of 2 lbs of fat a week, which is the supposed maximum safe fat loss level. Any more than that and your body can go into starvation mode, where your body tries to save itself by hoarding fat and burning muscle. That is obviously bad.
However, when you add an extreme fitness program like Insanity or P90X, you increase your daily calorie burn dramatically. If you don’t add calories to your diet, you move from the safe fat loss level to starvation mode. While Weight Watchers assumes some light activity in their point calculation, they don’t anticipate P90X level activity. So if you are already on Weight Watchers, you have to add extra points/calories to your diet to maintain a safe level of weight loss.
What is a Point?To write this column, I researched Weight Watchers’ patents to come up with an answer. A Point is essentially 50 calories. However not all calories are the same. For example, 50 calories of food high in fat is worth more points, while 50 calories of food high in fiber is less than a full point. So I can’t just tell people to figure out how many calories they burn and then add the appropriate number of calories. However you can roughly estimate that you should add 2 points for every 100 calories of exercise.
How To Calculate Extra Points To Add To Your DayIn reviewing the Weight Watchers patent, there is a formula for points to allocate to your exercise. Unfortunately, Weight Watchers even states that they underestimate the Points you might need, as they believe people overestimate their exertion. However, few people would describe Insanity, P90X or TurboFire as less than Intense. For that reason, I will modify the Weight Watchers’ formula to be in the middle.
If you are doing P90X, Insanity, Power 90, ChaLEAN Extreme or TurboFire, you want to use the following formula:
So, if I am doing P90X and I weigh 154 lbs, I generally estimate that P90X averages about 70 min a day (with ARX). That means that it is:
.1783 * (154/2.2) * 70 / 75 or 11.6 points.
I round that to 12 points to add per day on average.
Simplified Math for P90X and InsanityIf you are willing to trust me, here is the overly simplified math for estimates for Insanity and P90X:
For P90X: Multiply your weight in pounds by .07564
For Insanity Month 1 and Recovery Week: Multiply your weight by .04214
For Insanity Month 2: Multiply your weight by .05943
Less Intense WorkoutsWhile I don’t intend to downplay the level of effort involved in Turbo Jam, Hip Hop Abs, Slim in 6 and other programs, they are not at the intensity level of P90X and Insanity. There is a slight modification to the formula for these programs as follows:
The other programs vary to much in length of workouts to give a more simplified number. Again, you can average the length of the workouts, so that you are not using different points every day.
Let Me Know If You Are StuckI realize that this can seem complicated. If you get lost in the math, feel free to send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These Are EstimatesAs I said, these are estimates. You need to watch your results and modify as appropriate. Ironically, I will say that if you stop losing weight, I recommend that you add points. Again, on Weight Watchers, you are already bordering on starvation mode. If you stop getting results, you very possibly put yourself firmly into starvation mode, so you should probably add about an extra 1/3 of the points you added for exercise.
Weight Watchers is a very established nutrition plan, but again it does focus on calorie restriction. P90X and other Beachbody programs focus on a holistic combination of exercise and nutrition. It can however be safely modified for the Beachbody programs.