New Weight Watchers Freestyle Program
Hey y’all, as you may have already heard, there is a new Weight Watchers program rolling out this week called Freestyle. The new Weight Watchers Freestyle program still uses SmartPoints and keeps a lot from the previous Beyond the Scale program, but there are also some major changes you’ll want to be aware of if you’re a Weight Watchers member or are considering joining. I was lucky enough to be given early access to the program materials by Weight Watchers, so I’m excited to share all the details here for you! This post will cover what’s new about the Freestyle plan, what’s staying the same, how the program changes will affect the recipes on my site and my thoughts about the program update.
While the new Weight Watchers Freestyle program rolls out today, don’t be alarmed if you’re not seeing the changes yet when you log in on the site or your app. You will receive the program update on your weigh in day, so you may still have a few more days on Beyond the Scale depending on when you weigh in. I know program changes can be scary (when Weight Watchers switched from PointsPlus to SmartPoints two years ago, many members were alarmed), but I think you’ll find a lot is the same and the changes may actually make the program feel more flexible with your lifestyle. Don’t panic! Without further ado, here are the details for the new Weight Watchers Freestyle program…
- There are more free/zero point foods! On the previous plan, most fruits and vegetables were zero SmartPoints (they still are!) but now Weight Watchers has added a whole bunch of new foods to the “free” list. These foods don’t need to be tracked or measured. Here’s what is zero SmartPoints on the new Freestyle plan:
- Fresh and frozen fruit without added sugar, and canned fruits in water or sugar-free syrup (this has not changed)
- Most fresh and frozen vegetables and those canned without oil or added sugar (this has not changed – excludes some vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, avocados, olives)
- Peas – NEW! (includes chickpeas, sugar snap, snow, split, black-eyed)
- Beans – NEW! (includes black, kidney, edamame, fat free refried, pinto, bean sprouts, soy beans)
- Lentils – NEW!
- Corn – NEW! (includes sweet corn, corn on the cob, baby corn)
- Skinless Chicken Breast – NEW! (includes whole or ground chicken breast – if ground make sure it is breast meat only/98% fat free or higher)
- Skinless Turkey Breast – NEW! (includes whole or ground turkey breast – if ground make sure it is breast meat only/98% fat free or higher)
- Tofu – NEW!
- Eggs and Egg Whites – NEW!
- Nonfat Plain Yogurt – NEW! (includes traditional, Greek, Icelandic, Soy)
- Fish and Shellfish, skinless – NEW! (includes fresh, frozen, canned, and smoked without added fat or sugar)
- Your daily SmartPoints allowance will change. To balance out all the new zero point foods, your daily points will be recalculated (still according you your age, height, weight and gender). It appears to me that many members who were at 30 daily points on the previous plan will now be given 23 SmartPoints per day on the Freestyle plan, but that may not be the case for everyone. If you’re a current member, your daily points will be recalculated this week on your weigh in day.
- Introducing Rollover Points! On the Freestyle plan, you can roll over up to four unused daily points into your weekly points allowance to be used as extras whenever you like for the remainder of the week. For example, if you know you have a big event coming up later in the week, you can bank up to 4 unused points per day in the days leading up to it to make sure you have plenty of points to indulge at your event. To make use of this you’ll want to be sure you’re filling up on plenty of zero point foods on the days you’re banking extra points.
What’s the Same:
- SmartPoints – The new Weight Watchers Freestyle program still uses SmartPoints with the same calculation, so the majority of foods (with the exception of the new zero point items) will keep the same SmartPoints. SmartPoints are calculated based on calories, saturated fat, sugar and protein. Saturated fat and sugar will increase a food’s SP value while protein will lower the SP value.
- Weekly Points Allowance – while your daily points allowance will recalculate to make room for the new zero point foods, your weekly points will not differ based on the program changes.
How will this affect the recipes on Emily Bites?
I will be working hard to update the SmartPoints on all of my affected recipes, but it may take me a few weeks to get to all of them – I have a lot of recipes on here! *UPDATE: all of my recipes now list Freestyle SmartPoints!*
Since the points on the new Freestyle plan will still be called SmartPoints, but will be changing for many of my recipes, I will be labeling the updated points values as “Freestyle SmartPoints.” That way you should be able to easily designate which recipes have been updated and which I am still working on. I will try to get to everything as quickly as I can! Obviously a lot of my recipes include chicken breast, eggs, beans, corn, etc so it likely won’t be overnight. Thanks in advance for your patience, I will update this post with my progress.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, the Weight Watchers recipe builder does not count points for zero point foods. Because of this, the SmartPoints you calculate using the recipe builder will not always match the SmartPoints you get by entering the nutrition information for a recipe into the points calculator. Zero point foods still have calories, carbs, sugar, saturated fat, etc and the nutrition information will reflect this! For this reason, I recommend using the recipe builder to calculate the SPs for recipes.
I didn’t have early access to the Weight Watchers recipe builder, but I have started recalculating a few of my recipes that will be significantly lower in SmartPoints on the new program, simply by removing the new zero point ingredients in the recipe builder. Here are some low SmartPoints recipes to get you started on Freestyle:
- Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken – 0 Freestyle SmartPoints! (perfect for meal prep)
- White Chicken Chili – 1 Freestyle SmartPoints!
- Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken – 1 Freestyle SmartPoints
- Buffalo Wing Hummus – 1 Freestyle SmartPoints
- Ham and Cheese Egg Cups – 1 Freestyle SmartPoints
- Shredded Mexican Chicken – 1 Freestyle SmartPoints
- Corn and Zucchini Frittata – 2 Freestyle SmartPoints
- Baked Chicken Tenders – 2 Freestyle SmartPoints
- The Best Turkey Chili (using 99% ground turkey breast) – 2 Freestyle SmartPoints
- Mexican Chicken and Cauliflower Rice Skillet – 3 Freestyle SmartPoints
- Thai Turkey with Carrot Noodles – 3 Freestyle SmartPoints
- Fiesta Stuffed Chicken – 4 Freestyle SmartPoints
- Chicken Pot Pasta – 5 Freestyle SmartPoints
My thoughts about the new Weight Watchers Freestyle Program:
Overall, I think this change could actually provide increased flexibility as long as you prepare and include the healthy zero point foods in your meal planning. To me this plan seems kind of like a blend of the previous Beyond the Scale SmartPoints program and the Simply Filling plan (where you didn’t have to track “power foods”). It certainly leads you to incorporate healthy, lean (zero point) foods into your diet. Here are some of my thoughts in no particular order:
- Easier for Vegetarians – the fact that eggs, beans, tofu, lentils, plain FF yogurt, etc are all zero points means vegetarians following the Freestlye plan have a lot more flexibility and more filling, low point options/protein sources.
- Planning/Food Prep/Grocery Shopping is Key – making a batch of my Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken, for example, can really set you up for success for the week! Make sure to stock up on the new zero point foods to get the most bang for your buck on the new plan. Since your daily points allowance will be lower, the Freestyle plan will be tough if you are not incorporating some of the new zero point foods.
- Ground Chicken/Turkey Breast vs Ground Beef – I know a lot of you will want to make my ground beef recipes with ground chicken breast or turkey breast now that they are free. I love lean ground beef and am still going to keep using it in recipes, but I will try to also provide an alternate SmartPoints calculation for making the recipe with a zero point meat option. At first when I saw the new plan I worried that no one would eat beef anymore, but then I realized the flexibility of the new program leaves plenty of room for steak or ground beef. If I have eggs and yogurt and fruit for breakfast and chicken with veggies for lunch I could eat a giant portion of steak for dinner and still have points for dessert!
- Easier to Plan for Indulgences – not only do you have the same weekly points to use to plan for a few glasses of wine, a dessert or a special event, but you can now easily bulk up on filling zero point foods to save your dailies and even roll over unused dailies to use later in the week. This is great for planning a night out with friends, a weekend away, a holiday splurge, or whatever you most enjoy. You can also plan for daily indulgences (like full fat cheese or snack foods) fairly easily so long as you incorporate some of the healthy zero point foods into your day.
- Some Fun New Free Options – though I will always wish avocado would be free, I’m excited to see beans (including fat free refried which I love as a side dish), corn, chickpeas, nonfat plain yogurt, corn, edamame, eggs and chicken breast. I love all those things! I wish I was a seafood lover, but sadly it is not for me. It’ll be great for those of you who are though!
As with any new plan I’m sure there will be some growing pains and a learning curve, but as I said, don’t panic! The new Weight Watchers Freestyle program will eventually become second nature once you get the hang of the changes. I will try to get my recipes updated as quickly as possible and will keep you updated on my progress so that you’re able to cook and track all my recipes with ease.
For more information about the program if you’re a member, check in with your Weight Watchers leader or on the Weight Watchers website. You can always use their 24/7 chat if you’re a member who has questions. To follow along with me and make sure you’re up to date with my recipes, feel free to follow me by email, on Instagram or on Facebook!
Since I’m currently pregnant (yay! If you follow me on social media, you probably already know this but I haven’t announced it on the blog until now), I am not personally currently following a weight loss program, but I am still a paying Weight Watchers member with access to the online tools, recipe builder, program materials, etc. I’m grateful that Weight Watchers gave me a heads up about the program changes so that I could put this post together and ease those of you who follow the program through the transition. I hope this helped!
Thank you so much for being here and for following my blog and cooking along with me! Y’all are so important to me. A lot of my readers follow the Weight Watchers program, but for those of you who don’t, thanks for your patience while I explained these changes to the WW folks – I’ll keep listing nutrition information for everyone else! We’ll be back to recipes with the next post. I love you guys!