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cerulean

Paleo vs. Weight Watchers?

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Calm down, calm down. I don't really mean a mano-a-mano showdown between the two.

 

You see, I have a girl friend who has lost 40 lbs in 6 months on WW (whereas I'm 2 weeks into paleo).

 

My question is this: If paleo is so good for us, why do other diets like Weight Watchers work, too?

 

I was trying to tell her all about the health benefits, the science, yadda yadda, but what it comes down (for the both of us) is weight loss. If that's the case and WW clearly provides that result, why should one starve themselves of all the brownies and pasta that she has "points" for, in favor of paleo?

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The problem is what you need to differentiate between the two.

They both allow you to lose weight. Whether something is actually healthy or not has very little do with whether you can lose weight with it or not.

Paleo nutrition believes that grains, legumes, dairy (all allowed WW if I recall) and sugar are not healthy.

 

That's the difference. :)

 

I highly recommend the book It Starts With Food. Then you can make your own decision about whether WW or Paleo are healthy. :)

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What Loren says. It's about insulin response, inflammation, etc.

Also, if you believe in paleo and change the way you eat and eat mindfully, you don't pack weight back on. With any restriction based diet, temptations are still there and can come back around one the restriction is over. Paleo really is a lifestyle change.

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This may or may not help, but file it in the "For what its worth" category.


I've done weight watchers most of my adult life. I've lost as much as 30 pounds at once on weight watchers. I have ALWAYS gained back what I lost on weight watchers, and then some, when I stopped tracking religiously for any length of time.

 

I went mostly primal at the end of July. I was hesitant at first, and kept my weight watchers account active just in case. Two weeks in, after not tracking every bite that goes into my mouth for the first time in my adult life, and still losing 5 pounds, I deactivated. For the past nearly 6 months, while I haven't been perfect, I've followed the primal guidelines about 90% of the time, lost more weight, and no longer obsess about how many points I'm eating or have left for the weekend or whatever.

 

Oh, and even though the numbers on the scale haven't gone down as much as maybe I'd like them to, I'm wearing clothes that I wore when I weighed fifteen to twenty pounds less than I do right now, and I look better in them. The changes in my body composition were noticeable early on. Even though my weight has stayed pretty steady the last couple of months, people (including my mother!!) keep telling me that I look like I've lost more weight. Its been hard getting out of the mentality of wanting the numbers to go down, but the more I do this, the better I feel, both physically and mentally.


In the short term, weight watchers did what I needed it to do for weight loss. But it was unsustainable for me. Primal, on the other hand, doesn't leave me feeling deprived in any way. I'm probably way over my points allocations on weight watchers, but I feel great.


Like I said, this may or may not be helpful to you, but I figure its worth sharing.

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Honestly they're not related other than food is involved in both.

Weight watchers is a calorie counting program that simplifies the counting to points and has some healthy eating programmed in with reduced points for fruit and fiber. The point of weight watchers is solely weight management, whether that be losing, gaining, or maintaining.

Paleo is a way of eating that restricts types of foods based on their effects on the gastrointestinal and hormonal system that humans never evolved to combat. It's popular for avoiding those issues and is the biggest reason it was "invented". It pushes us toward eating the way we evolved to so that our bodies respond the way they are supposed to.

Now, because of this, paleo has the added side effect of decreasing our carb load, which is what makes us fat because we eat a ton more carbs than we ever evolved to. Between this and the chronic inflammation from common western diets going away, people typically lose weight without counting. This is a side beneficial side effect and is the reason paleo is becoming popular in the diet community as its basically a low carb diet approached in a different way so there are new marketing opportunities.

But as said, and not one or the other. You eat paleo for one reason (gastrointestinal, hormonal, and inflammation benefits) and do weight watchers (weight management) for another. You can do one, both, or neither. I personally had my best weight lost success when on both the slow carb diet (boils down basically to paleo with some legumes) while doing weight watchers and dropped 25-30 lb in 4-5 months with relatively little exercise.

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CoreyD has a good post above.

 

In the end, I honestly think it's not worthwhile to try to argue with a significant other over nutrition/dietary choices.  If your GF likes weight watchers and it works for her, good.  If you like paleo and it works for you, good.  Depends on the goals, what will work, etc.  If she wants to read about it, there are tons of great sites and books.  But if she's insistent on WW, then fine.  That's her thing.  Cool. 

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The funny thing about diets is that overweight people tend to lose weight on ANY diet ... at first.  Potato diet, grapefruit diet, Weight Watchers, vegan, paleo, Atkins, sugar free, Kitavan, Oritin, Mediterranean, you name it someone's lost weight on it.  So by that standard, all diets are equal. 

 

In fact, humans around the world have thrived on an astonishing variety of diets, from mostly meat and fat (Inuit) to mostly starch and fish (Japanese, Pacific islander).*

 

Of course, there's much more to diet than weight loss.  There's "can I actually swallow the food permitted on this diet?"  There's "how long can I keep this diet up?"  There's "how much does this diet cost?"  There's "how does this diet make me feel?"  And the biggie, of course, "does the weight stay off permanently?"

 

Personally, I love food and cooking is one of my major hobbies, so any diet that involves artificial sweeteners, point counting, packaged mixes and "food bars" is not appealing to me.  I just want to eat real food that grows in dirt, like God and nature intended.  At the moment I'm missing flour and sugar, but those are the least "real" foods in my diet (greatest number of steps from dirt to plate) and so they deserve the last and least place.

 

maybe if I was overweight I'd feel differently about Weight Watchers (worth noting: it's designed by women to appeal to women, whereas paleo culture is somewhat masculine).  But I can't see myself counting points and measuring all the time.  With my personality, it'd drive me crazy.

 

* Even Arctic natives do eat plants once in a while, especially during the summer.  They also eat things like half-digested lichen from caribou stomachs.  Everybody makes use of local resources...

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A couple of thoughts:

 

1. Different stuff works for different people.  I HATED Weight Watchers and could only lose for short periods, but I'm doing really well on the "Atkins with Paleo Aspirations" thing I have going on now.  Even in the context of people who do well on low carb diets, one of my best friends routinely eats half a dinner roll with dinner.  If I did that, I'd go off track.  So we all gotta figure out what works for us and do that.  If calorie restriction works for your friend, whatever, God Bless.  But it sure didn't work for me.

 

2. Weight Watchers is always changing the name, but it has the "tracking points" option and the "Eat as much as you want off this list of foods and only keep track of what's not on the list" option.  (Currently, they are calling it "Simply Filling," when I was seriously into WW they called it "Core")  Most of the list is paleo, and most of the things you're likely to eat when on paleo are on the list, with some exceptions both ways. Still, one can VERY easily just eat paleo minus a few of the fattier paleo foods and consider oneself using this second technique.  So you can even do WW with your friend, choose the second technique and you'll be on plan without even looking at it most of the time. 

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