Posted by: Emily | January 23, 2009

Weight Watchers vs. Calorie Count

Last year, during my third year of law school I managed to lose about 15 pounds using caloriecount.  I promptly gained it all back and more while studying for the bar exam and then joined Weight (WW) thinking it would give me some motivation since I had to pay a little money for it.  This was another example of that good ol’ saying: don’t change what’s working.  

WW uses a point system, calculated using this formula:

p(c,f,r) = \mathrm{round} \left( \frac{c}{50} + \frac{f}{12} - \frac{\min\{r,4\}}{5} \right)

c= calories, f = fiber (max of 4 grams).  Each day you have a certain amount of points that you can eat and if you exercise you can eat more points that day. lets you enter all the foods you eat and calculates the point values for those food.  The database is pretty large and the website is easy to use.  You can also create recipes to find the point values of things that you make.  

I had trouble seeing the difference between counting “points” and counting calories.  I already had a good idea of how many calories were in the foods I eat from my years of obsessing over my weight.  When I had to switch my brain into points they stopped meaning anything and I would obsess over eating anything that was more than 5 points.  That stress just led to me not caring and eating whatever I wanted.  

On you also track your weight so for 12 weeks I pretty much entered the same weight every week.  I was technically, “watching my weight” and do very well at maintaining it, but didn’t lose any.   WW never really gave me any motivation or advice or emails to encourage me to be “better.”  Now that I have canceled they send me a freakin’ email every day to try to get me back on the program.  

Caloriecount also has a large database of foods, a recipe tool that is just as easy to use as WW and activity counter.  You can also track your weight and get recommendations of foods to eat.  The tracker also shows how many calories you’ve burned through the day compared to how many you eat.  I think this is the most helpful part.  So my goal each day is to just eat less calories than I burn according to caloriecount.  Ideally 500 calories less, but I feel good if I do any less.  For my mathematical brain it just works better and feels like less pressure!  

Caloriecount is the winner for me for online weight tools.  It’s free, easy to use and even kind of fun!  

Have you tried online calorie counters?  Which do you like?



  1. i tried caloriecount and also thedailyplate and they are both good. i didn’t use them terribly extensively, though, because i have access to a couple tools through Bally’s. one is for members only, the other is open to anybody, and they allow me to track just about everything. what i’m eating, my workouts, how many calories i’m burning through different activities, etc, but they will also graph out for me over the day, week, month, and year, how i have progressed on a number of different measurements, how much weight i’ve lifted, how long i’ve spent doing different activities… some nifty stuff. but i’m a geek and charts are fun for me. 🙂

    what’s important is to find what works for you, and stick with it. and remember, if you’re at a certain calorie amount then you lose a lot of weight, that calorie amount may need to be adjusted because now you’re not burning the same amount.

    there’s a very very very basic facebook app where you can post your daily weigh-in and track it over time, along with your daily workouts. it’s very very basic, though, and doesn’t do a lot of things that i wish it did.

  2. I haven’t tried either, but I have kicking around the WW thing for a few weeks now. Our work is now paying for a 12 week membership to WW online or the old meeting way, so I am trying to decide if I really want to do it. However, looking at the Stephen Hawking-esque formula does not motivate me to choose 🙂

    Have a good weekend!!

  3. My sister has done weight watchers in the past and is excited to be starting it back up again. I think the meetings are what really work for her though.

  4. I definitely think the WW meeting way would work. And I think if you do that you get to use the online tools anyway.
    That Bally’s thing sounds awesome! I am also a geek and love charts.

  5. I’ve done pretty good maintaining my weight with caloriecount, but am going to try WW starting today. They started a weight loss group at work where you weigh in every week, kinda like WW, but with out paying the $. I think the weekly accountability will do me good!

    I’ll let you know what I like best

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