Weight Watchers new Core Plan: 3 weeks and not counting

It has been 3 weeks since Weight Watchers introduced the new Turnaround Program and so far, I’d say it’s been a success. Lots of folks are coming in to register, having heard about the new “no counting” plan. We were warned in the first week to expect weight gains as people got used to the new food plan, but guess what? For the most part *it hasn’t happened.* Folks whose lifestyles are the best fit for Core Plan *are losing weight.*

If you are following the new plan, read on for tips & tricks and clarifications to the program.

Apparently, the Core Plan is similar to South Beach phase II. But remember, Weight Watchers isn’t just about a food plan. It’s an entire approach to changing the way you think about food. What you eat and how often and how much is part of it.

There have been a few people who have needed help finding strategies to keep the core list with them and record their Weekly POINTS Allowance. We do hand out a paper tracker each week, but even I admit that it’s difficult to use if you’re not recording every bite as usual. For those members, I typically recommend the Day Tracker which is a small checkbook-like thing that has the core list on one side, and a place to check off weekly points on the other. It uses a dry erase marker. Look for it at meeting locations.

Things to keep in mind:

* Don’t eliminate oils (olive, canola, safflower, sunflower, or flaxseed) from your diet. You need a small amount of fat to keep things moving in the right direction. Literally. 2 teaspoons a day are required on both Flex & Core plans. Those 2 tsps are core, anything more than that is counted towards weekly points allowance.

* Make sure you read the ingredients carefully on the cereal box. Don’t go by the “All natural” claims on the front of the box. It is amazing how many cereals have added sugar, even ones that aren’t at all sweet. If it has *any* added sweetner, even natural ones, it’s not core. And there aren’t a lot of core cereals, trust me, I’ve looked.

* Core Foods are NOT 0-POINTS foods. Therefore if a food that is not a Core food is 0-POINTS it does not make it a Core food. A non-Core food such as Cool Whip even if 0-POINTS is counted as part of the weekly POINTS Allowance on the Core Plan. Use the calories, fat, and fiber information to determine the POINTS value for more than one serving. What does this mean? An entire tub of Cool Whip is not 0-POINTS. Calories count. This is important, so I’ll say it louder: *CALORIES COUNT!* If a single serving of something is 25 calories, that’s 0-POINTS. If you have 10 servings of it, that’s not 0-POINTS, that’s 250 calories and 5-POINTS! So if it’s *NOT* a core food, you *MUST* respect portion size and count it accordingly against your Weekly POINTS Allowance. Why is Weight Watchers doing this? Two words: Abuse potential. You’re not going to sit down and eat 250 calories of mushrooms in a sitting (or fat-free cheese…ick), but could you sit there and eat 1/2 a tub of Cool Whip without thinking about it? I know I can.

* Be careful with your pastas. Stay away from whole-wheat blends or “enriched” pasta if you want to count them as core. When Weight Watchers first started with POINTS companies took advantage of it by offering very high fiber foods to try and keep the POINTS down. There were muffins and breads that calculated to 1 or 2 points but they had as much as 350 calories (with like 10-12 g Fiber!) So members would have 2 of these for breakfast, ingesting like 700 calories in one meal and then wonder why they gained weight when they only ate 4 points at breakfast. I’ll say it again: *CALORIES COUNT!* I expect that companies will market “whole wheat” products to Weight Watchers members along the same lines. Don’t fall for it. Read ingredients carefully. Make sure the product is 100% whole wheat (NO FLOUR), and the “low-carb” stuff doesn’t count. But in a pinch I’ve purchased “low-carb” because the POINTS tend to be lower and then I count it as POINTS…just remember not to count more than 4g of fiber no matter what it says on the package.


  1. Kathy says:

    Today has gone so much better. I also discovered that imitation crab stick dipped in seafood sauce is delicious. Also, a Pinapple/soy milk smoothie.mmmmmmmmmmmmm!

  2. Kathy says:

    There is no reason for you to be frustrated on either the core, or the flex plan. All you have to do is follow the rules, and the weight will come off. Now, on the other hand, if you don’t follow the rules, you will have to be frustrated with yourself, not the program. I hate to be harsh, but I found recently that I’ve spent years doing just that. I made every excuse to eat what ever I wanted, and then I would be very frustrated at the meeting. When I heard other people expressing the same excuses that I used, it sounded so ignorant and I could see that weight loss was certainly not to be expected. I’ve changed my self talk, because I dont want to be one of those people who think that going to the meetings and talking about points, will cause a weight loss, if the program isnt being followed.

    Good luck to you, and to me, on our journey!

  3. Maria says:

    Hi Judi,

    I stumbled over your site and I want to thank you for giving out the support you do.

    I have been on ww flex for 3 years and also am an employee of ww.

    Tonight I have made the decision to switch over to core for the first time. I have been stuck at my weight for close to a year now and I need a change and a boost. I don’t know why but I am so nervous about switching to core because of the fear of the unknown. I really hope that I see results this week. I want to hit goal so bad and see that number. This will make me very happy!

    Thanks again

  4. Jenni Yager says:

    Hello! I appreciate all of this information. I”m actually a lifetime member, trying to support my dad through his journey. Points have been working for me, but not him, so we are trying core this week, to see if that is the method that will work for him.

    3 questions: How long should we try core, before we decide if it is a success?

    I am very active and earn at least 4 activity points a day. Do I add those to my 35 total (the day I do the activity) or are activity points not counted on core (I still will workout)

    If you are lifetime like me, do you add the 5 extra points of flex a day to your planned day?

    Thanks so much!

  5. Veronica says:

    When you are on CORE, are you allowed to eat the 35 points if you aren’t physically hungry, but just want to eat?

    Or do you have to wait until you are hungry to eat the 35 flex points?

  6. megan nagaoka says:

    I know that brown rice eaten as a whole food on the core plan is fine, but what about whole grain brown rice pasta, and whole grain brown rice flour, are these ok for the core diet?

  7. Lisa says:

    Can someone help me please? I’m thinking of doing core (I’m a ww retiree for about 2 years now) currently on South Beach, anway….my question: I’ve read that there are 4 brands of core cereal, what are they??? I want to have core cereal, blueberries and ff plain yogurt for breakfast, but I bought some gronola concoction that I’m pretty sure is NOT core. Anyone know? ANY answer will help. I’ve read everyone’s post, but no one has “named names” yet….THANKS!! 🙂

  8. Sandy says:

    I’m ready to try the Core Plan also, and I’m wondering can you use Stevia Extract? It says it’s a Natural Herb, calorie free, saccharin free, aspartame free, and this is what we usually use as our sugar replacement. Also, are you limited to 1 bread a day or 1 per meal? I’m confused about that.


  9. selina wiggins says:

    hiya was wondering if seafood sticks are free on the core plan weight watchers diet

  10. Furkid Mama says:

    I’ve just read the recent postings which all have great questions! Whole wheat pasta is allowed on core, but make sure you limit it to one meal/day and don’t go overboard…eat slowly and reassure yourself that you can have a portion every day…eventually, you won’t feel deprived and won’t miss it so much. Flour (any kind) has to be counted toward your weekly 35 flex points. Granola can be a core food if you make it yourself, using only core ingredients, or if you calculate the points and include it in your 35 weekly flex points. My honey just bought granola and it has 25 gm of fat per 1/4 cup serving…yikes…what was he thinking?

    Stevia is allowed on core. However, a word of caution: as hard as it may seem, try to wean yourself away from artificial sweeteners. There are many recent papers indicating that ingestion of artificial sweeteners turn on the “I have to have more sweets” signal in your brain. It’s not an easy piece of advice to follow…and requires a directive of “must” versus “should.” I limit my intake to morning coffee…had to go cold turkey on that one, but now I’m glad I did it.

    Bread is limited to your flex count. The reason for this is as follows: when the core program was being developed, they looked at trigger foods (red light foods) as well as high density foods to determine which foods to include on the core list. Because bread is a high density food and is definitely a trigger food, it’s limited. I went cold turkey on bread until I had lost substantial weight before re-introducing it and counting it toward my weekly flex points. Now I don’t miss it so much…I’m finding that most restaurant bread is a bit dry, or soaked in oil.

    Seafood sticks are core if they contain only core ingredients. Check the label to make sure because most items like these contain flour, sugar, etc. which are not included in core. If you want to eat them, go ahead but include their count toward your weekly 35 flext points…or switch to cooked shrimp and cocktail sauce (good suggestion above!).

    Good luck to all of you…and remember to keep moving as much as you can…and get lots of sleep, otherwise you’ll most likely be hungrier the next day!

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Hello. I am rejoining WW for the millionth time. I want to do core because with the flex plan, I get obsessed with points and I give up. My question is that with the flex plan, you lose 1 point a day for every 10 pounds you lose. How can you keep losing with core if you don’t eat a little less every 10 or 20 pounds you lose? Thank you so much.

  12. Didi,

    I would really like the core food lists emailed to me. Thanks franbrem@hotmail.com

  13. Pam says:


    How the core plan takes care of it is that you will need less to feel satisfied. I lost 25 lbs. on flex, then switched to core. I feel that core handles my cravings better. Instead of feeling hungry all of time as I did on flex due to too many sweets (even low point foods can have sugar), I now feel satisfied in a way that flex did not address. The core foods are less likely to trigger binging, and so gradually you will find it takes less and less to fill me up. I hope this helps.

  14. Marci Lewandowski says:

    I’d love a copy of the core foods myself.

    Thanks to anyone who can help 🙂


  15. Julie says:

    Can anyone tell me, when I am counting my calories to calculate meat points do I weigh my piece of beef before or after it is cooked?

  16. Caitlin says:

    Does anyone know if Quaker Oats low sugar instant oatmeal is core? also, how do you tell if a food has added sugar? if the ingredients say “sugar” does that mean it has added sugar?

    also, is kellogs all bran cereal core?

    and lastly, does anyone feel like they’re not eating enough food — is it ok I guess I’m asking to just feel satisfied? Worried that my metabolism will slow down.

  17. Pam says:

    Julie: you weigh meat after it’s cooked.

    Caitlin: I would guess that the instant oatmeal is core. I compared sugar-free brown sugar oatmeal with WW brand oatmeal and there is less sugar of course in the sugar-free, but most other key items matched up on the labels pretty well.

    When you ask about not eating enough food, I find my experience the opposite. You eat until you’re comfortably full, but not stuffed. If you’re concerned with your metabolism slowing down, you can always eat smaller meals spaced closer together if that’s a concern for you. I don’t feel that my metabolism has slowed down at all.

  18. Allison says:

    This is a great site. It assures me that I have made some good choices I have been thinking about the last few days.I just decided to switch to Core after achieving my first 10% and my first 20lbs of loss. I wanted to not take the counting route anymore. I hope Core works better for me with less stress or thought involved. I went to the store today and am struggling with cheeses. Any suggestions for FF cheese? I am going to have to go out of town I think. My local grocery store did not have any FF cheese varieties.

    Thank you for your suggestions in advance

  19. Nev says:

    I’ve been on the core plan for 9weeks. I love it. I’ve lost 30 lbs in 2 months. I love all the foods you can eat and feel very satisfied. My Question is: No Fat No sugar soft ice cream, Is that a core plan or do I count it?

    1. Ann says:

      Hi Nev,

      I cant believe you lost 30 ls in 2 months! That is awesome! I have been on CORE a week and havent lost a pound. 😦 and I even started exercising. how long does it take before you start seeing some results?


  20. Pam says:

    I don’t ever count FF, sugar-free yogurt because it’s FF dairy with no sugar added. It would be the same as FF yogurt with splenda, which is ok for core. Just skip the cone.

  21. Val says:

    I have been trying all the diets that I read about on the web and get so confused. But one thing I did learn is that having no sugar and flour is like doing the coreplan. I have joined WW so many times but wish to just stick to the core plan now as I can see from all the messages that it really works. I was a bit worried that it would take longer but it seems so many are having not too slow success. Guess I shouldnt worry about the time factor as this is a life changing way of eating. Thank you everyone for your encouraging commments as I get on track to eat healthy. (have to make sure my measured glasses of wine are counted in my 35 points)Going shopping now. Cheers everyone!

  22. Val says:

    Nev: 30 lbs in 9 weeks…amazing and let’s me know there is hope for me as that is how much I need to lose. What do you eat basically each day?thanks.

  23. Gladys says:

    I’m on the flex plan and cannot figure out how many points cooked white rice is. I know its 3 points for 1/4 cup uncooked, how much does that yeild cooked?

  24. Jackie says:

    I was just wondering if avocados and guacamole are CORE foods? I tried to skim through the posts, but they date back to 2005; too many for me to skim completely through right now. Also, this is a great site, thanks for creating it. I just switched to CORE after being on FLEX for the past 2 years. Its like my body didn’t respond to FLEX anymore. So far I am liking CORE a lot, just unsure of the avocado/guacamole thing. THANKS!!

  25. Sara says:

    Avacado is a core food- however, guacamole is not- Good question why, however, I suspect restuarants add fat somehow – if you were making guac- only use avacado, garlic, (roma) tomato, onion and lime juice – no fat and you should be okay-I have also just switched to core for the same reason

    do you attend meetings?

  26. Sandra says:

    Wow! I am really glad to have stumbled onto this site! I joined WW about two years ago, only went to a few meetings and I lost 16 pounds, while my husband lost 45 ( from eating what I did). I love to cook, and found that all I had to do was alter most of my recipes, cut back on portions, and we ate like Kings and Queens- except I was really hungry all of the time. I had to go with only 20 points, since I wasn’t that over weight, but I am Hypoglycemic and STAYED hungry from eating on the Flex Plan. I “gave up” and have gained all of my weight back. I have been walking our local mall for about 6 months now, 2 to 3 miles, 4 to 5 days a week, and last week joined Curves on top of the walking, but guess what all of that exercise does- makes me HUNGIER!!! I just saw my doctor 2 days ago and she had no answers, saying I was doing all of the right things. I was NOT happy about WW meetings because of the charges if you can’t make the meeting (I could afford maybe every other meeting, but they won’t go for that).Also, the first week, when I lost 5 pounds and did my weigh in, the lady looked up and told me very rudely, “Well, don’t expect that to happen every week!” Any suggestions about eating when hypoglycemic. I wake in the middle of the night soooo hungry if I haven’t eaten a lot of protein and fiber that day/evening. I CAN NOT stop eating at 6 or 7 PM just because that helps me to lose weigh- I will be starving by 10PM! I’m trying the boiled eggs- minus the yolk, but that is getting “old” after so many eggs! I am 5’0 and weigh 135. Thanks, and I am sorry this is so long!!!

  27. Kelli says:

    This site is amazing by the way! I have been on WW for 8 months on the flex plan, I have lost 20 pounds and I really want to explore the core plan for more freedom and choices in food. I am confused on the pasta, rice and cereal; can you eat all three in one day if you choose to ,or are you only allowed to eat one of the three in A DAY?

    I am confused on the whole grains, if I buy pasta and cereal it needs to say “whole wheat” “NO FLOUR added”???

    Any help would be appreciated, Thanks!

  28. Kelli says:

    If I add splenda to yogurt or cereal is that core because its calorie free or does it need be counted as 1 point per packet of my weekly 35 allowance pts? Anyone?

  29. Kelli says:

    Can anyone answer this question or give me some insight to this; i know i can only eat creal one time a day and I can eat how much cereal i need to, to feel full correct?

    Can I eat Pasta, potatos and rice all in one day if i want to, or is is one of the three i can eat only one time a day??? ANY ONE? I need some clarification.

    thanks, I appreciate it!

  30. Stella says:

    Nice Blog site. It was helpful to read. I believe this is a way to change the way people eat. I lost 45 lbs over the last 2yrs and recently gained 14 lbs because….The Core plan works! Back on it for 4 days. Lost a little weight. Enjoy reading this website and hearing other people. Got some questions answered also.

  31. Samantha says:

    Is the Core plan still in existence? In reading up on it it seems like it’s just as much work as counting points all day long. The idea of the Core plan seemed like it would work with my schedule and lifestyle. Is it easy? I’ve come to the point where I need something that WORKS. People at work have done Core and love it. Thanks

    1. Heather says:

      Hi! I just got interested in the Core Plan and contacted the help desk via email. They weren’t very helpful, saying only that it had been discontinued in January 2009 in favour of the Discovery Plan! However on the latest plan it seems that as an alternative to points counting there’s a ‘filling foods’ section. As far as I can tell this could be the modern version of Core. I got better answers by searching the net myself than from the WW help desk! Heather (in the UK)

  32. Lisa Poch says:

    I would like to know from anybody if there is a limit on breads, grains & milk when you are following the core plan? Also, do you not get a certain amount of points for the week when you are on the core plan?

    Thank you in advance

  33. Ann Church says:

    The Core Plan WORKS! I wish WW would bring it back!

    1. Linda Kirks says:

      The Core plans is alive and well, it has just been renamed Simply Filling Technique.

      1. diana says:

        Is the core plan still alive and well?

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