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.

187 Comments

  1. Judi Sohn says:

    Foods have natural sugars, so that alone doesn’t make a food “not core.” As long as it’s fat-free and totally plain, it’s core.

  2. Eileen says:

    Are vegetarian baked beans still core?

  3. Andrea says:

    I’m trying to find if edamame (soybeans) are Core or not…I hate tofu, but love them.

    Great blog, thank you!

  4. Candace says:

    Hi….I am just starting the weight watchers flex point plan, but have misplaced my flex point work out card..can you post the generic points for me??? I work out on the tread mill pretty vigerously from anywhere starting at 30 minutes all the way to 45…

  5. Catriva says:

    Can I eat whole wheat tortillas on the core plan?

  6. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for having this website! I have been looking for somewhere to be able to do just this…ask some questions.
    1. Why no whole wheat bread or whole wheat chips? I am not an animal :O). I can control my portions and would like to vary my carb routine.
    2. Why no sugar-free candy? Are the WW “fruities” counted as core or do they cost points? If so, is there a candy similar to the “fruity” that you can buy in a grocery store?

    Thanks again for your help!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hi there and thanks for your website. It answered some of my core questions (lame pun intended). I do however still have some more and would appreciate some clarification if and when you find the time !

    1. Are guar gum and xanthan gum core ? (they are 100% fiber thickening agents)

    2. Can low carb pasta like dreamfields be used as core pasta? (it isn’t exactly wholewheat but has the molecule altered so it’s treated like fiber by the body)

    3. It says all alternative sweeteners are core on the list, but I have my doubts. Surely there must be a difference.

    For example there is a calorie difference even between splenda packets and granular splenda due to the maltodextrin contents. Not to mention fructose (HIGH calorie even though low glycemic).

    What about erithrytol? Xylitol? They are sugar alcohols and are alternative sweeteners and are supposedly not absorbed by the body but they have quite a few calories in them.

    I guess it brings it back to the question that I have had for years … if it’s not absorbed by the body, as supposedly sugar alcohols (lactitol, sorbitol, maltitol, isomalt, erythritol, xylitol) are not absorbed by the body (hence the laxative effect), then does the body still absorb the calories or not.

    And if not then why do we bother figuring out the calorific value and don’t just make them calorie free sweeteners and if yes, then how come they are core and wouldn’t that mean that the body does break up some of it.

    I see that fruities are core, but no other sugar free candy – what is the sweetener in the fruities?

    Anyways, sorry to go on so long … I probably come up with more questions as I go, but I’ll leave it at this for now !

  8. Judi Sohn says:

    1. No. If it’s not on the list. It’s not core. If it’s some obscure ingredient that can only be produced in a laboratory somewhere and it’s not on the list, it’s not core.

    2. No, low carb pasta is not core. Whole wheat only. Remember, the list was selected based on abuse potential and calorie density.

    3. See above. It’s not just about calories. It’s about abuse potential. All artificial sweeteners are core because you’re not going to drink 3 gallons of Splenda. You’re not going to abuse an artificial sweetner to the point that the calorie difference makes any difference.

    Fruities are core because Weight Watchers knows exactly what is in them and the texture makes it harder to abuse. Quite frankly, remember I don’t work for Weight Watchers. It’s about what works. If you can eat other brand sugar free candy and not abuse it, then go for it. The point is that you can eat half the bag in a sitting. With Fruities, you can’t possibly eat that many in a sitting…well, without having to go sit on another seat if you know what I mean (Fruities when abused can give you the tooties ).

  9. Birgit says:

    Thanks so much for your answers. I figured as much but I wanted to make sure (and wanted to see if I could use up some of my low carbing stuff).

    I am still not sure about the fructose though. No, I wouldn’t drink a gallon of splenda, however you would quite easily use a cup of fructose as a sugar substitute while for example baking something with only core ingredients. A cup of fructose is 720 calories (more than sugar, which is 672 per cup).

    And yes, I realize you don’t work for Weight Watchers anymore and I am greatful that you are still willing to answer questions. I am a low carber that is trying to get her head around a new concept that’s all. And some things don’t add up with the concept (but that is often the case with many new eating plans, doesn’t mean they don’t work in the end) – like allowing a alternative sweetener like fructose as core that has more calories than acutal sugar doesn’t add up with the calorie density theory. However because it is low glycemic it will at least not induce sugar cravings !

    But that’s ok, I’ll just not use fructose myself 🙂
    Thanks again for your help !

  10. Lisa says:

    Hi, I just started the core plan a few weeks ago. I do not have that much weight to loose, but I may have the worst eating habits you could ever imagine, so this is a way for me to start making healthy food choices, and it is working great! I feel great staying in a comfortable zone of fullness and have much more energy.

    Here is my question, I am kind of a frozen coffee junkie, like those starbucks drinks. I know coffee is core and so is fat free sugar free cocoa, has anyone found a combination or created a recipe for a core friendly version of something like this?

    Thanks!

  11. Lesley says:

    I have a question about full meal plans or specific WW recipes. I have a cook book from WW that lists both CORE and non-CORE meal ideas. The book marks which recipes are CORE and it lists the point values for the rest. My question is, when they list the point values some times they take into consideration foods that are on the CORE list. Lets say something calls for a whole egg. On CORE we could eat it without taking away points, but when the total points at the end of the meal are calculated, 2 points are added on for the egg (the book doesn’t break down which points are allotted to which ingredients). Does this mean that if I’m following CORE and a decided to make a non-CORE meal that I have to use the points recorded in the cookbook or can I modify the points to only include the foods that aren’t CORE?

  12. Elizabeth says:

    I found that if I go to work and eat fruit and eat less during the day my stomach shrinks and I feel much less hungry the rest of the time. I think the key is to drink the water to feel full and while it’s difficult at first as your stomach shrinks it seems to get easier and easier. My leader told me that getting your oil in daily will stop alot of the cravings because your body needs it and without it you will have cravings. I’ve made small changes a step at a time but I feel better than ever and while the weight is coming off slowly, I have been able to maintain the weight loss sucessfully.

  13. Lyn says:

    Didi, if you would be willing to send me the core foods list, I would really appreciate it.

    Thanks!
    joziallen@hotmail.com

  14. crystal says:

    Great site
    I put my husband on the core diet 4 months ago. He has done great ,48 lbs now.
    I was reading your site and saw something that confused me, it was about the potatoes and the pasta and the rice . You said if you eat brown rice for lunch you cant have it for supper.But can you have potatoes or pasta for supper? We are online weight watcher people. But I am confused on this.
    Thanks for your help
    Crystal

  15. Traci says:

    How do activity points work with the core plan? For example, my usual workout routine allows me to have two extra points each day on the flex plan. Can I still add those into my day and eat two points of non-core food on the days I work out? Can I also still have my 35 flex points in addition to my activity points?

  16. Reb says:

    I’ve lost 65 pounds on Atkins. Breads and sweets make me bloat up like a balloon and make me feel just terrible. Plus they keep me hungry all of the time! I’m glad it’s working for you, but for me, it’s Atkins all the way 🙂

  17. Katina says:

    This is my second day on core and I am glad I found this site because it has answered a lot of my questions. I found while on flex I was already eating the majority of the foods that are on core. It did not make sense anymore for me to track points for something that I can have on core without tracking. So far I like it because I feel satisfied whereas with Flex I was getting hungry but could not eat until I was satisfied because I would have used up all of my points. Thanks for the info on this site.

  18. soco says:

    I just joined WW and I hear alot about soups being used as a filler. Now can salads be used as a filler with meats.

    A few years ago I had experimented with Suzane Sommers “Sommersizing” and lost a substantial amount of weight. That required salads and meats-no carbs.

    I guess my question is can I eat a salad with my chicken breast?

  19. Janet says:

    Hi – Just googled and this website came up. I have been on Weight Watchers since the first week of May and have lost 12 pounds. It is very slow going as I am on anti-depressants and the medication just doesn’t allow my metabolism to move at any pace. Is there any advice to make this all move a bit faster. I am “religious” to the program and exercise. I have 30 more pounds to go. AUGHHHHHHHHHH – I NEED HELP!

  20. Kelly says:

    I am using the Flex Plan. I am a college student and I find myself eating 100 calorie snack packs, healthy choice frozen pizza, smart pop popcorn, etc… I feel like I am eating a lot of “junk food.” But, I ALWAYS write them down and I ALWAYS stay within my points. So my question is… Can I still loose weight even though I am eating “junk food?”

  21. Susan says:

    I have a guestion about the Core Plan. Are any of the Weight Watchers Foods Core? Any of the Lean Cuisine Meals Core?

  22. Joyce says:

    Judi

    Thank you for such a wonderful website. I am wondering about the milk with the cereal in the morning. Could I use 1% milk and count it towards my weekly points. i thik the Core program is great but I do prefer 1% to fat free even if I have to count it. The program does say the cereal must be taken with fat free?????

  23. David says:

    My question about this Core plan is this:

    1) do you have to have balanced meals each time you eat or can you eat one food item on the list?

    2) How many meals a day does the core plan recommend?

    Just 3 or more?

    thanks

    David

  24. Amira says:

    Hi Dear

    i have always been overweight and followed lots of diets , then on 2005 to 2006 i was fed up and started starving myself i ate like one apple in a day after ayear i started eat more than alot i gained the weight back and more i then started following my diets again but i dont lose weight been sticking to it for ayear now i lose so sos so slowely then gain again!!!

    Do u think weight watchers will work with me??

    If yes , im Staying in England for 2 years then going to live in Egypt can i follow it from there??

    also do i have to continue paying for it all my entire life or i can follow forever(by having agood will)

    Please answer me as im totally depressed about it

    Thanks dear

  25. Karen says:

    Really enjoyed your site. Have been on Core before but was unaware that beans were a core food. I noticed someone made chili as a core lunch. Are beans a Core food?

  26. Sandy says:

    This site is great – thanks for everyone’s input and Judi’s hosting – it’s wonderful.

    I haven’t started the plan yet, but I am convinced by what I’ve seen and heard that it’ll work perfectly for my life style (I always let the counting go by day two!)

    Finally, a diet for “life”! that you can live with!

  27. Jennifer says:

    Ahhh, beans are the greatest, beans are miracle food. Black beans and brown rice with salsa, fat-free plain yogurt, and a few scallions sprinkled on top – all core foods, fantastic.

    Another core meal (not to be eaten on the same day as the brown rice meal above) is: baked potato, heated-up fat-free refried beans, and salsa. Use small portions of this one or you surely will feel over-full.

    I’m currently trying to figure out how best to rationalize hummus. It’s made predominantly of garbanzo beans, and has garlic, lemon, and olive oil. So far so good. Unfortunately a key ingredient is tahini (sesame paste), which is like adding the calories of peanut butter. And I have in the past completely stuffed myself with hummus, even as a veggie dip. It is prone to abuse – beware – even though we think of it as “beans.”

    My biggest difficulty sticking to core foods was giving up bread. Notice there’s no breads on the list – not even whole wheat bread. In “baking ingredients” there’s no flour listed. I’m searching for a corn muffin recipe that only uses cornmeal (no flour) so that I can still have my morning muffin with coffee. I’m a coffee junkie, so core fat-free lattes are a blessing. However I’m also a breads/starch junkie, and satisfying that craving without going wild is a bigger challenge.

    I think WW did some good research with their core list; it really is true that our favorite starchy-carbs are prone to eating abuse.

  28. Jade says:

    Hello All,

    Let me begin by saying this site is extremely useful and I have enjoyed everyone’s postings. I have been on Weight Watchers for six weeks now and have lost about 11.5 lbs on the Flex plan– this week I gained a pound but hope to see a loss next week. My concern with the Flex plan is that I may be getting a little too “flexible” with it– I have decided to go hard “Core” (lol) this week. We shall see!!

    Jade

  29. Jacqueline says:

    Hi,

    Im on week 9 of ww and am feeling frustrated with the flex plan, however im don’t understand the core plan. Any suggestions would greatly help.

  30. Rosanne says:

    Hi Everyone,

    I enjoy reading the comments posted here and hope someone can offer some helpful advice. I have done Weight Watcher’s before and am now trying the core foods program. A 35 year old colleague has been very successful with it. I am not looking for excuses, but I am a 53 year old woman and am dealing with (I think..) Menopause weight loss roadblocks. Any tips for maximizing weight loss? My daughter’s wedding is coming up. I’d like to lose some of the menopause waistline…I look pregnant!!

  31. DEE says:

    JUST WANTED TO CONFIRM THAT BLACK OR GREEN OLIVES ARE CORE FOODS…?

  32. Brandy says:

    Didi,

    Would you please email me the full Core List? Thanks a ton!

    Brandy

    Brandy.kretz@ge.com

  33. Erin says:

    Such a shame to see this site unused. What a great resource!!

    I started core 5 hours (LOL) after years on flex. I am excited!!

  34. Holly says:

    I am considering joing WW CORE plan online. I’m surfing the web to get opinions on the point, and the core. I’m glad I found this site. Useful information.

    Keep this website going!

  35. Laura says:

    Hi. i’ve been going to WW since feb and have lost about 40 lbs on flex.3 weeks agao i switched to core. i love it, but totally agree about the planning!!! i have asked at my meeting if anyone knows about different flour like amaranth or spelt flour (which are high protein) and if they are core but no one seems to have the answer….anyone here know? just curious….this tis a great forum though….anyone curious about core should try it out!!!

  36. kelley says:

    I’m on the core and its working out great!!!

    Just a meal idea “whole wheat pasta (curley or ziti) with tomatoe puree instead of sauce.I use my points(1) to add alittle grated parm.cheese for extra flavor yum yum!

    ALSO

    you could use the pasta and make a pasta salad. Use FF italian dressing,cukes,cherry tomatoes and black olives,even some grilled chicken.

  37. Annie says:

    Judi seems very angry. Very insulting to people.

  38. DD says:

    I would but I just poured my heart out typed with time I don’t have to find out that since I didn’t fill out Email & Web site it blank out what i wrote….WHY?

  39. hanna says:

    how do I join this site

  40. JohnA says:

    Hi I signed up for the 13 week plan through my employer Verizon. Do I only use the 13 vouchers when I attend? What I really mean is if i miss a week i do not have to give up a voucher?

  41. Jennifer says:

    I just joined WW tonight after a long time away from WW. ABout 3 years ago I was very successful doing the flex plan, lost about 30 lbs, felt great, but just couldn’t seem to make the point counting thing work for me over the long haul. Long story short, I’m trying the Core plan this time. After looking it over, I’m feeling nervous about “not counting” and following my hunger to guide me, but from what people are saying here and at the meeting, core really does work.

    So, what is my question? I guess I’m wondering how to make the mental shift from a more regimented way of losing weight with counting points with flex to the core, which seems to be less restrictive in that it “trusts” my judgment to stop eating when I am satisfied, even if I’ve just eaten lots of meat (which have high points value), etc. Looking for advice and encouragement more than anything else.

    Thanks a lot.

  42. Jade Rose says:

    What is a good brand of low points bread and pasta? What r low points cold cereal for core?

  43. Furkid Mama says:

    I know what you mean about getting to a safe haven of knowing what full/satisfied is, and then backing off just a bit. The thing that got me there was realizing that I still had food around just in case I got hungry in 5 minutes. So, I started practicing doing just that. I’d eat a tad bit slower and drink water with my food, and when I got to the point that I was almost full, I stopped. I saved the rest of my food (and kept it handy)…sometimes I did finish it later, but most of the time, I was fine for a few hours. Now, it’s a habit. The tough part is eating out because you can’t really put the rest of your food in a plastic container and stash it in your purse, but you can have a core “fix” handy, just in case. I also had to spend some inner soul-searching time figuring out what I didn’t like about being hungry. It’s not such a horrible state to be in, because there is a rescue (food) that is readily available. I use most of my flex points on Fiber One bars. And, thanks to Judi, I discounted what I heard at meetings regarding point values because I was hearing what I wanted to hear…for instance, my leader announced that, because of the high fiber content, Fiber One bars were only one point. When I checked the points, using my points calculator and stopping at 4 grams of fiber, the points value was 2 points, not 1 point. It’s eye-openers like that which helped me face reality and stop playing my little games. Another example is that a leader told us that kettle popcorn was two points for the whole bag; when I calculated the value, it was actually four points. Some people don’t want to face the truth, and I was one of them. Then, Judi woke me up and I decided if I really wanted to lose weight, I had to be honest with myself. The points don’t go somewhere else if I was choosing not to count them.

    Hope this helps those on the fence…now that I understand myself better, core is the solution to my lifelong quest for health and a healthy body to carry it.

  44. Furkid Mama says:

    The best core cold cereal is Fiber One…check the label for store brands that are less expensive and bring your points calculator with you. Just because the fiber is more than 4 grams, doesn’t mean you can automatically lower the total point count. I love Fiber One because, combined with oatmeal, it makes an extremely filling breakfast…I’m good to go for about 4 hours!

  45. Shawna says:

    Just started core today. I have had good luck with flex in past but always hungry. Just wanted to know if 100% orange juice with no sugar added is ok. Also, I am confused about the activity points, do you still earn extra points to use on flex items. Thanks!

  46. Lesley B says:

    Hi Judi – my husband has me in a panic

    I just started the Core this weekend and felt good that although I was eating a lot I ate everything core and point 2 ww english muffins.

    Last night I had 2 10 oz filet mignons and a large salad for desert I had a banana and 2 big bowls of popcorn, is this just tooo much. I mean I was really hungry…I have a large appetite but my husband is like that is just tooo much food.

    I am also 5’2” and weighed in at 113. I am looking to lose 10 pounds. My husband thinks the CORE plan only works if you are really overweight, I disagree, I think I should be fine…but now I am a nervous reck. Can you put my fears to rest???

  47. Kathleen says:

    Hi! I am 31, just seriously returning to WW Core after 2 years of on-again off-again dieting – South Beach, Prevention Belly Fat diet, Core and Flex, depending on the week. Over the course of all this yo-yoing I’ve gained almost 25 lbs. My wedding is in 4.5 months and I am ready to make some changes. (Interestingly enough, the thought of wearing that dress and the subsequent honeymoon in Jamaica hasn’t been enough movtivation for me up until this point!) Now, not only do I want to look good, I want to improve my health for the future.

    My biggest challenge is that I cannot exercise right now. I am runner, having completed two marathons, but recently herniated a disk in my back (probably due to being out of shape and overweight). I am struggling with the lack of exercise during my recovery and am really concerned that WW won’t work for me now without the activity. I am (unrealistically) thinking that I should avoid eatting the extra 35 points each week, but I am afraid that will just result in binge eating.

    Anyone have suggestions for staying on track and motivated without the exercise??? Can I still lose weight without it? Thanks for any advice!

  48. Furkid Mama says:

    I herniated L5/S1. Instead of surgery, my doctor recommended that I start swimming with a mask and snorkel. I started out slowly (10 laps) and worked my way up to 1 mile every night after work. The snorkel made life much easier for me and in 6 weeks, I had lost 10 lbs and my reflexes returned (I kicked the doctor in the face–go figure!). I gradually moved back to the weight room (very light weights) and then the cross-trainer. I never returned to running, although I can walk long distance without too much discomfort. As for losing weight without exercise, it’s a gamble that’s dependent on your metabolism. I’m sure it’s possible…feel better soon!

  49. Furkid Mama says:

    p.s.–if you follow core and leave those 35 flex points alone for a while, you’ll see nearly instantaneous results…keep popcorn handy for emotional eating needs…cook chicken breasts and keep them handy for hunger (gotta eat something NOW)…and drink lots of water. My trick was to drink a full glass after every bathroom trip!

  50. Kathy says:

    I just started Core this week. I’ve been very pleased at the variety of foods allowed.

    I was happy today, because as I began my journey of beginning to snack during dinner prep, I caught myself, talked to myself, and reeled myself in again. I did let a few items get into my mouth and down to the tummy, but what i DIDN’T

    allow to happen, is the crummy self talk, self defeating talk that usually has me eating more and more and more.

    I’m looking foreward to tomorrow, knowing that I have the intelligence and power to do what I need to do for my health, and not be the kind of person who keeps making excuses for not taking care of myself.

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