Calculating SmartPoints Is Trickier Than You Think

We love our skinny recipes and know Weight Watchers® members utilize them every day, too! Since Weight Watchers rolled out its new “Beyond the Scale” plan in December 2015, the SmartPoints™ system replaced PointsPlus® as the new, improved way to track your daily diet. To help members continue to use our recipes on this program, we're updating recipes old and new with SmartPoints values.

weight watchers beyond the scale smartpoints
(Photo: Weight Watchers)

The Beyond the Scale program’s goal is to help participants focus less on weight loss and more on nutrition and healthy living. This spawned an overhaul of the PointsPlus system to award fueling, healthy foods with low point values and put less weight on the caloric content. But while Weight Watchers members can use any recipe’s nutrition panel to calculate their own SmartPoints values, the new system makes it difficult to get accurate numbers.

>> Read more: What's the Difference Between PointsPlus and SmartPoints?

With PointsPlus and SmartPoints, most fruits and veggies count as zero-point foods! A major difference between these programs is that SmartPoints also counts those healthy foods as zero points in recipes. That means that the calories and sugars that many fruits and vegetables add to a recipe should be removed before calculating the SmartPoints value in order to get an accurate number.

Think it won’t make much of a difference? Take our Santa Fe Stuffed Peppers recipe for example. Using the nutrition panel of this recipe, you’d plug the numbers into your SmartPoints calculator and see 8 points. Not too bad, but it’s also not correct! Omitting the bell peppers, onion, jalapeño, lime juice, and cilantro in this recipe (because they’re all zero points by themselves), it’s only 6 SmartPoints. Those two points may not seem like much, but it saves you just enough room to devour some Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries for dessert!

Santa Fe Stuffed Peppers

This is great news for healthy eaters and veggie lovers, but what’s the point of this new system if you can’t adjust the nutrition to get accurate values? Here’s what Skinny Mom is doing to help make this a little easier:

For each recipe, Skinny Mom and Registered Dietitian Jessica Penner calculate the full nutrition panel and share it after the recipe. The calories, fat, carbs, etc., you see at the bottom of each recipe do take the fruits and veggies into account. Behind the scenes, we run a second nutrition panel that removes removes the Zero Points fruits and vegetables and give you a SmartPoints value that’s accurate according to Weight Watchers guidelines! That's why our SmartPoints value might look a little different than if you were to plug it in your calculator.

This "free fruits and veggies" addition to the Weight Watchers plan is applicable to most recipes, with a few exceptions. The nutrition of starchy veggies (like potatoes) have a point value as ingredients and still count toward the recipe’s SmartPoints. You’ll also count fruits and vegetables as ingredients if they are blended and drank rather than chewed. Weight Watchers says that because swallowing is less satisfying than chewing, people tend to consume more than a traditional serving if they’re drinking. That's why smoothies and drinks still have a substantial point value, even though they’re made up of many good-for-you ingredients!

>> We've even calculated SmartPoints for all recipes in Skinny Suppers cookbook! Check them out here.