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יום חמישי, 22 באוגוסט 2013

Reverse Engineering the weight watchers PointsPlus

Hi there folks,

Weight Watchers have this PointsPlus system. Each food is given PointsPlus and the idea is that when you sum up all the PointsPlus that you "ate" during the day - you should not cross a specific limit.

How do you know how many PointsPlus is each food? Each new member get a small book containing all the points of all common foods. So for example - this is how you know that a medium Avocado costs you 4 PointsPlus.

But what about products that are not listed in that book? What if you go to the grocery store and you see a new product and you want to know how many PointsPlus are in 100 grams of this product?

Well this is a huge shooshoo thing - Weight watchers used to provide their customers with a paper 'points calculator' but not any more. If you want to know how many PointsPlus then you have to send mail to your coach and she replies with the number of PointsPlus... Or you could use a pirate android application that tells you how many PointsPlus per 100 grams of a product...

So for example - if you encounter a food product that has 5 grams of fat, 2 grams carb, 3 grams protein and 0.8 grams fiber then you input this into the android application and then you get that the worth of this in term of PointsPlus is 2 :

I tried some numbers on this app - and you know the drill, 4 linear equations for 4 variables...

And we get 

PointsPlus = 0.26 * Fat + 0.11 * Carbs + 0.095 * Proteins - 0.08 * Fiber  

Let's decipher this equation.... if we multiply it by 40 then we get

PointsPlus * 40 = 10.4 * Fat + 4.4 * Carbs + 3.8 * Proteins - 3.2 * Fiber

Which is not that far away from

Calories = 9 calories/g * Fat + 4 calories/g * Carbs + 4 calories/g * Proteins - 3.2 calories/g * Fiber

So PointsPlus is not that different from Calories divided by 40....

It's just that weight watchers "punish" their customers by 10% tax on eating fat + carbs and give them a 10% discount for eating calories and make sure to appreciate those customers that consume lots of fiber.

So how do we simplify life for weight watchers customers - give them some simple formula that they can use?

Fat / 4 + (Carbs + Proteins - Fiber) / 10

And even simpler version (but less accurate) is: 

Calories / 40

Nice eh?


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