Fruits and vegetables don’t count toward Weight Watchers International point limits under a new system called PointsPlus.

Weight Watchers says load up on fruits, vegetables

“We needed a program that recognized that calories are most definitely not created equal,” David Kirchhoff, chief executive officer, said in a news release.

“The issue is that calorie-counting has become unhelpful,” he said in the release. “When we have a 100-calorie apple in one hand and a 100-calorie pack of cookies in the other, and we view them as being ‘the same’ because the calories are the same, it says everything that needs to be said about the limitations of just using calories in guiding food choices.”

In doing so, the weight-loss program is overhauling the Points system used for the past 13 years.

“Essentially we are retiring the Points plan — you can’t mix the new system with the old one,” Karen Miller-Kovach, chief scientific officer for Weight Watchers, said in a news release.

Fresh fruits and most vegetables don’t need to be counted, making them more attractive to Weight Watchers members, according to the company.

Fruit juice, dried fruit and starchy vegetables are not included in the freebies.

Pick of the Season

Weight Watchers is already highlighting fruits and vegetables, through the quarterly Pick of the Season campaign. Four times a year, a chosen fruit or vegetable can carry the Weight Watchers’ logo for three months and the company’s website devotes space to the featured item. The program began in 2004 with potatoes, and featured items have included bananas, carrots, kiwifruit, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, Vidalia onions and watermelons.

A patent is pending on the PointsPlus formula, based on the amount of protein, fiber, carbohydrates and fat in foods. The formula considers the importance of protein and fiber for preventing hunger, according to Weight Watchers.

It also factors in how hard the body works to process food into energy. Protein and fiber take more effort than fat and carbohydrates, Miller-Kovach said in the release.

For example, in PointsPlus a medium croissant with butter has a value of 7, while one poached egg, 3 ounces of ham and one slice of whole-wheat toast with butter has a value of 6. Both breakfasts have 270 calories.