Noom Diet Review: A Dietitian’s Personal Experience
Noom is an app-based weight loss program with strong evidence to support its effectiveness for behavior change.
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Noom is an online diet program focused on helping with weight loss via behavior change, mindset, and stress management. I tried the Noom program for ten weeks and got familiar with its many aspects.
When you sign up for Noom, you are prompted to download their app. Inside the app, there is an extensive library of articles about nutrition, stress management, exercise, behavior change, and mindset.
Each day you are prompted to log into the app and read the content for the day. It is broken up into short lessons that are informative and enjoyable to read.
The goal of these lessons is to help you evaluate the habits and mindset blocks that have prevented you from being successful with weight loss in the past.
They also provide basic lessons in nutrition and physical activity.
On the Noom program, you are assigned a personal “coach” who checks in on you periodically to see how you are doing and provide support.
After two weeks on the app, you are assigned a virtual “support group.” This group also has a moderator who helps keep the group engaged.
The “diet” that is recommended on Noom is just a calorie counting program. You are prompted daily to log what you are eating.
The coach pops in every so often to make sure you sticking with the program.
While Noom is a calorie-tracking program, it does not allow you to personalize your calories.
Inside the app, you can choose if you want to lose weight quickly, like a cheetah, moderately like a rabbit, or slowly, like a turtle.
You have to select one of these weight loss “speeds” and this is the only way to modify your calories for the day. This does not provide much customization.
Although you can technically eat whatever foods you want on Noom, as long as you stick with your calorie goals, they strongly encourage you to choose more “green” foods over red or yellow.
Green foods are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free dairy products. These are generally accepted to be healthy and low in calories.
Yellow foods are consumed in moderation. These include higher calorie foods that are still healthy, like most animal protein, starches, and higher calorie fruits and vegetables.
Red foods, while still allowed, should be limited. These include processed foods, junk foods, high-fat meat, and foods high in sugar.
Within the app, as you log your meals, it provides feedback on your diet choices, encouraging you to eat as many green foods as possible.
There are a handful of studies on the efficacy of the Noom program itself.
One 2020 study evaluated the effectiveness of Noom in a diabetes prevention intervention.
Over 14,000 adults received one of two diabetes prevention curricula within the Noom app.
The main outcome was weight loss over time observed at 16 and 52 weeks.
The study found that older adults were more likely to lose weight with either intervention when compared to younger adults.
Engagement time with the app was significantly associated with weight loss. Users of either program lost between 5–8% of their body weight after one year on the app.
This may not seem like much, but losing 5% of your body weight can significantly reduce your risk of various chronic diseases.
A similar 2017 study compared over 7,500 women using Noom versus those who were just trying to lose weight on their own.
After three months, those using Noom lost an average of 1.92 more BMI points (the equivalent of about 5–8 pounds), when compared to those not using the program.
There was a decrease of 2.59 BMI points (or 10–12 pounds) for every 10% increase in adherence to the program.
Based on these two studies, Noom is an effective program for weight loss when users engage with the app and follow the program.
Noom is simple to follow and understand. Calorie tracking is a straightforward and effective way to lose weight.
The fact that it doesn’t eliminate any foods while encouraging you to make better choices makes it a well-balanced plan.
When I signed up for the program, it recommended I consume 1,300 calories a day. As a dietitian, I would never put someone of my weight, height, and activity level on a 1,300 calorie diet, this is way too low. I found it very difficult to get close to this number.
If I calculated my weight loss calories myself, I would recommend aiming for 1600–1700 a day.
In my opinion, the calorie levels recommended are too low to be sustainable and should allow for more detailed customization. I ignored the Noom recommendations when I used the program.
When you sign up for the app, you can choose how much time you want to dedicate to it a day.
I chose six minutes a day. It gives you just enough “bite-sized” content to fill up your 6 minutes, then you are done! This makes it easy for busy people to follow the program.
Noom is customizable for any dietary restriction. It can be used by people with diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease since you can eat whatever foods work best for you.
Like any diet tracking program, it is unsustainable to think you will track your calories forever.
Eventually, you want to get away from needing to track every morsel and move into a place where you can maintain your weight.
I like that Noom does try to teach you healthy habits and improve the overall composition of your diet. Hopefully, these changes will result in you maintaining your weight without needing to use an app.
Noom provides accountability via a private “coach” and group coaching after you have been on the app for 2 weeks.
The “coach” is not necessarily a trained professional in nutrition, although I know they do employ some registered dietitians as coaches.
When I did the program, I found the personal coach to be fairly useless. It seemed that she would only check in on her clients once a day.
Therefore, when I had a question or a problem I wanted to discuss, she wouldn’t respond for 24 hours or longer.
A conversation would take days to happen because even if I responded to her right away, she still would take a full day to write back.
Although I don’t expect the coaches to be available 24 hours a day, it seemed odd to me that it took so long for her to respond.
The group coaching aspect was helpful and I enjoyed getting support from the other users of Noom in my group.
Overall, Noom does a fairly good job of offering virtual accountability at a very low monthly price.
Noom costs $59 a month or you can pay $199 for a year membership. It is a good value for the price with access to the various methods of accountability.
It is more expensive than other calorie trackers available on the app store, but it offers a lot more in terms of engagement and retention.
There are no safety concerns with the Noom program for most healthy people.
Those with a history of disordered eating should avoid Noom. Looking at food as “good” or “bad” and counting calories can be a trigger for people with this history.
There isn’t really a mindset and psychology-based program available on the market, like Noom.
WW (Weight Watchers) does try to incorporate more of the mindset and lifestyle aspects of weight management into their program, but it is not quite the same.
Other calorie-tracking apps, like My Fitness Pal, don’t provide the same level of engagement and retention as Noom does.
Overall, if you follow the Noom program it works. For me, after 10 weeks on the program (with moderate compliance), I only lost 3 pounds. This was disappointing.
While I enjoyed the daily articles and engaging with the app, in my opinion, there are some downsides to the program.
The main one is the inability to personalize your calorie level and the recommendation is too low. When people try to stick with the calories they recommend, they may find themselves too hungry and quit.
I also didn’t like the categories of the food as green, yellow, or red. I didn’t feel like there was a clear rationale for why certain foods were in certain categories.
I would consider foods like nuts or avocados to be healthy, but they were categorized as “red” along with donuts and pizza.
If you are motivated to follow the program and don’t mind logging into the app regularly, Noom can provide you with many tools to permanently change your lifestyle to keep the weight off.
It offers a well-designed program and a good price point when compared to other weight loss options on the market.
At WellnessVerge, we only use primary references for our articles, including peer reviewed medical journals or well-respected academic institutions.
- Relationship Between Age and Weight Loss in Noom: Quasi-Experimental Study:
- Adherence as a predictor of weight loss in a commonly used smartphone application: