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Noom Diet Review: Does It Work for Weight Loss?

Written by Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD

Reviewed by Melissa Mitri, MS, RD 

Last Updated on September 8, 2021

Our Expert Rating:

3.9

About This Rating
The average rating of this product is calculated based on the evaluation of the following factors:
  • Evidence-Based:4.0
  • Easy to Follow:4.0
  • Customization:5.0
  • Sustainability:3.0
  • Accountability:2.0
  • Safety:5.0
  • Value for the Price:4.0

Noom is an app-based weight loss program with strong evidence to support its effectiveness for behavior change.

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Noom Diet Review: Does It Work for Weight Loss?

Pros

  • Simple to use and follow
  • Inexpensive monthly cost
  • Based on tried-and-true methods of weight loss
  • Encourages consuming whole foods

Cons

  • No ability to personalize the number of calories in the app
  • No meal plan included – you must meal prep and plan on your own
  • The “personalized” coach is not a trained professional
  • I don’t completely agree with how the foods are categorized

What Is Noom and How It Works

Noom is an app-based diet program focused on helping with weight loss via behavior change, mindset, and stress management.

You have to download the app onto your smartphone to use the program.

I tried the Noom program for ten weeks myself to see what it was all about. 

When you first go to the Noom website, you are directed to complete a quiz about who you are and some general health issues you might have.

The quiz takes less than 5 minutes to complete. Then you are asked for your email address to receive your “weight loss recommendations.”

If you choose to sign up, you are first prompted to download their app. After that, everything takes place in the app moving forward.

In the Noom app, you will find:

  • Daily prompts to log your food, exercise, read articles
  • Calorie tracker
  • Exercise and steps tracker
  • Weight tracker
  • Group chat
  • Private chat room with an individual coach
  • Recipes
  • Daily articles about mindset, nutrition, health, and exercise

Inside the app, there is an extensive library of articles about nutrition, stress management, exercise, behavior change, and mindset.

These articles are the foundation of the Noom program and what makes it stand out from competitors.

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.

This is the psychology piece that most weight loss programs are missing. As a dietitian, I believe that addressing your thoughts and feelings around food is the key to long-term sustainable weight loss.

The app also provides basic lessons in nutrition and physical activity. These articles provide guidance for how to use the diet part of the Noom program, which is calorie tracking with some guidance towards making healthier choices.

Noom's home screen
Noom’s home screen

On the Noom program, you are assigned a personal “coach” who checks in on you periodically to see how you are doing and provides support. All of this is done via the app in a private chat room.

While these coaches are not all registered dietitians, they are accredited by the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching.

After two weeks on the app, you are assigned a virtual “support group” of other Noom users. This group also has a moderator who helps keep the group engaged.

Aside from the mindset work and daily lessons, the “diet” that Noom recommends is just a calorie counting program.

Try Noom Today

You are assigned a daily calorie level and taught about food quality via a “red, yellow, green” system. In addition, you are prompted daily to log what you are eating.

Noom states their program lasts 16 weeks. But you can continue to use the app and support as long as you continue to pay for access.

Overall, Noom is a well-rounded program that addresses all the important aspects of weight loss, including diet, exercise, stress, sleep, accountability, and mindset.

Noom Diet’s Scorecard

The Noom diet program was objectively evaluated by a dietitian based on the following criteria:

  • Evidence-Based: 4/5
  • Easy to Follow: 4/5
  • Customization: 5/5
  • Sustainability: 3/5
  • Accountability: 2/5
  • Safety: 5/5
  • Value for the Price: 4/5
  • Overall Rating: 3.9/5

Foods to Eat and Avoid

While Noom is a calorie-tracking program, it does not allow you to personalize your calories.

Inside the app, you can choose 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,” which is the only way to modify your daily calories.

This does not provide much customization. You cannot determine your own calorie level or track macronutrients inside the app.

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.

Examples of green foods include:

  • All fresh fruits: apples, pears, watermelon, grapes, strawberries
  • All fresh vegetables: spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans
  • Whole grains: oatmeal, whole grain bread, brown rice
  • Fat-free dairy products: yogurt, milk, cheese, plant milks

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.

Examples of yellow foods include:

  • Lean protein: chicken, beef, salmon
  • Starches: quinoa, tortillas, beans
  • Vegetables: olives, avocados
  • Low-fat dairy: milk, yogurt, cheese

Red foods, while still allowed, should be limited. These include processed foods, junk foods, high-fat meat, and foods high in sugar.

Examples of red foods include:

  • Sweets
  • High-fat meats: bacon, salami
  • Oils and fats: mayonnaise, olive oil, ranch dressing, coconut oil
  • Junk food: pizza, hamburgers, French fries, potato chips

As you log your meals day-to-day, the app provides feedback on your diet choices, encouraging you to eat as many green foods as possible.

If you don’t know what to eat, there are many recipes available on the app. You can also purchase a 2-week meal plan for an additional cost.

Since Noom is just a calorie-tracking app, it can be used for almost any diet pattern.

You can eat convenience foods if you prefer on Noom, but you will have more long-term success if you learn to prepare fresh meals on your own.

Summary

You can eat any foods you want on the Noom program as long as you meet your calorie goals. They do encourage you to choose healthier foods, which they call “green” foods.

Noom’s recipes
Noom’s recipes section

Can It Help You Lose Weight?

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. After one year on the app, users of either program lost between 5–8% of their body weight.

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 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) 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.

Summary

Based on these two studies, Noom is an effective program for weight loss when users engage with the app and follow the program.

Sustainability

Noom is simple to follow and understand. Calorie tracking is a straightforward and effective way to lose weight, but it may become tedious over time.

The fact that Noom doesn’t eliminate any foods while encouraging you to make better choices makes it a well-balanced plan. This is a definite plus of the program.

Noom is also customizable for any dietary restriction. It is flexible as it can be used by people with diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease since you can eat whatever foods work best for you.

It can also be easy to follow for vegans and vegetarians.

However, it may be too restrictive in its calorie recommendations.

For example, when I signed up for the program, it recommended I consume 1,300 calories a day on the “rabbit” selection (although I did play around with the different options a bit).

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 1,600–1,700 a day for sustainable weight loss.

In my opinion, the calorie levels recommended are too low to be sustainable and should allow for more detailed customization.

With any weight loss diet, if the calorie level is too low to feel satisfied, it will likely not be realistic to follow in the long term.

I personally ignored the Noom recommendations when I used the program. I would be starving at only 1,300 calories, which would eventually backfire and lead to a binge.

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 by eating a healthy but sustainable diet.

Summary

Noom does a good job teaching you healthy habits that can last a lifetime and improve the overall composition of your diet. If you can turn these into life-long habits, these changes will result in you maintaining your weight without needing to use an app.

Noom's food log
Noom’s food log

Accountability

When you sign up for the app, you can choose how much time you want to dedicate to it a day. Then, it reminds you to log in and read the daily content. 

I chose six minutes a day. It gives you just enough “bite-sized” content to fill up your 6 minutes, and then you are done! This makes it easy for busy people to follow the program.

Noom provides accountability via a private “coach” and group support from other members after you have been on the app for 2 weeks.

The “coach” is not necessarily a trained professional in nutrition but is certified to be a health coach. Noom also employs 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 simple 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 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.

This was a more immediate way to get feedback or discuss concerns, as group members were usually available.

The Noom app will also encourage you to weigh in weekly to track your progress or more often if you prefer. Tracking your success is an important part of staying accountable.

Summary

Noom does a fairly good job of offering virtual accountability via a smartphone app at a very low monthly price.

Noom’s article
Noom’s article

Safety

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. 

Pregnant and lactating women should avoid restricting calories and therefore should not follow the Noom program. 

Always speak to your doctor before starting any diet program.

Summary

There are no significant safety concerns with Noom but speak to your doctor before selecting a weight loss plan.

Cost

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.

The amount of time you have to stay on the program depends on how much weight you need to lose.

While Noom states their program is 16-weeks, they sell memberships of various lengths from just one month to a year.

Noom is more expensive than other calorie trackers available on the app store, many of which are free for the basic features.

It is also more expensive than Weight Watchers (unless you pay for a year upfront), which is less than $20 per month for its similar program.

Having done both Weight Watchers and Noom, I personally found Noom more engaging between the personalized coach, small group, and daily articles.

Summary

Noom is a good value as it offers a lot more in terms of engagement, content inside the app, and retention compared to some of its alternatives.

How Noom Compares to Alternatives

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.

Many of the topics discussed at WW meetings are related to your mindset and psychological aspects of weight loss.

The WW website also has many articles on these topics. But the focus of WW is not on the psychological aspects of weight loss, and therefore it is not quite the same.

For the “diet” portion of the program, WW and Noom are fairly similar, relying on calorie restriction to induce weight loss.

They also both focus on improving food quality by encouraging fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

Related: Noom vs. Weight Watchers: Which Is Better for Weight Loss?

There are many calorie-tracking apps available, like MyFitnessPal or MyNetDiary. However, these apps don’t provide the same level of engagement and retention as Noom does.

While some offer content inside the app to educate and inform readers, there is no “curriculum” to follow like there is with Noom.

Most apps do not offer any personalized or group coaching, even for their paid memberships. 

The one upside of other apps is that most allow you to personalize your calorie and macronutrient goals. Noom is missing this feature.

Summary

Noom is a good choice for those needing support to make lasting lifestyle changes that will lead to weight loss.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Noom Diet

  • What does Noom actually do?

    The "diet" portion of Noom is just calorie counting and eating a healthy diet. Noom is different from other diet apps in that it addresses psychological and lifestyle barriers to weight loss and long-term weight maintenance. It also offers personalized support inside the app from coaches and other Noom members.

  • What foods can you eat on Noom?

    You can eat anything you want on Noom, but they encourage you to stick with what they call "green" foods. These are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They encourage you to limit "red" foods, which are generally higher in calories or processed foods.

  • Do you need to exercise on the Noom diet?

    No, you don't need to exercise while following the Noom diet. But it is encouraged that you do so for maximum health and weight loss benefits.

  • Should anyone avoid Noom?

    While the Noom diet can be personalized for most people, pregnant or lactating women or those with a history of eating disorders should avoid Noom. Always speak to your doctor before starting any diet program.

  • What does Noom cost?

    Noom costs $59 a month. A year, paid up-front, is $199 or less than $17/month. They also offer a 7 to 14-day free trial when you sign up for the app.

  • How much weight can you lose with Noom?

    The amount of weight you can lose with Noom will vary based on your starting weight and compliance. In a large study of app users, most lost between 5–8% of their body weight after a year.

The Bottom Line

If you follow the Noom program with 100% compliance – it works. There are studies to support the effectiveness of Noom for helping people lose weight and improve their diet quality.

Addressing psychological reasons for eating is also a significant part of maintaining weight loss long-term, which is another important component of the Noom program.

For me, however, after 10 weeks on the program (with moderate compliance), I only lost 3 pounds. This was disappointing, although I may have seen more results if I followed the program to a tee.

While I enjoyed the daily articles and engaging with the app, in my opinion, there are some downsides to the program that made it difficult for me to stick with.

The main one is the inability to personalize your calorie level because the recommendations that Noom makes are too low.

When people try to stick with the calories Noom recommends, they may become too hungry and quit. I found it impossible to eat only 1,300 calories per day, so others may have had the same experience.

I also didn’t like the categories of the food as green, yellow, or red. Again, I didn’t feel like there was a clear rationale for why certain foods were in each category. 

I would consider foods like nuts or avocados to be healthy, but Noom categorized them as “red” along with donuts and pizza. This annoyed me and made me not want to track my food using their program. 

I believe that you can lose weight if you follow almost any diet program. Noom is a good choice because of the mindset component missing from nearly all other programs.

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.

Overall, Noom offers a well-designed program at a good price point compared to other weight loss options on the market.

How to Get the Most Out of Noom

If you want to use Noom to lose weight, my main advice would be to engage with the app and follow the program as closely as possible.

The more often you log in to track your food, read the articles, and engage with the in-app support system, the more likely you are to lose weight.

A 2016 study found that the more dieters tracked their food and logged into an app, like Noom, the more weight they lost.

Another important aspect of Noom is learning to eat a healthier diet.

Eating more “green” foods and reducing the number of “red” foods in your diet will help you lose weight and improve your health.

Finally, Noom offers a lot of guidance about improving your relationship with food.

Learning to eat according to your body’s own hunger signals and discover the foods that work best for you is the best way to keep your weight off long-term.

Noom provides extensive information to guide users towards this type of self-discovery about ways they might be using food to cope with stress or emotions.

If you follow the program, do the self-reflection exercises, and attempt to make the lifestyle changes with the support of the Noom app, you will likely find success with the program.

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