Our review of the Noom diet plan: Recent advancements in technology are disrupting every sector, and this revolution is now obvious in the health and diet space. Big names like WW and Nutrisystem have been forced to evolve rapidly as wellness apps are starting to steal their (healthy) lunch.
One of the rockstars in this new wave of app-based diets is Noom. Their personalized wellness program is backed by 8 years of research and has been proven effective by several medical journals. It might be best described as, “Weight Watchers for Millenials,” and promises to “make healthy living easy” for those who are frustrated by dieting.
The foundation of the program is their app which guides members on a journey to a healthier lifestyle, which results in gradual and sustainable weight loss.
So, does Noom work? I decided to join online and then download the app to try their
diet “wellness” program myself.
What Is Noom?
Noom (Start free) believes that health and wellness is a combination of both nutrition and behavioral change. They never mention the word “diet,” and believe that weight loss is merely the happy result of a healthier lifestyle. The most important concept in the Noom program is “self efficacy,” which is essentially believing in yourself, and then achieving your goals.
The first message you’re greeted with on noom.com is, “Noom: Stop dieting. Get life-long results.” That pretty well captures their mission in 6 words, and is consistent with the recent trend in the industry to move away from the narrow goal of “weight loss” in favor of of “wellness.”
This diet revolution reminds me of Apple’s 1984 Superbowl commercial when the woman threw a sledgehammer through the screen of the metaphorical status quo.
That’s kind of whats happening in the health and diet industry. It’s also why Weight Watchers changed their brand to “WW,” and now treats “diet” as a four-letter word. Anyway, let’s talk about Noom.
Here’s how Noom describes their program:
“Noom uses cutting-edge technology to accurately monitor your progress and provide expert advice and analysis to keep you on track. By making the experience relevant to who you are, your goals, and your interactions, we provide a personalized plan that makes a balanced, healthy life attainable and fun.”
Like WW and Nutrisystem’s NuMi app, Noom asks you to track meals daily on their app, but Noom advertises themselves as the only weight loss program developed by world-class experts in both psychology & motivation. Noom uses advanced technology to provide personalization as well as individual and group support.
The Noom diet plan provides structure, motivation, and guidance to inspire healthy lifestyle choices and better eating habits that should last a lifetime.
How Noom Works
Did you ever really think about why you’re overweight? What good are protein shakes or pills if the root of your problem is emotional eating, or stress?
Noom puts a lot of emphasis on the mental component of health and weight loss. Other weight loss programs don’t tackle the thoughts, triggers, and obstacles that can sabotage your progress. Noom’s approach helps you tackle the mental and emotional barriers between where you are and where you want to be.
When it comes to food, Noom coach uses a calorie density strategy; sort of a simplified version of the WW point system. Essentially, all foods are categorized into three categories: green, yellow, and red, according to calorie density. (calories per serving divided by grams per serving) Think of it as Noom giving every food either a “thumbs-up,” “thumbs-down,” or a “meh” if it’s in the middle.
This helps you understand what’s in the food you’re eating so you can make healthier choices every day. Critics might argue that putting foods into so few categories is overly-simplistic, but Noom’s goal here seems to be the KISS principle. (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)
Even though you join Noom online, the program is app-based, so after joining you’ll be emailed a link to download the app from the App Store.
You’ll track all of your meals on the app, which also gives you simple tasks every day, including a brief health lesson:
The goal with Noom is to lose an average of 1-2 pounds per week on your journey to a sustainable, healthier lifestyle. You’ll log your current weight first thing every morning so that you can always monitor your progress:
They only ask for about 10 minutes each day to guide you to your weight loss goal. In order to understand how Noom works, let’s talk about:
- The power of believing
- Personalized weight loss
- Coaching & support
- Calorie Density & color system
- How to log food
- Health education
#1. The Power of Believing
If there’s one word that best summarizes Noom it’s, “believe!“
Noom tells members, “whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”
They believe that the most important factor in losing weight is the belief in your ability to succeed, and data seems to confirm that idea. In other words, If you believe you’ll reach your goals, you will.
Noom’s app is smart and the “course” is personalized for each unique individual. Now, let’s talk about the importance of a personal experience when it comes to wellness and weight loss.
#2. Personalized Weight Loss
How do you like your coffee?
The first thing that Noom will focus on is understanding you as an individual. Everyone is different, and you’ve probably heard the expression about trying to fit, “a square peg in a round hole.” It doesn’t work, and even public schools have started to realize that everyone is profoundly different when it comes to learning. No one curriculum will work best for all students, and it’s the same with weight loss.
History has shown that the practice of selling the same exact diet product to everyone is often doomed to failure. So, Noom puts great emphasis on understanding you as a unique person even before you join. To accomplish this, Noom presents you with a series of questions to better understand you and your unique personality.
Besides the expected questions about height, weight, and age, you can expect questions like:
- What is your current activity level?
- How often do you currently eat each day?
- Do you have back problems, diabetes, or other medical issues?
- Do you live in the country, suburbs, or city?
By understanding your personality and lifestyle, Noom coach and their algorithm can start crafting a weight loss program that works for you as a unique individual. They can also hand-pick a support group of other Noom members that compliments your personality and needs.
You didn’t think you’d be alone in this journey, right? The Noom Personal and Group Coaches are central to this program, and here’s how they work:
#3. Weight Loss Coaches & Support:
The crucial role of coaching and support distinguishes Noom from other discount or free weight loss apps. Noom describes weight loss as a “team sport,” so it’s fitting that you should have coaches and a support group.
Based on the results of your initial questionnaire, Noom will match you with both a Goal Specialist and Group Coach. The coaches help you set your goals, review your food logs, and help keep you on track. You’ll also be given a support group to lean on.
The Noom coaches are like the Sherpas of your weight loss journey. Here’s how your coaches work:
Your personal Goal Specialist is ICHWC-certified, and will help you to dig deep to set and stick to personal short-term goals each week. They will provide you with powerful, on-the-go psychological strategies that give you the confidence to easily avoid temptations. Plan on touching base with your Goal Specialist once a week.
After the first two weeks you’ll meet your Group Coach. The Group Coach will lead you through the day-to-day and help put what you’re learning into practice through discussions on recent topics and challenges for well-rounded daily support.
Now, let’s talk about how food and eating works with Noom:
#4. Calorie Density + Color System
Every food has a value for both calories and caloric density. Calories are not all the same, and Noom stresses the importance of calorie density.
In other words, a quarter-pounder has 14x the calories of a salad of equal weight, but they both make you feel equally full. That’s because studies have proven that food weight (not calories) determines how full you feel.
When you eat foods with low calorie density, you feel full quicker with fewer calories (and vice-versa). The more water a food has, the lower its caloric density, because water has zero calories.
Noom classifies all foods as either green, yellow, or red according to caloric density:
- Green foods have the lowest caloric density and the most healthy nutrients. Think: veggies, fruits, skim milk, and whole grains
- Yellow foods have a mid-level caloric density and amount of healthy nutrients, like lean meats, eggs, Greek Yogurt, beans, and starches
- Red foods have the highest caloric density and the least healthy nutrients. Examples are red meat, oils, peanut butter, and desserts
The lower the caloric density the better, as it will take fewer calories to fill you up.
To illustrate this, Noom uses grapes as an example. Did you know that a pound of raisins has 5x the calories of a pound of grapes? It’s true, and it takes the same weight of both will make you feel full.
Now you’re understanding calorie density, and how important eating foods with low caloric density is if you want to lose weight.
Think of the color system as a portion control guide, so you’re asked to be mindful of how much red food you’re eating. It’s not realistic to think that you’ll mostly be eating green foods, so Noom recommends the following breakdown:
- Green: 30%, Yellow: 45%, Red: 25%
As you log your food on the app, Noom Noom keeps track. Here’s how tracking meals works:
#5. Logging food:
Like WW, Noom asks you to track all of the food that you eat. However, instead of a point system, Noom focuses on calories, and caloric density (by color). You’ll have a daily budget of calories to stay within, and your current progress is always displayed:
The Noom database has calorie values and colors assigned to every food, so every time you log an item, it adds it and keeps track.
After you log foods you also get helpful feedback on your choices. This gives you a better understanding of food and portions:
Speaking of knowledge, it’s also an important part of the Noom program. Weekly lessons are incorporated into the “course,” in the form of health education.
#6. Defining Your “Big Picture” Goals
Remember how Noom says you only need 10 minutes a day? Well, on the first day the most important task is to define your goals.
After downloading the app, Noom tells you that, “The first step in achieving any goal is having a big picture in mind.”
So, this is when you really want to peel back the layers and think about what your goals are. Your “Big Picture” is comprised of 2 things:
- The Super Goal is what you want to accomplish by the end of the course. Examples include: losing 20 pounds, running a 5k, and feeling good in a bathing suit.
- The “Ultimate Why” is all about motivation; the driving force that pushes and inspires you towards your Super Goals every day. Like a curious 5-year old you need to keep asking yourself “why” you want to attain your goals.
Even though Noom sets small, short-term goals, the Big Picture is what you’ll always be working towards. Another important part of the Noom diet plan are the simple “lessons” that they incorporate into your course.
#7. Health Education
Like Nelson Mandela, Noom believes that “education is power” when it comes to your health. The Noom program includes 16 weekly “lessons” on topics that help you gain new skills to live a healthier lifestyle. Here are the four phases, each with four weekly lessons:
PHASE 1: (Weeks 1-4)
In Phase 1 you’ll dig deep to define your goals and motivation so you can understand the “why” behind your bad habits and change them. In Phase 1 you’ll:
- Discover your “Ultimate Why”
- Your motivation and road map
- Develop keystone health habits
- Beat inner-food demons
PHASE 2: (Weeks 5-8)
In Phase 2 you’ll uncover the psychology behind weight loss, so you can think critically about how to sustain your new healthier habits. In Phase 2 you’ll:
- Crush thought distortions
- Optimize for health
- Debunk weight loss myths
- Conquer your personal triggers
PHASE 3: (Weeks 9-12)
During this phase, they show you the connection between your biology and psychology so that you can build up your willpower and manage stress effectively. Here’s what you’ll do each week:
- Manage your stress
- Win over your inner-critic
- Build mental resilience
- Resist food pushers
PHASE 4: Week 13-16+
In the last phase of Noom, you’ll pull everything together with additional tricks on mindfulness and enhancing your workouts so that you can make this new healthy lifestyle permanent. You’ll learn to:
- Rock your workouts & activity
- Become a master of mindfulness
- Love your new-and-improved “normal”
- Make it last for life!
As you can see, Noom believes that a large part of sustainable weight loss is psychological. so these short lessons help to motivate and address bad habits.
Noom User Reviews
If you have a few minutes, you can find a lot of Noom inspiration on Instagram, including before and after pics.
However, the best place to find Noom reviews is on the app store where thousands of customers leave honest reviews of the Noom app:
As you can see, Noom gets an impressive 4.7/5 score from over 33k customer ratings. Reviews are easily sorted by a number of criteria including highest and lowest ratings.
I also find that bad reviews are always helpful to read, even if there are many more positive reviews. Speaking of negative reviews, it’s also worth checking out Noom reviews on BBB (Better Business Bureau). On bbb.org a number of people complain about being unexpectedly charged after the free trial ended, and difficulty of refunds..
Does Noom Work? Expert Ratings:
As far as expert reviews for the Noom diet plan, here are some highlights:
- The British Medical Journal found 64% of Noom users lost more than 5% of their weight
- Scientific Reports found that 78% of Noom users sustained weight loss over 9 months
- University of Sydney’s Medical Center ranked Noom #1 out of 800 weight loss programs
- Woman’s Day ranked Noom as a top weight loss app
Noom Reviews on Reddit:
Another good place to find honest reviews for the Noom diet plan is Reddit. Users give opinions and tips and write about whether Noom worked for them. It’s also helpful that many user profiles include info like gender, age, current weight, and goal weight. Check out Noom reviews on Reddit.com!
Noom starts you out with a free online evaluation which ends in an offer for a 14-day free trial After the free trial ends, you’ll be billed automatically depending on which purchase option you choose.
Here’s the current pricing: (auto-recurring payments)
- Monthly payment: $59/mo.
- 2 months: $99 ($49.50/mo.)
- 4 months: $129 ($32.25/mo.)
- 6 months: $149 ($24.83/mo.)
- 8 months: $159 USD ($19.87/mo.)
- Annual plan: $199 USD ($16.58/mo.)
As you can see, a longer initial commitment drops the monthly price, and by default the bi-monthly billing option is selected. However, the downside of a long commitment is that you may have difficulty getting your money back if you wish to cancel your membership early.
Is Noom Worth It?
Data shows us that only a minority of people can really succeed in losing weight without a plan that includes structure, motivation, and accountability.
In deciding whether Noom is worth the money, first think about your personality. Do you do well showing up at the gym and working out on your own, or do you benefit from a personal trainer?
If paying for sessions with a personal trainer or attending group classes isn’t your speed, then maybe Noom isn’t worth the cost.
There are free or cheaper weight loss apps out there, but they don’t provide the coaching component which is central to the Noom. If you like the idea of a DIY approach to weight loss, consider WW or even one of the free weight loss apps.
If you believe that the coaching adds significant value, then I recommend that you try Noom with their free evaluation and 14-day free trial.
How to Signup for Noom:
Thinking of joining? You’ll want to first take their free online evaluation. After completion you’ll have the chance to signup and get started right away with a free trial.
When you signup, Noom will email you a link to download the app. You’ll need to open the email on your phone, as the link will take you to the app store to download the app:
You’ll use your phone to access Noom, which can also easily sync with most wearable devices (Fitbit, Garmin, etc).
Your Own Noom Review?
Have you tried Noom? Did it work for you? Please share your review with us by commenting below!
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