Noom is more than just another dieting app. This service is built to help you lose weight and keep it off, by encouraging you to adopt a healthier lifestyle. It does not use restrictive dieting, but focuses on helping you develop healthy behaviors that will stick with you for life.
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The Noom app provides its users with a personalized diet plan and access to a health coach. People can also use the app to record their diet and exercise habits, and to discuss their weight loss journey on Noom’s social platform.
In this article, we explore the Noom diet and outline the research into its effectiveness.
We all know that fad diets, with their absurd restrictions and celebrity endorsements, come and go just like any other trend. And the extent to which they may (or may not) be successful is always a little questionable. (Remember that smoothie-based detox plan that was all the rage for a hot minute?) But with a plethora of diet plans flying around these days, it can be hard, if not daunting, to decide which approach is right for you.
The makers of Noom, a recent app-based diet trend, want you to know they've got you covered. By offering personal health coaching and a chat-based community, Noom eliminates the creeping fear we all face when starting a new diet: going it alone. With a personal coach and nutrition plan, the app provides motivation and professional guidance for users to make easy lifestyle changes on their own.
But some questions remain. Will it help you lose weight? What are its downsides? Are the nutritionists available 24/7, like when you need an emergency voice of reason to steer you clear of that oatmeal cookie? In this detailed guide, we answer all these questions and more.
Is there any evidence for its effectiveness?
Apps such as Noom encourage people to self-monitor their weight loss on a regular basis. One 2019 study found that people who frequently and consistently record their dietary habits experience more consistent and long-term weight loss.
However, self-monitoring weight loss is a practice that tends to decrease quickly over time. To prevent this, the Noom app provides features to motivate self-monitoring.
These features include access to a health coach and access to a social platform, where people can discuss their weight loss challenges and successes with other users.
How much does Noom cost?
Noom offers a two-week introductory period, then costs $150 for a six-month subscription-you must enter your credit card up front to access the intro period. While that works out to $25 per month, you’ll have to pay that $150 up front. You also can’t prorate the program: If you cancel during week 3, it will cut you off immediately and you’ll be out that $150. Therefore, setting a calendar reminder to cancel-either at the end of the two weeks or at the end of six months-is crucial if that’s your intention. (To its credit, the emailed receipt you receive when you sign up for Noom is pretty helpful about this timeframe: It spells out exactly when you’ll need to cancel and when you’ll be charged.)
There are also add-on options available for more money. You can get a custom meal plan, custom workout plan, or "weight loss DNA test" for an additional amount. The list prices for these are between $80 and $100, although that pricing could vary based on the person viewing the offering or time you access it. In early January, 2020, each of those options is on sale for me from $39 to $59. (I did not test any of the additional add-ons and can't speak to how useful they are, or aren't.)
What do you get with Noom after the free trial?
During the first two weeks, you have access to most of the Noom experience - just not all of it. The free trial includes the food logging, weight tracking, and helpful tips. If you decide that the program isn’t for you, you can cancel your trial within the first two weeks.
The biggest change after the free trial is the introduction of a support specialist and group chat with other Noom users who started around the same time as you. The support specialist seems useful in concept, though I have yet to ask her a question. The group chat is hit-or-miss, and we suspect it depends on the makeup of the group you’re assigned to. Over the weeks we have been on Noom, there have been moments when the chatroom is active and lots of people participating, and there are times where it’s mostly crickets.
What are the downsides to Noom?
Noom isn’t perfect. The articles and quizzes have a particular language to them that some people may find off-putting. While we think Noom falls on the right side of the line as a whole, the occasional message, quiz answer, or button language made our roll my eyes. They work hard to avoid being condescending, but you can see all that effort at work.
Food logging is inherently annoying and, while Noom’s interface is a better-than-average one, it’s always a pain when the database doesn’t include the food you want to log. It’s frustrating to scan a UPC code and get a message asking you to enter that food manually, which usually happened whenever we bought an item that Trader Joe’s just launched. Entering in meals from non-chain restaurants is also bothersome, and the best course of action is to reverse-engineer your meal and guesstimate the portions of each ingredient in your serving (though this happens on any food-logging app). Or, as we have done, pick a similar-looking choice already entered in the database, which is why we logged a meal at a make-your-own taco bar as “street tacos.”
It’s also impossible to edit a custom meal once you’ve added it, which drives us mad. The one help message we have sent to Noom asked how we could fix a typo in custom recipe, and we have yet to receive a reply.
How does Noom compare to other diet plans?
It's impossible not to compare Noom to the similar WW, which also offers guidelines that designate foods into groups. (We asked our employee who tried WW.) In WW's case, it uses points rather than colors; zero-point foods being akin to Noom's "green" food group. With WW, there's some mental math involved counting points on the fly-with its app keeping official track when you log food-though it similarly doesn't shame you for overdoing your overall point count. WW also offers differently priced plans depending on how much support you prefer, which varies from digital-only logging to personal phone calls.
You can also get basic food logging on apps like MyFitnessPal and Fitbit. With the free options, you have access to food databases and a way to track your intake, but these don't provide the programmed guidance of Noom. Paid programs are available from those apps and others that include more support and coaching, but I haven't tested those.
But it's Noom's programmed guidance-all those articles and quizzes and, yes, even that #NoomNerd eye-rolling terminology-that feels like the key differentiator. Noom's emphasis on behavior management makes this program seem, well, mentally healthier than anything else I've tried. There's no rigid rules to memorize and the calorie counting seems more informative than competitive. (You can't, for instance, horde calories one day so you can blow your budget the next.) This is the first diet I've tried where I haven't felt like a hungry, raving lunatic at some point during the process.
A limitation of the Noom app is that it does not allow the user to record information on nutrients other than calories. However, a healthful diet should contain a good amount of micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals.
As a result of this limitation, people using the Noom app will have limited information on the healthfulness of their food choices. It also means that doctors and dietitians may be reluctant to recommend the app.
Additionally, some Noom coaches do not have certification from the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching. Coaches with this certification need to meet the minimum standard of knowledge and skills required for health and wellness coaching.
Coaches without this certification may offer inappropriate advice.
Also, people who have a complicated medical history should take extra care when using Noom and similar weight loss apps. These people should seek additional weight loss advice from a doctor, dietitian, or other healthcare professional.
The Bottom Line
Noom is a weight loss app that provides access to a health coach and a personalized weight loss plan. Its creators claim that these tools, plus its accurate food calorie counter, can help people reach their individual weight goals.
So far, research suggests that the Noom app can be an effective aid to weight loss. However, the research has not yet compared Noom with other weight loss apps or methods.
People with underlying health conditions should take extra care when using Noom or similar weight loss apps. Such people may require the advice of a doctor or dietitian to ensure safe weight loss.
Please compare South Beach Diet with other diet companies: Atkins, BistroMD, Keto Advanced Weight Loss, Medifast, Nutrisystem, SlimFast, Splendid Spoon, Weight Watchers, DoFasting, Key Eats, Keto Zone Diet