You’ve seen ads popping up all over your Instagram and on your TV for Noom, a buzzy, app-based eating plan that purports to help users lose weight (it was one of the top trending diets of 2018, according to Google). But what the heck is the Noom diet (and can it help you shed those extra pounds)? The basic gist is this: After downloading the Noom app and answering a series of questions (and paying a fee—more on that later), you’ll be given a personalized eating and fitness plan. According to studies, Noom can be helpful in losing weight, but there are a few downsides (including the program’s cost). Read on for everything you need to know.
How does the Noom app work?
Noom is an app-driven eating plan that’s been dubbed the “Weight Watchers for millennials.” According to its webiste, "Noom is a mission-driven technology company dedicated to building a healthier world. Our core products combine technology with human empathy, to empower personal change, and these principles are reflected throughout our company."
Users download the app and complete a series of questionnaires about their weight, goals and past experiences with dieting. Based on their responses, they receive a 16-week personalized eating and workout plan, plus a certified health coach to help reach their goals. The app is also used to keep track of daily fitness activities and food intake (Noom color-codes foods green, yellow or red to help guide food choices but says that it’s OK to eat from all three colors).
How much does Noom cost?
First of all, the Noom app is free to download, so you can take the introductory questionnaire without committing to paying. From there, pricing starts at $59/month, with the price going down as you commit to longer periods of time. The cheapest annual price you can get Noom for is on the app’s yearly auto-recurring plan which costs $199 (averages to just over $16 a month). And if you refer a friend, they’ll get a 20 percent discount and you’ll receive a $20 Amazon credit.
How is Noom different?
Here’s a cool feature: Noom takes a look at common psychological hurdles to weight loss and teaches users healthy habits that can keep the pounds off in the long term. It also offers interactive features (like daily quizzes and checking in with your health coach) and support from a community of dieters you can chat with in real-time.
It’s also important to note that Noom puts you as a user in charge of your own destiny: You decide to make the healthier choices, Noom just creates a framework to make those choices easier.
But does it help you lose weight?
Well, a study published in Scientific Reports involving 35,921 participants found that 77.9 percent lost weight while using the app. (Not too shabby.) While the study was published in an open-access journal (meaning that it didn’t go through rigorous peer review), the results are promising. Weight loss expert Sue Decotiis, M.D., agrees: “The education elements of the app, such as reducing and understanding calories and carbohydrate intake, increasing physical activity, and gaining nutritional knowledge is imperative,” she told Women’s Health. And because the diet doesn’t ask you to cut out entire food groups (it’s more about moderation and portion-control), you’re more likely to stick with it.
Megan McCarthy, a writer for USA Today who tried Noom for three months, put it like this: "For the past three months, I’ve been logging my weight and food intake using Noom, and I’m down 20 pounds in that time. Is it a miracle? No, but it feels like something more substantial: A sustainable way to create healthier habits."
Are there any downsides to Noom?
While the health coaches are certified by the National Consortium for Credentialing Health & Wellness Coaches, it’s worth noting that they’re not trained professionals like registered dietitians or certified trainers. (The personalized eating plan is developed by a registered dietician, however.) Oh, and the app isn’t exactly cheap; prices start at $45 per month. But overall, Noom is a sensible eating plan that’s likely to deliver results over time if you follow the guidelines. Just remember to check with your doctor before starting a new diet, OK?
The pros and cons of Noom, according to reviews
According to reviewers, Noom is incredible for those who want to change their habits from the ground up (like how Noom creates a framework for you to make healthier choices). Here’s how one satisfied user puts it: "I’m tired of losing and gaining the same weight (and more) over and over. I’ve tried a lot of programs, and while losing weight is almost never an issue for me, keeping it off is…Noom is teaching me to listen to my hunger cues, think about nutrition, allow myself treats, and be more mindful about food in general. It is really helping! The weight is coming off, but more importantly, I feel my attitude and outlook on food changing, and I’m enjoying what I eat more instead of stressing about it. This gives me greater faith the weight will stay off."
As for cons, some reviewers point out that the program seems to be designed for a person who’s working a typical 9-to-5 job, and doesn’t take into consideration different schedules, noting: "The program’s daily lessons are centered around a working woman’s or man’s environment, i.e. office , co-workers, break room, etc. They don’t seem to realize that there are those of us who have left this part of our lives behind and moved on, or, there doesn’t seem to be any appropriate material for a stay-at-home mom or dad, or for any other younger, or older persons out of this working” category. This hard for me to follow."
The bottom line
As with many healthy eating programs, your success on Noom is largely up to you. Particularly with this plan, you’re given the knowledge to make healthier choices, and if you make those choices and stick with them for a while, you’ll likely lose weight. Though Noom’s health coaches aren’t highly trained professionals, they’re not recommending anything that should be dangerous, health-wise. If you’re looking to lose some weight and recalibrate your relationship with food—and you’re willing to shell out a pretty penny—Noom could be a solid option.