Noom is a programme designed to help users work towards weight loss. It provides nutrition education based via an app, as well as looking at psychological strategies for weight loss. Though there may be benefits for some losing weight using Noom, there may be some drawbacks associated. This blog aims to provide a detailed Noom diet review, to help people understand if this is a programme that is right for them. 

What is Noom?

Noom is a mobile based app, calling itself a lifestyle, rather than a diet. It was created back in 2008, by Saeju Jeong and Artem Petakov, who have backgrounds in tech and engineering. They founded Noom on the idea of providing a digital based product that supports people to take control of their health. The Noom platform uses behavioural science to help with the goal of weight loss and achieving a healthier lifestyle. It provides a psychology based approach, looking at behavioural change and education, in order for changes to be developed. Noom contains weekly challenges and education around different areas of health and wellbeing. The app allows tracking of foods consumed, as well as exercise routines. The principles of coaching along with taught lessons, are designed to help the user reach their goals. Today, Noom is worth several billon dollars and has over 50 million downloads so far. 

Although Noom originally started as a weight management programme, they are now claiming to expand the platform to support those with chronic health conditions such as diabetes and stress, to improve the health for more people. Features of biometric tracking allow users to monitor blood pressure and blood sugar levels, in order to look at other health markers aside from just weight. Noom provides a 7 day free trial to test out the app before committing to the monthly fee.

How does Noom work?

To start with Noom, a person will need to download the app on their phone. It is free to use, and firstly will include completing an onboarding quiz.

The quiz asks for details around the users lifestyle, personal information such as gender, weight, habits and behaviours, current activity levels and dietary profile. Weight loss goals are set here, with a time frame.

Once you pay for the plan, you create a log in and have access to the short psychology led behavioural change videos to watch each day, over 16 weeks. Typically you can spend between 5-15 minutes per day on lessons, which you need to decide on once logged in.

You will be connected with a coach who will check in a few times a week, to offer encouragement. You will also be given access to a group chat for further support from other Noom users, which is overseen by a Noom group coach.

How do these features help with weight loss?

Let’s break down some of the features of Noom and how they may support with weight loss:

The Noom app creates a calorie deficit for the user, which is similar to most other diet plans and programmes available. A calorie deficit is where a person burns more energy than what they consume. It can be achieved by increasing energy expenditure, or decreasing energy intake, and it is essential for weight loss. An algorithm is used by Noom to provide a person’s calorie needs, and this may be based on the users weight, hight, gender, age and responses to lifestyle questions. Calorie needs are given as a range, to help target the weight loss zone the user is aiming for.

Weekly weigh ins are recommended, as well as daily logging of all foods and drinks eaten. In the Journal of diabetes research, daily logging and weigh ins was shown to help reduce weight in the long term. Noom claims to stand out in the weight loss programme market by claiming to use psychological principles of behaviour change, with personalised coaching. Whilst each user is given a coach who supports them with weight loss techniques using cognitive behavioural therapy, psychologists often are untrained in supporting people to lose and then maintain weight loss in the long term.

The app encourages logging of foods, and then displays them in colour categories, green, yellow and orange (previously red). It shows calories consumed from each category and the total calorie intake over the day.

Noom users are also provided with tracking features to monitor fluid intake and mood. Daily step goals and exercise advice is provided, though this is generic and not personalised. Physical activity can be logged onto the app, and iPhone users can connect their Health app on their phone, which helps record daily step count.

What foods can you eat on the Noom Diet?

Similar to other weight loss services, Noom recommends tracking meals and any foods eaten, where the calorie content of foods are logged and displayed. Although no specific food groups are cut out, there are some foods that may be restricted or are recommended to have less often.

To allow weight loss to occur, a Noom user needs to consume less of the higher calorie foods – a colour coding system is used in the app, which is based on calorie content of foods. This helps the user to understand what foods to eat more of, and what foods to eat less of. The colours used are green, yellow and orange, and different foods are grouped within each colour. Users are recommended to choose to include a set % of foods from each colour. 30% green, 45% yellow, and 25% from the orange food choices.  What is allowed on the NOOM diet?Foods in the green category include:

  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, mango, oranges, watermelon, grapes etc
  • Non-starchy vegetables: Cucumber, lettuce and leafy greens such as spinach and kale, as well as other vegetables like carrots, green beans and peppers
  • Starchy vegetables: Sweet potatoes, squash, beetroot, parsnips
  • Whole grains: Brown rice, oats, barley, buckwheat and wholewheat bread and pasta
  • High quality proteins: Lean white fish, shellfish like prawns and crab meat, egg whites, tofu
  • No-fat dairy: Cottage cheese, no fat cheese, no fat Greek yoghurt, skimmed milk
  • Dairy alternatives: Unsweetened soy, cashew or almond milk
  • Condiments: Apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut, tomato sauces, light mayonnaise, salsa
  • Beverages: Water, unsweetened coffee and tea, tomato juice and unsweetened apple juice

Understandably, these green foods are going to be allowed in bigger portions and more often throughout the day.

Foods in the yellow category include:

  • Fruits: Canned pineapple, olives, dried apricots, prunes, plantain, avocado
  • Seafood: Most other fish including tuna, tilapia, salmon, scallops, sushi
  • Lean meats: Chicken and turkey breast, lean cuts of red meat such as steak, lamb and pork
  • Low fat dairy: Low fat yoghurts, cheese and milk
  • Legumes: black beans, soy beans/edamame, chickpeas, tempeh, lentils etc
  • Grains: Wholewheat bagel or wrap, rice (jasmine, wild, basmati), cous-cous
  • Condiments: Balsamic vinegar, mustard, soy sauce, gravy, cacao powder, oyster sauce
  • Beverages: Diet soft drinks, unsweetened juice (orange, cranberry and grapefruit), fruit smoothie, light beer, ginger beer, vodka soda

Although the yellow coded foods are nutritious choices, the app is designed to encourage those to consume firstly from the green section before the yellow, due to them being more calorie dense.

If someone chooses foods often that are on the yellow list, the app is designed to provide alternative swaps for foods found in the green list. For example, swapping out the orange juice for a tea, or cous-cous for brown rice.

      Foods in the orange category include:

      • Fruits: Dried cranberries, dates, raisins
      • Grains: White and sourdough bread, pitta bread, hot dog bun, flour tortilla, bagels, banana bread, croissants, muffins, waffles
      • Dairy: Full fat cheese, goat cheese, cream cheese, butter, margarine, whole milk, full fat yoghurt and full fat cottage cheese
      • Proteins: Bacon, turkey bacon, fried chicken, chicken wings
      • Condiments: Olive oil, sour cream, mayonnaise, ketchup, BBQ sauce, coconut milk, pesto, maple syrup, honey, dressings
      • Snacks: Nuts, crisps, crackers, popcorn, pretzels
      • Desserts: Sugar, ice cream, cookies, cake, brownies, cheesecake, sweets, pies
      • Beverages: Regular soft drinks, red and white wine, champagne, hot chocolate, cocktails, mixed coffee drinks

        If someone tracks a meal that is not very nutritionally balanced, the app will provide portion suggestions for certain foods that appear as orange. It will recommend to include foods mainly in the green and yellow coded groups going forwards.

        The foods in the orange list tend to be higher in calories, saturated fats, salt, sugar or are more refined carbohydrates. Although the app does not ban these foods, it is recommended to avoid them in a daily basis, and choose more from the green and yellow lists.

            Although the colour counting system can help the user understand more about calorie-dense foods, it isn’t explained about the nutritional aspects of certain nutrients such as fibre, vitamins and proteins. For example,  some of the foods found on the orange list can be quite nourishing, such as nuts or yoghurts. Though they may be high in calories when consumed in high amounts, it will depend on the quantity that they are consumed in, rather than the food itself. Each person will have individualised nutritional requirements, which, unfortunately, Noom does not yet provide.

            Advantages of Noom diet

            • Noom provides an opportunity for users to look at behaviour change to look at producing healthier long term habits, instead of focusing on quick weight loss, which is often unsustainable. The psychology- based approach allows users to educate themselves with the tools needed to create mindset changes.
            • There is a focus on real, whole foods, rather than shakes, supplements or bars, which is most likely going to allow more pleasure and adherence in the long term.
            • You are able to scan the barcode of packaged food items, which offers real-time feedback when food shopping, allowing users to make better choices.
            • Since the focus is on the colour coding of foods, it can help users identify what foods to eat more of, in order to consume fewer calories.
            • There are no foods that are cut out or banned, unlike other weight loss programmes, which can otherwise lead to disordered eating behaviours.
            • If a user wants more personalised coaching, they can opt for an individual coach (extra cost). The coaches go through 75 hours of training via ‘Noomiversity’, to allow better support throughout a persons journey using Noom. However, these coaches are not registered dietitians or registered nutritionists.

              Disadvantages of Noom diet

              • Although Noom is advertised as a lifestyle change and not a diet, Noom is still certainly a form of a diet. The colour coded food system is based on caloric density, and whilst Noom claims the colours do not indicate good or bad foods, it is difficult for people to not associate the colour system that way. Therefore, this can put people at risk of developing a poor relationship with certain foods, and for this reason we would not recommend for anyone with a history of disordered eating.
              • Some of the categories of foods are not completely clear. For example, chicken and turkey are very lean protein sources, but are listed in the yellow section rather than the green. Although the green section of foods are low in calories, there are some foods that are missing from this list, including certain vegetables.
              • Certain foods in the orange category, although higher in calories, are very nutritious. This includes full fat yoghurt, olive oil and nuts/seeds. Putting these foods in the orange category appears to be demonising these foods, rather than noting all the beneficial nutritious compounds these contain, such as vitamins A, E, omega 3 fatty acids and more. This is not ideal when looking for a holistic approach to health.
              • To access Noom, you must pay a monthly cost, and there is an additional cost for personalised coaching. These coaches are not registered dietitians or nutritionists, so the quality of their nutrition advice cannot be completely backed up by the latest educational research.
              • Calorie goals may be set significantly low, which can make it difficult for some users to adhere to. This can make the changes unrealistic, and without using a registered dietitian, people may not understand that the goal set by the app needs to be adjusted.
              • The focus is mainly on calorie intake, rather than looking at a holistic approach to health. For example, managing our stress levels, focusing on our mental health, looking at sleep quality and duration and regular exercise, are all factors that are vital in maintaining healthy and balanced lifestyles. Although there is some general advice and education on these topics on the Noom app, it is not designed to address these areas of health.

              Is Noom diet suitable for Vegans, Vegetarians, and others?

              Yes, Noom is suitable for vegans, vegetarians and plant-based diets. This is because Noom tries to focus on a more plant-based diet, encouraging users to eat more fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, which are naturally filling and lower in calories compared to some animal products. There are many recipes as part of Noom which are vegan, vegetarian and plant based.

              How much does Noom diet cost?

              Looking at Noom reviews, we can see the most current pricing available depends on what plan you choose.
              When signing up to use Noom, you are offered a range of subscription plans. These include (Prices as of April 2024):

              • Monthly auto-renewing plan: $70 (£56)
              • 2-month auto-renewing plan: $129 (£103)
              • 3-month auto-renewing plan: $159 (£128)
              • 4-month auto-renewing plan: $169 (£136)
              • 5-month auto-renewing plan: $174 (£140)
              • 6-month auto-renewing plan: $179 (£144)
              • 7-month auto-renewing plan: $184 (£148)
              • 8-month auto-renewing plan: $189 (£152)
              • 9-month auto-renewing plan: $195 (£157)
              • 10-month auto-renewing plan: $199 (£160)
              • 11-month auto-renewing plan: $205 (£165)
              • Annual auto-renewing plan: $209 (£168)

              If someone signed up to the annual auto-renewing plan, this would mean just over $17 a month (around £14 a month), vs paying $70 a month (around £56 a month) for the monthly auto-renewing plan.

              Note that the prices may differ depending on the users weight loss goals. There may be discounts offered throughout the year.

              Keep in mind that this subscription cost does not include the optional add-ons, including the personal coaches, custom meal plans, custom exercise routines or weight loss medications.

              Is there a free version of Noom?

              Noom offers a 14 day free trial when signing up on their website. However, you will need to provide valid payment details, as after the 14 days, the payment is automatically taken unless cancelled prior to this.
              You can also access a small number of resources for free on the website, including a personality quiz, calorie calculator, and macronutrient calculator. These resources are provided to you for free, on the account that your details such as name and email address are shared firstly.

              Is the Noom diet safe?

              Yes, overall the Noom diet is safe to follow. It does not recommend completely removing any major food groups or being overly restrictive, which is different from other diets that may be available.

              There is also a limit to how low a weight loss goal can be set. Noom states that, in order to keep the body functioning best, it will not allow those who identify as female or binary gender to have a goal below 1,200-1,320 calories per day, with those who identify as male no further below 1,400-1,540 calories a day.

              Keep in mind that although there is a calorie limit, the calories set for you by the app may be too low and unsustainable, which may be unhealthy. Without working with a registered dietitian, a user is unable to know for sure if the calorie goal set by the app needs to be adjusted, or is safe. 

              How good is Noom app?

              Looking at user reviews, there are generally positive remarks about the app design and accessibility. It is said to be easy to use and navigate, with a clear format. 

              There is a large database of recipes available on the app, but if a user wants to add in their own custom meal prep recipes, this can be time consuming and complicated. This has led to less than positive reviews regarding the food tracker feature of the app. There are also recurring comments from Noom reviews that mention searching for recipes can be difficult, as the filter settings are limited, and there are no options to filter for dietary preferences, such as vegan. Some of the recipes provided on the app were oversimplified and not very clear to follow, especially if someone is not so experienced in the kitchen.

              Although the customer support is professional, some Noom user reviews have commented how messages from coaches and guidance can seem scripted, such as that from using AI software, which can be discouraging, as well as sometimes having slow response times, waiting hours and somedays days for responses to questions.

              Noom diet online reviews

              Noom currently has a Trustpilot score of 3.9 out of 5, based on Noom reviews from the UK, US and other parts of the world. There are some overall very positive reviews about the content the app provides, in terms of psychological behaviour change videos, that are simple and enjoyable to watch.

              5 start Noom Review

              5 start Noom Review

              Many reviews have commented that they have been able to change their attitude towards foods, without heavily restricting, which is important. Though, some reviews have been frustrated with not being able to reach the predicted weight loss goal that Noom suggested at the start, and finds the daily weigh-in recommendation can be discouraging.

              3 star Noom review

              Some users have commented that logging foods can be difficult at times, depending on the type of food. There have been some issues with the app functionality, freezing and having issues logging in food entries, as well as slow response times. Much frustration from some of the Noom reviews are from users who have had difficulty cancelling their subscriptions, or have had ongoing charges when no longer using the app, without any pre-warning of charges.

              1 star Noom review

              How long does it take to get the results with Noom?

              Noom states that on average, users can expect a loss of 0.5-1kg (1-2lbs) per week, whilst using the app. This can depend greatly on several factors, such as how many changes a user makes, their calorie goals, food choices, health status and activity levels.

              A 2020 randomised controlled trial, published in the JMIR mHealth, compared the long term weight loss of 202 patients, either using a mobile programme (Noom) compared to a control group given medical care. The Noom group achieved significant weight loss of 5.6% at 6 months, and a maintenance of 4.7%, up to 1 year after compared to the control group, who saw a loss of under 1%. This study was based on patients who are pre-diabetic, as Noom also has a specific Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) that it offers. 

              A further 2023 study in the Obesity science & practice journal, looked at 840 people who had lost at least 10% of their body weight using Noom, in the past 6-24 months. The results showed that 75% of this population maintained at least 5% weight loss after 1 year, 49% maintained 10% weight loss after 1 year, and on average, 65% of initial weight loss was maintained after 1 year, with 57% after 2 years.

              However, these studies above did not compare Noom directly with other weight loss services, so it is not clear if Noom is superior to other weight loss strategies.

              Noom diet before and after

              Couple who lost over 60kg together using Noom

              This is a before and after of a couple who had a weight loss journey with Noom, in 2019. The full information can be found on the Noom website, though you can see the impactful change that this couple has gone through. Together, they were able to lose over 60kg between them!

              Both commented on how they used the Noom app a little each day to support their weight loss journey. They found the daily lessons important, especially learning about calorie density and understanding triggers behind food choices. Being able to have regular weigh ins also helped them understand about day to day fluctuations, and allowed them to see overall trends.

              How does Noom diet compare with other diets?

              Noom WeightWatchers MyFitnessPal
              How does it work Eating more of the lower calorie density foods to support weight loss, and use behavioural change A points system, assigning certain number of points to food based on their nutritional value The app records tracking of foods eaten to reach a calorie goal, logging daily weight and activity
              Meal choices Colour coded and based on your calorie recommendation Depends on the points allowed No choices given, all foods are allowed as long as within calorie goal
              Price Starting at $70 (£56) per month, or $209 (£168) yearly Starting at £18.95 per month, or £10 a month for 10 month subscription Free to use. Premium is $20 (£16) a month or $80 (£64) a year
              Support offered Coaches and other Noom users, as well as guides. Personalised coach for higher cost Higher cost plans offer access to coaches and workshops No guidance given around calorie goals chosen
              Resources given Daily video for psychological education Meal planning tools and recipes provided, as well as workout plans Information on nutritional value of foods inputted
              Advantages Looks at behavioural change without complete restriction It allows flexibility in food choices and no need to completely avoid certain foods Clear tracking for calorie counting
              Disadvantages Focuses on calorie density rather than other health factors. Personalised coaching is an extra cost. App can be faulty. Not a structured learning programme. Can feel restrictive with counting points for long term. No behavioural or mindset education. Calorie counting can be inaccurate and create a fixation on looking at numbers rather than nutrition.


              Is Noom diet worth it?

              Looking at what Noom provides, it can be a good option for those who are unsure how to start with weight loss, or are struggling from a history of dieting and restriction from fad diets. It may be good for someone has often experienced weight re-gain in previous diets, who could also benefit from motivation and check-ins with coaches and peers, as well as learning the behavioural reasons behind food choices.

              However, we would not recommend Noom for those who have a history of disordered eating or eating disorders, as tracking foods eaten with Noom can cause a fixation and unhealthy relationship with food choices. It may also not be suitable for those who need closer and personalised support, or for those who do not want to be logging each ingredient in the app when regularly cooking homemade meals. Calorie recommendations may often be lower than some require, depending on a persons calorie expenditure.

              If someone is looking for a more personalised approach to changing their habits and lifestyle to aid in weight loss, we recommend reaching out to a registered private dietitian, who can provide you with 1-1 support in understanding the calories that are best for your health and lifestyle, as well as education on why we make certain choices when it comes to food, and how to change these into new habits that can be sustained for life. If you have any health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, we also recommend working with a private dietitian, who can tailor recommendations based on any medical issues, to ensure the best outcome for your health.

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