What Is the Noom Diet?
Dubbed the "Millennial diet," Noom claims to use nutrition and psychology principles to help users lose weight in a way that lasts.
If you like using smartphone apps when it comes to tracking weight loss progress and overall health, the Noom diet may be right for you. The diet program, ranked number 12 on U.S. News 2021 Best Diets, certainly gives you a limit on what to eat, but also focuses on the psychology of eating (why you eat, what you eat when you do, etc) as it relates to weight loss and weight maintenance. Here’s a look at this unique program and if it’s right for you.
What Is the Noom Diet and Noom App?
Though the internet and social media has dubbed Noom the “Millennial diet,” the age range of users is between 18 to 60 years of age with folks between 40 to 59 years of age (Gen X) making up the largest portion.
There are two programs available on the app: a healthy weight program and a diabetes management program.
If you’re looking to lose weight, after entering your personal information, the app provides you with a daily calorie budget, a color-coded Noom database, and tracking technology to stay within your calorie budget. Noom's weight loss goal tool is within the guidelines of the National Institute of Health of 1 to 2 pounds per week. The Noom-developed color-coded food system is green, yellow and red foods based on calorie density. The overall choices are balanced and, technically, no food group is off-limits. Red foods are the highest in calories or the have the least healthful nutrients. It includes foods like baked goods, olives, and nut butters. The green foods are the most nutrient-dense with the fewest calories and include foods like vegetables, whole grains, and skim milk. The yellow foods fall in the middle and include foods like grilled chicken, tuna, black beans, low fat cheese, and avocado. According to Noom, this system is not intended to label foods as "good" or "bad," but rather to help users moderate portions of each to help meet their goals. It's also recommended that exercise be entered into the app and tracked. As you log your food choices and exercise in the Noom app, you'll receive instant automated and individualized feedback throughout the day.
Noom uses principles from cognitive behavioral therapy, a research-backed type of therapy that usually involves changing thinking and behavior patterns through techniques like motivational interviewing. You’re assigned a virtual coach (who is not a registered dietitian, and is not required to be a licensed psychologist or therapist) to help engage with you and offer encouragement through the app’s messaging feature. You’ll check in weekly with your coach to review how the previous week’s plan went, where you can improve, and what you can start or continue working on to be able to complete your short-term goals.
There is a 2-week trial period offered for around $10 which may be waived if you find a coupon. Once the trial period is finished, the cost is about $129 for a 3 month plan but discounts may be available.
Pros of the Noom Diet
Having a coach available and group support at your fingertips is definitely a positive attribute of this plan. The food choices include all the food groups and are flexible, and the program uses a positive behavior change approach to weight loss. This meals that you are learning how to overcome barriers and make changes to your lifestyle to allow you to eat healthfully and exercise.
Cons of the Noom Diet
The lack of in-depth nutrition guidance is certainly a drawback. Understanding food and your food choices isn’t covered in-depth and the coaches aren’t trained in nutrition and may not be licensed in psychology, so they can’t provide specific nutrition advice. In addition, logging in everything you eat and drink and checking in regularly with your coach means that you are constantly glued to your smartphone. This can be challenging for those who aren’t technology savvy or who wish to get a break from technology. There are also no registered dietitians available to help guide users with specific nutritional and health questions which are a drawback.
Healthy weight loss is certainly possible on the Noom program along with changing some behaviors to more healthful ones. However, the program does cost money and certainly takes work to complete. Plus, the lack of support from registered dietitians and nutrition information may make it difficult for users to maintain weight goals without tracking their exercise and meals in the app.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.