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Since its inception in 2008, the Noom diet, or Noom, has quickly grown to become one of the most searched diets.

According to Noom, people who use their program and adopt a healthy lifestyle can expect to lose 1–2 pounds (0.5–1 kg) per week.

However, you may wonder whether Noom is just another fad diet or an effective program for healthy, sustainable weight loss.

This article covers everything you need to know about Noom, including what it is and how it works, as well as its pros and cons.

diet review scorecard
  • Overall score: 4
  • Weight loss: 4.5
  • Healthy eating: 4.75
  • Sustainability: 3.75
  • Whole body health: 3
  • Nutrition quality: 5
  • Evidence-based: 3

BOTTOM LINE: The Noom Diet encourages you to eat low calorie, nutrient-dense foods and monitors your progress via a mobile app. Although its well-established methods are likely effective, it focuses mostly on increasing weight loss rather than improving overall health.

Noom is a mobile app you can download to your smartphone or tablet. By focusing on behavioral changes, Noom calls itself a lifestyle, not a diet.

The app provides:

  • Weekly challenges and educational information. Topics involve nutrition, stress management, goal setting, and healthy habit formation.
  • Tools to track your progress. These allow you to log your meals, exercise regimen, and body weight.
  • A virtual coaching team. A goal specialist, group coach, and support group are meant to help you stay on track.
  • Biometric tracking. These features help you monitor your blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

Noom offers a 14-day trial for $1 if you’d like to test it out before paying the monthly fee.

Summary

Noom is a health app that provides educational articles, tools for monitoring and tracking your weight loss progress, and support from virtual health coaches.

Noom offers a simple quiz on the company’s website. It collects information about your age, weight, health status, and fitness goals before you get started.

It also asks for details about your current diet, activity levels, and any habits or behaviors that may affect your health.

This information is used to create a custom plan for you and provide a realistic timeline for reaching your goals.

Noom requires users to spend just 10 minutes per day on the app and provides daily educational articles, tips, and activities, which you can complete at your own pace.

It also encourages you to log your food intake, exercise, and weigh-ins and send messages to your health coach and fellow group members for added support.

summary

After signing up, Noom collects information about your health status, goals, and current diet to create a custom plan for you. It provides daily educational articles and activities and requires you to spend just 10 minutes per day on the app.

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Photos Courtesy of Noom

Noom aims to help you lose weight like most commercial diet plans and programs — by creating a calorie deficit.

A calorie deficit occurs when you consistently consume fewer calories than you burn each day (1).

Noom estimates your daily calorie needs based on your sex, age, height, weight, and answers to a series of lifestyle questions.

Depending on your goal weight and time frame, Noom uses an algorithm to estimate how many calories you need to eat each day. This is known as your calorie budget.

For safety reasons and to ensure adequate nutrition, the app does not allow a daily calorie budget below 1,200 calories for women or 1,400 calories for men (2).

Noom encourages food logging and daily weigh-ins — two self-monitoring behaviors associated with weight loss and long-term weight loss maintenance (3, 4, 5, 6).

Noom also promotes regular exercise by setting daily step goals and providing users with a generic workout guide.

Users can also log their physical activity in the app, which provides an extensive list of exercises to choose from.

Summary

Noom uses an algorithm to estimate the number of calories you should eat per day to lose weight. It also allows you to log your daily food intake and exercise.

Noom categorizes food as green, yellow, or red based on its calorie and nutrient density.

The app recommends consuming a set percentage of foods from each color — 30% green, 45% yellow, and 25% red.

According to the Noom website, these are examples of foods for each color (7):

Green

  • Fruits: bananas, apples, strawberries, watermelon, blueberries
  • Vegetables: tomatoes, cucumbers, salad greens, carrots, onions, spinach
  • Starchy vegetables: parsnips, beets, sweet potatoes, squash
  • Diary: skim milk, nonfat yogurt, nonfat Greek yogurt, nonfat cheese sticks
  • Dairy alternatives: unsweetened almond, cashew, or soy milk
  • Whole grains: oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain bread, whole grain pita, whole grain pasta, whole grain tortilla, whole grain cereals
  • Condiments: marinara, salsa, sauerkraut, ketchup, light mayo
  • Beverages: unsweetened tea and coffee

Yellow

  • Lean meats: grilled chicken, turkey, and lean cuts of beef, pork, and lamb
  • Seafood: tuna, salmon, tilapia, scallops
  • Dairy: low fat milk, low fat cheeses, low fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt
  • Legumes and seeds: lentils, pinto beans, chickpeas, peas, quinoa, black beans, soybeans
  • Grains and grain products: couscous, white rice, white bread, white pasta
  • Beverages: diet soda, beer

Red

  • Meats: ham, red meats, fried meats, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, hamburgers
  • Nuts and nut butters: peanut butter, almond butter, almonds, walnuts
  • Desserts and sweets: cake, chocolate, cookies, candy, pastries
  • Snack foods: french fries, potato chips, energy and snack bars
  • Condiments and toppings: butter, mayonnaise, ranch dressing
  • Beverages: wine, juices like orange juice
summary

Noom categorizes foods as green, yellow, and red based on their calorie or nutrient density and the percentage of your diet they should fill.

Below is a 1-week sample meal plan using recipes from Noom’s app.

This meal plan would not apply to everyone, as calorie recommendations are individualized, but it provides a general overview of the foods included from the green, yellow, and red categories.

Monday

  • Breakfast: raspberry yogurt parfait
  • Lunch: vegetarian barley soup
  • Dinner: fennel, orange, and arugula salad
  • Snack: creamy cucumber and dill salad

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: banana-ginger smoothie
  • Lunch: roasted orange tilapia and asparagus
  • Dinner: mushroom and rice soup
  • Snack: deviled eggs

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: vegetable skillet frittata
  • Lunch: broccoli quinoa pilaf
  • Dinner: pork lettuce wraps
  • Snack: homemade yogurt pops

Thursday

  • Breakfast: egg sandwich
  • Lunch: chicken and avocado pita pockets
  • Dinner: pasta with shellfish and mushrooms
  • Snack: mixed nuts

Friday

  • Breakfast: spinach-tomato frittata
  • Lunch: salmon with tabbouleh salad
  • Dinner: grilled chicken with corn salsa
  • Snack: chocolate cake

Saturday

  • Breakfast: banana-apple and nut oatmeal
  • Lunch: turkey cheddar tacos
  • Dinner: green bean casserole
  • Snack: hummus and peppers

Sunday

  • Breakfast: scrambled egg wrap
  • Lunch: loaded spinach salad
  • Dinner: salmon patties with green beans
  • Snack: cream cheese fruit dip with apples
summary

As long as the majority of your diet contains foods in the green and yellow categories, you can include foods categorized as red, such as chocolate cake, in small portions.

Any reduced calorie diet plan or program can help you lose weight if you follow it (8, 9).

Still, sticking with a diet is difficult for many people. In fact, most diets are unsuccessful because they’re difficult to maintain (10).

While research on Noom’s effectiveness is limited, one study in nearly 36,000 Noom users found that 78% experienced weight loss while using the app for an average of 9 months, with 23% experiencing more than a 10% loss, compared with their starting weight (11).

The study also found that those who tracked their diet and weight more frequently were more successful at losing weight (11).

Additionally, a study in 225 adults with binge eating disorder found Noom to be more effective at reducing the number of binge eating episodes per day compared with standard care (12)

All the same, more comprehensive research into the program is needed.

Summary

Studies including Noom users have shown that the program may aid weight loss. Still, research comparing Noom to other diet plans is currently lacking.

Noom’s program emphasizes a long-term approach to weight loss. It may have several benefits over quick-fix methods.

Focuses on calorie and nutrient density

Noom emphasizes calorie density, a measure of how many calories a food or beverage provides relative to its weight or volume.

The program categorizes foods into a color system — green, yellow, and red — based on their calorie density and nutrient concentrations.

Foods with the lowest calorie density, highest nutrient concentrations, or both, are considered green. Foods with the highest calorie density, lowest nutrient concentrations, or both, are labeled red, while yellow foods fall in between.

Calorie-dense foods contain a large number of calories in a small amount of food, whereas items of low calorie density have fewer calories in a large amount of food (13).

Generally, low-calorie-dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables, contain more water and fiber and are low in fat.

On the other hand, high-calorie-dense foods, such as fatty fish, meats, nut butters, sweets, and desserts, typically provide fat or added sugars but lack water and fiber.

Diets comprised mainly of low-calorie-dense foods and beverages are associated with less hunger, weight loss, and risk of chronic conditions like heart disease than diets rich in high-calorie-dense foods (14, 15).

No food is off-limits

Several popular diets can be restrictive by limiting certain foods or entire food groups. This can promote disordered eating or obsessive behaviors surrounding healthy or “clean” eating (16).

Noom takes the opposite approach, offering flexibility by allowing all foods to fit into your diet.

Because some high-calorie-dense foods like nuts contain important nutrients, and completely eliminating desserts and other treats is neither realistic nor worthwhile, Noom doesn’t forbid these items but encourages consuming less of them.

The program does this to help you stay within or near your daily calorie budget.

Noom’s library of recipes also helps you determine which foods and recipes are appropriate for you based on any food allergies or intolerances you may have.

Promotes behavioral changes

Losing weight and leading a healthy lifestyle goes beyond what and how much you eat.

It’s also about forming new healthy behaviors, reinforcing the healthy habits you already have, and breaking any unhealthy patterns that sabotage your goals (17).

Without making behavioral changes, any weight lost with a reduced calorie diet tends to be regained over time — often in excess of what was initially lost (18).

In fact, in a review of 29 long-term weight loss studies, people gained back 33% of their initial weight loss at 1 year, on average, and 79% after 5 years (19).

Recognizing that behavioral change is difficult, Noom uses a psychology-based curriculum that encourages self-efficacy — the belief in your ability to execute the habits that are necessary to reach your goals (20).

In this way, Noom may better equip you with the tools and education necessary to make the behavioral changes that underlie successful long-term weight loss maintenance.

Indeed, one study found that 78% of nearly 36,000 Noom users sustained their weight loss over 9 months. It’s unclear whether weight loss is sustained after this time (11).

Summary

Noom promotes healthy lifestyle changes for long-term results by emphasizing calorie- and nutrient-dense foods and allowing all foods to fit into your diet.

While Noom is an excellent, comprehensive tool you can use to help you reach your health goals, there are a few things to keep in mind about the app.

Specifically, it’s important to be aware that tracking your food and calorie intake, whether through Noom or another program, may promote disordered eating patterns, such as food anxiety and excessive calorie restriction (21).

Accessibility

Noom is strictly a technology-based, virtual platform available only on mobile devices.

This makes the program unavailable if you don’t have a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet.

Even if you do have a mobile device, you may not be able to readily access the internet due to limited WiFi or cellular data options.

Virtual vs. face-to-face interaction

Noom offers a virtual support team to hold you accountable and assist with goal setting.

All communication with Noom’s health coaches is conducted through a messenger system on the Noom app.

Research has shown that receiving regular health coaching — whether virtually or in person — is effective for weight loss and other health-related goals like stress management (22, 23, 24, 25).

However, you may prefer face-to-face rather than virtual coaching sessions. If this is the case, you might intentionally limit or avoid communication with Noom’s health coaches and thus not experience the program’s full weight loss benefits.

In fact, two studies in people with prediabetes showed that higher engagement with coaches and educational articles in the Noom app was significantly associated with weight loss (26, 27).

Keep in mind that one of these studies was funded by the company.

Potential for weight regain

As with most diets that focus on calorie reduction, there’s a chance that you may regain the weight you lost once your diet ends (28, 29).

While Noom encourages making sustainable lifestyle changes, some users may find their new habits difficult to maintain without ongoing accountability.

Additionally, given that foods are categorized based on their calorie content, some foods that are higher in calories may actually be beneficial for maintaining your weight.

For example, nuts and nut butters are considered “red” foods, as they are calorie dense due to their high fat content.

However, eating healthy, high fat foods — including nuts — has been shown to aid weight loss and maintenance (30, 31).

Limitations of coaching

Noom requires coaches to have a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree with 2,000 hours of related wellness experience.

The company also offers a training program and encourages coaches to take an exam to become a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that Noom coaches are not qualified to take the place of a registered dietitian or doctor.

Additionally, if you have any underlying health conditions like type 2 diabetes or kidney disease, you should talk to a healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet.

Limited focus on whole body health

Noom is focused mostly on promoting weight loss by reducing your calorie intake.

However, weight loss is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to health.

In fact, many other factors are just as important, including maintaining your mental health, getting enough sleep every night, exercising regularly, and managing your stress levels.

Although Noom does offer some advice and educational resources on these topics, it’s not designed to specifically address these other pillars of health.

For an additional cost, Noom offers three optional add-ons to further customize your experience.

These add-ons include:

  • customized meal plans
  • customized workout plans
  • a DNA testing kit

The meal and workout plans are emailed to you in PDF format, allowing you to print them out or access the guides on your device.

Despite being called “customized,” many reviewers mention that the guides don’t feel personalized. However, the meal plans, in particular, may be useful if you have a dietary restriction, such as gluten-free or vegan.

Noom recently partnered with a Boston-based company called Orig3n, which offers a special DNA testing kit just for Noom subscribers.

The testing kit is designed to provide insights into how your genetics may influence your health.

However, while it’s thought that genetic testing may provide motivation to change health behaviors or predict effective diet or physical activity solutions, these benefits are not currently supported by research (32, 33, 34, 35).

Noom offers several subscription plans, including:

  • Monthly auto-recurring plan: $59
  • 2-month auto-recurring plan: $150
  • 3-month auto-recurring plan: $180
  • 4-month auto-recurring plan: $240
  • 5-month auto-recurring plan: $300
  • 6-month auto-recurring plan: $360
  • 7-month auto-recurring plan: $420
  • 8-month auto-recurring plan: $480
  • Annual auto-recurring plan: $199

If you’re confident that you’ll use Noom for more than a few months, the company’s yearly membership provides the best value at $199 per year.

Also, keep in mind that the company frequently offers discounts throughout the year.

Additionally, if you’re employed by a company that offers a workplace health and wellness program, speak with your company’s human resources department. You might receive a financial incentive to participate in wellness programs like Noom.

Still, starting at $59 per month for a recurring plan, Noom may cost more than you’re willing or able to spend.

summary

Noom’s downsides include its price and accessibility. Furthermore, it focuses mostly on weight loss rather than overall health, and its virtual form of health coaching may not be right for you, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.

Many other popular weight loss plans share several similarities with Noom.

Here’s a closer look at how Noom stacks up against two of its main competitors, including Nutrisystem and myWW+ (formally Weight Watchers).

NoommyWW+Nutrisystem
Basics– prioritizes foods with a lower calorie density to support weight loss
– promotes long-term behavioral changes
– uses SmartPoints system to assign point-based values to foods
– several plans available with varying degrees of flexibility
delivers fully prepared meals and snacks designed to increase weight loss
Meal plancolor-coded system based on calorie densitySmartPoints systemlow calorie, premade meals and snacks
Pricestarts at $59 per monthstarts at $3.30 per weekstarts at $9.29 per day
Supportvirtual goal specialist, health coach, and support grouphigher tier plans include access to coaches and weekly workshopsweight loss coaches can be contacted via chat, phone, or email
Resourcesdaily educational lessons and activities on apprecipes, meal planning tools, and workout plans on appweight loss challenges, expert tips, and educational articles on app
Benefits– promotes behavioral changes
– focuses on nutrient density
– not overly restrictive
Provides support
– flexible and easy to follow
– not overly restrictive
– encourages healthy habits
– provides support
– simple and convenient
– requires very little time commitment
Downsides– requires mobile device
– only offers virtual coaching
– potential for weight regain
– certain plans may be more time-consuming
– some may prefer more structured diets
– expensive
– high risk of weight regain
– limited options for dietary restrictions
– offers less support than other programs
summary

Many other weight loss programs are available with several key similarities and differences to Noom.

Noom is an app that you can access using a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet.

The app may help people lose weight by promoting low calorie, nutrient-dense foods and encouraging healthy lifestyle changes.

If its cost, accessibility, and virtual-style health coaching don’t sway your decision, Noom may be worth a try.