Our 2019 review of the Noom diet plan: Recent advancements in technology are disrupting every sector, and this wave of disruption is now obvious in the health and diet space, too. Big names like WW and Nutrisystem have been forced to rapidly evolve, and move from, “dieting,” as popular wellness apps steal their (healthy) lunch.
One of the rockstars in this new wave of app-based diets is Noom. Although it has been called, “Weight Watchers for Millennials,” Noom might argue that it goes well beyond that. Their personalized wellness program was developed by psychologists and, “combines the power of technology with the empathy of real human coaches to deliver successful behavioral change.”
So, does it work, and how much does it cost? I decided to join so that I could try their revolutionary
diet “wellness” program myself. Here’s our Noom review:
What Is Noom?
Noom believes that health and wellness is a combination of both nutrition and behavioral change. They never mention the word “diet,” and believe that sustainable weight loss comes from, “learning to push past plateaus and tame temptations without starving or stressing out.”
The first message you’re greeted with on noom.com is, “Noom: Stop dieting. Get life-long results.” That pretty well captures their mission in 6 words, and is consistent with the recent trend in the industry to move away from the narrow goal of “weight loss” in favor of of “wellness.”
You’re then presented with the option to get started right away with their free 30-second evaluation:
Now, let’s learn more about Noom, and how it’s changing the whole
diet wellness industry:
• Noom: “It’s Hammer Time!”
Noom’s revolutionary approach to weight loss reminds me of Apple’s 1984 Superbowl commercial:
You could say that Noom is throwing its metaphorical hammer at the commercial diet industry!
If you don’t believe that the “times, they are a changin,” consider that Weight Watchers even recently changed its name to “WW” in an effort to keep up with the wellness revolution!
Like WW and Nutrisystem’s NuMi app, Noom asks you to track meals daily on their app, but Noom advertises themselves as the only weight loss program developed by world-class experts in both psychology & motivation. Noom uses advanced technology to provide personalization as well as individual and group support.
The Noom diet plan provides structure, motivation, and guidance to inspire healthy lifestyle choices and better eating habits that should last a lifetime.
How Noom Works
“Noom uses cutting-edge technology to accurately monitor your progress and provide expert advice and analysis to keep you on track. By making the experience relevant to who you are, your goals, and your interactions, we provide a personalized plan that makes a balanced, healthy life attainable and fun.” – Noom.com
A scale might tell you that you’re overweight by 25 pounds, but do you really understand why?
Noom puts a lot of emphasis on the psychological component weight loss. Most weight loss programs don’t, nor do they address the thoughts, triggers, and obstacles that can sabotage your progress. Noom’s approach is different, and helps you tackle the mental and emotional barriers between where you are and where you want to be.
They say that, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” In this spirit, Noom only asks you for about 10 minutes each day to guide you through small, attainable goals on your weight loss journey.
In order to better understand how Noom works, let’s talk about:
- The power of believing
- Personalized weight loss
- Coaching & support
- Calorie Density
- Logging food
- Health education
#1. The Power of Believing
If there’s one word that best summarizes Noom it’s, “believe!“
Noom tells members, “whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”
They believe that the most important factor in losing weight is the belief in your ability to succeed, and data seems to confirm that idea. In other words, If you believe you’ll reach your goals, you will.
*Related: Here’s a good TED Talk on the power of belief
Noom’s app is smart and the “course” is personalized for each unique individual. Now, let’s talk about the importance of personalization when it comes to weight loss.
#2. Personalized Weight Loss
How do you like your coffee?
The first thing that Noom will focus on is understanding you as an individual. Everyone is different, and you’ve probably heard the expression about trying to fit, “a square peg in a round hole.” It doesn’t work, and even public schools have started to realize that everyone is profoundly different when it comes to learning. No one curriculum will work best for all students, and it’s the same with weight loss.
History has shown that the practice of selling the same exact diet product to everyone is often doomed to failure. So, Noom puts great emphasis on understanding you as a unique person even before you join. To accomplish this, they present you with a series of questions to better understand your unique personality in their free 30-second evaluation.
Besides the expected questions about height, weight, and age, you can expect questions like:
- What is your current activity level?
- Which of the following best describes your typical lunch?
- How often do you eat during a typical day?
- Do you have back problems, diabetes, or other medical issues?
- Do you live in the country, suburbs, or city?
By better understanding your personality and lifestyle, Noom can start crafting a weight loss program that works for you as a unique individual.
They can also hand-pick a support group of other Noom members that compliments your personality and weight loss goals. the goal with Noom is to lose an average of 1-2 pounds per week on your journey to a healthier lifestyle and sustainable weight loss.
You didn’t think you’d be alone in this journey, right? The Noom Personal and Group Coaches are central to the success of their program, and here’s how they work:
#3. Weight Loss Coaches & Support:
The crucial role of coaching and support distinguishes Noom from other discount or free weight loss apps. Noom describes weight loss as a “team sport,” so it’s fitting that you should have coaches and a support group.
Based on the results of your initial questionnaire, Noom will match you with both a Goal Specialist and Group Coach. The coaches help you set your goals, review your food logs, and help keep you on track. You’ll also be given a support group to lean on.
The Noom coaches are like the Sherpas of your weight loss journey. Here’s how your coaches work:
• Goal Specialist:
Your personal Goal Specialist is ICHWC-certified, and will help you to dig deep to set and stick to personal short-term goals each week. They will provide you with powerful, on-the-go psychological strategies that give you the confidence to easily avoid temptations. Plan on touching base with your Goal Specialist once a week.
• Group Coach:
After the first two weeks you’ll meet your Group Coach. The Group Coach will lead you through the day-to-day and help put what you’re learning into practice through discussions on recent topics and challenges for well-rounded daily support.
Now, let’s talk about how food and eating works with Noom’s color system:
#4. Calorie Density + Color System
Did you know that a glazed doughnut has about the same calories as an avocado?
Every food has a value for both calories and caloric density. All calories are not the same, so Noom stresses the importance of calorie density.
A quarter-pounder has 14-times the calories of a salad of equal weight, but they both make you feel equally full. That’s because food density (not calories) determines how full you feel.
When you eat foods with low calorie density, you feel full quicker with fewer calories (and vice-versa). The more water a food has, the lower its caloric density, because water has zero calories. The lower the caloric density the better, as it will require fewer calories to fill you up.
Noom relies on a color system for all foods based on calorie density:
- Green (thumbs-up!) foods have the lowest caloric density and the most healthy nutrients. Think: veggies, fruits, skim milk, and whole grains
- Yellow (meh?) foods have a mid-level caloric density and amount of healthy nutrients, like lean meats, eggs, Greek Yogurt, beans, and starches
- Red (thumbs-down) foods have the highest caloric density and the least healthy nutrients. Examples are red meat, oils, peanut butter, and desserts
Noom doesn’t ask you to omit any foods. Instead they ask you to be mindful of their color system, as they nudge you towards healthy choices.
Did you know that a pound of raisins has 5x the calories of a pound of grapes? It’s true, and it takes the same weight of both will make you feel full!
Noom recommends the following breakdown of foods:
- Green: 30%, Yellow: 45%, Red: 25%
As you log your food on the app, Noom Noom keeps track. Here’s how tracking meals works:
#5. Logging food:
Like WW, Noom asks you to track all of the food that you eat. However, instead of a point system, Noom focuses on calories, and caloric density (by color). You’ll have a daily budget of calories to stay within, and your current progress is always displayed:
The Noom database has calorie values and colors assigned to every food, so every time you log an item, it adds it and keeps track.
After you log foods you also get helpful feedback on your choices. This gives you a better understanding of food and portions:
Speaking of knowledge, it’s also an important part of the Noom program. Weekly lessons are incorporated into the “course,” in the form of health education.
#6. Defining Your “Big Picture” Goals
Remember how Noom says you only need 10 minutes a day? Well, on the first day the most important task is to define your goals.
After downloading the app, Noom tells you that, “The first step in achieving any goal is having a big picture in mind.”
So, this is when you really want to peel back the layers and think about what your goals are. Your “Big Picture” is comprised of 2 things:
- The Super Goal is what you want to accomplish by the end of the course. Examples include: losing 20 pounds, running a 5k, and feeling good in a bathing suit.
- The “Ultimate Why” is all about motivation; the driving force that pushes and inspires you towards your Super Goals every day. Like a curious 5-year old you need to keep asking yourself “why” you want to attain your goals.
Tip: Even though Noom sets small, short-term goals, the Big Picture is what you’ll always be working towards. Another important part of the Noom diet plan are the simple “lessons” that they incorporate into your course.
#7. Health Education
Like Nelson Mandela, Noom believes that “education is power” when it comes to your health. The Noom program includes 16 weekly “lessons” on topics that help you gain new skills to live a healthier lifestyle. Here are the four phases, each with four weekly lessons:
PHASE 1: (Weeks 1-4)
- PHASE 1: In Phase 1 you’ll dig deep to define your goals and motivation so you can understand the “why” behind your bad habits and change them.
- PHASE 2: (Weeks 5-8) In Phase 2 you’ll uncover the psychology behind weight loss, so you can think critically about how to sustain your new healthier habits.
- PHASE 3: (Weeks 9-12) During this phase, Noom shows you the connection between your biology and psychology so that you can build up your willpower and manage stress effectively. Here’s what you’ll do each week:
- PHASE 4: (Week 13-16+) In the last phase of Noom, you’ll pull everything together with additional tricks on mindfulness and enhancing your workouts so that you can make this new healthy lifestyle permanent. You’ll learn to:
As you can see, Noom believes that a significant part of sustainable weight loss is psychological. so these short lessons help to motivate and address bad habits.
Does Noom Work?
We always answer questions like this by saying that, “no single diet will work for everyone.” However, to measure whether Noom is effective and usually works, let’s consult both expert studies, and Noom user reviews:
• Expert Studies:
In 2016, Scientific Reports investigated Noom’s effectiveness by analyzing the weight loss results of over 35k overweight and obese participants.
The study concluded that 78% of Noom users reported weight loss while using the app. They also found that logging meals (specifically dinner) was the most important factor for successful weight loss. In other words, Noom works for an overwhelming majority of users who follow the program.
The encouraging results of this study may have been a factor in the subsequent surge in Noom’s popularity, making it one of the most-searched diets last year.
Several other trusted sources have also weighed in, agreeing that Noom usually works:
- The British Medical Journal found 64% of Noom users lost more than 5% of their weight
- University of Sydney’s Medical Center ranked Noom #1 out of 800 weight loss programs
- Woman’s Day ranked Noom as a top weight loss app
In the world of diets and weight loss no credible study will conclude that, “yes, this diet always works,” but the results of Noom studies are incredibly positive.
• Noom User Reviews:
OK, we’ve heard from the experts, now let’s look at reviews from Noom users.
The best place to find honest Noom reviews is on the app store, where thousands of customers leave honest reviews of the Noom app:
As you can see, Noom gets an impressive 4.7/5 score from over 33k+ customer ratings. Reviews can be sorted by a number of criteria including highest and lowest ratings, so you can read complaints in bad reviews, too.
Noom is also happy to publish customer testimonials on their YouTube channel. Of course, these reviews are all positive, but the weight loss results of real people are inspiring nonetheless:
If you have a few minutes, you can also find a lot of Noom inspiration on Instagram, including before and after pics.
Tip: I also find that bad reviews are helpful to read. Speaking of negative reviews, it’s worth checking out Noom reviews on BBB (Better Business Bureau). The top complaint on BBB is that customers were unexpectedly charged after the free trial ended, and had difficulty getting a refund.
Noom Reviews on Reddit and Yelp?
Another good place to find honest reviews for the Noom diet plan is Reddit. Users give opinions and tips and write about whether Noom worked for them. It’s also helpful that many user profiles include info like gender, age, current weight, and goal weight. Check out Noom reviews on Reddit.com!
Surprisingly, there are no Noom reviews on Yelp!
Noom Signup: Thinking of Joining?
Thinking of joining? Here’s how it works:
If you decide to start the trial, Noom will email you a link to download the app.
Tip: You’ll need to open the email from Noom on your phone, as the link will take you to the app store to download it:
After that, you’ll always use your phone to access Noom, which you can easily sync with most wearable devices (Fitbit, Garmin, etc).
If you proceed with Noom after the trial period, you’ll be billed $129 for 4 months. (More about the cost)
OK, that was a lot of info to digest, so here’s how I would summarize Noom. Most diets fail long-term because they have the narrow goal of “fast weight loss” without a long-term plan. That means your initial optimism over dropping pounds is probably going to turn into frustration when you gain the weight back.
Noom takes a more holistic approach focused on both your mind and body:
While guiding you through one small, attainable goal at a time, they teach you good eating habits. This creates positive behavioral change that results in sustainable long-term weight loss.
With Noom, weight loss is simply the welcome side-effect of a healthier lifestyle. Maybe that’s why both experts and users usually conclude that Noom works!
If you’re curious, you can try their free 30-second online evaluation:
Thanks for reading our review of Noom! We’re happy to recommend it, but please talk to your doctor before starting any new diet or weight loss plan.