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I Tried the Popular Noom Diet and Here’s What I Learned

by Daisy

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While many weight loss programs involve strict diets and forbidden foods, Noom takes a different approach, allowing users to eat whatever they want. Instead, a psychology-based approach helps users create habits to lose weight and keep it off.

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To understand whether Noom works, I tried the diet for 14 days. I also interviewed healthcare professionals Rachel Goldberg, M.S., L.M.F.T., a psychotherapist specializing in weight management, and Meghan Garcia-Webb, M.D., triple board-certified in internal medicine, lifestyle medicine, and obesity medicine, to get their insights on Noom.

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Noom at a Glance

  • Daily lessons explore the psychology behind weight loss
  • Color-coded food system guides your food choices, and there are no off-limits foods
  • Daily morning weigh-ins create detailed weight-tracking
  • Activity tracking feature helps measure progress toward daily goals

My Experience With Noom

I took advantage of Noom’s two-week free trial to see if the platform was right for me. Though credit card information is required, I was able to start the trial immediately. I found the app user-friendly and easy to navigate.

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The content has a positive, upbeat tone and messaging I found encouraging and pleasant. Completing the daily assigned lessons takes about five minutes, and you’ll learn interesting information about weight loss and how to build healthy habits. Logging my weight was simple; Noom encourages users to log weight first thing in the morning, which was easy to incorporate into my schedule. Logging meals was more difficult and time-consuming, although Noom has many common foods in its database, so you don’t have to enter nutrition information manually. There’s also an option to scan a meal or scan a barcode to save time. Still, I found logging food details the most tedious part of the process—and the part I was most likely to put off doing.

I tend to be a picky eater, so I appreciated that Noom allowed me to choose my meals and snacks. There are tons of recipes; it was easy to find options I liked. (I thought the garlic mashed potatoes were particularly delicious.) The recipes made me more aware of ways to eat healthy at home without sacrificing taste. I was also surprised to see some recipes I don’t consider healthy, like cheesy potatoes, included. The Noom diet doesn’t feel restrictive; it feels sustainable.

Noom has gamified the weight loss process by introducing

Noomcoins, an in-app digital reward you receive for completing daily assignments like logging weight and meals. According to Noom, users lose one pound for every five Noomcoins earned. The Noomcoins offer an incentive to log information, which can help to build momentum in your weight loss journey. However, I think the coins would have greater motivational power if redeemable for something within the app. Currently, they are just a digital reward you collect, and they seem a bit senseless, which is odd for an app focused so heavily on human behaviors and motivations.

I encountered no technical difficulties while using the app and could log in multiple times a day. During the two weeks I used the app, I lost just under two pounds, but it’s important to acknowledge I’ve recently been more physically active than usual. I can’t say whether the weight loss was due to using the app, the physical activity, or both. Noom made me more aware of my eating habits, and I deliberately tried to choose healthier, nutrient-dense foods.

Pros:

  • Flexible approach lets you choose what you eat
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy-based approach explains the whys of weight loss
  • Easy-to-use, comprehensive app
  • Comprehensive selection of healthy recipes
  • Convenient activity tracking feature

Cons:

  • Must use the Noom app, since no website option is available
  • Subscription auto-renews without any reminder or notice
  • Logging meals can be a slow process
  • Daily weighing suggestion can have negative emotional effects

How Noom Works

Noom app on display

Noom gives users actionable and easy-to-follow ways to make healthier food decisions.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Noom is a weight loss app based on cognitive behavioral therapy. Rather than focusing on calorie counting, it incorporates psychologically based behavior changes to help users lose weight and maintain weight loss.

Noom users receive short daily psychology and behavioral science lessons on weight loss and behavior. The lessons build confidence and give users tangible steps to help support weight loss.

“The recent implementation of psychological education, which incorporates evidence-based concepts taken from certain therapeutic approaches (such as dialectical behavior therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy), can certainly be helpful to many who have struggled with lifelong battles of emotional eating,” says Goldberg. “In this way, the goal seems to be to hone in on what the root triggers and feelings associated might be that lead an individual to eat in a way that doesn’t align with how they want to.”

Behavior Logging

With Noom, you can log activities to monitor your exercise patterns. The activity directory includes activities like walking or running on a treadmill and also less common ones, like table tennis, paddle boarding, playing with kids, gardening, and lawn mowing. There’s also an option to add a custom activity.

Once you select an activity, you’ll enter details about duration and intensity, and Noom calculates the calories burned during the activity. The activities contribute to your daily step goal.

Noom also encourages—but doesn’t require—users to weigh themselves each morning before eating or drinking. According to Noom’s website, these daily weigh-ins can make weighing yourself less intimidating. However, Noom acknowledges weight fluctuations occur and encourages users to look at the “bigger picture” rather than focus on small day-to-day weight changes. Noom doesn’t focus much on the emotional toll the weigh-ins can take.

“I think there are still elements of the application similar to most weight-loss programs that have been problematic in the past,” says Goldberg. “For instance, the accountability aspect might bring shame to someone not progressing well, and the daily weigh-ins can reignite or even begin an unhealthy obsession with the numbers on the scale. While much of the accountability is meant to be supportive, it can have elements of groupthink, embracing diet culture, and restriction.”

Food Logging

Noom encourages users to log all the food they eat in a day. The food logging feature includes many preloaded options, like salads, sandwiches, cereal bars, and fruits. You can use a search function to find a particular food, use your phone’s microphone to describe the meal, take a photo of the meal and Noom will identify the ingredients, or scan the barcode of a packaged meal.

When you record a meal, you’ll select a portion size, and Noom will determine the calories consumed. If you manually enter a meal not found in the Noom database, you’ll need to include details like calories, total fats, and sodium.

While the food logging feature monitors the number of calories you’ve consumed each day—allowing you to evaluate your progress toward your weight loss goal—there can be downsides to this feature, too. “Daily logging of food intake can be time consuming and daunting, putting a lot of emphasis on thoughts around food, which shouldn’t necessarily be a goal when trying to make lifestyle changes that will stick,” Goldberg explains. “In some ways, it seems counterintuitive to constantly monitor food intake with such scrutiny.”

Recipes and Food Suggestions

Noom offers an extensive recipe selection. Since Noom lists each recipe’s calorie content, it’s easy to find options to fit your calorie budget. The recipes include unique choices, like pumpkin pie in a cup and healthy drink options. If you decide to make a recipe, you can add it to your food log from the recipe page for convenience.

Coaching

Noom subscriptions also include access to one of the Noom coaches, who can encourage you and provide tips and tricks for using Noom. You can also ask your coach questions.

You can use the Noom in-app chat to connect with your coach and can expect to hear a response within a business day.

Getting Started with Noom

The Noom signup process takes about 15 minutes and involves answering a detailed questionnaire about your weight loss goals, stress levels, and current eating, drinking water, and exercise behaviors. At the end of the questionnaire, Noom predicts how long it will take you to meet your target goal and prompts you to sign up for the platform.

Noom also offers Noom Mood, a program to promote mental wellness through stress management and emotional awareness techniques. This platform is separate from the Noom Weight program, but you can only subscribe to one program at a time. Noom also offers Noom Med, a one-on-one virtual clinical care add-on you can pair with Noom Weight. With Noom Med, you can receive support from a clinician and get tested for conditions that can contribute to your weight gain.

Using Noom

Noom focuses on eating more foods with low caloric density. When you eat low-caloric density foods, you feel fuller faster while also consuming fewer calories, according to the Mayo Clinic. Foods with low caloric density often contain more water and fiber than foods with a higher caloric density. For example, a grape has a lower caloric density than a raisin, meaning you can save calories by eating grapes instead of raisins and still feel full.

Noom uses green, yellow, and orange colors to categorize foods by caloric density. Noom allows users to enjoy foods with a higher caloric density but encourages balancing these foods with healthier portions to stay within the daily caloric goal.

Green foods: These foods have the lowest caloric density, are the most filling, and are the healthiest options. Noom encourages users to eat lots of green foods, which include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, brown rice, quinoa, and low-fat dairy.

Yellow foods: These foods have moderate caloric density, aren’t as filling as green foods, and have more calories per serving. These foods include lean meats, legumes, and whole grains.

Orange foods: These foods have the highest caloric density and the most calories per serving. Noom recommends eating these foods less frequently and in moderation. These foods include red meat, processed foods, and desserts.

The Science Behind Noom

Noom running log

Noom encourages users to log activities to keep them accountable.

Noom’s approach to weight loss is designed to build healthy habits through education and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Research suggests CBT, which aims to change negative thoughts and behaviors, can help people overcome obstacles and achieve goals, including weight loss.

According to a 2017 review in the journal Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, CBT interventions are effective for weight loss and long-term weight maintenance. Noom applies CBT techniques, including self-monitoring and goal setting, to help users develop healthier habits and lose weight.

Who Is Noom For?

Noom is a good fit for people who want to focus on creating a healthy lifestyle. If you’re interested in losing weight while building healthy eating habits and understanding the psychology behind weight loss, Noom could be a good fit for you. You can start with the 14-day free trial to determine if the program is right for you.

Noom Alternatives

If you’re looking for an alternative to Noom, consider the following:

WW (formerly Weight Watchers): This program assigns point values to foods, creating an easy-to-follow system to guide food choices.

MyFitnessPal: This app helps users track food and activity, creating detailed records to evaluate and plan weight loss.

Fitbit Premium: With Fitbit Premium, users get advanced sleep tracking, guided programs for weight loss, and workout videos.

Nutrisystem: This program delivers prepared meals and snacks to users’ homes and offers personalized meal plans for weight loss.

Optavia: Optavia’s program delivers pre-packaged meals and offers support from a coach.

Final Thoughts on Noom

After using Noom, I found the app an approachable way to develop healthy eating habits and gain a better understanding of weight loss. I especially enjoyed the educational content, which helped explain the why behind weight loss strategies. I also found the recipes and the ability to choose my meals a plus.

Noom isn’t perfect, and logging food can be time-consuming. Still, the app offers many benefits, including the flexibility to choose your meals and a psychology-based approach to weight loss that could help you make lasting changes.

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