As the Noom weight-loss program began buzzing on social media and health sites, I grew more curious: how was it different from other diet plans? What made it effective? Was it really a doable and sustainable program?
The more I read about about the Noom diet app online, the more it seemed like a great resource to not only lose weight, but also develop healthy, lifelong habits. And while I consider myself to have a fairly healthy diet and exercise regimen (I am a fitness editor, after all), there was a lot I could still learn and change. I decided to sign up and see for myself. After three months on the plan, I lost almost 15 pounds. If you're curious about Noom or thinking about signing up, here's what you should know.
Noom Is More Than Just a Weight-Loss Plan
Noom is an app that was created with the help of registered dietitians and other experts that goes beyond just counting calories and weighing in. The app aims to change your behaviors and reevaluate the thought processes behind the decisions you make. Each day includes a new article on topics such as portion control, staying motivated, identifying your social triggers, and how to decode a restaurant menu. You can also save the articles you like to go back and read again.
Then, you are tasked with a quiz to test your knowledge on what you've learned so far. The quiz is an excellent reinforcement tactic so you maintain all the science-y information you learned. Plus, the articles frequently reference published studies and are backed up by research, which my nerd brain loves. Noom also features a database of recipes, which are not only delicious (I personally love the garlic shrimp and kale stir-fry!) but are also easy to track since the calories are already figured out for you.
Your Plan Is Personalized For Your Goals
Before you even get set up on the Noom platform, you are asked a number of questions including your age, sex, height, current diet and exercise habits, your goal weight, and how often you eat. Based on how much weight you want to lose, Noom maps out about how long that will take you. You can also adjust how quickly you want to lose weight: the fastest plan is the lowest calorie target. For me, that was around 1,200 calories a day without exercise and that seemed a little too restrictive, so I adjusted the speed at which I wanted to lose weight and bumped that up to closer to 1,350 calories a day. I typed in that I want to lose 30 pounds and Noom projected that would take me about five months — a perfectly reasonable amount of time to lose 30 pounds.
You Track Your Calories and Activity
Similar to MyFitnessPal, Noom has a food log where you document everything you've eaten in a day. And since you are given a daily calorie allotment, the goal is to stay within your calorie target. To make things easier, the food database on the app includes tons of general foods and specific branded and restaurant options so you can find your meals and snacks easily. If it's not available, there's an option to manually input food including its calories, fat, protein, and carbs.
The app breaks food down into three categories based on how calorie-dense they are: red, yellow, and green. While red food is typically processed and junk food, other healthy options such as nuts and oils are considered red since they are so calorie-dense. In general, you want to load up on yellow (lean meats, starches, eggs) and green (fruits, veggies, most whole grains, complex carbs) foods as much as possible and keep your red to about 25 percent or less of your diet.
Your calorie target is determined based on the data you entered and how quickly you want to lose weight, but if you adjust the amount of time in which you want to hit your goal weight, your calorie target will also adjust. If you enter your exercise for the day, you will be given more calories to eat (makes sense!). The app also tracks your steps with your phone's built-in pedometer, or you can connect it to your FitBit or Apple Watch.
While some plans encourage you to weigh in every week, Noom asks you to weigh in every day. As someone who is still slightly triggered by the numbers on the scale (I spent my teens obsessively weighing myself several times a day), I instead weigh myself every few days for my own sanity.
You Work With Coaches and a Community of Peers
One reason why Noom is so effective is that you don't feel like you're alone. It's how other weight-loss plans became so successful — the in-person meetings where people share their struggles, victories, and trade tips and tricks. On Noom, the community is virtual: you are set up with a personal coach who checks in on you about once a week to set and assess your goals. For me, it was to meal prep and be better about planning out my meals so I don't veer off track. My coach, Jonee, checks in to see how my planning and progress is going and how to overcome any hurdles I come across.
After the two-week trial period, you are placed in a group with other peers who are about as far along in the program as you are. This group also has a group coach who moderates discussions, posts prompts, and interacts with other group members. While this group forum is a great way to share "slips and surges" (as Noom likes to call them) with a community, it functions almost exactly like a private Facebook group; you can like and comment on other people's posts and everyone is there with the same objective — to create healthy habits and, ultimately, lose weight.
How Much Does Noom Cost?
As of Jan. 2, 2020, the pricing for Noom is:
- Monthly auto-recurring plan: $59
- Two-month auto-recurring plan: $99
- Four-month auto-recurring plan: $129
- Six-month auto-recurring plan: $149
- Eight-month auto-recurring plan: $159
- Annual auto-recurring plan: $199
These prices don't include tax. As you can see, the monthly price decreases if you commit to a longer period of time up front.