Noom Does It Really Work?

By | 20th August 2019
Designed by a team of health coaches, nutritionists, licensed medical doctors, and clinical exercise specialists, Noom’s customized, clinically proven, 16-week courses promise to help you stop dieting and reach your long-term weight loss and health goals.

Noom, Inc. is based out of New York City and has been in business since 2014. The company knows that sticking to a plan is hard, which is why their proprietary behavior change programs were developed by world-class experts in psychology and motivation to help you maintain your drive and experience meaningful, lasting results.

In fact, after working with more than 45 million individuals over the past 10 years, Noom tells us that:

  • 84 percent of users complete their program
  • 64 percent lose five percent or more of their body weight
  • 60 percent maintain this weight loss for one year or more
  • 83 percent of diabetics control their glucose, with a 73 percent overall reduction in the risk of diabetes

While the program acknowledges that everyone is different, they state that people who stick to the plan tend to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.

To start living a healthier life, you just need to sign up for an account and set your goals, complete targeted activities with your professional health coach and personal goal specialist, and track your progress along the way.

If you sign up for a Noom membership, will you find their system easy to use? Even then, can you really expect it to deliver meaningful—and perhaps more importantly, lasting—weight loss?

Our review will provide answers to those key questions through an analysis of how Noom works, how much it costs, what customers say about it and how it compares to similar diet programs.

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How Noom Works

The central premise of Noom’s diet plan is to help you change your relationship with food so that you tackle your emotional triggers and develop healthier habits through psychological motivation for behavioral changes and accountability.

The main idea is that you should pay attention to the nutrient content of your food and stay away from options that are too calorically dense.

As an example, the website states that a quarter-pound cheeseburger and quarter-pound salad will both leave you full, but that the salad has significantly fewer calories. This means that nothing is necessarily banned, but that you need to opt for the lower calorie (but still filling) foods whenever possible for best results.

In order to streamline the decision process, Noom divides foods into three categories: “green” or low calorie density (most vegetables and fruit), “yellow” (lean proteins, most carbohydrates and some alcoholic beverages) and “red” high density foods like nuts, seeds, oil, butter, red meat, dairy.

Does this make sense from a health standpoint? We spoke with an expert to learn more. Dr. Anna Panettiere is an expert in Chinese medicine and has worked with patients who need to lose weight for 20 years.

Many of her patients have experimented with Noom, so she shared her opinion with us. In her view, Noom has the right approach, but the service oversimplifies the goals of healthy eating.

“My big concern with Noom is it would be quite possible for someone to log green, yellow and red foods within their range and wind up not receiving proper nutrition. Chicken breast and spiked seltzer are both ‘yellow’ foods, and no distinction is made between them,” Panettiere said.

Likewise, Noom often puts otherwise healthy foods on the limited red list. This creates problems when these foods have a high fat content that leads to satiety.

“Two tablespoons of chia seeds, two tablespoons of milk, ten almonds and one tablespoon of olive oil put me over my daily allowance for ‘red’ foods,” she added.

Saying that, the service offers multiple steps to help you master this eating perspective, so we’ll walk through the process of how Noom works below.

How to Sign Up for Noom

To sign up for a Noom account, you’ll visit their website and start by entering how much weight you want to lose, your height and current weight, age range, and gender.

Then, you’ll indicate how healthy your current lifestyle is (needs work, have some healthy habits, mostly eat well and stay active), and whether or not you’re at risk for conditions like heart disease or stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoarthritis, kidney disease, and so forth.

Based on these answers, Noom will create a unique plan to help you reach your weight loss goals. However, you’ll still need to pay a donation (suggested amount $1-$18.37) and choose a membership term (more on that later), indicate which aspect you want to focus on first (nutrition, physical activity, building good habits, etc.), and any physical limitations, dietary restrictions, or food allergies you might have.

Finally, confirm that you’re able to dedicate at least 10 minutes each day to Noom and reaching your goals, and you’ll receive access to:

  • A full customized plan that can help you learn about bad habits and how to beat them.
  • Unlimited access to a health professional that can provide “psychological strategies that give you the confidence to easily avoid temptations”
  • 24/7 personal and group support for when things get tricky
  • Award-winning app available for iPhone and Android devices

After completing the membership sign-up process on Noom’s website, they’ll send you a text message with an activation link, allowing you to download their app. This will act as your central hub, where you’ll log food/meals/calories, exercise, blood glucose, blood pressure, and weight.

Beyond your diet, Noom emphasizes fitness by allowing you to log workouts and track your daily steps, as we’ll as your blood pressure and blood sugar. The mobile app will also sync with and gather data from hundreds of devices (Fitbit, Garmin Connect, Jawbone UP, Polar, Runkeeper, etc.), even across multiple devices and users.

Using in-app messaging and group discussions, this is where you’ll keep in touch with your coach (one to two times per week, on average) and goal specialist (can provide personalized support based on your needs and goals, the food and exercise you log, the articles you read, etc.) as well.

Together, Noom indicates they’ll help you create a path forward and provide the support and encouragement you need to succeed.

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Noom’s Diet Timeline

Once you download the Noom app, you given an overview of the course and how it’s designed to help you meet your health goals. Your layout might look different depending on your timeframe and stated health goals, but here’s what my Noom plan roadmap looked like.

Phase 1: Weeks 1-4

Focus on defining goals and motivation to understand the “why” behind ingrained habits

  • Week 1: Discover Your Ultimate Way
  • Week 2: Your Motivation Road Map
  • Week 3: Develop Keystone Habits
  • Week 4: Beat Inner Food Demons

Phase 2: Weeks 5-8

Uncovers the psychology behind weight loss to debunk myths for how to sustain healthier habits.

  • Week 5: Crush Thought Distortions
  • Week 6: Optimize for Health
  • Week 7: Debunk Weight Loss Myths
  • Week 8: Conquer Your Triggers

Phase 3: Weeks 9-12

Learn the connection between biology and psychology to build more willpower and better manage stress.

  • Week 9: Manage Your Stress
  • Week 10: Win Over Your Inner Critic
  • Week 11: Build Mental Resilience
  • Week 12: Resist Food Pushers

Phase 4: Weeks 13-16

Pull everything together with a focus on mindfulness and exercise to create lasting change:

  • Week 13: Rock Your Workouts
  • Week 14: Become a Mindful Master
  • Week 15: What’s Your New Normal
  • Week 16: Make it Last for Life

From there, you need to complete a number of processes on the Noom app designed to familiarize yourself with the service. These include selecting your coaching team, developing your big picture goals, getting ready to meet your frenemy (the scale), learning how to eat less dense foods, testing your knowledge, and making a plan to meet with your Goal Specialist.

The overall goal of these sections is to walk you through the process of articulating your big goals and why you want to accomplish them. Noom also suggests weighing yourself at the same time each day for consistent measurements and to create personal accountability.

You can set meal reminders in the app to ensure you take time to accurately track the food you eat. It’s also possible to use the app to track or log your daily exercise, log your current weight, find recipes, and track your blood sugar and blood glucose levels.

About Noom Group Accountability

Part of the appeal of Noom for many people is the professional support network. That service connects you with a Goal Specialist who works with you to help you meet set weekly goals, a Group Coach to help you monitor your daily progress, and a Support Group that offers 24/7 support and guidance.

Note that you won’t begin working with a Group Coach or Support Group until two weeks into the program, which is after your two-week trial has expired. This means you can’t test that feature out without committing to a subscription.

How Much Does Noom Cost?

All new Noom members are eligible for a free 14-day trial. Note that you need to pay a “donation” (minimum $1) to access your free trial. You will also need to choose one of the following options during signup:

  • Monthly: $59/mo
  • 2-Month Plan: $49.50/mo
  • 4-Month Plan: $32.25/mo

Once your trial has ended, you’ll immediately roll to your chosen plan and pay the associated fee, which will automatically renew until you cancel.

During checkout, you also can add a customized workout plan ($39), meal plan ($59), both for $59, or a weight loss DNA test ($39). If you choose any of these options, your card will be billed immediately, while you’ll still have 14 days before being charged the full membership price for the program itself.

Noom’s FAQ emphasizes that after the free trial ends, any related charges are non-refundable. If you cancel mid-term, you’ll still have access to the app—including your Goal Specialist, group, and course—until the end of the billing cycle.

Customer service can be reached at (800) 910-7375, [email protected], or via their site’s contact form.

What Can We Learn From Noom Customer Reviews?

74% of users ranked the service at least four stars, while 16% ranked it less than two. Of the positive reviews, common compliments referenced ease of use, effective weight loss, useful information, and friendly coaches that helped maintain motivation.

On the other hand, frequent complaints revolved around less-than-stellar customer support experiences (specifically, difficulty canceling memberships), and dissatisfaction with course material. In several of these instances, a company representative responded in an effort to come to a resolution.

Writing for Food and Nutrition Magazine, Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD felt that Noom provided a lot of benefits (the ability to easily log information, set reminders, keep calories in view, and integrate with services like HealthKit and GoogleFit), although because calories are always in view, she felt it might not be ideal for “those seeking a non-diet approach to healthy living.”

In the end, she concluded that, “Noom is a good starter app for logging meals and tracking activity. However, without an active (paid) coaching course, the app offers limited value beyond tracking the numbers.”

Between iTunes and Google Play, more than 250,000 customers provided their feedback about the Noom app, collectively giving it an overall average rating of about four stars.

Most seemed to appreciate its usefulness, tracking, and motivational support from coaches, although complaints typically referenced bugginess, customer support issues, and limited feedback from coaches.

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What are Popular Noom Alternatives?

If you’re most interested in Noom for the wellness plan it offers you, then it’s worth looking at a few other diet plans to get a sense of how it compares. We decided to look closer at the Ornish Diet, Nutritarian Diet, and the TLC Diet to spot the most prominent differences from Noom.

As point out in our review, the Ornish Diet is a plant-based eating strategy with an emphasis on heart health. Like Noom, this plan goes beyond what you eat and dictates healthier ways to live through more exercise, lower stress levels, and healthy interpersonal relationships.

This diet is naturally low-fat and restricts the amount of meat, dairy, refined sugars, and saturated fats from your diet. These are all foods that would fall into the red or yellow category for Noom, so the plans have a similar premise. Saying that, the Ornish Diet is known for being restrictive, and some people find it challenging to maintain for the long-term.

The TLC diet, in contrast, is considered more of a permanent lifestyle change than as a way to lose weight. The stated purpose is to help you lower your cholesterol levels for better overall health. Like with both other plans, you’ll eat lots of low-fat, nutrient-rich food while avoiding anything fried, fattening, or filled with refined sugar. Like the Ornish diet, lean meat is permitted. This plan is considered easier to follow than the Ornish diet, but you will still need to carefully track what you eat each day.

Developed by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, the Nutritarian Diet has many similarities to Noom. The plan puts the focus on “maximizing nutrient density” by eating foods with the highest nutrient to calorie ratios. Most are considered green foods on the Noom plan. Another appeal is that, like with Noom, nothing is technically off limits, so you don’t have to feel like you are depriving yourself.

While all four of these eating strategies are viable diet plans, Noom stands out with their integrated app. While you’ll need to read books or follow along on their websites to better understand the other three plans, Noom strives to make the learning curve easier for you. If you love relying on your phone, this might be an appeal. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the other three diets won’t charge you a monthly subscription fee to follow them.

Our Final Thoughts About Noom

To put all this information in perspective, do we think it makes sense to sign up for Noom? That depends on what you’re looking for. We believe that the app offers a lot of value for those who are intimidated by starting a weight-loss journey alone because it breaks down the process into manageable steps.

It’s the app’s goal to limit your time on it to less than 15 minutes a day, and it offers behavioral training based on psychological principles to help redefine your relationship with food.

The app also stands out from other options because of its group mentality. All Noom users become part of a supportive community of coaches and other users dedicated to helping them meet their goals. If you’re looking for accountability but don’t want to join a traditional weight-loss program like Weight Watchers, Noom offers you a bit of the best of both worlds.

Saying that, you’ll pay for this extra level of service with membership fees between $30-$50 per month. That’s a lot more than other app-based weight loss options that let you track your meals and exercise, but you’re paying for the extra personalization, psychological motivation, and accountability that comes from Noom.

Likewise, the app is designed to “graduate” you after 16 weeks or so, so if you do the program correctly, you won’t be paying more than about $200 for the service.

If the mix of light coaching, quirky messaging and group accountability appeal to you, then we think it’s worth signing up for a Noom trial. If you’re concerned that the plan’s eating guide limits your consumption of healthy foods that fall in the “red” category, we suggest talking with a dietician to get a better sense of what your personal dietary objectives should be.

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Noom Does It Really Work? reviewed by on 20th August 2019 rated 4.9 on 5.0