Since its inception in 2008, the Noom diet has quickly grown to become one of the most sought after eating plans. According to Noom, people who use their routine and adopt a healthy lifestyle can expect to lose between 0.5 and 1 kg per week.
However, you may be wondering if this is just another fad diet based on pseudoscience with unrealistic promises of results, or if it is an effective program for healthy and sustainable weight loss.
What is the Noom Diet?
This is a mobile health app that provides educational articles, tools to monitor and control your progress towards weight loss, and support from virtual health coaches. You can download it on your smartphone or tablet. By focusing on behavior changes, Noom calls itself a lifestyle, not a diet.
The app provides:
- Weekly challenges and educational information. Topics include nutrition, stress management, goal setting, and healthy habit formation.
- Tools to track your progress. These allow you to record meals, exercise routine, and body weight.
- A virtual coaching team. A fitness goal specialist, group coach and support group are designed to help keep you on track.
- Biometric tracking. These functions help control blood sugar and blood pressure.
How does it work?
The Noom diet 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.
The app calculates your daily calorie needs based on gender, age, height, weight, and your answers to a series of lifestyle questions. Depending on your goal weight and the time period, the app 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 proper nutrition, the app does not allow a daily calorie budget below 1,200 calories for women or 1,400 calories for men.
Noom encourages food logging and daily weighing, two self-monitoring behaviors associated with long-term weight loss and weight loss maintenance.
Can the Noom Diet help you lose weight?
Any low-calorie diet plan or program can help you lose weight if you follow it to the letter. However, for many people it is difficult to stick to a diet. Most diets fail because they are difficult to maintain long-term and create demotivation.
To date, no studies have compared the effectiveness of the Noom Diet to other types of weight-loss eating plans, but researchers have analyzed data from its users.
In a study of nearly 36,000 Noom users, 78% experienced weight loss while using the app for an average of 9 months, and 23% experienced a loss of more than 10%, compared to their starting weight.
The study also found that those who followed this diet and weighed themselves more frequently were more successful at losing weight. However, further research on this model is needed.
What benefits does it bring to health?
The diet emphasizes a long-term approach to weight loss. It can have several benefits over quick application methods, although we do not recommend its practice with this.
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 classifies foods into a color system (green, yellow, and red) based on their caloric density and nutrient concentration. Very similar to Nutriscore.
Foods with the lowest calorie density, the highest nutrient concentration, or both, are considered green. The ones with the highest calorie density, the lowest nutrient concentration, or both, are labeled red, while the yellow ones sit in the middle.
Calorie-dense foods contain a large amount of calories in a small amount of food, while low-calorie-dense foods have fewer calories in a large amount of food.
Generally, low-calorie foods, such as fruits and vegetables, contain more water and fiber, and are lower in fat. High-calorie foods, on the other hand, such as fatty fish, meats, nut butters, sweets, and desserts, often provide added fat or sugar, but lack water and fiber.
There is no forbidden food
The most popular diets can be restrictive by limiting certain foods or entire food groups. This can promote disordered eating or obsessive behaviors around healthy or “clean” eating.
The Noom Diet takes the opposite approach, offering flexibility by allowing all foods to fit into your diet. Since some high-calorie foods, such as nuts, contain important nutrients, and completely eliminating desserts and other treats is not realistic or worthwhile, the app does not ban these foods, but encourages you to consume less.
The Noom Diet Promotes Behavior Changes
Losing weight and leading a healthy lifestyle goes beyond what you eat and how much you eat. It’s also about forming new healthy behaviors, reinforcing healthy habits you already have, and breaking any unhealthy patterns that sabotage your goals.
Without behavior change, any weight lost on a low-calorie diet tends to be regained over time, often in excess of what was initially lost.
Knowing that behavior change is hard, Noom uses a psychology-based curriculum that encourages self-efficacy: the belief in your ability to execute the habits necessary to achieve your goals.
In this way, the app can better equip you with the tools and education necessary for effective behavior change underlying successful long-term weight loss maintenance.
Drawbacks of the Noom Diet – Health Risks
Although it sounds like a great and comprehensive tool that you can use to help you achieve your health goals, there are a few things to keep in mind about this app.
Please note that tracking your food and calorie intake, whether through this app or another program, may promote disordered eating patterns. These can include food cravings and excessive caloric restriction.
At a starting price of $44.99 per month, this may be more than you are willing or able to spend.
However, if you are an employee of a company that offers a workplace health and wellness program, talk to your company’s human resources department. You may receive some financial incentive to participate in these types of plans. However, it will always be better that you invest in professional nutritionists.
It is a strictly technology-based virtual platform available only on mobile devices. This makes the program unavailable if you do not have a mobile such as a smartphone or tablet.
Even if you have a mobile, you may not be able to easily access the Internet due to limited WiFi or mobile data options.
Virtual face-to-face interaction
The program offers a virtual support team to hold you accountable and help you with goal setting. All communication with the Noom Diet Health Advisors is done through an in-app messaging system.
Research has shown that receiving regular health coaching, either virtually or in person, is effective for weight loss and other health-related goals, such as stress management. However, you may prefer face-to-face coaching sessions rather than virtual ones. If this is the case for you, you may intentionally limit or avoid communication with your health advisors and therefore not experience the full benefits of your weight loss.