Since its inception in 2008, the Noom diet, or Noom, has quickly grown to become one of the most searched-for diets.
According to Noom, people who use their program and adopt a healthy lifestyle can expect to lose 1–2 pounds (0.5–1 kg) per week.
However, you may wonder whether Noom is just another fad diet based on pseudoscience with promises of unrealistic results, or whether it’s an effective program for healthy, sustainable weight loss.
This article covers everything you need to know about Noom, including what it is and how it works, as well as its pros and cons.
Noom is a mobile app you can download to your smartphone or tablet. By focusing on behavioral changes, Noom calls itself a lifestyle, not a diet.
The app provides:
- Weekly challenges and educational information. Topics involve nutrition, stress management, goal setting, and healthy habit formation.
- Tools to track your progress. These allow you to log your meals, exercise regimen, and body weight.
- A virtual coaching team. A goal specialist, group coach, and support group are meant to help you stay on track.
- Biometric tracking. These features help you monitor blood sugar and blood pressure.
Noom offers a 14-day free trial if you’d like to test it out before paying the monthly fee.
Noom is a health app that provides educational articles, tools for monitoring and tracking your progress toward weight loss, and support from virtual health coaches.
Noom 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 (1).
Noom estimates your daily calorie needs based on your gender, age, height, weight, and your answers to a series of lifestyle questions.
Depending on your goal weight and timeframe, Noom 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 adequate nutrition, the app does not allow a daily calorie budget below 1,200 calories for women or 1,400 calories for men (2).
Noom uses an algorithm to estimate the number of calories you should eat per day to lose weight.
Still, sticking with a diet is difficult for many people. Most diets fail because they’re difficult to maintain (9).
To date, no studies have compared the effectiveness of Noom with other weight loss diets, but researchers have analyzed data from Noom users.
In one study in nearly 36,000 Noom users, 78% experienced weight loss while they were using the app for an average of 9 months, with 23% experiencing more than a 10% loss, compared with their starting weight (10).
All the same, more comprehensive research into the program is needed.
Studies in Noom users show that the program may aid weight loss. Still, research comparing Noom to other diet plans is currently lacking.
Noom’s program emphasizes a long-term approach to weight loss. It may have several benefits over quick-fix methods.
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 categorizes foods into a color system — green, yellow, and red — based on their calorie density and concentration of nutrients.
Foods with the lowest calorie density, highest concentration of nutrients, or both, are considered green. Foods with the highest calorie density, lowest concentration of nutrients, or both, are labeled red, while yellow foods fall in between.
Calorie-dense foods contain a large number of calories in a small amount of food, whereas items of low calorie density have fewer calories in a large amount of food (11).
Generally, low-calorie-dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables, contain more water and fiber and are low in fat.
On the other hand, high-calorie-dense foods, such as fatty fish, meats, nut butters, sweets, and desserts, typically provide fat or added sugars but lack water and fiber.
Diets comprised mainly of low-calorie-dense foods and beverages are associated with less hunger, weight loss, and risk of chronic conditions like heart disease than diets rich in high-calorie-dense foods (12, 13).
No food is off limits
Noom takes the opposite approach, offering flexibility by allowing all foods to fit into your diet.
Because some high-calorie-dense foods like nuts contain important nutrients, and completely eliminating desserts and other treats is neither realistic nor worthwhile, Noom doesn’t forbid these items but encourages less of them.
The program does this to help you stay within or near your daily calorie budget.
Noom’s library of recipes also helps you determine which foods and recipes are appropriate for you based on any food allergies or intolerances you may have.
Promotes behavioral changes
Losing weight and leading a healthy lifestyle goes beyond what and how much you eat.
It’s also about forming new healthy behaviors, reinforcing the healthy habits you already have, and breaking any unhealthy patterns that sabotage your goals (15).
Without behavioral change, any weight lost with a reduced-calorie diet tends to be regained over time — often in excess of what was initially lost (16).
In fact, in a review of 29 long-term weight loss studies, people gained back 33% of their initial weight loss at 1 year, on average, and 79% after 5 years (17).
Recognizing that behavioral change is difficult, Noom uses a psychology-based curriculum that encourages self-efficacy — the belief in your ability to execute habits necessary to reach your goals (18).
In this way, Noom may better equip you with the tools and education necessary for effective behavioral change that underlies successful long-term weight loss maintenance.
Indeed, one study found that 78% of nearly 36,000 Noom users sustained their weight loss over 9 months. It’s unclear whether weight loss is sustained after this time (10).
Noom promotes healthy lifestyle changes for long-term results by emphasizing calorie- and nutrient-dense foods and allowing all foods to fit into your diet.
While Noom is an excellent, comprehensive tool you can use to help you reach your health goals, there are a few things to keep in mind about the app.
Keep in mind that tracking your food and calorie intake, whether through Noom or another program, may promote disordered eating patterns. These may include food anxiety and excessive calorie restriction (19).
At a minimum price of $44.99 per month, Noom may cost more than you’re willing or able to spend.
However, if you’re employed by a company that offers a workplace health and wellness program, speak with your company’s human resources department. You might receive a financial incentive to participate in wellness programs like Noom.
Noom is strictly a technology-based, virtual platform available only on mobile devices.
This makes the program unavailable if you don’t have a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet.
Even if you do have a mobile device, you may not be able to readily access the internet due to limited WiFi or cellular data options.
Virtual vs. face-to-face interaction
Noom offers a virtual support team to hold you accountable and assist with goal setting.
All communication with Noom’s health coaches is through a messenger system on the Noom app.
However, you may prefer face-to-face rather than virtual coaching sessions. If this is the case, you might intentionally limit or avoid communication with Noom’s health coaches and thus not experience the program’s full weight loss benefits.
Keep in mind that one of these studies was funded by the company.
Noom’s downsides include its price and accessibility. Furthermore, its virtual form of health coaching may not be right for you.
Noom categorizes food as green, yellow, or red based on its calorie and nutrient density.
The app recommends consuming a set percentage of foods from each color — 30% green, 45% yellow, and 25% red.
According to the Noom website, these are examples of foods for each color (26):
- Fruits: bananas, apples, strawberries, watermelon, blueberries
- Vegetables: tomatoes, cucumbers, salad greens, carrots, onions, spinach
- Starchy vegetables: parsnips, beets, sweet potatoes, squash
- Diary: skim milk, non-fat yogurt, non-fat Greek yogurt, non-fat cheese sticks
- Dairy alternatives: unsweetened almond, cashew, or soy milk
- Whole grains: oatmeal, brown rice, whole-grain bread, whole-grain pita, whole-grain pasta, whole-grain tortilla, whole-grain cereals
- Condiments: marinara, salsa, sauerkraut, ketchup, light mayo
- Beverages: unsweetened tea and coffee
- Lean meats: grilled chicken, turkey, and lean cuts of beef, pork, and lamb
- Seafood: tuna, salmon, tilapia, scallops
- Dairy: low-fat milk, low-fat cheeses, low-fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt
- Legumes and seeds: lentils, pinto beans, chickpeas, peas, quinoa, black beans, soy beans
- Grains and grain products: couscous, white rice, white bread, white pasta
- Beverages: diet soda, beer
- Meats: ham, red meats, fried meats, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, hamburgers
- Nuts and nut butters: peanut butter, almond butter, almonds, walnuts
- Desserts and sweets: cake, chocolate, cookies, candy, pastries
- Snack foods: french fries, potato chips, energy and snack bars
- Condiments and toppings: butter, mayonnaise, ranch dressing
- Beverages: wine, juices like orange juice
Noom categorizes foods as green, yellow, and red, based on their calorie or nutrient density and percentage of your diet they should fill.
Below is 1-week sample meal plan using recipes from Noom’s app.
This meal plan would not apply to everyone since calorie recommendations are individualized, but it provides a general overview of the foods included from the green, yellow, and red categories.
- Breakfast: raspberry yogurt parfait
- Lunch: vegetarian barley soup
- Dinner: fennel, orange, and arugula salad
- Snack: creamy cucumber and dill salad
- Breakfast: banana-ginger smoothie
- Lunch: roasted orange tilapia and asparagus
- Dinner: mushroom and rice soup
- Snack: deviled eggs
- Breakfast: vegetable skillet frittata
- Lunch: broccoli quinoa pilaf
- Dinner: pork lettuce wraps
- Snack: homemade yogurt pops
- Breakfast: egg sandwich
- Lunch: chicken and avocado pita pockets
- Dinner: pasta with shellfish and mushrooms
- Snack: mixed nuts
- Breakfast: spinach-tomato frittata
- Lunch: salmon with tabbouleh salad
- Dinner: grilled chicken with corn salsa
- Snack: chocolate cake
- Breakfast: banana-apple and nut oatmeal
- Lunch: turkey cheddar tacos
- Dinner: green bean casserole
- Snack: hummus and peppers
- Breakfast: scrambled egg wrap
- Lunch: loaded spinach salad
- Dinner: salmon patties with green beans
- Snack: cream cheese fruit dip with apples
As long as the majority of your diet contains foods in the green and yellow categories, you can include foods categorized as red — such as chocolate cake — in small portions.
Noom is an app that you can access with a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet.
The app may help people lose weight by promoting low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods and encouraging healthy lifestyle changes.
If costs, accessibility, and a virtual style of health coaching don’t sway your decision, Noom may be worth a try.