What Is the Noom Diet?

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At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

The Noom weight loss program is not your typical diet plan. For instance, there are no off-limits foods or structured eating windows. Think of Noom as more of an all-around lifestyle shift that prioritizes healthy eating, regular exercise, stress management, and better sleep hygiene.

In fact, this popular weight loss program is psychologically driven. The basis for Noom's digital weight loss plan is cognitive behavioral therapy, a type of talk therapy used in clinical psychology settings.

Noom's wide-angled and long-term approach to health helps people shift their mindset and approach weight loss differently. Instead of focusing on quick results, Noom teaches people how to shift their perspectives about weight and understand the importance of physical activity and why good nutrition affects much more than the number on a scale.

Nutrition is an important component of the Noom weight loss program since a healthy, balanced diet is integral to long-term weight management. The Noom app is a helpful resource for tracking progress and provides ongoing support from certified health coaches. Noom uses a color-coded approach to nutrition: It labels foods as green, yellow, or red based on their nutrient density and how often you should eat them.

What Experts Say

"Noom goes beyond meal plans and tracking calories. It includes a behavioral component that might help users dig deeper into the whys and hows of achieving a healthy lifestyle. It is important to caution that this app is not appropriate for anyone coping with or at risk for disordered eating."

Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD

What Can You Eat?

The green-labeled foods on the Noom diet usually contain the most nutrients and least amount of calories, while red-labeled foods have more calories and fewer nutrients. Yellow-labeled foods fall somewhere in between. If you’re unaccustomed to counting calories, tracking your daily caloric intake on the Noom diet plan may take some getting used to.

To track your food, you can search the Noom food database of more than 150,000 items, or scan supported barcodes on packaged foods. You can also log your food manually, which is helpful for those who like to cook homemade recipes.

What You Need to Know

Noom is not your typical fad diet, though some might think of Noom as a fad since it's a relatively new weight loss platform. But the difference is in the holistic approach—instead of promising rapid weight loss in just a couple of weeks or less, Noom guarantees lifelong weight management through renewed healthy habits.

At its core, Noom works like many digital weight loss programs. After you enter your information into the app, an algorithm builds a customized weight loss and fitness plan determined by your health status, demographics, goals, and more.

First, you’ll choose whether you want to “get fit for good” or “lose weight for good.” Then, Noom will direct you to a lifestyle quiz to help build your weight loss program. The Noom app requests the following information to build your plan:

  • Demographics: Your age, current weight, height, and sex
  • Goals: Your health goals—specifically how much weight you want to lose
  • Lifestyle: A quiz to assess your work life, relationships, motivation to lose weight, and other factors such as your brain health, digestion, sleep, and energy levels

Once you’re all set up, you'll get matched with a health coach and begin working toward your health goals. Through Noom’s Healthy Weight Program, you'll have access to your assigned coach during normal business hours, as well as 24/7 access to a coach through the app's chat service. You’ll use the Noom app for everything related to your weight loss plan including:

  • Logging and tracking your food and portion sizes (by searching the Noom database or scanning barcodes)
  • Tracking your water intake
  • Logging and tracking your exercise
  • Logging health metrics like your heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar
  • Reading health articles and taking quizzes
  • Communicating with your health coach and receiving one-to-one coaching during business hours

If you reach out to Noom's chat service during the off-hours, you will likely communicate with someone who doesn’t know your full health history, dietary preferences, or other factors that would allow them to provide you with the same level of personalized coaching as your assigned health coach.

What to Eat
  • Vegetables

  • Fruits

  • Meats

  • Dairy products

  • Whole grains

  • Healthy fats

What Not to Eat
  • Processed foods

  • High fat foods

  • Added sugars

  • Oils and condiments

The Noom diet does not specifically exclude any foods, which means the foods to avoid listed above don't have to be eliminated entirely. These red-labeled foods can still be consumed in moderation. The other food groups listed above include many options of what you can eat while on the Noom weight loss program as part of a healthy diet. The breakdown of green, yellow, and red label foods is as follows:

  • Green label foods include nutritious vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and spinach. These, therefore, get the “green light” for the most consumption on the Noom diet. Fruits like apples, oranges, berries, bananas, and tomatoes, non-fat dairy items like yogurt, and whole grains like brown rice also fall into this category.
  • Yellow label foods should be eaten "with caution" or less often than green label foods. These include lean proteins like grilled chicken, salmon, and turkey breast; low-fat dairy items including milk, cheeses, and eggs; healthy fats like avocado and olives; and grains and legumes such as beans, chickpeas, and quinoa.
  • Red label foods are not completely off-limits but should be eaten with the least frequency. These include processed meats, some nut butters, oils and condiments, sugar, and high fat foods like pizza and french fries. 

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Access to certified health coaches

  • Psychological approach

  • Focus on the long-term

  • Emphasis on eating whole foods

  • All-in-one support

  • Scientifically supported

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Language can be somewhat degrading

  • No face-to-face option

  • Requires intense commitment

To get the most out of the Noom app and meet your health goals, you'll want to log all of your food and your water intake and how much exercise you're getting. You'll also want to be consistent about meal planning and regularly communicate with your coach.

Like all diet and weight loss plans, Noom has benefits and drawbacks—and might not be the best weight loss program for everyone. You should carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of a plan like Noom before downloading and beginning the program.

Pros

Certified health coaches: All of Noom’s health coaches go through a four-week training from Noom to become proficient in cognitive behavioral therapy, the method that drives Noom’s weight loss program. However, not all Noom coaches are certified outside of the Noom training program (more on that under the cons below). 

Psychological approach: Cognitive behavioral therapy is a proven psychological method that helps you understand the relationship between your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.

This type of therapy can help you identify feelings about food, fitness, or wellness, recognize how those feelings influence your thoughts, and understand how those thoughts turn into actions. By recognizing and understanding that relationship, you can take control of your health.

Focus on the long-term: Because of Noom’s psychological approach, the basis of the program lies in habit change, which is how you can lose weight for the long-term. Rather than inducing rapid weight loss for the first few weeks, Noom aims to help you develop a sustainable mindset around food, fitness, and wellness.

Focus on eating whole foods: With Noom, you won’t ever have to buy frozen meals (unless you want to), premade shakes, or protein bars—the focus is eating healthy for life, which means selecting foods that satisfy both your tastebuds and your body. Noom’s color approach (green, yellow, and red foods) helps you choose nutrient-dense foods without sacrificing your weight loss goals.

All-in-one support: Noom acts as your health coach, nutritionist, personal trainer, and accountability buddy all at the same time. If you’re the kind of person who likes to minimize app clutter on your phone and prefers all of your health data in one place, Noom could be a great fit for you.

Scientifically supported: A number of scientific studies back up Noom’s approach to weight loss (more on that below).

Cons

Expensive: At a minimum of $59 per month, Noom costs more than many people may be willing or able to spend on a weight loss program

Language can be somewhat degrading: While Noom’s user experience is designed to be motivating, it might feel derogatory to some people. For example, the app and website use language such as “conquer your food triggers,” which is potentially problematic for those who genuinely struggle with food triggers or emotional eating

No face-to-face option: If you thrive on face-to-face coaching, Noom might not be the right choice for you. You won’t get in-person coaching, nor video coaching—everything is done through the chat service, including communications with your personal health coach.

Coaches might not be experts: It’s true that all Noom health coaches are approved by the National Consortium for Credentialing Health and Wellness Coaches (NCCHWC) and that Noom’s health coach training platform, "Noomiversity," is approved by the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaches (NBHWC). However, that doesn’t mean all of their coaches are certified nutritionists, registered dietitians, personal trainers, doctors, or any other credentialed health professional outside of Noom’s independent training program.

The color approach may cause problems: While the color-labeling approach to food selection works for some people, for others, it could result in disordered eating habits or an unhealthy relationship with food. For example, almond butter is labeled as a red food because of its high-calorie content, but almond butter is a perfectly healthy food when eaten in moderation.

If you’re trying to lose weight, it is important to understand the caloric density of foods, but it’s also important to maintain a healthy relationship with all foods.

Is the Noom Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that we fill our plates with a balanced mix of protein, grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products for most meals. The Noom diet mostly aligns with these principles, particularly since it recommends limiting the consumption of some "red label" foods that are otherwise considered healthy.

Noom also has a diabetes prevention program that has been officially recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for its efficacy, a first of its kind for fully mobile-based weight loss programs. The Diabetes Prevention Plan costs $89.99 per month, but it includes more perks than the Healthy Weight Program, such as a specific focus on blood sugar control.

Health Benefits

Despite its relative newness to the wellness scene (Noom was founded in 2009), Noom has quite a body of scientific literature behind it. Here are the results of some key studies about the Noom program:

  • In one 2016 study of more than 35,000 people, researchers found that 77% of Noom users reported losing weight after using the app for nine months.
  • Another 2016 study—this one on the National Diabetes Prevention Program—found that the participants all showed significant weight loss after 16 and 24 weeks of using Noom. This study was limited, however, in that it didn’t compare Noom to another diabetes diet, so it’s hard to make any conclusions about Noom over another diet plan.
  • A 2017 study showed that after 12 weeks of using Noom, participants lost an average of 7.5% of their body fat, and after one year, they had maintained a loss of 5.2%.
  • This 2017 study shows that Noom’s psychological approach is scientifically grounded and can lead to significant weight loss with self-adherence from the participant.

Health Risks

While there are no common health risks associated with the Noom diet, those who have had or are at risk of an eating disorder may want to avoid a weight loss program that requires meticulous tracking of daily food habits and advises against eating some foods that are still considered healthy.

A Word From Verywell

Noom has definitely established its place in the world of diets, weight loss programs, and digital health apps, even running up against legacy programs like WW (formerly Weight Watchers). It’s clinically validated to help people lose weight and much of its success likely stems from its behavioral therapy-inspired approach. That Noom is federally endorsed for its diabetes management program means a lot—not many independent diet and weight loss programs receive this type of recognition.

Noom can be a great choice for people who need help developing sustainable, healthy habits that allow them to lose weight and keep it off in the long run, but may not be the right approach for those looking for a quick way to lose weight (although you should consider sustainable weight loss over quick weight loss, anyway).

As with all things, you’ll have to consider whether Noom supports your health, fitness, and weight management goals. If it sounds like too much for you at this time, you might instead try a free diet app and focus on one change at a time: First, shift your eating patterns to be healthier, then start adding in exercise, and so forth.

Remember, following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you and many diets out there simply don’t work, especially long-term. While we do not endorse fad diet trends or unsustainable weight loss methods, we present the facts so you can make an informed decision that works best for your nutritional needs, genetic blueprint, and budget, and goals.

If your goal is weight loss, remember that losing weight isn’t necessarily the same as being your healthiest self, and there are many other ways to pursue health. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors also play a major role in your overall health. The best diet is always the one that is balanced and fits your lifestyle.

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