Can the Noom Diet Plan Really Help You Change Your Eating Habits?

Photo Courtesy: Willie B. Thomas/DigitalVision/Getty Images

In today’s ever-connected world, many people who are looking to lose weight or change their eating habits are naturally turning to technology for assistance — after all, it’s convenient, it’s familiar and there’s something out there for just about everyone. Anyone hoping to get healthier now has access to a wide variety of apps designed for everything from meal tracking to workout planning to weight loss, all with the goal of developing long-term habits that’ll help users maintain changes for life.

If you’re specifically interested in losing weight and eating more healthfully, there are several weight loss apps and programs that can assist with this journey. Noom is one of the newer, more promising apps that claims it’s different from other programs in a way that helps users change their habits for good. How does it accomplish this? Noom focuses on changing psychological and emotional behaviors that can hinder people on their health journeys.

Noom makes some pretty big promises about achieving long-term results with lifestyle changes instead of just extreme dieting. But how does Noom work, and how is it different from other weight-loss apps? We’re digging into this rising health app and the benefits that it could provide for people starting a journey to a healthier lifestyle.

What Is Noom?

Noom is a weight-loss app designed by behavioral psychologists, nutritionists and personal trainers to help people adopt healthier habits, with the primary goal of losing weight and actually keeping it off. This app focuses on teaching behavioral changes and helping users develop healthier relationships with food instead of focusing on restrictive diets. On Noom’s official website, the company states that “quick-fix diets are a thing of the past, and behavior change is the way to the future.”

Photo Courtesy: Noom/YouTube

Using the app, which Noom says has helped over 1.5 million people lose weight, users get a personalized calorie breakdown once they answer a lifestyle quiz. They can easily track the foods that they eat and log their exercises, weight and other stats — much like they can do in other weight-loss apps. Those who invest in Noom also have access to in-app health coaching during business hours, meaning they can contact trained professionals who are dedicated to guiding clients to a better place.

Noom gives you a 14-day trial to sample the program. After that, if you decide to stick with it, you’ll pay roughly $60 a month for a membership — but you can purchase multiple months at the same time for less money. This high cost is cited as one of the primary drawbacks of Noom.

How Does Noom Work?

In order to use Noom, you need to have a smartphone, an email address or social media account and a credit card. You can sign up for the app through Noom’s website or by downloading the app to your phone; it’s currently available for iOS and Android devices.

Photo Courtesy: kali9/E+/Getty Images

When you sign up and create an account, the app has you take a short lifestyle quiz that asks you about your health goals and about any physical or mental health concerns. It then builds a personalized plan based on your answers.

Once you have your account set up on Noom, the app asks you to complete a series of about eight tasks a day. Most of the tasks are short articles to read about nutrition or psychological concepts that can impact your dieting and your overall life. Other tasks include taking quick quizzes on the articles you’ve read to make sure you retain the information.

When it comes to tracking your food intake, Noom classifies foods into three different color groups. These are based on the caloric density of each food. The green group includes foods that you should regularly include in your diet, such as vegetables, fruits and other foods with high water content. The yellow group includes foods that are fine to eat in smaller amounts, such as nuts and cheese. The red group includes foods that you should eat sparingly, such as junk food and unhealthy snacks.

How Is Noom Different From Other Weight-Loss Apps?

Noom doesn’t offer extreme nutrition plans or meal delivery for users. It doesn’t rely on a point system or only allow you to eat certain foods. It also doesn’t encourage you to focus on counting calories or think about foods in terms of those numerical values. Instead, the app is determined to “break your self-sabotaging behaviors and develop balanced relationships with food and yourself that last.”

Photo Courtesy: Pick Up Limes/YouTube

The app offers insight into your ability to tackle triggers, thoughts and obstacles that could potentially derail your weight-loss journey. It primarily does this by providing articles to read that are based on both your health goals and any emotional triggers that make you turn to food for comfort. Health coaches on the app also help to address these issues. By working to eliminate mental and emotional connections to food, Noom attempts to set you up for a better chance for long-term success.

What Are the Benefits of Noom’s Features?

There are several potential benefits to using this particular weight-loss app. Noom offers flexibility by allowing you to incorporate various foods into your diet while still giving you accountability about the nutrients you’re consuming. The app is easy to use to track progress, log meals and track weight loss. The app also encourages you to form new healthy behaviors while working on breaking the unhealthy ones that stall your progress.

Photo Courtesy: Mike Kemp/Getty Images

People who have hypertension or diabetes can also log their blood pressure and blood sugar numbers manually or by syncing devices. Noom even has a diabetes prevention program that has been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This focuses specifically on blood sugar control. In addition, Noom encourages community by creating groups of like-minded people and goal setters who can chat with and support each other on and offline.

How Users Can Expect Noom to Work for Them

All weight loss is dependent upon a person’s body, health conditions and consistency with nutrition and working out. However, Noom states that users can expect to drop at least one or two pounds a week. The app promotes the idea that slow and steady weight loss with lifestyle changes is better than any extreme diet in which users are likely to end up gaining the weight back. “If you’re looking for a quick fix or something extreme, Noom isn’t the place for you,” said Noom’s psychology officer Andreas Michaelides in an interview with Rolling Stone. “While the results aren’t overnight [with Noom], they’re much more likely to stick.”

Photo Courtesy: Laura Marschel/YouTube

A 2016 Nature research study with 35,921 participants found that 78% of users maintained significant weight loss with Noom over nine months. Users should also develop a better grasp of nutrition and learn better habits like “making meals at home instead of eating out, incorporating more physical activity into daily routines and embracing mindfulness techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing and intention setting,” according to Michaelides.

What Do Health Experts Think About Noom?

So how do real health professionals feel about Noom? There are some mixed reviews. While dietitian Samantha Cassetty, RD, did praise the app for being inclusive of many foods and acknowledged that it has helped many people lose weight, she did have some concerns. “Many people complain that the coaching [on the app] is inconsistent (and some say practically non-existent),” she shared via NBC News. “I don’t like to knock any program or plan that makes people feel mentally and physically healthier. However, I will point out that there’s a huge difference in education and training between a health coach and an RD.”

Photo Courtesy: Ottawa Public Health/YouTube

Bonnie Balk, registered dietitian and health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, acknowledged during an interview with Parade that there are pros and cons with any health program. “But in this case the benefits, if users follow the Noom app correctly, can lead to real, sustainable, healthy weight loss. Instead of spoon-feeding users with a list of dos and don’ts, this program encourages them to understand their healthy choices.”

Psychologist and broadcaster Honey Langcaster-James applauded the psychological wins of Noom to Woman & Home. “Noom doesn’t have lots of rules, because rules aren’t sustainable and don’t suit everybody,” said Langcaster-James. “To lose weight and keep it off for good, you need to recognize and understand the ingrained food habits you have, the triggers for these habits, and recognize how to manage them.”

Overall, the benefits appear to outweigh the drawbacks. Noom appears to be an app that can help people achieve their eating-habit and overall health goals and maintain their progress for the long run.

Resource Links: