Many weight loss services claim their methods are best for dropping pounds, but few garner praise from actual medical professionals. But weight loss app Noom is one service experts say may be worth the cost.
Of course, Noom isn't perfect, and it may not work for everyone. Here's what you should know before signing up.
What is Noom?
A weight loss app, Noom aims to improve lifestyle habits to help you lose weight long term. It's easy to get started: simply complete the questionnaire about your current weight, age, goal weight as well as dietary and lifestyle habits. Then, you'll be given a calorie level and coach to help you during the plan, says Abby Langer, R.D.
Within the app, you'll be able to track meals by using the food database and log exercise, weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar, reported Good Housekeeping. You'll also receive reading assignments that focus on building healthy habits and be assigned a coach who can answer any nutrition-related questions, Langer explains.
Is Noom good for weight loss?
The app offers a balanced approach to shedding pounds, Langer explains to Men's Health.
Although most diets stress hitting your numbers, whether it's macros or calories, Noom focuses on your motivations for weight loss.
"Finding your 'why' is something I really try to do with people. I thought Noom was really spot on with that," says Langer.
Other programs offer coaches who aren't adequately equipped to answer health-related questions, says Langer. Noom coaches complete training recognized by the International Consortium for Health and Wellness Training and hold a bachelor's or associates degree in a related field, such as nutrition.
"I liked the fact that the coaches were actually experienced," she says. I was kind of surprised at that."
According to app store reviews, people have had success losing weight using Noom. One reviewer on the Apple store said the money spent on Noom was well worth the investment.
"I learned what to eat, what to limit, what to increase. Because of my immediate success during the trial, I decided to pay for the subscription. I just wanted to get under 200 lbs and be in less pain," they wrote. "I hit my goal and kept going. I felt like the pace was perfect. The lessons were really motivating, and the group was safe and encouraging. I hit 162.5 in October."
Another customer warned that although the app is great for weight loss, customer service is severely lacking.
The reviewer wrote:
"I’m very pleased with the approach Noom takes to weight loss. It’s about helping you change your thinking about food and helping you make gradual changes in your lifestyle that will lead to sustainable weight loss. It’s well paced, informative, and well supported by coaches and a personalized group. Sadly, I cannot say the same for the customer support which was TERRIBLE! The sign up process is somewhat confusing, e.g. different levels of payment for trial and total for subscription. When I had questions about this, I discovered there was NO phone support available. I had to use email which turned into a long, convoluted thread. I had to write my questions multiple times to three different people—none of whom answered them fully."
What can you eat on Noom?
Second, Noom encourages a balanced approach that doesn't demonize particular foods. Items are categorized into categories: green, yellow, and red, based on caloric density. Oatmeal, vegetables, and fruit are considered green while oils and nut butters are labeled red. That said, the company is clear green doesn't indicate good and red isn't bad. Instead, the latter indicates you should be mindful about quantity when eating "red" foods.
Assigned readings and quizzes cover more than the standard "eat more, move more" advice. According to Langer, one sample article focused on how to work through short-term discomfort to achieve long-term goals.
What are the cons of Noom?
People with a history of disordered eating may want to steer clear of food tracking, Langer warns.
"If you are one of those people who find it triggering to log food I would think about whether you should be on a diet to begin with," she says.
Enlisting the help of a registered dietitian to develop a healthy relationship with food may be a better choice.
Although food diaries can assist with mindful eating, they can cause preoccupation in some people.
"If you find that you get obsessive, I would just focus on the quality of your food and listening to your body and achieving an optimal weight for you," advises Langer.
Others may find the program overwhelming as you have daily readings, quizzes, and food logging.
"It’s just a lot to do all at once," says Langer. That said, you can always tailor the service to fit your lifestyle by only incorporating one change at a time.
Additionally, Noom allows users to eat more calories after working out, which creates a problematic mindset about exercise.
"We have this perception that you can erase your food with a workout," she says. "Chances are you’re burning a lot less when you’re exercising than you think you are."
A healthier approach is to hit the gym because it relieves stress, boosts energy, and improves heart health–rather than punishment for eating too many cookies.
How much does Noom cost each month?
Noom is not a free app as there is a cost associated with the service. A single month runs $59 according to the company's website. However, signing up for a four-month plan drops the cost down to $32.25 per month.
The bottom line:
Overall, Noom is pretty solid, says Langer. The service lacks a weight maintenance component to help people transition out of dieting, and the cost is relatively expensive. But if you have weight to lose, are ready to do the work, and don't have medical problems or with disordered eating, then Noom may be right for you.
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