We all know that fad diets, with their absurd restrictions and celebrity endorsements, come and go just like any other trend. And the extent to which they may (or may not) be successful is always a little questionable. (Remember that smoothie-based detox plan that was all the rage for a hot minute?) But with a plethora of weight loss diet plans flying around these days, it can be hard, if not daunting, to decide which approach is right for you.
The makers of Noom, a recent app-based diet trend, say they’ve got you covered. By offering personal health coaching and a chat-based community, Noom eliminates the creeping fear we all face when starting a new diet: going it alone. With a personal coach and nutrition plan, the app provides motivation and professional guidance for users to make easy lifestyle changes on their own.
But some questions remain. Will it help you lose weight? What are its downsides? Are the nutritionists available 24/7, like when you need an emergency voice of reason to steer you clear of that oatmeal cookie? To answer all these questions and more, we discussed Noom with two dietitians in private practice, Amy Gorin, RDN, who’s based in New York City, and Angela Lemond, RD, who’s based in Plano, Texas, to find out whether this app-based diet is really worth the download and the monthly fee.
What Exactly Is the ‘Noom’ Diet Anyway, and How Does It Work?
Noom is an app-driven diet plan. The Noom app, found in the App Store and Google Play, offers two month-to-month memberships: a “Healthy Weight Program” for $44.99 per month or a “Diabetes Prevention Program” for $89.99.
Here’s how it works: After downloading the app, you’ll be asked a series of questions about your current weight, your weight or fitness goals, and what your past experiences with dieting and weight loss have been like. On the basis of this information, you’ll receive a 16-week nutrition plan as well as a certified “health coach” to help you reach your personal goals.
Over 16 weeks, you’ll be asked to document your fitness activities and food intake — normal weight loss app stuff. But Noom then takes its process to the next level by encouraging users to read daily nutrition and health articles (and take quizzes after) to promote lifestyle changes. It also helps users distinguish healthy foods from not-so-healthy foods by color-coding your food entries — “bad” foods are labeled with red and “good” foods are labeled with green. Last, Noom connects you with all 45 million users on the app, so you’re able to chat with and support each other.
Gorin hadn’t heard of Noom, and Lemond says it’s one of the newest weight loss approaches she’s seen. She likened Noom to Weight Watchers because of its personal coaching component. (Weight Watchers offers in-person personal coaching, while Noom offers it virtually.) That similarity may be why Noom claims to be the “Weight Watchers for Millennials.”