Weight loss weightloss weight loss programs weight loss foods weight loss tips
I came across the Noom weight management app as an ad in my social media feeds and was instantly intrigued, but for a different reason.
As a rule, I’m turned off by the gimmicky, ultra-rigid plans and programs that prey on people looking for a quick fix — think pills, shakes, frozen meal plans, point systems, and “detox” teas. Noom seemed starkly different. It’s not an overnight miracle that you can take, but rather a lifestyle app that helps you manage weight through education and accountability.
In the past, I’ve lost about 60 pounds in a year through portion control and consistent exercise; I know what works for me. And while I’ve managed to keep most of it off in the last five years, some weight has crept up on me. I signed up for Noom because I was looking for accountability and a way to track my progress to hit my health goals.
Weight loss weightloss weight loss programs weight loss foods weight loss tips Noom aims to help reframe the way you think about food, exercise, and weight loss in a way that translates to lifelong change versus a fad diet
What enticed me about Noom, specifically, was that the program relies on the necessary ingredients for weight loss — looking at what you eat and how much you move — while also tying in a psychological component and daily accountability.
Once you sign up for the program and pay the $59 monthly fee, you’ll enter some personal information and then set a weight goal as well as other personal goals. You’ll then be connected with a weight loss coach and begin an educational journey that covers everything from mindful eating to identifying goal-disrupting triggers.
Each day has about five to 10 minutes of reading and quizzes, with the goal of reconfiguring the way you think about food and exercise. You’ll also interact with a health coach (though initial interactions do seem generated, it gets more personalized as you go deeper into the program).
In addition to the reading and coaching, you’re also prompted to weigh yourself daily, log your food intake, and input any exercise you complete outside of walking. Steps are logged for you via smartphone or step tracker and are factored in accordingly.
Ultimately, the goal of Noom is to help you reframe the way you think about food, exercise, and weight management in a way that translates to lifelong change versus a fad diet.
Weight loss weightloss weight loss programs weight loss foods weight loss tips Two health experts weighed in on the pro and cons of Noom
Since I’m merely an everyday person using the app, I wanted to reach out to a few experts to discuss the potential pros and cons of using Noom to manage weight.
- There’s personalized coaching — Noom’s 1:1 coaching platform and education program surrounding our relationship with food is what sets the app apart. “If you are having trouble sticking to the protocols, investing in this app provides gentle reminders and daily feedback that keeps you motivated to get to your goals,” says Sameera Khan, a physician assistant, obesity expert dietician, nutritionist, and author. “Instead of giving up [when you falter], the Noom coach helps you plan the specific steps that you take to get things back on track.” It also provides accountability without the stress of a group weigh-in.
- Daily notifications keep your health goals top of mind — You’ll receive notifications throughout the day that remind to you weigh yourself, take a quiz, or track your food. Seeing as how we look at our phones all day, it’ll be virtually impossible to forget to do these things so they’ll help keep your goals front of mind. Khan says, “Nudges to track will also make you aware of any poor food choices along with the trigger that causes you to make those choices. Once you identify the trigger, you can try to eliminate it by responding in a better way.”
- Noom considers food type, not just calorie count — Noom puts foods into three categories (green for vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; yellow for lean meats and cheese; and red for red meats and sweets) and sets an allowance for each. Though it doesn’t restrict you from having a certain type of food, it does prioritize raw and lean foods and deprioritizes things like sweets and carbs.
- It relies on the basic tenets of weight loss — The idea of “easy” weight loss via a shake, pill, tea, or packaged food program may sound nice, but it’s not sustainable in the long run. Noom relies on the tenets of weight loss that will allow you to remain successful for the rest of your life.
- The coaches aren’t medical experts — “You are not working with a medical expert who can medically diagnose, provide scientific-based nutrition, or properly refer to another clinician in the medical field when something is clinically suspected and out of their scope,” says Dr. Cynthia Barrett, a doctor of physical therapy and certified nutrition specialist.
- Calorie restriction may be too severe — You can adjust your calorie budget within the app, but the default is roughly 1,200 for every user no matter their height or current weight. This may be too restrictive, says Kahn. She explains, “There is a misconception floating around that anybody who is a certain height or has a certain goal weight can eat anything they want and still lose weight as long as they do not exceed 1,200 calories a day. These individuals are a minority, are usually sedentary, and already at a low body weight.” Your BMR will give you a more accurate calorie goal.
- The food tracker is clunky to use — The chief complaint among Noom users is that the food logging system isn’t super user-friendly. It sometimes doesn’t save the foods you’ve listed, calories can be off, and at times, you can’t even find the food you want to log.
Weight loss weightloss weight loss programs weight loss foods weight loss tips I experienced some slight annoyances with the app itself, but ultimately, I lost 10 pounds in two months
After speaking to the two experts, I decided to try Noom. I know my body and what it takes for me to actually lose weight, so I went into Noom with the expectations of accountability and education; I’m smart enough to understand that no app or pill can help you lose weight overnight.
I dusted off the scale (admittedly it took several prompts from the app to do this, and even an actual nightmare), set my personal goals, and did my best to stick to the low 1,200 calorie count. Ultimately, however, I felt like 1,200 was too low, especially with my rigorous workout regimen three times a week. Caloric budget can be increased slightly when you log exercise, so I went ahead and adjusted mine to a range between 1,500 and 1,700 which felt much better.
Regarding the prompts, I sometimes found myself annoyed because I was always playing catch-up at the end of the day to fill in what I ate. I think this was partially because I found the calorie logger clunky and often inaccurate, so I had to get creative with my inputs.
That said, I did enjoy the daily reading and quizzes, which is truly what you’re paying for in addition to the 1:1 coaching. Sometimes I learned nothing new, but usually, there was some sort of takeaway I found valuable.
After two months, I lost 10 pounds using the Noom app. This may not seem like a lot to some people, but it is to me. Not only was it a reasonable goal for me personally, but I was able to develop healthier habits, and ultimately, a healthier lifestyle.
I stopped paying for the app after two months and now only use the free version that includes everything except for the 1:1 coaching, education, and quizzes. The app is definitely expensive at $59 a month, but I also decided that I had learned what I needed to continue reaching my goals.
Weight loss weightloss weight loss programs weight loss foods weight loss tips I’d recommend Noom to someone who’s looking to kickstart a lifestyle change in a methodical way, but only after they’ve talked to their doctor first
I would not recommend the app to anyone who has struggled with disordered eating since it may be triggering, or to anyone who has (or suspects) a medical issue tied to their weight. In such cases, working with a medical professional is ideal.
That said, I would recommend the Noom app to someone who wants to address weight loss with a slow, methodical approach that relies on accountability and retraining how you think about food and exercise. Talk with your doctor first before trying the Noom though, since you aren’t speaking with a medical expert in the app and everyone’s bodies and needs are vastly different.