Yellow, red and green peppers on a grill.

Noom Diet: Is It Worth All the Hype?

What is the Noom Diet?

What is the Noom diet? The Noom diet, or Noom, created in 2012, is an app-based weight loss program. It’s a 16-week program with monthly or annual memberships available.

Noom focuses on more than just weight loss. They incorporate psychological aspects, providing daily readings and tools to complement your weight loss journey.

When you sign up, you are asked a series of questions, and based on your answers, you are provided a personalized daily calorie budget. You can adjust this budget based on how quickly you want to reach your goal. For safety reasons, it is 1,200 calories per day for females and 1,400 for males.

You’re encouraged to track exercise, log food intake daily and weigh in at least once a week.

Noom Diet Benefits

Some components of Noom are different from other weight loss programs and may be beneficial to some people.

Noom pairs everyone with a personal coach who is there to answer questions, provide support, accountability and motivation.

Noom offers more than just weight loss. With the daily readings they send, they have incorporated psychology and behavioral science into their program. This might be great for people who are interested in learning the why behind their food choices or eating habits.

While you are encouraged to spend time on the app every day, you get to decide how much time that is. If time is a limiting factor for you, Noom has found a way to make it fit your schedule.

If weight loss is your goal, Noom’s users have found success with this. One study, which looked at Noom data from almost 36,000 users, showed that 78% of people lost weight while using the app. Those users who were more engaged with the app experienced more weight loss. Long-term research is still needed to show if users are able to keep the weight off.

Foods Included in the Noom Diet

All foods are allowed on Noom. They are categorized in a traffic light color system: green, yellow or red. Noom stresses “red doesn’t mean bad and green doesn’t mean good.” Foods are grouped based on caloric density or the number of calories per the amount eaten.

Foods that have more calories for a small serving size tend to fall in the red group, whereas foods that have few calories even if you eat a lot, are classified as green foods.

Noom recommends a daily breakdown of 30% green, 45% yellow and 25% red foods.

Let’s look more closely at which foods fall into each category.

1. Green Foods

  • Fruits and vegetables.
  • Non-fat dairy products.
  • Whole grains, like oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain bread and quinoa.
  • Protein, such as tofu and tuna (canned in water).

These are just some examples of foods that fall into this group. According to Noom, green foods are the “least calorie-dense and/or contain the highest concentration of healthy nutrients.”

The foods in this group are good sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and/or protein. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber, which helps us feel full, supports regularity and can help manage blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Non-fat dairy products are a source of protein and calcium. Tofu is a plant-based meat alternative that is high in protein and low in saturated fat. Tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which benefit heart and brain health.

2. Yellow Foods

  • Lean meats, such as grilled chicken, salmon and lean ground beef.
  • Whole grain tortillas, white rice, bread and pasta.
  • Legumes, such as beans, chickpeas, lentils and soybeans.
  • Low-fat dairy products.

According to Noom, yellow foods are higher in calories, but they lack in nutrients compared to green foods and should be eaten in moderation. As a dietician, I would have to disagree. Yes, these foods have more calories compared to fruits and vegetables in the green group, but they are also rich in healthy nutrients.

Lean meats and low-fat dairy products are good sources of protein and are lower in saturated fat than their full-fat or non-lean counterparts. Meat also provides nutrients like iron and zinc, and dairy supplies calcium.

Legumes are an excellent meat alternative packed with plant-based protein and fiber, and they are low in fat.

Whole grains provide fiber, as well as other vitamins and minerals. Brown rice, pasta and whole wheat bread are less refined and have more fiber, so yes, ideally you want to choose those more often.

3. Red Foods

  • Oils.
  • Nuts, seeds and nut butters.
  • Meats, such as ham, bacon, sausage, hot dogs and hamburgers.
  • Snack foods, like chips and granola bars.
  • Desserts and pastries.

Noom suggests red foods be “eaten less frequently and in small portions” due to their higher calorie content and lower amounts of healthy nutrients.

I agree that some foods in this group should be enjoyed less often since they are higher in fat, sodium, sugar and preservatives — such as heavily-processed meats, as well as pre-packaged or convenience foods, desserts and baked goods.

Noom encourages these foods to be consumed in small amounts but does not suggest eliminating them altogether.

Some foods in this group are calorie dense, but also nutrient dense and packed with health benefits. For example, nuts, seeds and nut butters provide protein and fiber, making them great snacks to keep you feeling full between meals.

The Bottom Line

Noom is appropriate for people looking to lose weight without eliminating foods from their diet, learn more about the psychology behind their eating habits and have the support of a personal coach. It is not recommended for anyone with a history of eating disorders or disordered eating.

To use Noom you have to be a little tech savvy since it is all app based (even the coaching takes place through messaging). It’s also a financial commitment, with a monthly membership costing $60 USD.

However, if you find it helpful to log everything you eat and track your physical activity, you can designate some time to engage with the app daily, and then you might find Noom beneficial.

Article Resources