Noom Review: Sustainable Weight Loss or Just a Gimmick?

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by  William Barton | Last Updated: 

Noom claims to use “psychology” to help you shed pounds and keep them off for good. But what does that even mean?

We tested out Noom for ourselves to see if this system really works as well as some of the reviews say.

Ready to shred?
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Noom

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Bottom line: Noom’s robust food tracking software makes the program simple to follow and the consistent learning helps keep your motivation high. Noom is directed toward fat loss and the calorie recommendations prioritize fat loss over muscle retention. If you want to slim down as quickly as safely possible, the Noom program is right for you.

Ratings:

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The Adult Man Image/IconValue for Money The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
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Pros:

  • Offers an all-in-one food tracking, health, and weight loss dashboard that’s easy to use
  • There’s consistent education throughout, which helped keep my motivation high
  • As a total health platform, there’s options to track your exercise, blood pressure, water intake, and you can also track your blood glucose levels

Cons:

  • The program didn’t take into account my muscle-retention goals

They say you’re only as good as the five people you hang out with most. 

To a certain extent, I’ve found that to be true myself. 

But when you work from home, you don’t really hang out with anyone. 

That’s where having a little tech can be helpful. Podcasts, videos, books: these become the people you hang out with. 

So where do you go if you’re looking to lose some weight? Sure, you can read a study or two, but there’s nothing like feeling like part of a community that’s on a mission. 

When I heard about Noom, the weight-loss system designed to tap into your psychology to help you shed pounds and keep them off, my interest was piqued. 

Looking to drop a few pounds myself, I was game to give it a shot. 

So what were the results? Keep reading and find out.

What Is Noom?

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Noom’s goal is to help you lose weight in a sustainable way, and also teach you a thing or two about healthy eating habits. 

But they’re not force feeding you a simple formula (no one should be force feeding anything when you’re trying to lose weight). 

Noom isn’t about drinking cayenne pepper and eating a whole lemon. 

Noom app phone detail

It’s designed to create more consciousness around what you already eat. As you log the food (using an easy scanner through your phone’s camera), you start to understand the caloric density of different items.

Noom pairs that experience with a heaping dose of behavioral psychology, and gamifies some aspects, and introduces education and a community aspect. The experience feels more like you’re part of a group, all aiming toward the same goal. And that helps get you back on the wagon if you slip up.  

You can get Noom on iOS, Android, and desktop.

Things to Consider Before Starting Your Fitness Journey with Noom

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Noom is primarily focused on weight loss. For many people, that is their goal, so there’s no conflict. 

However, if you’re looking to build muscle, the caloric deficits Noom suggests are too great to allow for muscle building. 

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On the plus side, the deficits Noom suggest will get you to your target weight quickly and sustainably (i.e. they never suggest anything that would have you lose more than three percent of your bodyweight per week). 

What this means is that, depending on your adherence, goals, and starting point, you may be at your target weight in two or three months. If you’ve spent a ton of time in the gym building muscle, you’ll likely lose some of it in the process of cutting weight. 

Noom Review

Noom App

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The Noom App is your dashboard, your home base, your health control center. 

It’s where you log your food, do your weekly learning, and track all your progress.

Downloading the program was fast and easy (I’m using Noom on Android, but it’s also compatible on iOS for iPhone users). 

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Each day, you get a new “course” to take. These are quick two-three minute lessons that teach you more about the psychology of weight-loss, or just give practical tips on how to reach your goals. 

I found the most helpful thing about these daily lessons was that they were a reminder of my mission. As I said in the intro: you’re the product of the five people you hang out with most

These daily lessons were like a touchpoint with a coach, keeping me on track and focused, even after that initial burst of motivation flamed out. 

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Within Noom, you have your calorie target for the day, your daily course, and toward the bottom, you get into the nitty gritty of your day. Log your meals, weigh in, and if you want, you can even turn on the system pedometer and track the number of steps you take. 

If you’d like to add more to your dashboard, you certainly can. There’s exercise logging, a water diary, and blood pressure and blood glucose trackers. High blood pressure has been a long-standing issue for me, so I’m definitely keeping track to see how my weight affects that. 

Food Logging

Noom bowl of granola top down

The food logging in Noom is really simple. You can either scan the barcode of whatever food you’re eating, or you can just type it in. 

You can be as generic as you want (chicken breast), or you can be specific (Trader Joe’s 0% Fat Greek Yogurt). I haven’t come across a food that wasn’t in Noom’s database. 

As someone who has tracked their macro-nutrients in the past, it’s so helpful to have a massive database like Noom. It means a lot less work and effort as you’re getting into the habit of the program. 

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My only issue with Noom’s food logging is that there isn’t a great place to track and create your own recipes. You can pull from previous meals, but there isn’t a place to create “ol’ Willie’s egg and turkey burrito.” 

I like the ability to create my own recipes because I batch cook my meals and tend to eat similar things week to week. When I find a series of three meals that work in conjunction to hit my macro and calorie goals, I tend to eat those same things every day of the week. I’ll rotate to different meals the next week, and rotate throughout the month. 

Having my own recipes at the ready makes that easier. 

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Still, one of the interesting things Noom adds when you’re logging your food is a simple color-code system: green for food with a low calorie-to-volume ratio, yellow for nutritious but more calorically dense foods, and red for very calorically dense foods. 

Some good examples of red foods are: peanut butter, white bread, and lava cake. Basically, anything that’s very high in either fats or carbs, but doesn’t have a balance of protein. 

Now, with Noom, you don’t need to skip all red foods. But they give you a range to try and hit. Because you’d be surprised at how many calories are added when you cook your food in a tablespoon of olive oil. 

Noom Green Foods List

Noom bowl of granola

Noom’s green food list is too long to spell out, but pretty much any raw fruit or vegetable is going to make the green list. 

There are a few exceptions, like an avocado because it’s fairly high in fat and quite calorically dense. But fat is an essential macronutrient and all sorts of terrible things happen to your body if you cut fat out of your diet. 

So even though an avocado is high-fat, calorically dense, and should be eaten in moderation, it’s still a fantastic addition to your daily intake. That said, you can’t pound a bag of avocados like you can with broccoli. One won’t affect your calorie target as much as the other. 

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I don’t even recommend trying to stick entirely within Noom’s green food list. You can build a healthy plan out of the green foods list, but there are some yellow foods that are also powerhouses like chicken breast. I don’t know of another source of protein that’s so lean, easy to find, and inexpensive. So that’s definitely on a steady rotation in my routine. 

But if you wanted to stay completely on Noom’s green list, you’d be looking at a lot of salads, fruits, some grains like oatmeal, greek yogurt, etc. 

The point I’m trying to make here is that it’s still very possible to have a few more indulgent foods with Noom but still stay on your calorie target and continue to make fast progress.

Does Noom Really Work?

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This is a bit tricky. Everything Noom suggests should work. Their weight loss system is based on mountains of research and well documented knowledge. 

If you go into a caloric deficit, you will lose weight. That’s a fact. It’s physics. 

But whether or not Noom works is really up to you

I think the most important thing you can do to ensure Noom works for you is to spend the first two weeks of the program, when your motivation is high, finding a regular routine of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that help you hit your calorie goals. 

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Then batch cook those foods one day of the week and pack them in your fridge so they’re at the ready throughout the week.

I know myself. When I get hungry, I get lazy. And when I get lazy, that’s when I scarf a bar of chocolate, grab chips, or smash a full bag of frozen dumplings. 

Use Noom to learn about the foods you’re eating, and make it a habit to cook the foods that keep you on goal. Then basically automate those foods so you never have to think about what you’re going to eat to stay on track. 

But if you stay true to the program Noom suggests, it will absolutely work for you. 

Does Noom Work for Men?

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Yes, Noom works for us dudes. But it’s important to get clear with your goals. Depending on where you’re at with your fitness journey, you may want to bulk up first before you cut down. 

Me? A few years ago, I had a case of skinny-fat going on. To start my fitness journey, I decided I wanted to cut down and get lean, then start the bulking process. After failing to stick with any program, I decided I’d just go for what felt best, not what “seemed to be the smartest.”

I hit the weights and didn’t really pay much attention to my diet, other than making sure I hit my protein. I packed on several pounds of muscle over the course of a year. 

It was only then that I had the true motivation to start cutting some weight off. But I had to get a taste of success on the fitness journey before I could tackle weight loss. 

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It’s easier for me to go all-out than it is to practice restraint. Both are equally important in my mind, but I had to indulge in the feeling of hitting the gym five days a week, eating whatever I wanted so long as I hit my protein target, and seeing the muscle growth before I was ready to follow the more restraint-focused regime required for weight loss.

Why do I tell this story? 

Because my hope is that it helps you. Improving your body composition is all about changing the muscle to fat ratio in your body. The traditional way we think about achieving that goal is to lose fat. But you can also choose to gain muscle to the same effect. You won’t look shredded, but you’ll be making an improvement.

That’s a win. 

What do Other Reviewers Say About Noom?

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Noom has earned themselves an excellent rating on Trustpilot with over 50,000 reviews as of writing. 

What stuck out the most reading through dozens and dozens of different experiences is that so many people said they were learning so much about the principles of nutrition, which made weight loss easier. 

Because they learned about the caloric density of certain foods, it became much easier to say no to indulgent treats—not because they were restricting or depriving themselves, but because they truly didn’t want it. 

Many reviewers enjoy the daily lessons and the coaching and community check ins. I, too, felt that was the key benefit of Noom—the fact that you’re not on your journey alone. 

My Thoughts Overall On Noom

What I Like

  • The health and weight loss dashboard, including food tracking software, was really easy to use and offered insightful data. 

  • The daily lessons helped keep my motivation high. 

  • I like the added options to track blood pressure, steps, water intake, and other variables that lead to an overall healthy lifestyle beyond just weight loss.

  • The process of scanning and logging food is an incredible lesson in nutrition.

What I Don’t Like

  • Noom is solely focused on sustainable weight loss, and because of that, there isn’t much consideration for retaining muscle if you’ve been lifting for a while.

Who is Noom for?

Noom is an excellent program for you if you’re ready to put in the work to learn about how your nutrition affects your weight and you’re willing to commit to a weight loss program that focuses on steady, progressive results over the course of several months.

The Verdict

If you want a one-month crash diet that will get you to your target weight as fast as humanly possible, then Noom isn’t for you.

But if you want a program that teaches you the tenets of healthy nutrition and reinforces your positive choices, all while sustainably bringing you closer and closer to your weight loss goal, then Noom is worth checking out. 

Noom’s calorie recommendation is right in line with losing 1-2% body fat per week, which is widely documented in scientific literature as a safe and effective rate of fat loss. Effective because it doesn’t involve excessive diet restriction, so you’re not feeling like you’re giving anything up. 

Instead, Noom helps you realize that, instead of being a person who “can’t have that because of my diet,” you’re more of a “I’m enjoying my program and I don’t want that” type. 

Noom isn’t about shedding weight fast. It’s about becoming someone who lives a healthy lifestyle. 

FAQs

Is Noom worth paying for?

It can be difficult to part with your hard earned money, but paying for a service is an act of commitment, and if you’re not willing to pay, you also won’t be willing to log your food and track your progress every day for several months in a row. It’s not the money that’s the issue: it’s whether or not you’re committed.

Does Noom give you meal plans?

Noom has several recipes in their database you can draw from, but they don’t have specific meal plans. However, I’ve personally found it helpful to create my own meal plan for myself just to make the work week easier for staying on goal.

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