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Does Noom Actually Work? Nutritionists Weigh in on the App's Efficacy

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Feb. 3 2021, Published 8:07 p.m. ET

Any nutritionist, bodybuilder, or fitness enthusiast will tell you that weight loss is 90 percent diet and 10 percent exercise. Weight training, cardio, and calisthenics are all done to help maintain general fitness levels and grow muscle mass. However, if you're trying to lose weight and reduce body fat, then most experts agree that you'll have to pay close attention to the food you're eating. And Noom could be a good tool for just that, but how does it work?

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How does Noom work? By basically "categorizing" foods into caloric worth categories.

The important thing to note is that, at its base, Noom is a food logger and how granular you get with the program is up to you. You can log in a large number of variables about yourself including your height, weight, and how much you're trying to lose.

But it's the application's "Plan Building" that really distinguishes it from other calorie counting apps. 

The app begins by asking you a series of questions that really get into the nitty gritty of why you want to lose weight and it covers a lot of ground, like asking if there's a particular occasion you want to lose weight for, your ability or willingness to exercise, what your work situation is like (are you seated or standing most of the day), and a ton of other questions. 

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how does noom work
Source: Noom

Is Noom free? Not anymore, but that's because real people are working on your fitness plan for you.

You may remember the older Noom app being a standard calorie counter that basically groups foods into three separate categories: red, yellow, and green. "Green" foods are less calorically dense but are more filling and nutrient packed, "yellow" foods pack more calories per ounce, and "red" foods are ones that are usually devoid of vitamins or are full of refined and processed sugars.

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How much money does Noom cost? $59 a month, but it's cheaper if you buy multiple months at a time.

If you answer the Noom questionnaire and the basics of your plan are outlined for you, Noom will then let you know that they're willing to give you a free trial for $1 or even less. The app suggests a minimum of $18.37 as that's what it costs to pay its employees for the two week trial period per customer.

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While $59 a month may seem like a lot of money, Noom does get pretty personalized with its weight loss planning, and it also has a slightly different approach that most health regimens in that it prioritizes psychology above all. The application looks to completely change a person's relationship with food so long-term effects can set in.

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For example, if you train yourself to fill up on more fibrous foods that are low in calories, won't spike up your blood sugar, and are packed with nutrients, then that'll become a new "normal" for you. Also, by not entirely cutting our "bad foods" or demonizing them, you won't get some sadistic pleasure from binge eating them after a few days of strict dieting.

Instead, you'll be used to filling yourself up on healthy stuff so that when it finally comes time to eat something that's calorically dense, you'll already be full.

You still get all of the flavor and enjoyment out of eating unhealthy foods, but you're not engorging yourself.

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Noom's greatest asset, however, are its health coaches that work with you to lose weight over time and its blending of cognitive behavioral therapy to attain results. However, some outlets have stated that they found the app's monthly cost a bit steep, and a lack of face-to-face coaching as a drawback. And while some have stated that the app's "color coded" system may build unhealthy relationships with food, there aren't any "red" food items labeled there that aren't calorically dense. 

And when it comes to losing weight, the majority of food scientists and nutritionists have proven that cutting calories matters most. Now when it comes to building and maintaining muscle mass, you'll want to make sure you're getting enough protein, but if you're not at a calorie deficit, you're not going to lose weight.

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