Why the Noom diet is proven to help people lose weight

diet diet
Two weeks after starting the app you will be assigned to a support group of other dieters.
Guido Mieth/Getty Images
  • The Noom diet doesn't follow a traditional diet format but instead lets you decide what foods to eat while setting limits on calories.
  • The Noom app connects dieters to a support group and a weight-loss coach who can provide feedback when needed.
  • Early studies indicate that nearly 80% of people who use Noom will lose weight.
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The Noom diet is a modern approach to dieting that uses a phone app to connect you to a supportive network to aid weight loss. And from personal accounts, like this one, the Noom diet works. But more importantly, it's community-based approach may not only help you lose weight but keep it off, too, according to experts.

"Studies have shown that those who join a program with a friend/group rather than themselves are more likely to lose weight and also keep it off at six months," says John Higgins, a sports cardiologist at McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Research behind the Noom diet

Rather than a quick fix, the Noom app tries to change users' behavior over the long term.

Because Noom is relatively new, there aren't many studies evaluating how effective it is. A 2016 study published in Scientific Reports, however, found that about 78% of the 35,921 participants who used Noom lost weight over an 18-month period.

And a 2017 study published in the Journal of Health Communications found that Noom appeared to help people lose weight over a six-month period and that getting feedback from their support group encouraged people to log their food more often in the app.

Noom, like other diet programs, isn't free. When you sign up, you have numerous payment options starting with an annual membership for $199 or a monthly plan at $59 a month. What sets Noom apart from other weight-loss apps is its access to the support group. 

How the Noom diet works

If you're trying Noom to lose weight, then after downloading and launching the app you'll create a weight-loss plan, where you'll provide personal information including your weight-loss goals, activity levels, and location. 

noom
You will answer questions about yourself to help build a weight-loss plan.
Noom App

Dieters will then start logging their food and exercise in the app to keep track of their total calorie intake for the day.

noom
You can track your food and exercise daily.
Noom App

As you log your food, you'll notice that Noom has a color-coding system that categorizes food into three colors: green, yellow, and red.

  • Green foods are foods with the least amount of calories per ounce and they include mostly whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Yellow foods have more calories per ounce and include beans, low-fat cheeses, yogurt, and many low-fat types of meat.
  • Red foods are the most calorie-dense and include red meat, juice, nuts, chocolate, and pizza.

noom
Foods are categorized into three colors: green, yellow, and red.
Noom app

Two weeks later, after starting the app, you will be assigned to a support group of other dieters along with a group coach. These groups can be accessed 24/7, and the coaches check in daily and comment on your calorie intake for that day. Something to note, however, is that Noom coaches aren't necessarily registered dietitians but instead are trained through the company's "Noomiversity."

noom
You'll be part of a support group to help motivate you.
Noom App

How the Noom diet came to be

The Noom app was created in 2008 by Saeju Jeong and Artem Petakov. According to the company website, the Noom diet was developed with an emphasis on psychology as much as nutrition.

It is not a prescribed diet in the sense that it doesn't restrict you to a certain type or amount of food. Rather it's a way to plan meals and change behavior with the support of a group.

The Noom diet is safe to try for most

Higgins says the Noom diet is safe for anyone to try. He highlights that Noom provides a minimum number of calories per day, encouraging people not to restrict food in an unsafe or unhealthy way.

"I give it two thumbs up for the fact that it uses evidence-based behavior changes and smart … coaches to help people set and achieve their weight goals," Higgins said.

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