Saturday, 25 Jan 2020

The truth about the Noom diet

If you’ve been dreaming about having a panel of health and exercise advisers to help you kick start the new year and get fit, have we got an app for you. Noom, a fitness and weight loss program, claims it is “the last weight-loss program you’ll ever need.” The subscription-only app works by trying to change a user’s fundamental belief about food and dieting, so that new eating and wellness practices are adopted in a healthy, sustainable way. 

To do this, Women’s Health says Noom relies on a strong education component that helps you understand why some dishes and ingredients are better than others, so Noom is more about why and how weight loss is achieved, and less about adopting an “eat this, not that” approach to diet and fitness.

What Noom doesn't give you

Noom doesn’t provide you with eating plans which are set in stone. Instead, you are asked to log everything you consume into the Noom app, so you become more aware of the quality of the food you are eating. Foods are ranked using a traffic light system: green foods (like fruits and veg) may be nutrient-dense but they are not calorie-dense. Yellow foods have more calories, but they may not necessarily be bad for you. Red foods, which include desserts and processed foods, are both calorie-dense and have the least nutrition. 

Red foods aren’t banned as such, but they are flagged because of their impact on Noom users’ overall daily calorie goal. Because Noom relies on your honestly, the program’s success relies on how faithfully — and honestly — you can keep your log going.

What Noom does

To start, Noom asks you to take a quiz about how active you are, how much weight you want to shift (gain or lose), and details on whatever medical conditions you might have, so it can deliver a personalized eating and activity plan that looks at your energy output as well how many calories from protein, fat, or carbs you need to consume. 

You also get a daily, personalized list of goals that you need to check off in order to reach your targets and you get access to an assigned coach who can offer you advice between set office hours. Also, joining Noom also gives you access to a community where goal-setters can offer support and can chat in real time — if you need it, that is (via Good Housekeeping).

The Noom diet system is backed by research

Noom’s success is backed by studies which show logging what you eat could be the best way to lose weight. Research conducted by Duke University shows that even if they weren’t looking to follow a specific diet or eating plan, people who paid attention to and carefully tracked what they ate actually ended up losing a significant amount of weight (via Duke Today).

Duke University psychology professor Gary Bennett, who was part of the research team, says, “Free and low-cost weight loss apps have changed the ways that Americans manage their weight… We’ve shown that commercial smartphone apps can be a helpful way to get started with weight loss. We have very strong evidence that consistent tracking — particularly of diet, but also one’s weight — is an essential element of successful weight loss. Consumers should look for apps that make it easy for them to track on a consistent basis.”

But Noom’s relatively high cost (a monthly recurring plan can cost up to $59 a month) could outweigh its benefits, particularly if there are other free or lower-cost food and activity logs in the market. Then again, paying a hefty price to get fit could be one reason why Noom has been such a success within its community: a 2016 survey showed 77 percent of Noom users lost weight after nine months of using the app.

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