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What is Noom?
If you’re not familiar with Noom, go back and read my last post on this diet program. To recap, Noom seeks to help redefine your relationship with food for “long-term results through habit and behavior change, not restrictive dieting.”
There’s a lot of challenging your established thought patterns around food and diet. It’s doled out in bite-sized (no pun intended) psych-based articles each day to help you first recognize your dietary patterns and then improve them.
What’s the “Noom Psychology” They Mention in the Ads?
Maybe you’ve seen these ads. There’s a “real” person talking to the camera about how they were surprised to learn all their failed attempts at dieting wasn’t their fault.
The psychological aspect of the program is what sets Noom apart and may be the change maker so many dieters are looking for.
Inside the Noom app, each day begins with what they call #PsychTricks. These are short-form articles that start breaking through the fucked up relationship a lot of us have with food.
I believe this is the core part of the program that has been most helpful for me.
Why Choose Noom?
I wasn’t originally looking to join Noom. I was researching a lifter app when a random Google search brought it up. That’s when it dawned on me that I didn’t really need a food app for lifting, I needed an app for eating.
I chose to do Noom because my gym is closed for the foreseeable future. If you’ve read any of my Strong Not Skinny posts, you know that my main goal in life is to be strong. I don’t care so much about being a certain weight. I care that I won’t have holes in my bones from osteoporosis.
So I love to lift heavy weight. I’m really good at it. But without a proper set-up at home, this isn’t the lifestyle I get to live right now.
Along with lifting weights comes a focus on eating a lot. You don’t gain muscles without feeding them. When I work out, I routinely lift 10,000 lbs a day. So I have to eat a lot.
Unfortunately, my brain didn’t get the message that I needed to stop eating like a lifter when I stopped working out consistently. And this led to a lot of weight gain in just a few short months.
Not just that, but I realized that this wasn’t the first time this had happened to me. I noticed a pattern of behavior that was triggered by events out of my control. To cope, I would turn to “comfort food.”
It happened after a car accident in 2018. Then it happened again when our living situation got fucked up last year. And then it happened again when the pandemic closed the gyms in March.
Those 3 incidents were not in my control. But my reactions to them were. And I reacted poorly, gaining and losing the same 30 pounds over these 2 years. I figured that Noom could help me stop doing that.
If I can’t lift like I want right now, at least I can learn to eat properly. After all, abs are made in the kitchen not the gym.
That means that your food intake is more important than the workout. And I’ve been doing it the other way around!
How is Noom Different from Other Tracking Apps?
Noom is similar to most food tracking apps in that you enter your meals and it logs the day. But unlike other fitness apps like MyFitnessPal (MFP), Noom only tracks calories. And it lumps food into color categories.
You’ve probably heard about the Red, Yellow, and Green food charts. This is based on caloric density. Foods with more nutrients, like leafy greens, are green. Foods with fewer nutrients, like a hamburger, are red. Everything else is in between.
This was a shock for me, who is used to tracking my macronutrients over calories. MFP is especially good for this, even on the free program. You can choose your macro goals and then track whether each meal reaches it.
MFP also allows you to see your whole day as entered. Noom, on the other hand, shows you only 1 meal at a time. Your whole day is then analyzed based on the color chart.
You also can’t easily move a food entry from one meal to another. You have to first delete it from the wrong meal then re-input it to the right meal.
Is Noom just CICO?
CICO stands for “calories in, calories out.” No, just because Noom only appears to be tracking calories doesn’t mean it’s plain CICO.
Noom emphasizes the quality of calories. You want to ensure you eat more green foods than anything else, and it gives you limits for your yellow and red foods.
Is Noom Easy?
There’s a difference between simple and easy.
Noom has a simple concept: eat more high quality calories, eat more green foods, find satiety in water dense foods.
But it’s not easy to break bad habits around food. And that’s why they ramp up their methods with all the psychology-backed tips and tricks.
Will I Lose Weight on Noom?
The answer to that question is very personal. You have to want to change your relationship to food.
It’s not just wanting to lose weight. That isn’t the hard part. It’s being honest about what triggers you to eat unhealthily, and then being able to break that habit.
Lots of people lose weight. There are lots of Noom reviews on Reddit. There’s actually a pretty great subreddit dedicated to Noom where people can brag about their weight loss or ask questions if they’re struggling.
In 6 weeks, I’ve lost 10 pounds. Not as much as I’d hoped, but I’m still learning to eat properly. And get over the triggers and beliefs that negatively impact my ability to do that.
Your Noom weight loss speed might look very different. I can’t mentally subsist on 1200 calories per day. My brain wants more. So until I learn to rein that in, I’ll stick to the slower speed rabbit vs the cheetah.
So yeah, you’ll lose weight. If you want to.
What Food Can You Eat on Noom?
The Noom food list isn’t a secret. You can eat anything on Noom. There’s no such thing as a “bad” food.
There’s just how much of it you should have.
I drink wine every night if I want. It’s a red food. But I know I can have a certain amount of red food and I prioritize alcohol in that category.
What I have learned to do is to measure out my wine. I know that sounds silly but it works! I drink a strict 4 ounces of wine and that’s it. I’ve had to admit that this was enough to enjoy the taste without feeling like shit afterward.
And now we no longer go through a bottle of wine a night, so our wine stash doesn’t dwindle as quickly. Win!
I’m pretty sure that’s a beer paired with the pork, so I took them up on that suggestion!
What’s the Downside of Noom?
I have a lot of issues with the app. That it’s only app-based is the first downside.
Unlike apps like MFP, you can’t enter your data through a website. Everything is through the app.
And it’s a clunky app.
To enter food for a day, you first have to scroll past all your articles (even if you’ve already read them). Then you have to choose a meal. Once you’ve made your choices for that meal, you can’t edit them to move to another meal or snack. You delete, click out, go back in, then choose the right meal and enter.
It’s not smooth. You also can’t easily move between different days.
Then there’s the actual entering of food. You have the option of easy units, which may or may not be accurate.
Or you can choose a more precise method. I weigh everything so I like to use grams. But this is rarely, if ever, the first option. Check out the frozen strawberries options:
Instead of entering an amount via a keypad, you have to use a scrolling ruler that reminds me of a measuring tape. This is fine if you use go by the “easy” units, which may or may not be accurate.
Now the upside here is that you can also just enter the calories of something if you know it (or by getting that data from MFP or a Google nutritional search). But the calories option is also at the very end of the list for all foods. It gets old really quick to have to scroll all the way to grams or calories, then scroll to the right amount. Especially if the default is way off from what you ingested.
It’s enough to put someone off from entering their food correctly if at all.
Let’s talk about the database; it’s rife with errors.
Here’s the data for Taco Bell Beefy 5-Layer Burrito, which is 490 calories without substitutions according to the Taco Bell website.
Going by easy units, you have 250 calories which is off by almost half! Flip over to other units and then 1 burrito is listed with an extra 60 calories. It doesn’t make sense that they don’t even match each other!
Hot tip: the entire Taco Bell menu is in the database. But no matter what item you choose, they will all have the exact same incorrect data as the 5-Layer Burrito if you choose the easy units.
So you have to be extra diligent when checking in your food.
Finally, the idea of “red” foods still feel problematic. Yes, that means eat sparingly but red means warning, or danger. So they still feel like “bad” foods.
I wish they’d made them a different color, like purple.
In the end, Noom isn’t My Fitness Pal or your regular food tracker. It takes a little getting used to.
The app needs some refinement, a better search function, and it should completely overhaul its food tracking input system.
But none of these is a total deal-breaker. I honestly would not recommend Noom for people who concentrate on protein-heavy meals or have a strict fitness-based diet. If I was still doing my normal heavy lifting workouts, Noom probably wouldn’t work for me.
But since right now my attention is purely on my relationship with food and the triggers that lead to my weight gain, it is for me. While I still 100% want to focus on being strong over skinny, I know I have personal pitfalls I’m trying to overcome.
Could it be better? Yeah. In the battle between Noom vs MyFitnessPal, I’d mash them together to use Noom’s psychology with MFP’s interface. Hopefully, they continue to improve their app. In the meantime, I’m sticking with it.
Because yes, Noom is worth it. I am worth it.
If you want a Noom discount code, you can find it here.
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