Anyone who has spent any time online looking for ways to lose weight or for advice on their nutritional plan has probably come across Noom. This app based weight and nutrition management tool has been around for a few years now and is pretty well marketed on social media – so if you haven’t seen it – where have you been?
Having heard mainly positive things about the Noom UK program we thought it was about time we gave it a spin and so we signed up to a 4 month program (the recommended amount) and set about testing out this science backed app before bringing you our full Noom review – which we have here for you.
Noom UK – An Introduction
Noom is available across the globe and is available in 5 languages – English, Korean, Japanese, German and Spanish – but we are focusing our review on the UK version of Noom as that is what we tested. However, we imagine the key philosophy behind Noom UK is the same across all countries – perhaps with some cultural adaptations.
A good starting point for our Noom review is to ask the question – who is Noom aimed at?
And that would be a great question – and one that is pretty simple to answer.
The whole concept of Noom is that it aims to help people lead healthier lives and to empower them to do so by driving positive behavioural change. Now that might sound like marketing speak and we’re sure that phrases like that probably do help Noom to sign users up to their subscriptions – but the principle here is pretty sound.
Essentially, whether you are looking to lose lots of weight, shed a little body fat, work out more or just be more consistent with your all-round nutrition – then Noom is aimed at you.
Getting Started With Noom
The first port of call for anyone who feels that Noom is for them is to head to the website. Here you will be greeted by a questionnaire (although it’s all nice and sparkly) that looks to determine where you are currently at and exactly what your goals are when it comes to leading a healthier lifestyle.
Noom use some fancy AI to power this sections, but the questionnaire is pretty straight forward from the user’s perspective, takes around 10-15 minutes to complete and then offers you a reduced price 14 day trial at the end (currently £1). There is also an option to just jump straight in to a fully paid up plan for up to 4 months.
Upon signing up, the rest of your Noom journey will pretty much take place on the Noom app – so you are prompted to download it and away you go.
How Noom Works
What we really loved about using Noom is that the expectations are realistic. You won’t find any fad diets that expect you to eat cabbage soup for 5 days of the week or be expected to cut out carbs from your diet – with Noom, its about raising nutritional awareness, being more mindful about what you eat and the relationship between exercise, food and yourself.
The app is designed to deliver an educational program and you can choose how much of the content you consume each day. We opted for the standard 11 minutes each day – and that flies by. If you consider the average person spends almost 2.5 hours per day on social media apps then 11 minutes per day is nothing. Not only that, but the content is good. There is nothing absolutely groundbreaking in the content, but it is concise, well delivered and scientifically correct – and it is essentially aimed to improving your behaviours in relation to nutrition and food.
Of course, you could find this educational content available elsewhere through YouTube influencer videos, Instagram posts and so on, but you are also going to find a lot of incorrect information through those channels that are; at best – confusing or, at worst – potentially dangerous or harmful. By using Noom you have the information delivered in a concise and accurate manner and also have access to support through groups and a dedicated goal specialist who you can check in with each week.
Although much of the content that is delivered through the app is clearly pre-written, the app does offer a personalised approach that is designed to specifically target the areas of weakness or areas of lesser knowledge that you might have. A great example of this is the way it helps you to identify triggers around food or triggers for not exercising. Let’s say for example that every time you have a cup of tea that you like to have a biscuit to go with it – the cup of tea would be the trigger to eating the biscuit. Now you might be taking your tea without sugar and just a touch of skimmed milk, but if you are eating a chocolate hobnob with every cup of tea and you have 2 or 3 each afternoon then that would be 200-300 calories of calorically dense, low nutrient food each day – all caused by the trigger of the cup of tea.
Noom will help you to identify these triggers and make smarter switches such as a bowl of grapes that are still going to fill you up.
What Noom is also really hot on though, is sustainability. In other words, having an approach that you will be able to stick to. It’s not about enforcing an overly restrictive daily caloric intake that you might stick to for a month but could never continue with beyond that. The Noom approach is all about giving you the tools to enable yourself to carry on this healthier lifestyle indefinitely – and if that means switching 3 cups of tea and 3 chocolate hobnobs each day for 1 cup of tea, a chocolate hobnob and a bowl of grapes each day – then so be it – if that is what is going to allow you sustain this way of living. Now, that’s enough talk of chocolate hobnobs before we start triggering ourselves!
It’s one thing having the knowledge but you also need the tools to know how well you are doing and Noom provides these along with the app. There is a step counter and a food tracker built in to the app. Of course, most smartphones have step counters these days and MyFitnessPal is a great app for tracking food but there is something to be said for having everything in one place.
What also works well with Noom is that they classify foods using a colour (red, amber and green) rating. Now, this may be a somewhat simplified approach but it works for anyone who is new to the idea of tracking and planning their food intake. Each food is categorised by colour in terms of how calorie dense it is. Proteins are generally going to be less calorie dense per gram of food than carbs and even less so than fats – so this is how foods tend to be labelled. Green veg and lean proteins tend to be green, with complex carbs tending to be amber and high fat foods tending to be red.
If you are someone who has never tracked their food before then Noom is going to be a great introduction to this and it keeps things really simple – and even those who have tracked food before will likely learn something new from this different approach.
What Foods Can I Eat With Noom?
You’ve probably already started to work out the answer to this question by now – but if you haven’t, let’s make it crystal clear – there are no foods out of bounds with the Noom plan. That’s right… you can eat and drink anything you like. However, you will have to adhere to your calorie budget.
Your calorie budget is the amount of calories you should aim to stick to each day. Many overly-restrictive diets will have you believe that there is more to fat loss than calories in vs. calories expended – but that is quite simply not true. So it is refreshing that Noom has taken the approach of giving their users a calorie budget and allowing them to eat whatever they want so long as they stick to their budget.
Now clearly, if you eat a takeaway burger (I’m sure you can all think of some famous fast food restaurants that serve burgers and fries) for lunch then you might not remain as full as you would if you had eaten a wholemeal sandwich with chicken, salad and maybe some baked crisps. Calories may be the same, but these high calorically dense (red) foods are not going to keep you as a full for as long. So, yes – eat them as much as you like – but know the impact it has on the rest of your day and your overall calorie budget. This is where the education starts to come in and the process of learning about the food you eat and the impact it can have on weight loss or weight gain.
The calorie budget is designed to put you in a slight calorie deficit if your goal is to lose weight, and once you start to understand where your maintenance level is (in other words you calorie budget for no weight loss and no weight gain) then it becomes easier to manage your intake for the long term.
How Long Does The Noom Program Last?
You can access the Noom program for just 14 days as part of the low price trial but most users are recommended to take the program for the full 4 months. There are a few reasons why 4 months is an optimal time frame for using the app. Firstly, anyone who wants to see long term results is going to need to spend at least a month or two before they start to see any real gains (in most cases this is shown as weight loss) but for those gains to remain long term and not just reverse when you stop the program, the longer it takes to achieve the more likely they are to remain.
Secondly, the whole Noom system is designed by behavioural specialists and these cognitive experts recognise that to truly alter a person’s behaviour takes time. You can bet that 4 months is the recommended time frame for a reason and anyone who commits to it for that amount of time has a greater chance of long term success.
There are some other handy features in the Noom app that are worthy of mention, not least the recipe plans. There are recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and they are all colour coded to show you the percentage that is made up of what colour foods. Looking for a treat than go for a higher red and yellow percentage, but want to go super healthy and look for the green recipes. Some examples of the types of food on offer here are breakfast smoothies, ham and cheese frittata, salads, veggie bean chilli, pan seared shrimp with chipotle glaze (amazing by the way), brown sugar glazed salmon (another fave of ours), mango chicken with couscous and fajitas. There are plenty to choose from and those that we tried were all impressive.
The weight tracker is also handy for helping to keep you motivated so you can see your pogress over time and you can also sync the app with fitness trackers to track your exercise levels. The app based messages from your support coach are well worth taking the time to get going with and there is no additional cost for this. Particularly for those that are struggling with something specific, they are there to help you overcome any difficulties you are having.
How Did We Get On With Noom?
For the uninitiated, Noom is pretty fun to use. There are some corny jokes written within the content but on the whole the content is fresh and interesting to consume. They mix up the tutorials and include quizzes to ensure you have taken things on board before progressing to the next level but there is nothing intimidating about this and a lot of what is said is common sense.
Those who have very specific fitness goals are probably going to get less out of Noom than those who are seeking fat/weight loss – but for those that do fall in to this latter category we would suggest Noom is a pretty smart investment. It makes calorie tracking accessible for all and really helps you to identify those triggers that prevent you from reaching your goals as well as setting SMART targets that help you achieve your targets.
The 4 month program costs around £99 but this is pretty good value when you consider the average PT session will cost £30 plus and that is for one hour. With Noom you may not get the one-to-one support in the gym but let’s be honest, what is done in the gym is only accounting for around 10% of your progress when it comes to weight loss – so much more is centred around what you eat – as much as 40% for some people. So, at £25 per month, this is a very smart investment and should serve you well – and you still get the individual input from the cognitive behavioural coaches.
11 minutes each day is very easy to commit to for most people so there really is no excuse to not follow this program. You will know by the time you have finished the 14 day trial whether or not it is for you, but you will need to commit for at least 1-3 months to see the real benefits. All in all, we enjoyed using Noom and would recommend it specifically for anyone looking to lose weight in a slow and steady way with an eye on long term sustainability – as that is what Noom is essentially all about!