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Three Reasons Noom is Not For Me
Debunking,  Equipment & Products,  Making Healthy Habits,  Products & Retailers

Three Reasons Noom is Not for Me

I was excited to try out Noom, a healthy-habit/weight loss app that’s been getting a ton of press recently. I dutifully entered all of my health info and stats as prompted and waited for my personalized recommendations. Imagine my surprise when Noom gleefully announced that I could lose 15 lbs by March! Surprised because, if I did lose 15 lbs, I’d weigh 100 lbs (I’m 5’6”), which would be unhealthy and darn near starvation. 

Here’s my weight loss trajectory, as prescribed by Noom – Yikes.

Noom. It’s an expensive app ($45/month at time of posting) designed by behavioral psychologists to help you lose weight. It’s targeted to millenials, because as stated by the app itself, millennials struggle to perform difficult tasks without hand-holding and cheerleading along the way.

Getting and staying healthy – however one defines it for him/herself – is a priority for many people. This is especially true in the US, where we have a lot of of food but sometimes limited exercise opportunities. Noom, an online platform, was created to help individuals form healthier habits to lose weight, get fit, or maintain these. No doubt, this is a noble goal for the company and its customers. That being said, I feel Noom’s motivations are not noble and its algorithms are simply dumb. I can summarize my reasons in three points.

  • Noom seems superficial (in the way it communicates with me and in nutritional science)
  • It’s algorithms need to be improved.
  • It’s too expensive for what you get.

Noom is condescending and superficial, it’s algorithms are weak, and it’s too expensive.


First, Noom feels patronizing and impersonal.

The tagline is “Stop dieting. Get life-long results.” But wait, people use noom to lose weight, which involves burning more calories than you consume. So, in one way or another, there will calorie restriction (ie, a diet).

  • Patronizing: Noom advertises itself as “not a weight loss but a healthy habit” app. Yet, the only service it provides (and advertises) is weight loss assistance. Also, it encourages me to “trick myself” into healthier habits. Um, I’d rather be honest with myself and form new habits intentionally.
  • Impersonal: I get cheerleading messages and reminders from a coach, but the notes are super generic. Any health coach that actually looked at my profile would respond differently.

Second, Noom’s algorithms should be smarter. 

Noom doesn’t serve individuals who do not want to or should not lose weight.

  • For example, Noom recommends that I limit my caloric intake to 1200 calories per day (for an active, 42-year-old woman who weighs 115 lb and is 5’6”), so that I can lose 15 lb in the next eight weeks. There are so many things wrong with this, that I can’t list them all, but here’s the top two:
    1. Noom is the perfect tool for triggering and encouraging eating disorders (ED) like anorexia. I can just put in how much I want to lose – say, 25 lb – and Noom will cheer me on, all the way down to 90 lb. Not healthy.
    2. 1200 calories is at least 10% lower than my resting metabolic rate (RMR). The RMR is the number of calories required for my body to simply exist and not break down its own tissue. Add in any activity (like sitting here on my computer), and my daily caloric requirements go up. So, no matter what, the program recommended by Noom guarantees that my body will be in a starvation state. (To be honest, this is what a diet is meant to me – energy restriction; however, IMO, every conscious human adult needs more than 1200 calories/day).

Noom’s color-coded food categories are misleading because they are primarily based on caloric density.

  • For example: whole milk Greek yogurt is a “red” food, meaning that it has “the least healthy nutrients and should be eaten less frequently and in smaller portions.” At the same time, nonfat flavored yogurt is a “green” food, meaning that it “contains the highest concentration of healthy nutrients and should make up the bulk of your diet.” Problems with these classifications:
    1. A 4-oz serving of whole milk Greek yogurt (WGY) contains no added sugar, while 4 oz of nonfat flavored yogurt (NFY) contains 12 g (or about 3 teaspoons) of added sugar.
    2. WGY contains double (or more, depending on brand) the protein of NFY.
    3. WGY contains lots of healthy, satiating natural fats, which have been mostly removed from NFY.
    4. Because WGY has less sugar, more protein, and more fat; I think that it is a much healthier and more satisfying choice.
Hmm, I don’t think sugary fruit-flavored nonfat Yogurt is a better choice than unsweetened plain Greek yogurt.

Third, Noom costs too much for what you get.

Noom is very expensive compared to other, superior tools. At $45/month, you can explore a lot of other (free or low-cost) options:

  • The most obvious example is their food logging platform, which is less intuitive and has a smaller database of foods than free food loggers. I estimate that it takes me 30% longer to log food into Noom than MyFitnessPal. This is due to the wonky serving size suggestions and non-intuitive navigation of the Noom food logger. Other examples include: step-tracking in Noom is super inaccurate, Noom doesn’t sync with my Garmin watch.
This is a wonky interface. A slip of the finger and I have 1000 half servings of Slice(1/4) of avocado – argh!
  • $45/month (that’s $540 a year) will buy a lot of really great wellness books or subscriptions.
  • This may seem incredibly obvious, but getting support and accountability from friends and family is FREE and usually much more fulfilling in the long term. I’d much rather have an accountability/workout partner that was a trusted girlfriend than some maybe real person/avatar.

Long story short: Noom has its place for people with disposable income who know nothing about wellness and would like very consistent, completely anonymous (meaning, no support from the people they know in real life) help in their weight loss journey. 

If you have a reason to get healthy and/or lose weight, I encourage you to explore options other than Noom. There are better ways to get a more interpersonal and individualized approach. For example, you can join a running group or read a wellness book with your spouse or a friend. 


In Summary …

Despite the advertising, Noom strikes me as a one-size-fits-all approach to goal setting and behavior change. At best, it’s a relatively expensive yet generic approach to getting people into healthier habits. At worst, it’s a dangerous platform that promotes weight loss (and happily charges for the service) for everyone, even those individuals who should not be dieting.


Have you tried Noom, or have friends who have? I’d love to hear your experience, even if you totally disagree with my assessment! 

12 Comments

  • Marcy Rogers

    This! This says everything!! I logged into noom and immediately got red flags when they encourage people to use the scale every day and the 1200 calorie diet for someone who is 41 – I am overweight, but extremely active and I don’t see anything there even asking what my body type is or my activity level.

    I have been trying to work with more intuition and less focusing on scale and calories. I am looking for a community that was more focused on psycholoy and wellness vs. the scale. I guess I still remain on the lookout.

    • Brook Hagen

      Thank you for sharing your experience and frustrations! Yes, 1200 calories for any adult person, but especially an active one, is not enough. That amount of restriction, along with the daily weigh-ins sets some people up for feelings of shame and potentially disordered eating.

      If you’re looking for a book resource, “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch is a great place to start. They are THE intuitive eating pioneers. (They literally wrote the book on it 😉)

      I invite you to sign up for my email list, grab the FREE Healthy Habits Guide, and join my newsletter community; where I share easy, actionable, and delicious healthy eating tips. No scales and calorie-counting required.

      Warmly, Brook

  • Tyna Meeks

    I consider myself a success story for Noom. My personal coach and I actually had a great conversation about the 1200 calories NOT being enough for me and how to better determine my needs as I made progress over time. I was able to change my eating habits (even though my signifcant other was not) and that was a step I had struggled with for a very long time. 30 pounds gone over 4 1/2 months, slow and steady, with a year maintaining the new weight.
    It may not be for everyone, and I’ll be the first to encourage the research needed to get healthy and determine your truly healthy weight, but doing that on my own and adding this in was successful for me.

    • Brook Hagen

      I’m happy to hear that you had a positive experience – thank you so much for sharing! It sounds like you were able to “take or leave” what you needed from the app and move forward with your own, unique plan. Congratulations on achieving and maintaining your goal!

  • Peggy Smith

    I started NOOM on January 11,2021. It is now the end of March and I have only lost 2-3 lbs at most. I’ve been following the 1200 calories a day, drinking the water, and walking. I have had no significant weight loss and I’m sooo frustrated!!! I had high hopes for this program. My goal coach only checks in with me once a week, even if I text a few messages. Her answers to my frustrations are very general and answers my questions with questions! Drives me nuts! I get more feedback from the other Noomers in the group chat. I only signed up for 5 months and once it’s over I don’t plan on signing up to extend the time. I think I will be better off just using the MYFITNESSPAL app.

    • Brook Hagen

      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience! It sounds like you’re putting a lot of effort into the program, and I’m sorry to hear that you’re not seeing the results you had hoped for – and frustrated with the platform in general.

      MyFitnessPal is a great resource for logging food intake (as well as water and exercise), if you find that helpful. The free version even has a community aspect to it. Another app that I like for community is SparkPeople (sparkpeople.com).

      If you haven’t already, sign up for my newsletter to get no-strings-attached nutrition and exercise tips every week (or two), and like/follow my FB page (https://www.facebook.com/DiligentSpoon/) or Instagram at @diligentspoon.

  • Maggie

    Thank you for writing this. I just downloaded it to check it out. I have two friends who have lost weight with it, and one is very happy with the changes in his habits. But good lord, I find it extremely lacking. I’m close to your age but much bigger — 5’11” 190#. They also gave me the 1200-calorie recommendation, which is just astounding. I had selected right in the middle of their weight loss pace range, too.

    I have the same issue as you with the way they categorize some foods as problematic — avocado and Greek yogurt in the red, chicken breasts in the yellow. I should be eating as much chicken breast as I can handle…

    The way they completely ignore macros is troubling to me too. I asked my “coach” if there is a way to track macros, and get this response: “Our color system is similar to macro counting, as it’s calculated by caloric density.” This is SO NOT TRUE.

    So yeah an app that recommends I eat 1200 calories a day, and uses coaches who think that calorie density is the same thing as macros… I can’t trust that app with my nutrition.

    • Brook Hagen

      Maggie, thanks for sharing your experience! I’m quite shocked that Noom would suggest 1200 calories for someone of your height. That’s crazy and disappointing to me, as I’m sure your basal metabolic rate (at complete rest) is way above that. If you’d like to learn more about your calorie needs, I recently wrote a post on making sure you’re eating enough at: https://diligentspoon.com/curious-if-youre-eating-enough/
      I’m wondering if you’ve had luck with myFitnessPal’s food logger? I find it less restrictive, and although it doesn’t provide all the “coaching” that Noom does, you can adjust your calories based on your activity level and goals, it syncs with other apps and devices, and is all-around easier to use than Noom’s logger. Plus, if you’re into tracking macros, it will do that for you, too.
      I hope these posts and this info is helpful for you. Feel free to drop me a line via email or DM on social media anytime! 😊

      • Laura

        I’m currently using it, lost nearly 20 lbs in the first month with the 1200 calories per day. I was excited at first but I knew better and knew it was too much, too fast. I did my own research regarding calorie restricted diets discovered that yes, this was not a healthy approach to losing weight. Not only was I losing fat tissue but muscle tissue as well. I reached out to my “coach” with these concerns and was told, “Yes, but your lean muscle mass is the last to go. Just keep eating a balanced diet and stay active.” I keep wondering what advise they provide when it comes to maintaining the weight loss at the end of the program. Another fun side effect of these severe calorie deficits and drastic weight loss is a lowering of the Basal Metabolic Rate which may last well beyond the weight loss period. I’ll stick with it because of the ridiculous amount I spent on the 8 month subscription but I feel zero shame when my calories come in at 1400 or 1500 for the day. I have a hard time fitting my healthy fats and lean proteins into anything less.

        • Brook Hagen

          Thank you for sharing your experience! I can tell by your comments that your metabolic health is very important to you. You recognize the detrimental impacts of low calorie diets – muscle loss, slower metabolism, and poorer overall nutrition.
          I’m glad to hear that you do not feel pressure to maintain the 1200-calorie limit. As you point out, that is not enough food (unless you are a young child!). Best wishes on your health journey!
          Please feel free to email me at brook@diligentspoon.com or send a direct message via social media links if you have any more questions or concerns!

  • Mikki

    Hi Brook. I wanted to let you know that this was an eye-opener for me. I’m a writer with The Mighty and I’m going to be writing about this. I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hypermobile type) and need to lose weight to try to help mitigate future injuries (it happens whether I want it to or not, really). I thought, “Hey! Noom! Woohoo!” but no. I realized quickly that someone with MY body type (5’9″, thin waist, large hips, chubby) would be fine on it. Then I noticed the 1200 calorie restriction. Well, how does that work with my D deficiency and my hypoglycemia? It doesn’t. They asked immediately that I cut out whole dairy foods. I literally cannot. Even with D supplements, I’m just over the bottom line for D in my system. Throw in that I crash when I eat carbs in the morning and we’ve got a big problem. I even added a recipe of homemade tomato soup (no additives and 3 T of salt for a gallon) and was just absolutely blown away that they didn’t count it at all.

    I’m sure this app could help a lot of people, but it looks like another extreme that has absolutely no interest in personalization. Thank you so much for writing this.

    • Brook Hagen

      Hi Mikki. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience and thoughts! I’m so glad you found the post helpful and validating. You and I are fortunate to know what our bodies need, regardless of what an app recommends. I agree with you – Noom seems to be designed to help the masses, not for individuals. That being said, 1200 calories/day is low for just about everyone, not to mention unsustainable.

      Thanks for mentioning The Mighty! I was not familiar with that site – it looks like an inspiring and uplifting community.

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