When you set out to lose weight, you may turn to one of the many weight loss apps on the market. Whether you need recipe inspiration, motivation, workout tips, or diet structure, there’s, well, an app for that!
One app that provides recipe inspo, diet structure, and more, that’s been around for over a decade, is Noom. The plan has some seriously solid reviews, but users also note that the Noom food lists and categories can be confusing.
“Noom is an approach to dieting delivered via an app that combines food and calorie tracking with behavior change strategies. Like most diets, it helps consumers lose weight by creating a caloric deficit,” says nutritionist Charlotte Martin, MS, RDN, owner of Shaped by Charlotte. “Unlike most diets, there’s an emphasis on the mental aspects of weight loss, and the app provides regular mindset strategies for helping consumers stay the course.”
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Sounds pretty good, huh? Well, before you sign up, you’ll want to figure out whether the Noom diet method of food tracking makes sense for you and your lifestyle. Remember, everybody and every body is different. So, here’s everything you need to know about what to eat on the Noom diet, plus a comprehensive Noom foods list and some recipes so you know exactly how to grocery shop and craft your meals.
Meet The Experts: Kimberly Gomer, RD, is the director of nutrition at Body Beautiful Miami.
Jonathan Valdez, RDN, is the owner of Genki Nutrition and media spokesperson for New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Charlotte Martin, MS, RDN, is the owner of Shaped by Charlotte.
Allison Koch, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian and founder of The Running Dietitian.
Keri Gans, MS, RDN, is the author of The Small Change Diet.
What is the Noom diet—and how does the food logging work?
Noom claims to be the “last weight-loss program you’ll ever need,” according to its website. It’s like having a trainer, nutritionist, and health coach all in one place, they say: the Noom app. The app itself is free and offers a free one-week trial, but there are memberships that cost up to $70 a month. The price can vary, though, depending on your goals and how much weight you want to lose.
Once you download it, the app asks for permission to access your iPhone’s Health app, where it logs your exercise and you input everything you eat during the day (the app has a database of foods).
Noom uses an orange, green, and yellow color system, instead of categorizing foods purely as ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ to help the user gauge what is nutrient-dense and what is not, says Jonathan Valdez, RDN, owner of Genki Nutrition and media spokesperson for New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
What can you eat on Noom?
No foods are considered off-limits on the Noom diet. You simply group them using the color system, which is broken down into the following:
Orange signals the most calorically dense and/or least nutrient-dense foods, green are the least calorically dense and/or most nutrient-dense foods, and yellow foods fall somewhere in the middle, explains Martin. About 30 percent of your intake should come from green foods, 45 percent from yellow foods, and 25 percent from orange foods.
With that in mind, here are some of the foods that fall under each category on Noom:
- Green foods: Blueberries, apples, carrots, peppers, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, sweet potatoes, beets, berries, bananas, oats, whole-grain bread, quinoa, non-fat dairy products, egg whites, watermelon, lettuce, pickles
- Yellow foods: Avocado, salmon, chicken, turkey, beans, tofu, whole eggs, tempeh, lean ground beef, black beans, chickpeas, low-fat dairy, edamame, lentils, plantains
- Orange foods: Olive oil and other oils, nuts and seeds, nut butters, dried fruit, beef, pork, full-fat dairy, coconut milk, bacon, French fries, burgers, potato chips, pizza, cake
It’s worth noting that the app doesn’t track macros. “You’re only shown what color the food falls under and its calorie content—no macronutrients (i.e., protein, carb, and fat content) or micronutrients (i.e., vitamins and minerals),” says Martin. For example, both olive oil and nut butter are categorized as ‘orange’ foods, and while they’re both fat-rich and calorically dense, one also provides fiber and protein, the other does not.
Instead, Noom will calculate a daily calorie goal and food suggestions based on how much weight you want to lose, says Kimberly Gomer, RD, the director of nutrition at Body Beautiful Miami. Just keep in mind that Noom expects you to manually log all your food each day which can be extremely tedious, she adds.
What A Day Of Eating On The Noom Diet Looks Like
Here are three examples of what a day eating on Noom can look like and basic recipes, as crafted by our dietitians. Of course, exact calorie counts will vary based on each person and their unique weight loss goals.
- Breakfast: Egg omelet with spinach, peppers, and mushrooms
- Snack: Fat-free Greek yogurt with blueberries or strawberries
- Lunch: Whole-grain wrap with hummus, grilled chicken, tomatoes, and cucumber
- Dinner: Seared salmon with baked Brussels sprouts and brown rice
- Snack: Oven-roasted garlic chickpeas
—Jonathan Valdez, RDN
- Breakfast: Coffee with skim milk, ½ whole wheat English muffin, 1 tbsp cream cheese, and a hard-boiled egg
- Snack: A small apple and 1 tbsp almond butter
- Lunch: Mixed green salad with tomato, cucumber, chicken breast, and 2 tbsp of vinaigrette dressing
- Snack: Baby carrots and ¼ cup hummus
- Dinner: 1 cup cooked quinoa, ½ cup canned black beans, a bell pepper (sliced), 1/3 avocado, and ¼ cup salsa
- Dessert: Yasso mint chocolate chip frozen Greek yogurt bar
—Charlotte Martin, MS, RDN
- Breakfast: One egg, two-egg white omelet with spinach, tomato, and 2 tbsp feta cheese, a slice of whole-grain bread, and ¼ avocado (mashed)
- Snack: ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt and ½ cup blueberries
- Lunch: Pumpkin soup or other vegetable broth-based soup and a large green salad with leafy greens, red pepper, cucumber, ½ cup black beans, and 1 tbsp vinaigrette-based dressing
- Snack: A medium apple and 1 tbsp peanut butter
- Dinner: Baked chicken, tempeh, or tofu (3-4 oz), a medium baked sweet potato topped with 1 tsp butter, and 1½ cup roasted Brussel sprouts tossed with 1 tsp olive oil
— Allison Koch, MS, RDN
Are there any downsides to Noom?
For one, the color system may instill some unnecessary food guilt. It’s important to note that Noom recently swapped out orange as the category color instead of the original red, which Martin noted could lead some to feel like they’re doing something wrong when they enjoy a spoonful of, say, nut butter, which was originally a red food. Still, some people may associate green foods as “good” and orange ones as “bad,” which isn’t necessarily true.
Registered dietitian Allison Koch, MS, RDN, also sees both pros and cons to the system. “The app has a psychological component and aims to create sustainable lifelong changes by tapping into the user’s psychological experience,” she says. “However, my concerns are the very low calorie levels it sets for users without fully understanding the user’s life experience, body composition, or fitness level.”
Additionally, Noom only tracks calories and doesn’t indicate what the macronutrient breakdown is, Koch reiterates. “This keeps it simple for the user, but I think it’s important to teach balance and moderation,” she says. “I think a focus on calories alone doesn’t show the entire picture of what a balanced diet should look like.”
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Is there anyone who should *not* try Noom?
Ultimately, Noom may not be right for everyone—and it depends on your lifestyle and personal preferences. “Noom might be wrong for individuals with a history of disordered eating,” notes Valdez. “The diet may trigger unhealthy behaviors and worsen their condition.”
The app also encourages you to weigh yourself daily which may be distressing for some, says Gomer. The scale does not always measure weight loss progress, and individuals managing an eating disorder should work with a registered dietitian or psychologist who can provide individualized and proper medical and nutritional therapy.
And if you have other health conditions, specifically those relating to digestion or food allergies, check in with your doctor before signing up for Noom. “Noom may not be suitable for those with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, food intolerances, or some other medical conditions that require a more suitable health professional,” says Valdez.
Should *you* try Noom?
If you don’t have any of the contraindications mentioned above and you’re mindful of some of the app’s shortcomings (also described above), Noom can have some great benefits, especially if you’re trying to stay in a calorie deficit, change your habits, and need support.
The fundamental principle of weight loss is that calories in need to be less than calories out, or creating a caloric deficit, “which Noom tackles well,” says Martin. Adds Valdez, “Food tracking oftentimes leads to healthier outcomes because it allows you to see what your current habits are and what needs work. Noom also provides coaching support and social support groups, which encourages positive reinforcement and accountability.”
The eating color system may also be a useful tool to teach and guide you through making food choices with a reason, which is nutrient density, as well as flexibility by not restricting specific foods. Keri Gans, MS, RDN, author of The Small Change Diet, says, “ I think any little thing that might help a person identify which foods they should eat more of versus less of, while not asking them to avoid any foods, is a step in the right direction.”
Emily Shiffer is a former digital web producer for Men’s Health and Prevention, and is currently a freelancer writer specializing in health, weight loss, and fitness. She is currently based in Pennsylvania and loves all things antiques, cilantro, and American history.
Andi Breitowich is a Chicago-based writer and graduate student at Northwestern Medill. She’s a mass consumer of social media and cares about women’s rights, holistic wellness, and non-stigmatizing reproductive care. As a former collegiate pole vaulter, she has a love for all things fitness and is currently obsessed with Peloton Tread workouts and hot yoga.
Kimberly Gomer, RD, is the director of nutrition at Body Beautiful Miami. She specializes in weight management and medical nutritional therapy to help control diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart health, and hypothyroidism.