Noom vs. Calorie Counting - Which is Better for Lasting Weight Loss?

By Summer Banks FNS, SPT on Jun 23, 2020

Noom vs. Calorie Counting – what do these two weight-loss plans have in common and can either truly show you how to lose weight once and for all? Will you choose a technology-based app or old-school food logging based solely on calorie control?

Let’s dig into both so you can make the best decision possible.

What is Noom?

Noom is an app developed to provide a personalized weight-loss experience to users. The program spans 16 weeks but can be followed longer in cases where long-term weight-loss goals cannot be reached safely in the initial four months. After reaching the target weight, individuals can choose to stay on the Noom plan for weight maintenance and added support.

Google recognized Noom as being one of the top trending diet searches in 2018. Then, in October 2019, the company partnered with Novo Nordisk, a global healthcare company. The partnership aims to provide additional weight-loss support to a broader, international audience.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognize Noom as a lifestyle change program.

The CDC is on to something here – which is why we’re thrilled to offer Dietspotlight readers a free trial offer of Noom!

What is Calorie Counting?

Calorie counting teaches dieters how to log the total calorie density of meals to control calorie intake for weight loss. A calorie is the unit of measurement for the amount of energy in the foods we eat. Some beverages also contain calories. If you eat more calories than you burn, the excess calories are stored as fat. This is how you gain weight.

Experts estimate that you will gain one pound for every 3,500 extra calories you consume. To lose one pound, you’ll need to create a calorie deficit of 3,500. Calorie deficits are created by eating less and increasing physical activity.

Counting calories helps you calculate the exact number of calories you consume each day. Some experts believe this gives you a clear picture of your eating habits and helps you make smarter dietary choices.

Noom vs. Calorie Counting Customer Testimonials
History

Noom vs. Calorie Counting – History

Brief History of Noom

Noom was founded on July 25, 2008, by Artem Petakov and Saeju Jeong. Since being founded, the company has brought in more than $110 million in funding, with the latest funding spearheaded by the likes of Scooter Braun (SB Projects), Sequoia Capital, Samsung Ventures, Josh Kusner (DoorDash) and Jan Koum (WhatsApp).

Noom doesn’t appear to be the only app the company is interested in releasing. According to a press release from May 2019, “We have more product ideas to serve and delight our community than we have product managers, designers and engineers to build them right now, and we’re excited to close that gap. It is our mission to use technology to help people live healthier lives — and these folks will help us do it,” according to co-founder Artem Petakov.

Brief History of Calorie Counting

People started counting calories to control their weight in the 20th century. Wilbur Atwater discovered that he could determine the amount of energy in food by burning it in a bomb calorimeter. Atwater measured the temperature and amount of ash left in the chamber to understand how much energy the food contained.

People began using Atwater’s technique to determine how many calories specific foods contained and how many calories were burned during different physical activities. Counting calories has been an important part of dieting ever since.

Noom vs. Calorie Counting – Who’s Behind the Plan?

Who Created Noom?

Artem Petakov and Saeju Jeong is the team behind Noom. After multiple failed attempts to bring an end-product to users that helped support a healthy lifestyle, including an exercise bike like the Peloton that failed miserably, the team picked up on the release of the Apple mobile system and the upcoming Android system.

They went back to the software they’d previously worked on, with a team of five including Petakov and Jeong, Noom was born. When the Android market opened, they pushed Noom out there, and it soon became a huge success.

Soon after that initial success, Noom was contacted by Kleiner Perkins, a venture capital company. They wanted to invest in Noom. This investment started the Seed Round of investments for the company.

Who Created Calorie Counting?

Calorie Counting was discovered by Wilbur Olin Atwater, an American chemist who is often considered the “father of modern nutrition education and research.” Atwater played a vital role in our understanding of metabolism and human nutrition. Wilbur Atwater also made several significant agricultural discoveries that are still used in modern farming today.

Rules

Noom vs. Calorie Counting – The Rules

Rules of Noom

The Noom 16-week program employs the use of the psychological and physical to promote weight loss. You’ll track foods, log exercise and weight, interact with a personal coach and community, and learn the various factors that influence weight – including stress, eating habits and other lifestyle factors.

Let’s break down each of the main elements of the Noom weight-loss system.

Food Tracking

Noom works with a color-system approach to food tracking. The three color categories are green, yellow, and red. Noom claims these three colors aren’t meant to signify good (green) or bad (red), instead to provide the user with a familiar visualization tool – the traffic light. Green is go. Yellow is slow. Red is stop (most times). Noom suggests consuming 30% of calories from green foods, 45% of calories from yellow foods and 25% of calories from red foods.

These total percentages don’t visually represent how much each food group should be added to our plate. The majority of your plate should be packed with green foods. Yellow takes up a small section, and red foods an even smaller portion.

Green Foods: What foods fall within the green food category? Here you’ll find things like fruits and vegetables, brown rice, oatmeal, and non-fat dairy.

Yellow Foods: Yellow foods tend to be more calorie-dense than green foods. You’ll see things like lean proteins, low-fat dairy, grains, legumes, and healthy fats.

Red Foods: The list of red foods is one anyone can write. These foods tend to be high-fat, high-calorie, and low-nutrition. Red foods include processed foods, sugary foods and drinks, fried foods, and fast foods.

Notice no foods are off-limits with Noom. The program doesn’t suggest eliminating any foods from your diet. All foods, whether green, yellow, or red, can be consumed in moderation as part of the Noom weight-loss plan.

You are encouraged to log three meals and three snacks per day. As you log meals, foods will be placed in one of the three categories. The app even breaks down how “green,” or “yellow” foods/meals are – such as spinach being 100% green.

Exercise Logging

When you log exercise on Noom, you earn back 50% of the calories burned. These calories are automatically added back into our calorie goal for the day.

Why not 100%? Science shows that most people overestimate the amount of exercise they complete – and because a negative calorie balance promotes weight loss.

The Psychology

At the heart of Noom is a psychological approach to weight loss. Daily lessons and quizzes to reinforce what’s been learned to date provide a unique way to promote healthy lifestyle changes without directly saying – hey, you have to change this right now!

Rules of Calorie Counting

Unless you plan on going under the knife for a liposuction procedure, there is only one way to lose weight: create a calorie deficit. How you create that calorie deficit is up to you. Some people rely on diets or supplements. Others workout regularly. Many choose a combination of diet and exercise.

When it comes to weight loss, calories from protein, fat and carbohydrates are all the same, but, nutritionally speaking, they can vary greatly. One gram of fat contains twice as many calories as a gram of protein or carbohydrates. You can eat twice as much protein or carbohydrates as fat on a calorie-restricted diet for the same amount of calories.

Keep in mind that some foods have an effect on your appetite. Eating an apple will help you stay full longer than eating a donut of the same size. Choose foods that are healthy and nutritious while avoiding empty calories. Sugary foods, soda and alcohol, are all considered empty calories because they offer very little in nutritional value. Still, they do count towards your caloric intake.

Don’t take the traditional stance to calorie counting when you can use Noom to learn how to choose the healthiest foods, so you don’t have to count calories to lose weight. Check out the free trial offer for yourself.

Eating Plans

Noom vs. Calorie Counting – Eating Plans

The Noom Eating Plan

The Noom eating plan focuses on categorizing foods so that users can make educated decisions when they plan their meals. The healthiest foods are labeled green, most of your daily protein comes from yellow foods and red foods are enjoyed in moderation.

Most users find choosing healthier foods comes naturally after following the Noom program for a few weeks.

Your Noom eating plan is personalized to meet your specific needs. You’ll have access to a Noom coach to answer any questions and provide guidance. You always have a support system with Noom.

Noom’s goal is to help members make sustainable changes that lead to a longer and healthier life. Noom educates users on managing emotional eating, food and cognition, social eating, coping with stress, the effects of exercise and human behavior’s role in dieting. It is Noom’s belief that education is the key to fighting the obesity epidemic.

The Calorie-Counting Eating Plan

Calorie counting works with almost any diet or exercise plan. The first step to calorie counting is determining how many calories your body needs. Your daily caloric need depends on your gender, age, height, weight and physical activity levels. Most women need between 1,200 and 1,500 calories a day for healthy weight loss, but you can find an online calculator or app to determine your exact caloric need.

Once you know your caloric need, you’ll want to start tracking how many calories you eat and burn daily. An app is the best way to get an accurate picture of your eating and exercise habits because food journaling may not be accurate. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that most people underestimate how many calories they eat by an average of 2,000 calories. The same study found that people also overestimate their daily physical activity by 51%. Many people are shocked when they see their real numbers for the first time, but it’s an important part of the learning curve.

Portion control is a great way to ensure you eat fewer calories. Use smaller plates, never eat food directly from the container/package and learn what equates to a proper portion size.

Nutritionists often tell their clients to imagine a tennis ball. A tennis ball is roughly the size of one cup of food. Yogurt, cereal and pasta portions are measured by the cup.

Noom vs. Calorie Counting – Plan Duration

How Long Does Noom Last?

The Healthy Weight Program lasts for a minimum of 16 weeks. During this time, users build a foundation meant to last a lifetime. After completing the Healthy Weight Program, subscribers can continue using Noom for continued weight loss or weight maintenance.

A one-month subscription to Noom costs $59, but a one-year subscription only costs $17 a month when paid in full. If you’re serious about losing weight, it makes sense to save money with the annual subscription.

How Long Does Calorie Counting Last?

Calorie counting lasts as long as you need it to. Once you hit your target weight, you can use calorie counting to maintain that weight. Your caloric needs will change as you lose weight, and your body composition changes. That’s why it’s essential to recalculate your caloric needs every few weeks.

Significant Differences Between Noom and Calorie Counting

The significant difference between Noom and calorie counting is that Noom aims to move the user from focusing on calories to choosing foods based on calorie-density. The lower the calorie-density, the fewer calories in a larger serving size. So, over time, you learn naturally how to choose foods that promote weight loss.

Can You Follow Calorie Counting on Noom?

Yes, you do follow calorie counting on the Noom program, but you don’t track them manually. When you enter foods into the app, the total calories are deducted from your daily goal.

Possible Side Effects of Noom vs. Calorie Counting

We were unable to find any side effects of using the Noom app. Calorie-counting was a different story.

Hunger is the most common side effect related to counting calories. It takes time for your body to adjust to changes in your diet. Try drinking extra water or eating healthy snacks to ward off hunger.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you plan to start a new exercise regimen.

Research

Noom vs. Calorie Counting – The Research

Clinical Research on Noom

Eight years of research and development went into the Noom app. This research included several clinical studies.

A study published in Scientific Reports found that people who used the weight loss app were more likely to lose weight. What’s more, the same research suggests that users who tracked their caloric intake and fitness activity were more likely to lose weight than dieters who did not track their progress.

Anyone who has struggled to lose weight knows how difficult it is to maintain their target weight after completing a diet. A study published in the Journal Metabolic Syndromes and Related Disorders found that the Noom app was successful in helping previously obese or overweight adults maintain their weight loss.

Research published in JMIR confirms that the app-based Diabetes Prevention Program from Noom involves a healthy diet and increased physical activity that causes significant weight loss. Considerable weight loss dramatically reduces the risk of developing T2D. The study followed Noom users for the duration of the 24-week program. Researchers continued to monitor participants for 40 weeks following the completion of the program.

Another clinical study, this one published in the BMJ Open, confirmed that the Noom Diabetes Prevention Program helped participants lose a significant amount of weight.

One surprising aspect of Noom is that it is suitable for people who have battled an eating disorder. A study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders concluded that Noom can help patients with an eating disorder follow a healthy treatment plan.

Clinical Research on Calorie Counting

Calorie counting is a widely accepted method for weight loss. There have been hundreds of studies conducted on its effectiveness.

The logic behind calorie counting is simple. Burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirmed that a calorie deficit is necessary for weight loss. Another study, this one published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, suggests that any diet can work as long as the dieter creates a calorie deficit.

The only diet that contradicts these findings is the low-carb diet. People who follow the keto diet report losing weight without lowering their caloric intake. Several studies support these results, but most studies report the total amount of weight lost. They don’t take into account the amount of fat, water and muscle lost.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrates how low-carb diets result in water loss. This explains why low-carb diets help people lose weight faster, even when they eat more calories. They are losing more water than fat or muscle.

If you plan to try calorie counting, it’s important that you follow a healthy, balanced diet. A study published in Nutrition and Diabetes suggests that increasing your daily servings of fruits and vegetables improves your chances of successfully losing weight on any diet. Another study, published in Current Nutrition Reports, suggests that a quality diet reduces your chances of developing weight-related health conditions.

According to a study published in Obesity (Silver Spring), eating too few calories can harm your weight loss goals. When you don’t eat enough calories, your body goes into starvation mode, and your metabolism slows by an estimated 28%. A calorie deficit is important, but an extreme calorie deficit won’t make you lose weight faster. It may hamper your progress.

Quick Facts

The Facts About Noom vs. Calorie Counting

Quick Facts on Noom

  • There are two Noom programs: the Diabetes Prevention Program and the Healthy Weight Program.
  • The Noom weight loss program lasts for a minimum of 16 weeks but can be followed longer.
  • Noom can also be used as a weight maintenance program.
  • You can save money by signing up for an annual subscription.
  • Noom matches each user with a personalized coach.
  • There are zero side effects associated with Noom.

Quick Facts on Calorie Counting

  • Counting calories has been used as a diet method since the 20th century.
  • You can use an app to track how many calories you consume and burn.
  • Creating a calorie deficit is necessary for weight loss.
  • Calorie counting works with almost all diet and fitness plans.
Bottom Line

The Final Take on Noom vs. Calorie Counting

What’s the final word on Noom vs. Calorie Counting? We can’t say calorie counting is a bad idea because Noom uses it to help keep users on track with daily goals. However, the big difference that we noticed is that Noom has a plan that moves the user from counting calories to choosing foods based on calorie-density and nutrition. That’s not something you get with basic calorie control.

We believe Noom is an excellent choice for people who want to take a new path to weight loss. There’s no other program like it out there, and with research showing more than 77% of people, out of more than 35,000 app users, reported weight loss – we believe Noom is a program for success.

Check out your free trial offer available to Dietspotlight readers like you – today!

Noom vs. Calorie Counting Ingredients
Questions

Noom vs. Calorie Counting Questions and Answers

What exactly is Noom?

Noom is a weight-loss program that is backed by multiple clinical studies. They provide customized meal plans, coaching sessions, educational material and more.

How does Noom work?

Noom uses scientifically-researched psychological methods to help its users “trick” their brains into making eating habit changes and developing healthy behaviors.

How do I cancel Noom?

Users can cancel their membership by using the “Chat” function in the app to talk to their Goal Specialist. After speaking with your specialist, you will receive an email regarding your cancellation.

What is the Noom diet?

The Noom diet will depend on your individualized meal plan. This is based on your caloric needs, physical capabilities and health goals.

What does Noom cost?

After the free trial, the monthly Noom membership costs $59 a month. However, you can get a discount when you purchase multiple months ahead of time.

Does Noom send you food?

Noom does not send you food, so you will have to shop for your own meals.

Is Noom weight-loss based on calorie-counting? 

Noom uses much more than just calorie-counting to help its users lose weight. Applying in-app health tools and psychological tactics to help individuals with weight loss and change their behavior provides a unique approach to developing a healthier lifestyle.

What does Noom stand for?

Noom is the word “moon” backward. The moon is a guide during the night, and Noom acts as a guide through your weight-loss journey.

Is Noom legit?

Noom is a legit program. Clinical research has shown more than 77% of people who use the app lose weight.

Is there a free version of Noom?

Noom does offer a free trial for those who want to experience the program before choosing a subscription.

About the Author:

Summer Banks has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with professionals in the weight loss industry and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University.

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