One thing we've never had a shortage of is weight-loss diets. And while it seems that each year there's a trendy new diet vying for your attention, it can be hard to determine if Noom vs. Weight Watchers — if any — is right for you.
App-based diets are on a whole other level. There are nutrition plans, coaches, food tracking, in-app purchases and so on — it's enough to make your head spin. Sorting through that to determine which is better — Noom or Weight Watchers — can really suck up your time.
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That's why we've matched up Noom and Weight Watchers (WW), two of the leading weight-loss apps available today. Read on to compare their features, pricing and structures to help you determine if one might fit your goals.
Noom vs. Weight Watchers: Which Is Better for You?
What Is It?
A weight-loss app that uses a color-coding system and calorie tracking. It focuses on diet, exercise and behavioral changes and enlists a personalized coach.
A weight-loss app that uses a point-based system, similar to calorie counting. It focuses on diet and exercise and offers a coach in some of its membership options.
How Is It Structured?
There are green, yellow and red foods. Each day you log your food intake, track motivation and work out. The goal is to stay within the established calorie range.
You’re assigned a personalized amount of points. Similar to calorie-counting, you want to stay within your “point budget.”
Foods Allowed/Not Allowed
Noom’s color system helps guide you, showing you which foods you should try to eat more and less of. No foods are off the table.
Like calorie-counting, you can eat whatever you want within your point allotment. That said, foods are assigned points to help guide you towards more nutritious choices.
You can try the limited free version of the app, or pay anywhere from $60 per month to $199 for the year depending on your subscription length.
For the digital option, the cost starts at $3.38 per week. For digital, virtual workshops and coach support the cost starts at $4.61 per week. For digital, a personal coach and unlimited workshops the cost starts at $6.92 per week.
Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques and a personal coach.
A three-tiered membership program, virtual workshops, a rewards program, WW cruises and their own food line.
Clinical studies backing the diet's long-term weight-loss success.
You may lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.
How Each Diet Works
To help you compare Weight Watchers vs. Noom, here's what each program entails:
It's that last part — behavioral changes — that really sets Noom apart from most other weight-loss programs. When you sign up, you receive a personalized plan with a recommended daily calorie range, plus lessons and tasks to help you make small lifestyle changes, which you'll work towards with the help of a health coach.
The program exists within an app where you're able to track your food intake, physical activity and motivation levels, interact with your personal health coach and community and complete behavioral lessons, per the website.
Weight Watchers uses a point system where every food is assigned a specific number based on its nutritional value. Similar to calorie-counting (just in a different currency), you have a customized amount of points you're allowed to eat each day.
The Weight Watchers diet has undergone many renditions over the past 50 years, continuing to update as more scientific research is published. It too exists on an app where you're able to track your food and activity and access workouts, recipes, coaches and the WW community.
How the Diets Are Structured
Here's information about how the diets work to help you determine which is better for you — Noom or Weight Watchers?
After completing an initial questionnaire, you're provided an individualized plan based on your calorie needs. According to the website, Noom also uses a color-coding system to indicate the following:
- Green foods: These are the least calorie-dense and/or contain the highest concentration of nutrients. These foods should make up the bulk of your diet. Examples: broccoli, apple, tofu, oatmeal and brown rice.
- Yellow foods: These foods have more calories and/or less beneficial nutrients per serving than green foods and should be part of your diet in more moderate proportions. Examples: grilled chicken, salmon, black beans and avocado.
- Red foods: These foods are higher in calories and have the least beneficial nutrients and should be eaten less and in smaller portions. Examples: pizza, ice cream and fries.
Each day you log your food intake, track your motivation and exercise for the recommended amount of time. The goal is to stay within the established calorie range. You can connect with your coach or the online community if you have questions or hit a roadblock.
The app also provides daily lessons, tasks and challenges that aim to help reframe your relationship with food, per the website. For instance, a lesson may help you identify if you have social triggers associated with eating.
All of the coaches have undergone a specific training program to help them work with their clients, but they're not required to be a registered dietitian. The coaches work with you to customize your plan and help you understand your current choices and behaviors with the goal of making small and sustainable changes.
Looking to lose weight for good? Noom gives you the support and tools you need to stay focused and achieve your weight-loss goals.
WW recently debuted its PersonalPoints Program. After completing an assessment about your size, lifestyle, weight-loss goals and health needs, you're assigned a customized Points budget and ZeroPoint food list (that is, foods that don't count toward your daily points allowance), according to the website.
The PersonalPoints Program calculates a food's points based on its overall nutrition, as opposed to one-off factors like calories or fat. For example, saturated fat and added sugar can up a food's point value, while fiber or unsaturated fat lower the number, per the website.
From there, you track the foods you eat at each meal. Similar to calorie-counting, you want to stay within your "point budget." However, eating nutritious foods, hydrating and exercising also allow you to add to your daily points allocation to incentivize beneficial behaviors.
You can also access tons of recipes, workouts, community and support sessions through the app (though the amount of access you get depends on your subscription plan).
Weight Watchers also offers a rewards program called WellnessWins, which is where you can earn goodies (think WW snacks, fitness app trials, workout equipment and more) for logging habits like nutritious eating and exercise, per the website.
Foods You Can and Can’t Eat
Here's how Noom vs. WW stacks up when it comes to your meals:
Noom's color system helps guide you by showing you which foods you should try to eat more and less of, but nothing's off the table, according to the website.
WW follows the same philosophy: No food is off-limits, per the website. Like calorie-counting, you can eat whatever you want within your point allotment.
That said, foods are assigned points to help guide you toward more nutritious choices. Your zero-point foods will also vary based on your health needs: For example, if you have diabetes, your ZeroPoint list may include foods that are less likely to spike your blood sugar.
How Much Does Each Program Cost?
Here's pricing info to help you decide between Noom or Weight Watchers:
Noom has a free version of the app where you're able to track your food intake, weight and activity.
If you want to upgrade to receive your personal nutrition plan, coach and access to the community, the fee depends on your subscription length. Per the website, here's the breakdown:
- Monthly: $60
- 2 months: $99
- 3 months: $129
- 4 months: $139
- 5 months: $149
- 6 months: $159
- 7 months: $169
- 8 months: $179
- Annual: $199
Weight Watchers has three membership plans, according to the website:
- Digital (access the app and website tools): Starts at around $3.38 per week
- Digital 360 (get support from coaches and access to live and on-demand wellness events): Starts at around $4.61 per week
- Unlimited Workshops + Digital (get unlimited access to sessions and support from your coach and other members): Starts at around $6.92 per week
The program also charges a $20 starter fee, but this is often waived through promotions. Pricing may also vary slightly based on your location.
The programs are similar in many ways. They both offer an app, tracking system, workouts, coaches, community support and education via their apps, emails, newsletters and more. Here's how they differ:
Noom is unique from most other online programs because it offers a psychological aspect that digs into the "why" of weight loss. Noom helps you identify barriers to change that you may have and enlists cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to help you make long-term changes, per the website.
Weight Watchers is unique in that it has a three-tiered membership plan that allows you to pick a program that fits your needs, including virtual workshops, which are not available through Noom.
They also have a rewards program, studio locations and offer WW cruises, which are not available through Noom. Additional support is provided by WW through their own food line, which includes breakfast items, snacks and desserts.
Results and Promises
When it comes to weight loss, which is better — WW or Noom? Here's a breakdown of each program's results:
Noom promises that it's the last weight-loss program you'll ever need. The results are backed by certain clinical studies. Some of the major Noom weight-loss findings include:
Weight Watchers says users can expect to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. The diet ranks as the fifth Best Diet Overall and is tied for first for the best Weight-Loss Diets (along with the Volumetrics and flexitarian diets) by U.S. News & World Report.
And indeed, a December 2013 study in the The American Journal of Medicine found that 147 people who followed the Weight Watchers model of behavioral counseling and one-on-one meetings lost more weight than those who were enrolled in self-help programs.
An April 2015 review of 39 studies in the Annals of Internal Medicine also found that people who followed WW were 2.6 percent more likely to shed pounds than those who only tried weight-loss counseling.
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So, Which Is Better for You?
Choosing between Noom vs. Weight Watchers ultimately depends on your preferences. Noom is probably best for someone who is interested in losing weight and is committed to tracking every meal. In the Scientific Reports study, researchers found that while the rate of sustained weight loss was high, people who failed to track their dinners were not as successful.
It's also smart for someone who's interested in learning more about their behaviors and how to make long-term changes, although it may be cost-prohibitive for some.
Weight Watchers is also for someone looking to lose weight who wants flexibility in their diet.
That said, you have to log your meals and be committed to tracking for success. Still, it's not overly complicated like some other programs, so it might be a good option for someone who doesn't want to worry about learning the ins and outs of a new diet.
It also may not be as costly as Noom (for the basic digital membership, depending on how long you stick to the program), so it may be appropriate for those on a tighter budget.
Neither Noom or WW is appropriate or recommended for anyone with a history of disordered eating or an eating disorder. If you have a chronic medical condition or disease, you should talk to your doctor before adopting any new diet plan, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- BMJ: "Weight Loss Efficacy of a Novel Mobile Diabetes Prevention Program Delivery Platform with Human Coaching"
- Scientific Reports: "Successful Weight Reduction and Maintenance by Using a Smartphone Application in Those with Overweight and Obesity"
- U.S. News and World Report: "Best Diets Overall"
- WW: "Our Most Personalized Weight-Loss Program Ever!"
- WW: "Try our ALL-NEW personalized program PROVEN to make losing weight easier!"
- WW: "WellnessWins™"
- Mayo Clinic: "Weight loss: Choosing a diet that's right for you"
- The American Journal of Medicine: "A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Community-based Behavioral Counseling Program"
- Annals of Internal Medicine: "Efficacy of commercial weight loss programs: an updated systematic review"
- Noom: "What Is Noom (and how can it help you lose weight)?"