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 which — 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 understand what's what can really suck up your time.
Which is 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.
How Each Diet Works
Noom is a weight-loss app that focuses on diet, exercise and behavioral changes. 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 focused on small lifestyle changes, which you'll work towards with the help of your personal health coach.
The program exists solely 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 also receive education.
Weight Watchers is a point system where every food is assigned a specific point based on its nutritional value. Similar to calorie-counting (just in a different currency), you have a set number of points you're allowed to eat each day and each week.
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 intake, and access workouts, recipes, your coach and the WW community.
How the Diets Are Structured
After completing an initial questionnaire, you're provided an individualized plan based on your calorie needs. 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 healthy 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 healthy 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 healthy nutrients and should be eaten less and in smaller portions. Examples: olive oil, almonds, peanut butter, pizza, ice cream and fries.
Each day you log your food intake, track your motivation and exercise for the prescribed amount of time. The goal is to stay within the established calorie limit. You can connect with your coach or the online community if you have questions or have hit a roadblock. The app also gives you health and wellness info.
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.
Weight Watchers is a point-based system. After completing a personal assessment, you're assigned to a blue, green or purple group, which determines the number of recommended points you should eat each day, along with specific food choices.
From there you track the foods you eat at each meal. Similar to calorie-counting, you want to stay within your "point budget." WW also provides a list of ZeroPoint foods that you don't have to track, like grapes, carrots and bananas. These foods vary depending on which color group you were assigned to in the beginning.
Through the app, you can access tons of recipes, workouts and a community. Weight Watchers also offers a rewards program.
Foods You Can and Can’t Eat
When following Noom, there isn't any food that you can't eat. This is very different from other diets like paleo and Whole30 where there are literally lists of foods to avoid. 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.
WW follows the same philosophy: No food is off-limits. Like calorie-counting, you can eat whatever you want within your point allotment. That said, foods are assigned points to help guide you toward healthier choices. The ZeroPoint foods are included to offer more flexibility, as well.
How Much Does Each Program Cost?
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 and coach, and access to the community and exercises, the fee is currently donation-based for a 14-day trial. The price after the trial is $129 for three months.
Weight Watchers has three membership plans:
- Digital (access the app and website tools): A three-month plan that runs $3.22 per week
- Digital + virtual workshops (get support from an expert and other members): $6.92 per week
- Digital + personal coaching (receive a personalized plan with weekly one-on-one phone calls and unlimited messages): $12.69 per week
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.
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 struggle with and enlists cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to help you make long-term changes.
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 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 spanning across breakfast items to snacks and desserts.
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Results and Promises
Noom promises that it's the last weight-loss program you'll ever need. The results are backed by 15 published clinical studies. Some of the major findings include:
Weight Watchers promises that users can expect to lose one to two pounds per week. The diet ranks as the fourth Best Diet Overall and is tied for third Weight-Loss Diet by U.S. News and World Report.
So, Which Is Better for You?
Noom is probably best for someone who is interested in losing weight and is committed to tracking every meal. In the November 2016 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, but 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 track your meals and be committed to tracking for success. It's not overly complicated like some other diets, so it might be a good option for someone who just wants to get started and not have to worry about learning the ins and outs of a new diet. It's not as costly as Noom (for the basic digital membership), so it may be appropriate for those on a tighter budget.
Neither Noom nor 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 consult with your doctor before adopting any new diet plan.
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 one 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 limit.
You’re assigned to a blue, green or purple group, which determines the number of points you should eat each day. 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 toward healthier choices.
The fee is currently donation-based for a 14-day trial, and the price after that is $129 for three months.
For the digital option, the cost is $3.22 per week. For digital and virtual workshops the cost is $6.92 per week, and for digital and a personal coach the cost is $12.69 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.
15 published clinical studies backing the diet's long-term weight-loss success.
Promises you'll lose 1-2 pounds per week.