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Noom is a weight-loss app that takes a “new” approach. It claims to be an easy and fun-to-use app that “provides intelligent nutrition and exercise coaching.” Like many weight-loss programs, you begin with a survey of your current lifestyle and habits—your eating style, stress levels, sleep patterns, activities, etc.
Like other health-focused apps, Noom uses a system that separates “good” and “bad” foods by assigning colors to different edible treats. Each color signifies how much or how little you should eat to stay on track toward your goals. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Noom?
One of Noom’s main messages is that the program is based on psychology, so not only are you becoming healthier, you’re building habits that will support you for the rest of your life. As a quick note, I think it’s helpful to imagine you’re adjusting habits to better suit your best self rather than quitting your current lifestyle and building an entirely new one from the ground up. The Noom diet is comprised of evidence-based information, trained cognitive behavior coaches, simple tracking tools, and a user-friendly interface.
What is the Noom diet?
The Noom diet is a psychology-based program that operates with the core belief of balance. In terms of food, the diet breaks items into three categories: green, yellow, and red. The green foods are the best, yellow foods are slightly less nutritious, and red foods are the most calorie-dense. Ideally, your diet is comprised of mostly green foods, some yellow foods, and a limited amount of red foods.
As we’ve noticed, these categories are more of a framework for thinking about how you eat rather than strict guidelines. “If you go over your Red food allotment for the day but stay within your calorie range—or even exceed your daily calorie count in total—there are no repercussions beyond seeing the bar chart exceed your target ceiling.”
Noom reminds users that the red foods aren’t excluded in any way. Instead the color system doubles as a portion guide. You can absolutely eat dessert, especially when the rest of your meals throughout the day contained mainly green and yellow foods. If you’re curious about the diet, we dove into the science to break it down.
Green foods with Noom
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The items on Noom’s list of green foods have low-calorie density and are foods that will help you feel full on fewer calories. Most of the foods on the green list also have many nutrients, but there are more than fruits and veggies, though all fruits and veggies are in the green category. The list also includes whole-grain bread, rolled oats, tofu, quinoa, shrimp, salsa, unsweetened milk alternatives, white fish, Greek (non-fat) yogurt, egg whites, and plenty of other options.
The diet is similar to a traffic light, so the green foods are good. They’re actually so good Noom doesn’t give you a calorie limit for the green foods. Noom even says, “The more Green the better!” You can make entire meals from only foods listed on the Green list: salads, mixed grain bowls, and tacos!
Yellow foods with Noom
With the Noom diet, the foods in the yellow category have more calories or have fewer healthy nutrients per serving than green foods. These types of food can still be incorporated into your routine, but not as frequently as green foods. A handful of yellow foods are lean meat and starches like turkey breast, grilled chicken, tuna, salmon, and lean beef. However, there are also vegetarian and vegan-friendly protein sources like eggs, black beans, and chickpeas (my favorite!). The yellow category also contains a few somewhat random items like greek yogurt, avocado, and whole-grain tortillas. Other yellow foods are popcorn, low-sodium canned soups, and instant potatoes!
Red foods with Noom
Red foods, as you may already guess, are the most calorie-dense or have the least healthy nutrients. Noom suggests you limit these foods in your diet. The red category contains oils (olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil) because of their fat content, seeds (chia seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, etc), nuts and nut butters (almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanut butter, coconut butter etc), dessert dishes like pie, cake, and cookies, and red meats. Red foods also include frozen entrees, jerky, dried fruits, crackers, bagels, and protein powders.
As someone with a sweet tooth and a steady supply of ice cream and cookies, I’d probably meet my allotment of red foods early in the day/week. If you’re anything like me, this article on healthy ways to reduce your sweet tooth may come in handy!
What about drinks?
We all know water is great for us, and a lot of the foods in the green category have high water content. But what about other drinks like coffee, tea, beer, wine, and soda? Since moderation and the actual drink contents (aka sugar) can vary, drinks are typically in the yellow and red groups. For example, fruit juice can be delicious and nutritious but contain almost a whole day’s worth of sugar! When it comes to drinks, especially for those of us whose knuckles are turning white while gripping our coffee mug, check out Noom’s suggested swaps for the drinks you love but could have less frequently.
Okay, but how do I shop now?
While Noom breaks food into the green, yellow, and red categories, you can still have fun preparing, cooking, and eating meals—even takeout! A concern people often have when they change their diet is how to grocery shop. Where are these new foods in the store? How do I store them? Thankfully, Noom has a guide to shelf-stable foods to help you stock your pantry as you transition to the Noom diet. It also provides additional details of each color group’s most-common foods.
If you’re curious about a food that isn’t listed here, or about one of your favorite recipes, check out Noom’s food database for calorie, portion, and nutrition information.
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