What Do You Eat on the Noom Diet? Eat Anything & Beware of Red Foods

Weight Loss & Diets | Written by Nathan | Updated on 8 February 2022

If you want to lose weight as well as keep it off, look no further than the Noom diet. Noom is perfect for most since it isn’t severely limited and knowing what you can eat on the noom diet is simple because can technically eat anything you want on it. However, since they focus on changing your lifestyle and group foods into 3 easy color-coded categories, you should beware or take caution with foods in the “red category”.

Let’s take a big bite and go over what foods fall in the category, if the diet is effective and what exactly the noom diet even entails…

What is the Noom Diet Plan?

The Noom diet is a diet plan devised by Saeju Jeong, Artem Petakov and devised by a team of psychologists. The noomiversity diet basically allows you to eat what ever you want, but with a little guidance to work on eating behaviors and color coordinating foods. It’s exactly what most dieters are looking for since it’s not overly controlling and allows for flexibility.You can access a personalized diet plan, log food, track exercise, and get help from trained coaches all on the Noom app.

How to Get Started & How Noom Works

Simple – download the Noom app! It’s available on iOS and Android, so it’s accessible for almost anyone with a mobile device.

When you first launch the app, it’ll guide you through a simple questionnaire, and it’ll ask you about:

  • Demographics – Includes your age, sex, height, current weight, health and fitness goals, and any health conditions (like diabetes).
  • Habits and Behavior – Refers to any patterns you have or life events that have happened to you that may make losing weight more difficult. It’ll also ask you about your environment and living conditions to tailor the plan to your needs.
  • Nutrition and Activity – Asks you if you want to focus on nutrition or exercise and if you’ve ever tried cognitive behavioral therapy.

After this questionnaire, the app will present you with a customized diet plan and a one-on-one Noom coach. The app will place you with a coaching group that’ll act as a support group, making you partners in weight loss!

Noom will show you your daily calorie goal, which will constantly recalculate based on your exercise calories and weight. You don’t have to do any of this work yourself – the app will do it for you! You just have to stay below the calorie goal. The required calories will never go below 1,200 for women and 1,400 for men to avoid the consequences of extremely low-calorie diets [1].

Now, you can start logging food, divided into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Noom has hundreds of thousands of food items in its database, including name-brand food and meals from over 850 chain restaurants. You can also connect to Google Fit or Apple Health to log steps and exercise calories.

Why Does Noom Work?

Noom claims it’s the “last weight-loss program you’ll ever need”, which may be because it focuses on changing mindsets and lifestyles and teaching you to make healthy food choices instead of just telling you what to eat.

Plus, the entire diet plan and one-on-one (and group) support are available on the app, making it convenient for you to log food throughout the day and access resources when you need them.

Noom makes weight loss and (a little) fun! It offers weekly changes and educational articles about nutrition, stress management, and goals, constant access to a group of individuals accompanying you on this journey, and biometric tracking like blood sugar and blood pressure. It focuses on giving you the support necessary to build lifelong healthy habits.

Would you be more likely to follow through with a weight loss plan if you had to keep a food journal, join a weight loss group, and hire a nutritionist separately? No! With Noom, you can have everything in one place, thanks to modern technology!

Categorizing Food on The Noom Diet (Noom Food List)

When wondering “what does the Noom diet consist of,” it’s important to remember that you can pretty much eat anything within reason. It works like any other diet – by creating a calorie deficit – but also helps you become conscious of your portions and eat more nutrient-dense, low-calorie food rather than calorie-dense food that’s lacking in nutrients.

Noom doesn’t tell you the amount of protein, carbs, fat, and various vitamins and minerals in all the food you eat. Instead, it classifies food into three color-coded categories. 

The categories aren’t based on the color of food, but more like a traffic light system where you have go (green), caution (yellow), and stop (red) with the intention of providing as much nutrition as possible, within the smallest number of calories.

Green Foods

Green foods from Noom are those which pack the most bang for your buck and should be eaten for most meals. These foods are rich in nutrients but don’t have many calories. Green snacks on Noom is a basic free for all so don’t be afraid to use any of these to get through those mid-day cravings. 

These typically consist of vegetables and fruits, including both literally green and colorful ones. So with no further ado, here’s the green food list Noom approves of: 

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Brown rice
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Non-fat plain yogurt
  • Oats
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Pickles
  • Quinoa
  • Raspberries
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

Note, this is not an exhaustive list and most fruits and veggies fall within the green category. 

Yellow Foods

Yellow foods contain more protein and might be more filling than green foods, but you must eat them in moderation to avoid exceeding your calorie goal.

They’re good to have in a meal, but you shouldn’t chow down on them all day. These foods include:

  • Chicken breast
  • Edamame
  • Eggs
  • Full fat yogurt
  • Lean ground beef
  • Legumes (beans)
  • Low fat cheese
  • Low-fat milk and dairy
  • Quinoa
  • Salmon
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu
  • Tuna
  • Turkey breast
  • Unroasted nuts (pecans, almonds, pistachios, peanuts etc.)
  • Whole grain bread

You can add some of these together for a Noom approved yellow snack, but be sure not to eat too much at any given sitting. Most of these can be eaten as a yellow snack on occasion and you can even mix-match them for a full yellow , especially if they’re added with a side like crackers,

Red Foods

Noom red foods are the ones you should limit and really eat in moderation, though you don’t need to let go of them completely. Eating foods such as French fries aren’t ideal for weight loss because they’re lacking in nutrients and high in calories. Red foods are meant to be eaten in moderation and as a treat, not to nourish your body.

Most desserts and fried items come under this category. Red food items include:

  • Bacon
  • Beef
  • Cake
  • Condiments (ranch, salad dressing, mayo, ketchup)
  • Dried fruit
  • French fries
  • Full fat milk
  • Full-fat dairy
  • Ham
  • Ice cream
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Olive oil and other kinds of oil
  • Pizza
  • Pork
  • Potato chips
  • Red meats like beef and pork
  • Salami

Should I Only Eat Green Foods?

No! There are no food restrictions on the Noom diet. Noom recommends that only 30% of your diet consist of green foods, while 45% contains yellow foods and just 25% of red foods. You can always eat more green foods to limit your calorie intake, but again, you shouldn’t eat too many red or yellow foods!

This division ensures that you get adequate calories and nutrition while not giving up all yummy things. You can still have dessert – but limit your portions! You can have a small slice of cake instead of a bigger one and fill up on green beans and salmon instead.

Dividing food into these categories is basically a weight loss solution that trains your brain to make healthier choices without feeling deprived. If a diet forces you to give up everything you like, you might have uncontrollable cravings and end up binging. With small portions of desserts, butters, etc., you get to enjoy the food you love without feeling guilty.

Can I Go Out to Eat on the Noom Diet?

Since Noom has an extensive database of chain restaurant meals, you can safely go out to eat while following their guidelines. You can even enter the names of generic meals from restaurants not listed on Noom and approximate their calories or ingredients.

The app also has a pop quiz that walks you through the characteristics of many typical restaurant meals, like portion size, calorie density, and salt. Word lists can help you recognize healthy food on any menu and avoid unhealthy or red foods, like “deep-fried” and “creamy” items.

Even if things like alcohol are a red or yellow item on Noom, you can still learn how to lose weight gained from alcohol without giving up the beer. And before you ask, there isn’t a green alcohol on Noom. But in general, the lower the calories the better. After all, a single glass of red wine coming out to more than 100 calories [2]. 

What Can’t You Eat on the Noom Diet?

Nothing Is technically off limits, you just have to be careful not to overeat. If you stay within your calorie goal and limit “red” foods then you’re in the clear. 

The app will automatically divide your daily calories into green, yellow, and red foods, so you can plan out where you want to spend your red food limit for the day. You can even check the calorie count before logging a food item to see how it’ll fit into your goals.

When considering what you can eat on the Noom diet just remember, no food is banished entirely, you just need to practice moderation.

Noom Daily Diet Meal Plan and Food Ideas

As mentioned, Noom doesn’t give you an exact meal plan but we can give you an example meal plan to go off of. Here’s a typical meal plan for any given day but of course feel free to change it up some:

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Breakfast Coffee with low-fat milk, ½ whole wheat English muffin, and 1 tbsp cream cheese or other sauce A cup of nstant oatmeal with a banana and handful of blueberries Protein smoothie with chocolate protein powder, banana, honey, and any other fruits you like
Lunch Vegetable soup with chopped veggies and a large green salad Vegetable stir fry with chicken breast and a small amount of olive oil Chicken breast, breaded, with grilled vegetables like broccoli and quinoa or brown rice
Afternoon Snack A smoothie with a banana and other frozen fruits, made in water An apple with peanut butter A quarter-cup of cashews or almonds
Dinner Grilled salmon with vegetables and brown rice Pork or beef tenderloin marinated in balsamic vinaigrette and roasted sweet potato wedges Farro and grilled chicken breast, paired with roasted veggies like tomatoes and cauliflower
Evening Snack Low-fat greek yogurt with strawberries or other fruit A glass of wine Roasted edamame

In addition to all the food choices above, try downloading the app to see a complete noom food list.

Does the Noom Plan Require Exercise?

You don’t need to exercise on the Noom plan and you can even lose weight without exercise in a month or less if you stick with it. Yet, exercise is never a bad idea when it comes to weight loss and ita allows you to eat more and/or lose weight quicker. Noom works by making you consume fewer calories than you burn, and you burn fewer calories when you’re sedentary. When you exercise, you can eat more or even the same and still lose weight.

For example, if you’re a 25-year-old woman who weighs 140 pounds at 5’2″, you’ll need just 1,600 calories to maintain your weight without any exercise. If you do moderate-intensity exercise a few times a week, though, you’ll need close to 2,000 calories to support 140 pounds.

A difference of 500 calories adds up when you’re trying to lose weight. A single pound of fat equates to 3,500 calories , so you need a calorie deficit of 500 calories to lose a pound per week [3]. In this scenario, you’d lose a pound every week if you eat what’s considered a “sedentary level” of calories while exercising moderately 4-5 days a week!

So, the Noom plan doesn’t mandate exercise, but you can do it if you want to increase your daily calorie goal and indulge a little. Only you can decide if it’s worth it!

Will the Noom Diet Help Me Lose Weight?

According to the Noom website, people who try the diet lose an average of 8.1% of their body weight after 52 weeks, though the study was performed by employees of the app [4]. A study of 36,000 Noom users also showed that 78% lost weight after using the app for an average of 9 months, and 23% of them lost more than 10% of their body weight [5]. The study concluded that people who track their diet and weight more frequently, in general, are most successful in losing weight.

Apart from Noom-specific studies, many have also shown that people who follow low-calorie-dense diets lose weight more quickly than those who don’t [6]. A review of 13 studies supported this statement [7]. At the same time, a survey of 9,500 adults also indicated that people who consume more low- and very-low-calorie-dense food have lower BMIs and smaller waist sizes than those who eat more calorie-dense foods [8].

Noom encourages you to eat more low-calorie-dense food and stay within a calorie limit that creates a calorie deficit, so the diet will work if you follow it correctly and track everything diligently. People can underestimate how much they eat by about 40%, so it’s important to log everything to experience the full effects of the diet [9].

A study also suggests that tech-based weight loss interventions work best when they incorporate human support and feedback, so the one-on-one coaching and group support aspect of Noom also promotes weight loss [10].

If you track diligently, follow the yellow and red food limits as well as the overall calorie limit, and take advantage of human support, you’ll lose weight on the Noom diet.

How Much Does Noom Diet Cost?

Despite their usefulness, the Noom subscription plans can get quite expensive. Though the app offers a 2-week free trial, you have to pay at least $49.50 a month afterward.

It also asks for your card details at the beginning of the free trial and automatically charges your card at the end unless you cancel beforehand. Hence, you end up losing a month’s worth of money even if you don’t want to continue.

Noom Diet Plan is Psychology-Based

Noom’s Chief Psychology Officer, Andreas Michaelides, Ph.D., says that Noom is not just a diet but a psychology-based tool that helps dieters make healthier choices overall. The concept is heavily rooted in psychology and builds positive habits to live the life you deserve.

He explains that Noom enables users to reframe their mindsets and adopt new behaviors long-term. It aims to break unsustainable habits that lead to yo-yo dieting and encourages small, meaningful choices and actions that users can do well on before moving on to the next.

According to a 2009 study, people take 18 to 254 days to build and cement a new habit into their psyche. On average, though, behaviors become automatic after 66 days [11]. Though the time and effort it takes depend on the difficulty involved in practicing the habit, people can change their behaviors for good with consistency.

The NIH says that pleasure-based habits can be challenging to break [12], which is why so many diets that push you directly into eating nothing but healthy foods fail long-term. “Pleasure” happens when your brain floods with dopamine – a typical response to sugary, salty, unhealthy food.

Noom makes people aware of their habits at first, which is the first step towards breaking them, according to Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH [12]. Then, it helps them break it with visual cues and encouraging messages that reward you for sound choices, making it easier to replace bad dietary habits with better ones.

How to Determine if Noom is Right for You

Now that you know what you can eat on the noom diet, it should be simple to figure whether the plan is ideal for you. Or, if you might benefit from more structure. However, if you’re still not sure then consider these factors before deciding if you should embark on the Noom diet…

Calories Vs. Nutrients

Noom only shows you your daily calorie goal instead of many other food logging apps, like MyFitnessPal, that track all nutrients and macronutrients like protein, carbs, and fat. As a result, while you’re more aware of the calories in your food after a few months on Noom, you still don’t know how to balance the nutrients and macronutrients according to your fitness goals.

For example, if you lift weight or otherwise work out a lot, you’ll want more protein than someone who doesn’t work out at all. On Noom, you can end up eating less protein and losing muscle mass as protein is vital for post-workout recovery [13]. 

So, if you have specific fitness goals instead of a general goal to lose weight, you may be better off following a diet tailored to them or talking to a registered dietician.

Color-Coded Categories

Labeling foods as “good” or “bad” or banning certain foods entirely can push you towards disordered eating, so Noom gives you flexibility instead [14]. Some healthy foods, like nuts, fall under red foods since they’re more calorie-dense but rich in nutrients, proving that these categories don’t assign moral value to food.

However, calorie counting and categorizing food can trigger harmful behaviors in people with a history of eating disorders. Though Noom does its best to discourage this, you should still be careful and consult your psychiatrist before starting on Noom (or any other diet).

Behavioral Changes

Noom aims to help you lose AND keep the weight off. Yo-yo dieting just leads to losing weight and then gaining it all back. Most gain back 33% of their weight after a year and 79% after five years [15]. Many people gain back all the weight they’ve lost, and then some, bringing them back to square one over and over again.

With Noom, you build habits instead of simply losing weight. While this approach is better for most people, some may need specific weight loss rules, or just structure and limitations to stick to their diet. Even more so if they eat emotionally or have a food addiction.

Price and Technology

The price of $49.50 per month can be pretty high to be accessible for many people, but it’s much lower than hiring a registered dietician. Its affordability depends on your financial status – it’s not too expensive, but not necessarily cheap either.

Besides, at this price, you also get one-on-one coaching as well as group support. Human interaction promotes effective weight loss and stress management [16], even for those with prediabetes [17]. This technological intervention might be all many people can afford, but many prefer face-to-face interaction over virtual support.

Those who want in-person support might still feel unfulfilled on the Noom diet. For them, a support group or exercise/running group might be more effective. It’s perfect for introverts, though, since they don’t even have to make a phone call to access coaching!

Should I Start the Noom Diet?

Before starting, make sure to consult your doctor if you have a medical condition or have ever suffered from an eating disorder. Keep in mind that not all coaches are dieticians, but are trained by the “Noomiversity”. The plan can last up to a year, so decide if the cost is worth it for you and if you think you’ll benefit from the program’s approach to dieting and support.

If you don’t like all the color coded foods you can always figure out how to duplicate the Medifast or other popular diets. But this is usually more complex.

If you feel positive or just want to see what it’s all about, download the Noom app and take the quiz! Noom will tell you by when you’ll reach your goal and how much you’ll need to pay. You can take advantage of a 2-week trial at just 50 cents and see how it goes. 

References

[1] NHS. (2019, November 18). Very low calorie diets. NHS. Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/managing-your-weight/very-low-calorie-diets/

[2] Zhang, A. (2021). Calories in a Glass of Red Wine & Health Benefits (Detailed Guide). Vinovest. Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://www.vinovest.co/blog/red-wine-calories 

[3] Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, December 8). Counting calories: Get back to weight-loss basics. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/calories/art-20048065

[4] DeLuca, L., Toro-Ramos, T., Michaelides, A., Seng, E., & Swencionis, C. (2020). Relationship Between Age and Weight Loss in Noom: Quasi-Experimental Study. JMIR Diabetes, 5(2). https://diabetes.jmir.org/2020/2/e18363/

[5] Chin, S. O., Keum, C., Woo, J., Park, J., Choi, H. J., Woo, J. T., & Rhee, S. Y. (2016). Successful weight reduction and maintenance by using a smartphone application in those with overweight and obesity. Scientific reports, 6, 34563. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5098151/

[6] Buckland, N. J., Camidge, D., Croden, F., Lavin, J. H., Stubbs, R. J., Hetherington, M. M., Blundell, J. E., & Finlayson, G. (2018). A Low Energy-Dense Diet in the Context of a Weight-Management Program Affects Appetite Control in Overweight and Obese Women. The Journal of nutrition, 148(5), 798–806. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30053284/

[7] Stelmach-Mardas, M., Rodacki, T., Dobrowolska-Iwanek, J., Brzozowska, A., Walkowiak, J., Wojtanowska-Krosniak, A., Zagrodzki, P., Bechthold, A., Mardas, M., & Boeing, H. (2016). Link between Food Energy Density and Body Weight Changes in Obese Adults. Nutrients, 8(4), 229.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4848697/

[8] Vernarelli, J. A., Mitchell, D. C., Rolls, B. J., & Hartman, T. J. (2018). Dietary energy density and obesity: how consumption patterns differ by body weight status. European journal of nutrition, 57(1), 351–361. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27738811/

[9] Lang, S. S. (2006, November 1). It’s the size of the meal, not the size of the person, that determines how people underestimate calories, Cornell study finds | Cornell Chronicle. Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2006/11/bigger-meal-more-we-underestimate-its-calories

[10] Kim, M., Kim, Y., Go, Y., Lee, S., Na, M., Lee, Y., Choi, S., & Choi, H. J. (2020). Multidimensional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Obesity Applied by Psychologists Using a Digital Platform: Open-Label Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 8(4). https://mhealth.jmir.org/2020/4/e14817/

[11] Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C. H. M., Potts, H. W. W., & Wardle, J. (2010). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real worldy. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 998-1009. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.695.830&rep=rep1&type=pdf

[12] NIH. (2012, January). Breaking Bad Habits. NIH News in Health. Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2012/01/breaking-bad-habits

[13] Cava, E., Yeat, N. C., & Mittendorfer, B. (2017). Preserving Healthy Muscle during Weight Loss. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 8(3), 511–519. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28507015/

[14] Allen, M., Dickinson, K. M., & Prichard, I. (2018). The Dirt on Clean Eating: A Cross Sectional Analysis of Dietary Intake, Restrained Eating and Opinions about Clean Eating among Women. Nutrients, 10(9), 1266. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6164197/

[15] Anderson, J. W., Konz, E. C., Frederich, R. C., & Wood, C. L. (2001). Long-term weight-loss maintenance: a meta-analysis of US studies. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 74(5), 579–584. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11684524/

[16] Muñoz Obino, K. F., Aguiar Pereira, C., & Caron-Lienert, R. S. (2016). Coaching and barriers to weight loss: an integrative review. Diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity : targets and therapy, 10, 1–11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5207339/

[17] Michaelides, A., Raby, C., Wood, M., Farr, K., & Toro-Ramos, T. (2016). Weight loss efficacy of a novel mobile Diabetes Prevention Program delivery platform with human coaching. BMJ open diabetes research & care, 4(1), e000264. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5207339/

About the Author

Nathan

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.