Noom and Weight Watchers are two very popular, if not the most popular, weight loss programs right now. While they have a lot of similarities within the programs themselves, they do have some key differences. In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into the differences, pros, and cons of each so you can have all the information you need before deciding which will be best for you.
Noom creates long-term results through habit and behavior change, not restrictive dieting. Their focus is to work on daily habits rather than an actual diet plan. Noom’s main goal is to get you to stop dieting and to start living a healthy lifestyle. You do get a diet plan with them, but their main focus is to educate you on why you make the food choices that you do and how to change behaviors for the better.
Weight Watchers does focus more on the food aspect, but there aren’t any foods that are off-limits. WW has a team of doctors and dieticians that have put together a points system around the food. This system encourages its members to choose healthier foods over calorie-dense foods, without actually counting calories. Calories do make up the points, but you don’t see a daily calorie total. By using the points system to help change food choices, members are able to lose weight and keep it off long-term.
The Deliverables: What You Get
With either program, you’ll be working through an app in similar ways. Noom’s app is where you complete all tasks. You will track your food there, track activity, blood pressure, weight, and daily habits. You can access your personal coach via the app as well as complete the “lessons” Noom has laid out for you. Your personal coach will check in with you twice a week. You’ll be added to a group of members you can chat with. This group chat is monitored by a group coach that can help answer questions. This group chat is the only community aspect of the program. Your profile, lessons, and diet plans are all private and specified to you.
Noom offers add-ons for an additional cost. These add-ons include customized meal plans, customized workout plans, a metabolism test kit, a mental wellness course, and a behavior change coach. You do get a coach via the app, but this behavior change coach add-on offers additional support via phone calls, email, and in-app messaging. These add-ons range from $50-$150 in addition to your monthly cost of the program.
Weight Watcher’s app is similar in that you will be tracking food within its app as well. The WW app makes it very easy to create recipes on your own or scan a barcode to track a food item. One feature that makes dieting much easier is their meal planning feature. You can plan out your meals for the week so you know exactly how to stay on track the entire time. The app offers 24/7 live coaching - real people respond to you, not bots. They have also uploaded audio coaching files, so you can have access to quick tips. You can join a group within the app, just like Noom, but these groups can be very specific. There are groups like “working moms”, or “people that travel for work” so you can all share tips based on your similar situations.
WW differs from Noom by offering workshops. These workshops can be attended in person or online depending on your location. They are not required- you can choose to just use the app- but the workshops are highly encouraged so that it creates community. You will find coaches and members that understand the struggle of weight loss and will be there to support you through it. WW states that members of the workshops lose twice the amount of weight as people that do it on their own. Face to Face accountability really matters!
Both apps are extensive in their functions. Each offers the following:
- food tracker
- barcode scanner
- recipes - already made and the ability to create your own
- activity tracker
- can sync with fitness wearable
- sleep tracker
- live coaching support
- access to an exclusive community
- weight tracker
WW and Noom are very different when it comes to price. They each offer a discount if you sign up for a longer period of time. You would think WW would be more expensive due to the workshops, but Noom ends up being the more expensive choice. Both encourage you to commit long-term by offering cheaper prices for a yearly subscription.
Current 2023 Noom prices are:
- Monthly auto-renewing plan for $70
- 2-month auto-renewing plan for $129
- 3-month auto-renewing plan for $159
- 4-month auto-renewing plan for $169
- 5-month auto-renewing plan for $174
- 6-month auto-renewing plan for $179
- 7-month auto-renewing plan for $184
- 8-month auto-renewing plan for $189
- 9-month auto-renewing plan for $195
- 10-month auto-renewing plan for $199
- 11-month auto-renewing plan for $205
- Annual auto-renewing plan for $209 USD
By committing to a year subscription, you will only pay about $17.50 a month for Noom. For the personal coaching offered, that is a great deal. WW can be as low as $10-12/month depending on the deal that they are running at the time. If you want the workshops included, the cheapest you can go with WW is $24/month for a yearly subscription. Without the workshops included, it’s $12/month for a yearly commitment and up to $43/month with just a month-to-month commitment.
Current 2023 WW Core Program (no workshops) prices are:
- 12-month auto-renewing plan for $12/month
- 6- month auto-renewing plan for $15/month
- Monthly auto-renewing plan for $43/month
Current 2023 WW Premium Program (workshops included) prices are:
- 12-month auto-renewing plan for $24/month
- 6- month auto-renewing plan for $30/month
- Monthly auto-renewing plan for $65/month
As stated before, you get both group coaching and personal coaching in either app. However, accountability with Noom is more prevalent. Noom has a personal coach that reaches out to you at least twice a week. WW allows you access to a coach, but it’s on you to reach out to them. If you are someone that would feel bad for asking questions, then your being responsible for reaching out would be a problem. Noom also has “lessons” for you to complete the first 16 weeks in order to make sure you’re actively following the program. You can choose the amount of time you spend on these lessons- anywhere from 5-16 minutes. WW workshops offer amazing accountability because you get to know real people, but due to the option of not having to do the workshops, you could end up missing out on that type of accountability.
To begin either program, you have to fill out a detailed questionnaire via the website about your lifestyle, activity, diet history, age, weight, and goals. This allows the algorithm to give you a personalized diet plan. The plan will automatically be set to lose 1-2 pounds a week, but you can adjust that if you want it to be more aggressive or even a bit slower.
With Weight Watchers, you can get started tracking your food and activity right away. Noom will have you complete 10 lessons within the first 16 weeks. These lessons focus on the psychology behind behaviors and how to start changing them into healthy habits.
WW has a points system for its food tracking, and Noom’s system is color coded. Weight Watchers will give you a certain amount of points for the day. You can eat whatever you’d like as long as you stay within your allotted points for the day. WW offers a ZeroPoint food list (with over 200 foods!) that encourages you to choose healthy foods. These ZeroPoint foods - items like lean meat, non-fat dairy, and vegetables- don’t add any points to your day because they are hard to overeat. By focusing on these foods, your weight loss journey will be significantly easier.
Noom’s system encourages you to eat healthy foods by having a list of green, yellow, and orange foods. You’re encouraged to eat as much of the green foods as you’d like and to limit the orange foods. Green foods are items such as veggies, fruits, egg whites, tofu, lean seafood, etc. They are low in calories and very nutrient dense. Orange foods are very high in calories such as full-fat dairy and nut butters.
The Success Rate
Either will work as long as you interact and follow it! Noom’s program is designed to last 16 weeks. Due to that, they often put a member’s calorie goal at a very low level. They have actually been criticized for giving extremely low-calorie targets like 1100-1200 calories no matter someone’s size or activity level. This is one con to Noom- there is a chance of regaining the weight. They can put you at such a low-calorie level that it’s only sustainable for 2-3 months. Once you’ve lost the weight, you may find yourself off the app, and back to old habits.
Weight Watchers offers a “maintenance” phase once you reach your goal weight. The app helps you slowly add calories back into your diet so that your metabolism adjusts well without gaining fat back. This extra effort helps people keep the weight off long term. A lot of WW members have been following the program for over 2 years without actually dieting the entire time.
Both set the diet to help someone lose 1-2 pounds a week- as long as that person is consistent and accurate. Only about 11% of people are successful with keeping weight off long-term on any diet, so Weight Watcher’s maintenance plan is a fantastic option for those looking for long-term success.
The Time Frame
Noom offers monthly contracts, but they encourage you to sign up for at least 16 weeks. This will get you through all the habit-changing lessons that are planned, and hopefully get you comfortably into your new lifestyle.
Weight Watchers doesn’t put a time frame on your membership. They want you to stay as long as you need to, even if that means continuing after reaching your weight loss goal. They have maintenance phases planned for those that need continued accountability and support.
Weight Watcher’s ZeroPoint foods and Noom’s Green food list are similar in that they focus on lean meat, non-fat dairy, vegetables, and fruits. They are foods such as:
Protein- chicken, ground turkey, eggs/egg whites, tofu, white fish, shrimp
Carbs- oats, sweet potatoes, quinoa
Vegetables- broccoli, spinach, Brussels, green beans
Fruits- berries, apples, bananas, citrus
Dairy- non-fat Greek yogurt, non-fat cottage cheese, fat-free cheese
Foods that are high in WW points or on Noom’s orange list are items such as:
Protein-sausage, bacon, anything fried, hamburgers
Carbs- processed foods such as cookies, crackers, pastries, pizza, and cakes
Fats- butter, oil, nuts, seeds
Fruits- fruit juice, dried fruit, jelly
Dairy- full-fat yogurt, heavy whipping cream, ice cream
While neither program has an “off limits” list, they do highly encourage you to pick healthy foods with the way the points and color systems are set up. You will be hungry and tired if you use too many high-calorie foods, and you will be satisfied and energized when you use healthier foods to fill your day.
Overall, WW has a higher rating than Noom. Most people seem to prefer Weight Watchers because it has helped them lose a good bit of weight and keep it off. The only negative reviews come from how difficult it is to cancel the subscription. However, WW clearly states its cancellation policy at the very bottom of the pricing page for monthly, 6-month, and 12-month commitments. They also give a number to call for cancellation.
Noom has a good reputation for slow and steady weight loss, helpful lessons, and an easy-to-use app. However, they also have negative reviews from people saying they haven’t lost any weight at all. Dietitians have negatively reviewed the nutrition aspect of the program. Noom has previously classified some very healthy, nutrient-dense foods as an “orange” food just because it’s high in calories. Noom also has some people starting off at extremely low calories, which dietitians claim is very unhealthy and not sustainable for long-term weight loss. The behavioral lessons get high praise from users and dietitians, as they do help create lifestyle changes.
The Newest Updates
Noom has added “Noom for Work” which targets large corporations. Companies can offer Noom for Work to their employees as a group program. Noom states this will raise the company’s ROI (they even have an ROI toolkit on the website) and will lower healthcare costs. The website also teases that Noom Med is coming soon- a clinical solution to treat obesity. This is more than likely due to WW announcing its new clinical obesity weight loss program.
Weight Watchers has just announced Sequence- a virtual weight loss clinic. The goal of this clinic is to offer weight loss medications to their members who meet the criteria. Weight Watchers states that healthy habits and medications together can provide a powerful long-term solution for the obesity epidemic. You can take a quick quiz on the WW website to see if you qualify for their new clinical program.
Noom and Weight Watchers Comparison at a Glance
|Accountability||Great for short-term weight loss||Videos in the app or on the website|
|Education||Daily lessons in app||Daily lessons in the app|
|Success||Chat access to a coach and can pay for in-person support group t group||Can see success long term with continued support|
|Food Tracking||Color Coded System||Points System|
|Off Limit Foods||Can have all foods in moderation||No foods are off limits, but high-protein, low-calorie foods are encouraged via the ZeroPoint food list|
|Clinical Medications||Coming soon||Offered if you meet the criteria|
Either program can be effective for weight loss. It’s going to depend on your biggest need. Is it behavioral changes that you need to address? Noom’s daily lessons will help you work on those behaviors. Noom states that due to working on the psychology behind food habits, over 50% of its members have reduced their binge eating. However, if you have ever struggled with an eating disorder, Noom may not be the right program. Their coaches do have experience as wellness coaches, but they are not dietitians and are not equipped in dealing with diagnosed eating disorders.
If you simply need a structured diet that can take you through a weight loss phase as well as a maintenance phase, WW is the way to go. You can have as little or as much support as you need through the app and 24/7 coaching access. Their new clinical program is also a great way to go if you meet the criteria and you’ve tried all the other options.