If you’re trying to lose weight, then you already know there are countless programs to choose from and round-the-clock diet fads. So, it can be pretty hard to suss out which plan will work best for you. But tons of dieters are sizing up two verrrry popular plans in particular: Noom versus WW (previously Weight Watchers).
While WW has been around for over 50 years, touted by celebs like Oprah and Kate Hudson, Noom is relatively fresh on the scene, with a little over 10 years under its belt. But despite it being a legacy versus newbie situation, the programs do share a major pro: “Both of them are based on this principle that no food is off limits,” explains New York City-based nutritionist Samantha Cassetty, RD. “They’re both aimed at helping to steer you towards healthier foods, but also are flexible about including the foods that you like.”
So how do you choose which diet plan is right for you? Read on to learn more about the difference between Noom and Weight Watchers, and which program dietitians think is more effective for weight loss.
What is WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers)?
What it is: WW remains one of the most popular weight-loss programs in the world, and it was ranked the fourth best overall diet by U.S. News. WW uses a points system and community network to boost accountability and ultimately help you achieve your weight-loss goals.
How it works: When you sign up, you’ll take an assessment to answer questions about your eating habits, food preferences, lifestyle, and activity level. From there you’ll be assigned a program by color (blue, green, or purple) and be given a personalized amount of SmartPoints to help track and monitor food intake.
Every food and beverage is assigned a point value, based on its nutrition content. So you’ll track breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks every day. The key is to stay within you daily SmartPoints goals. But each plan—blue, green, and purple—factors in extra weekly points if you need them (in case you need a little wiggle room!). Some foods are even considered zero points, meaning you can eat them in any amount.
- Easy-to-use trackers: You can log food, water, and physical activity all in the same place in the app. Plus, the program offers an integrated barcode scanner so that you can easily know how many points are in your cart while shopping.
- Recipes: There are thousands of recipes on the app that you can filter by dietary needs and prep time. And WW also has a partnership with Blue Apron to make at-home cooking that much easier.
- Fitness: You’ll have access to free workouts on the app, and WW has partnerships with fitness companies like Aaptiv, an audio instruction program that offers no equipment workouts made specifically with WW users in mind.
- Community: Because WW has been around for so long, it’s network both on social media and IRL is huge. You can attend meetings and workshops in your area or receive live coaching through the app.
What is Noom?
What it is: While Noom may be the newcomer, it claims to be the “last weight-loss program you’ll ever need,” according to the website. Unlike many weight-loss apps, Noom doesn’t just focus on tracking food and counting calories, it also aims to address behavioral changes and psychology around dieting and weight loss.
How it works: Once you download Noom, you’ll be asked if the app can access your smartphone’s Health app, which it will use to log your exercise and food throughout the day. You’ll be given a recommended calorie level per day, and the app will direct you toward the best foods to eat, rating them on a scale from green to yellow to red (or the least to the most calorically dense). You’ll be encouraged to do daily weigh-ins to stay on target.
There’s also an educational component to the program. The app also checks in on your mental state, too, by asking you to rate your motivation level, and it provides lessons on how to create healthy habits. (And pay attention because you could get quizzed on them afterward!)
- Education: You’ll get lessons throughout the week about topics that could impact your weight-loss journey, including nutrition, stress management, and goal setting.
- Live coaching: Feeling less than motivated today? Tap your Noom health and wellness or accountability coach for a helping hand.
- Tracking: You’ll be able to log all of your meals, snacks, and daily exercise, and you’ll also be able to keep an eye on other important health measures like blood sugar and pressure.
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How much does each program cost?
WW: There are different types of memberships you can choose between on WW. Here’s a quick rundown.
- The Digital plan costs $3.22 per week (or about $12 to $15 a month) and gives you access to the app, along with tracking capabilities, fitness and recipe guides, and a social platform to chat with fellow WW members.
- The Workshop + Digital plan is $6.92 per week (or about $28 to $35 a month). You’ll get everything the digital plan offers, plus in-person coaching sessions with other local members.
- The Personal Coaching + Digital plan will run you $12.69 per week (or about $50 to $64 a month). This will include all the digital perks and a weekly phone call with a WW coach instead of meetings.
Noom: The app is free and you can do a 14-day trial for is just $1 if you’d like to test out the program before paying the monthly fee. Noom really only offers one basic plan that costs $59 a month, so it’s a tad pricier than WW. But you can save by committing to a longer plan up front.
- Monthly auto-recurring plan: $59
- Two-month auto-recurring plan: $99
- Four-month auto-recurring plan: $129
- Six-month auto-recurring plan: $149
- Eight-month auto-recurring plan: $159
- Annual auto-recurring plan: $199
How do you log food on WW and Noom?
On WW: With Weight Watchers you’re going to count and log by SmartPoints. Every food and drink has a corresponding SmartPoint value. But the healthiest food options (think: certain fruits and veggies) are considered zero-point foods. You’ll be give a personalized SmartPoint budget based on your initial assessment and weight loss goals and be assigned to one of three plans—purple, green, or blue.
- The Purple plan offers over 300 zero-point foods (win!), but you’ll also have the lowest number of total daily points.
- The Green plan gives you a little over 100 zero point foods, but the highest number of daily points.
- The Blue plan is right in the middle, offering 200 zero-point foods and an average (not too high, not too low) number of daily points.
On Noom: Remember, Noom is focused on both weight loss and education. So in between logging you’ll also be given daily tasks, usually short articles to read about nutrition, mindfulness, or other holistic aspects of dieting and weight loss. And instead of assigning point values to individual foods, Noom groups foods into three categories, arranged from least to most calorically dense. Your goal? Eat what you want, but stay within your given calorie limit by eating foods mainly from the green and yellow food groups.
- Green foods: This includes vegetables (broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots) and fruits (blueberries, apples, bananas), plus other low-caloric density foods like egg whites, whole-grain bread, and quinoa. You’re encouraged to consume these often.
- Red foods: These are the most calorie-dense foods (think: nuts, cheese, beef, pork, pizza, cake), and you’re encouraged to eat them sparingly.
- Yellow foods: These fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to caloric density (think: chicken, eggs, turkey, beans, ground beef, avocados). So, eat them in moderation.
Do WW and Noom come with fitness guidance or workout recs?
Yes! Both programs offer fitness components or add ons to their memberships. With WW, you can actually put FitPoints, or points earned during a workout, toward your daily SmartPoint Budget (a half hour on the elliptical could earn you around nine points, for instance). WW offers both free challenges and workouts on the app or through partnerships like Aaptiv.
Noom, on the other hand, has a paid add-on option for a custom workout plan. But the app also encourages you to get moving on your own—you’ll be asked daily whether you’ve exercised or not.
Which program is better: WW or Noom?
TBH, it depends on what you’re looking for. Abby Langer, RD, owner of Abby Langer Nutrition and author of Good Food, Bad Diet would vote Noom. “It addresses the psychology behind why why we eat and the food choices that we make,” Langer says. And for her, that’s of the utmost importance when it comes to having a shot at a sustainable weight-loss plan.
Cassetty, on the other hand, says the support network within the Weight Watchers community is huge. “They’re constantly updating their algorithm and offerings based on what they know about their community,” she says.
With either diet program, Cassetty says it’s important to be flexible with yourself when you’ve had a so-called slip-up—say, by eating too many red foods or exceeding your SmartPoint limit. “We don’t want to demoralize food,” Cassetty says. “We just have to learn how to enjoy it more healthfully.” She emphasizes that this can be done on either of the programs with care and a little self-forgiveness.