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How Does Noom Help You Control Your Calories?
Updated on September 13, 2023
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Diet / Weight Loss
How Does Noom Help You Control Your Calories?

Noom is a free weight loss app that calculates your daily calorie budget to help you stay in shape. It does this by using information such as your height and weight.

The Noom app ensures you consume the right amount of calories — just enough for just enough for activities of daily living and not store any extra calories. In this way, you can maintain or lose weight.

In this guide, you'll learn how to split your macros across Noom's food groups. Rizza Mira, M.D. also provides tips to help you pick healthier foods and portion meals while on the Noom diet.

Dr. Mira is a general practitioner who specializes in nutrition and diet.

How Does Noom Help You Control Your Calories? 2

What Is Noom?

Noom started as a simple calorie tracking app for weight loss. You can log your meals and it'll show your real-time caloric intake.

At present, Noom has developed into a complete weight loss system. 

But instead of just knowing how many calories you should consume, it lets you create a healthy relationship with food and get rid of unhealthy eating habits.

Noom does more than help you lose weight, however. It encourages users to practice a healthy lifestyle with its self-awareness tools. You can read our full review of Noom here.

Quick Facts on Noom’s Weight Loss App

  • A comprehensive weight loss program you can do on your own time
  • Personalized health tips about nutrition, stress management, and more 
  • Uses a habit-forming approach to losing weight
  • Wide selection of healthy recipes for planning meals
  • Connects you to registered dietitians who can create customized meal plans

What is a Calorie Budget?

One of the app’s many useful features is that it sets a daily caloric budget.

A calorie budget is the recommended amount of calories you must eat in order to achieve your goal weight. Nutritionists sometimes refer to it as caloric maintenance level.

Knowing your calorie goal requires a few calculations. Noom can calculate it for you by asking for some personal information during sign-up.

What Is A Safe Calorie Budget?

The calorie budget varies for each person. If your goal is weight loss, your daily calories is calculated based on how much weight you want to shed. 

Other factors must also be considered, such as your activity level and current health.

Noom generally doesn't recommend a caloric budget that falls below 1,200 calories for women and 1,500 calories for men daily.

Studies show that a low-calorie intake can deprive you of nutrients and cause health risks.1

Why Does Noom Limit Your Calories?

Noom promotes long-term and sustainable weight loss through mindful eating. But it doesn’t deprive you of certain food groups like carbs or fats.

Instead, it suggests that you must only consume the calories you can burn. It aims to balance your calories by limiting your calorie consumption.

Caloric Density

Noom follows the concept of caloric density to help you achieve your weight loss goals. It’s also a good way to manage your nutritional needs.

Calorie density is the amount of calories per weight of food. Foods that contain more calories per weight are calorie-dense, while those that have fewer calories have a lower calorie density.

For example, a 100-gram donut with 452 calories is more calorie-dense than a 100-gram serving of a bagel with 257 calories.

Noom believes that the food's volume (and not calories) is what gives you a full feeling. It encourages you to eat more low calorie-dense foods and less high calorie-dense foods.

Examples of Low Calorie Dense Foods

These are some foods with fewer calories per serving:

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Lean proteins such as chicken, white fish, and turkey
  • Reduced-fat milk and yogurt
  • Whole eggs
  • Some starchy carbs, including legumes and root vegetables
  • Unsweetened drinks like black coffee and tea

You have to choose your food wisely. According to Dr. Rizza Mira, while fruits such as apples, bananas, and berries are low in calories, there are better examples like peach, papaya, and grapes.

How Does Noom Calculate Your Calorie Budget?

There are several factors to consider in calculating your daily calorie budget. 

However, the Noom app uses the basic ideas of a specific equation, the Harris-Benedict formula, to determine your daily caloric intake.2

Following the formula, Noom will determine your basal metabolic rate or BMR.

What is Basal Metabolic Rate?

Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR is the number of calories you burn while your body is in total rest and in a temperature-controlled environment.3

It's the energy your body needs to support essential functions, like breathing, blood circulation, and body temperature.

To calculate your BMR, Noom will ask for your:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Height
  • Starting weight

Noom then uses your BMR to get your calorie budget. 

The equation applies an activity factor to get your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). Noom automatically defaults your activity level to "sedentary" or having little to no amount of exercise.

The calculated number becomes your minimum caloric target.2

The app also lets you log your exercise or workout, which also adds to your calorie range. It means your calorie budget changes as you do more physical activity.

Weight Loss Zone

When you open your app, you’ll see a calorie range at the top called the Weight Loss Zone. It shows your daily caloric budget.

To lose weight, you have to expend more calories than you eat. This is known as a calorie deficit or calorie deficiency.

To help you achieve a calorie deficit, Noom subtracts the calories you need to burn from your TDEE. The result will be the minimum amount of calories you need to consume in a day.

Noom also calculates the amount of calories you need in order to function. This creates a range of a few hundred calories, which is the weight loss zone.

You can achieve moderate weight loss (about 0.5 lb or 0.25 kg per week) when you consume calories at the higher end of the range. 

Consuming calories that are closer to the lower end may help you achieve significant weight loss (about 2 lbs or 1 kg per week).

How Noom Divides Your Calorie Budget

The Noom app divides your daily calorie budget and portions your meals across 3 food groups. These food groups categorize food into red, yellow, and green.

Dr. Rizza Mira explains the Noom diet plan:

"Foods that belong to the red zone need to be consumed in small amounts and yellow in moderate amounts. The green ones can be consumed in substantial quantities.”

Noom also checks your total calories as well as your calorie needs for each food group. It helps ensure that you don’t exceed your limit.

What Foods Can You Eat in a Noom Diet Plan?

You can eat anything in a Noom diet plan. There are no good or bad foods for Noom dieters.

However, its system groups foods according to calorie and nutrient density. In addition to foods with low calorie density, Noom encourages you to eat nutrient-dense foods.

A Guide to Noom’s Food Groups

The Noom app groups foods into green, yellow, and red. It recommends that you eat 30% green foods, 45% yellow foods, and 25% red foods.

Green Foods

Green foods are the least calorie-dense foods, which is why Noom recommends that you eat them the most. Despite their low calories, they are usually packed with nutrients.

Most foods in this group are high in water and fiber. They make you feel full for longer periods with fewer calories. 

Noom’s Green Foods List

  • Fruits such as apples, bananas, and berries.
  • Green, leafy vegetables like broccoli, lettuce, and spinach
  • Whole grains
  • Non-fat dairies like skim milk, non-fat cheese, and yogurt
  • Unsweetened milk alternatives or almond milk

Noom also included other nutrient-dense protein sources like tofu and tuna under the green category.

Yellow Foods 

Yellow foods are more calorie-dense than green foods. But they tend to contain fewer nutrients.

Some foods in this group are rich in protein, which takes longer to digest. In turn, they can make you feel full longer.

Noom’s Yellow Foods List

  • Lean meat parts such as lean ground beef and turkey breast
  • Salmon and other fatty fish
  • Poultry products like eggs and grilled chicken
  • Low-fat dairy, low-fat cheese, and yogurt
  • Whole grain products
  • Legumes such as black beans and chickpeas
  • Healthy fat sources like avocado and olives

Noom recommends limiting the foods in this color group to moderate amounts. 

Red Foods

Red foods are the most calorie dense but have fewer healthy nutrients.

They’re said to have “empty calories” or calories from added sugars and fats that have little nutritional value.4

Keep in mind that red foods are not “bad” for you. Instead, Noom recommends eating them less often and in small amounts.

Noom’s Red Foods List

  • Red meats like ham and bacon
  • Processed foods such as french fries, chips, and peanut butter
  • Sweets and pastries
  • Full-fat dairy products, including full-fat cheese, milk, and mayonnaise
  • High-fat sources like almonds, olive oil, and coconut oil
  • High sugar and high-calorie drinks such as wine and juices

How Noom Helps You Lose Weight

Noom’s color system works as a portioning guide rather than a strict formula. You are free to adjust your food portions as long as you don’t exceed your calories.

Their nutrition-based plans also help you feel full on fewer calories and for longer periods.

Keep in mind that your calorie budget is only there to help you be mindful of your eating. Ultimately, Noom helps you make behavioral changes so you can start to eat healthy.

Maintaining Your Weight With Noom

The benefits of Noom are not limited to weight loss. Once reach your ideal weight, you can continue using it to stay healthy.

Noom’s unique approach helps you build healthy habits. Besides changing how you eat, it also transforms how you think.

Noom claims that once you’ve set your mind to change something, your brain will help you create new neural connections that can turn your habits around.

Updated on September 13, 2023
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4 sources cited
Updated on September 13, 2023
  1. Calorie counting made easy.” Harvard Health Publishing.
  2. How does Noom determine my daily calorie target?” Noom FAQs
  3. Basal Metabolic Rate.” Science Direct. 
  4. Empty Calories.” MHealthy Nutrition and Weight Management Program.
Dr. Rizza Mira
Dr. Rizza Mira
Medical Reviewer
Dr. Rizza Mira is a medical doctor and a general practitioner who specializes in pediatrics, nutrition, dietetics, and public health.

As a pediatrician, she is dedicated to the general health and well-being of children and expecting parents. She believes that good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, and prevention of illness are key to ensuring the health of children and their families.

When she’s not in the hospital, Rizza advocates and mobilizes causes like breastfeeding, vaccination drives, and initiatives to prevent illness in the community.
Cristine Santander
Cristine Santander
Content Contributor
Cristine Santander is a content writer for KnowYourDNA. She has a B.S. in Psychology and enjoys writing about health and wellness.
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