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The Noom Diet Is Trending (but What the Heck Is It?)

You’ve seen the ads popping up all over your Instagram. It was one of the top trending diets of the year, according to Google. But what the heck is the Noom diet (and can it help you shed those extra pounds)? Here’s everything you need to know.

So, what is the Noom diet? Noom is an app-driven eating plan that’s been dubbed the “Weight Watchers for millennials.”

And how does it work? Users download the app and complete a series of questionnaires about their weight, goals and past experiences with dieting. Based on their responses, they receive a 16-week personalized eating and workout plan, plus a certified health coach to help reach their goals. The app is also used to keep track of daily fitness activities and food intake (Noom color-codes foods green, yellow or red to help guide food choices but says that it’s OK to eat from all three colors).

So far, it sounds pretty standard. What makes Noom different? Here’s a cool feature: Noom takes a look at common psychological hurdles to weight loss and teaches users healthy habits that can keep the pounds off in the long term. It also offers interactive features (like daily quizzes and checking in with your health coach) and support from a community of dieters you can chat with in real-time.

But does it work? Well, a study published in Scientific Reports involving 35,921 participants found that 77.9 percent lost weight while using the app. (Not too shabby.) While the study was published in an open-access journal (meaning that it didn't go through rigorous peer review), the results are promising. Weight loss expert Sue Decotiis, M.D., agrees: “The education elements of the app, such as reducing and understanding calories and carbohydrate intake, increasing physical activity, and gaining nutritional knowledge is imperative,” she told Women’s Health. And because the diet doesn’t ask you to cut out entire food groups (it’s more about moderation and portion-control), you’re more likely to stick with it.

Any downsides? While the health coaches are certified by the National Consortium for Credentialing Health & Wellness Coaches, it’s worth noting that they’re not trained professionals like registered dietitians or certified trainers. (The personalized eating plan is developed by a registered dietician, however.) Oh, and the app isn’t exactly cheap; prices start at $45 per month. But overall, Noom is a sensible eating plan that’s likely to deliver results over time if you follow the guidelines. Just remember to check with your doctor before starting a new diet, OK?

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