Lifestyle programs can provide a helpful structure for your health journey when you feel out of control with unhealthy habits. In particular, they can be especially useful in helping you achieve your weight goals. Programs are a great way to join individuals going on the same journey, which can be incredibly motivating.
Everyone is different, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to choosing a lifestyle change program. It ultimately depends on what suits your individual needs and what fits into your lifestyle.
When it comes to working towards your weight goals, some people want rigid rules and a quick fix, whereas others like more flexibility and a long-term lifestyle change.
To save you some tiresome research and help to answer some important questions, this guide compares two popular lifestyle change apps: Noom® and MyFitnessPal™. We’ve included comparisons to the Second Nature program.
MyFitnessPal relies on you logging food and exercise. Through logging exercise and meals, MyFitnessPal calculates the number of calories consumed and burned to try and help you achieve a calorie deficit (where you’re taking in less than you’re using up). For some people, counting calories and logging them in the app works well. However, this can lead to obsessive tendencies and isn’t sustainable in the long term for others.
Noom® and Second Nature are both digital, app-based programs that focus on behaviour change and sustainable weight management.
Like MyFitnessPal™, Noom® focuses mainly on counting calories, whereas Second Nature is a holistic program that can help you achieve your weight goals by targeting all angles, including nutrition, exercise, sleep, and behaviour. Second Nature gives people the tools they need to achieve their weight goals sustainably.
Did you know?
In the UK, Second Nature was the first ever digital behavioural change program to be commissioned by their National Health Service (NHS) and continues to be part of their weight management and type 2 diabetes management service.
Trustpilot is a platform where consumers can leave reviews and scores reflect overall customer satisfaction.
|Score||4.4 / 5
|2.0 / 5
|4.8 / 5
|Money back guarantee||Full refund (apart from $1 admin fee) if cancelled within 14 days. After this point, any charges are non-refundable.
||There are no refunds for termination or cancellation of the premium service||Full refund if cancelled within 14 days. After this point, any charges are non-refundable.|
|Clear breakdown of costs||✗||✓||✓|
|Clear cancellation policy||✓||✓||✓|
|Length of program||Dependent on your goals||Monthly and yearly premium membership available. Length of program is dependent on your goals.||Ongoing subscription (minimum 12 weeks)|
|Easy to cancel||✓||✓
(Note: there are no refunds for cancelling the premium service)
|Easy to include family||✗||✗||✓|
Already found out enough?
Pay what you like for the first 2 weeks of Second Nature and start building healthy habits today
|Dietary approach||Low fat||Low calorie (calorie counting)||Lower carb|
|Caters to vegetarian||✓||✓||✓|
|Caters to vegan||✓||✗||✓|
|Vegetarian/vegan recipe section||✓||✓
(Meals and Recipes are limited to premium members)
(Minerals and nutrients can be tracked within the food diary)
(Other than Vitamin D)
|Tailors the plan around diabetes||✓||✗||✓|
|Tailors the plan around other health issues||✗||✗||✓|
|Access to a peer support group||✓||✗||✓|
|Access to a qualified nutrition specialist||✗||✗||✓*|
|Weekend support available||✗||✗||✓|
*Second Nature coaches are all UK registered dietitians or nutritionists. This means they have completed university accredited degrees to gain this professional title. However, coaches are not registered in the US, so don’t meet the regulatory requirements to be considered US registered dietitians or nutritionists.
|Exercise videos in app||✗||✗||✓|
|Recipe videos in app||✗||✓||✓|
|Encourages daily weigh-ins||✓||✓
(Frequency should depend on your goals and mentality)
|Tracks water intake||✗||✓||✓|
|Tracks custom habits||✓||✗||✓|
|Education of nutrition science||✓||✗||✓|
|Requires calorie counting||✓(calories represented by traffic light system)||✓||✗|
|Sets daily calorie targets||✓||✓||✗|
|Food diary feature||✓||✓||✓|
|Meal planning tool||✓||✓||✓|
|In-app journalling tool||✓||✗||✓|
When programs provide price plans in different formats, it can be hard to accurately compare prices. To make this easier, we have calculated the price of monthly digital price plans on each program to show you how costs compare (as of May 2021). All admin fees are included in these prices.
MyFitnessPal™ is an unguided weight management option that solely focuses on calorie counting. There’s no option for coaching or extra support.
Both Noom and Second Nature offer more holistic support and include access to a coach to support you on your lifestyle change journey.
Noom® coaches can come from any health-related background. They have a Health Coach Certification offered by the ‘Noomiversity’, which has been approved by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaches (NBHWC).
Second Nature coaches are qualified nutrition specialists with expertise in guiding people through lifestyle change. All Second Nature coaches are UK registered dietitians or nutritionists. This means they have completed university accredited degrees to gain this professional title.
Another option to get support with your diet would be to have private sessions with a registered dietitian. Weekly face-to-face sessions with a registered dietitian can be very expensive ($70-$100 per session). We have added a column representing this to compare costs, labelled weekly registered dietitian (WRD).
Monthly digital subscriptions:
|Access to a qualified nutrition specialist||✗||✗||✓||✓|
|The same, personal coach throughout the program||✓||✗||✓||✓|
|Price||$59 / month||$9.99 / month||$60 / month||$350 / month|
Pricing for MyFitnessPal is based on the $9.99 monthly premium price. If you choose to commit to a 12-month subscription, the cost per month decreases. Refunds for cancellations are not available.
Example nutrition query response
Q: Are eggs bad for your cholesterol? Should I avoid them?
“No single food will stop or start weight loss. It’s all about balance! I suggest consulting with your doctor regarding specific needs (i.e., cholesterol).”
Answers from MyFitnessPal are computer generated; therefore, MyFitnessPal doesn’t answer your direct question. Instead, it provides you with a link to a related article.
“Protein is found in a variety of foods: meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy and even grains. From a dietary perspective, meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and soybeans are complete proteins; that is, they provide all of the amino acids required by our body. Other protein foods like legumes, some nuts and seeds, and grains, don’t provide adequate amounts of the essential amino acids by themselves but can when eaten in combination with other foods and as part of a balanced diet.”
The full article on Protein by MyFitnessPal can be read here.
Second Nature’s answer:
“Eggs are a rich source of dietary cholesterol. It was previously thought that cholesterol-containing foods increase blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease and strokes. However, this has not been shown to be the case as dietary cholesterol is poorly absorbed from the digestive system, and if cholesterol is absorbed, the body will produce less of it to balance out (and prevent blood cholesterol levels rising). Therefore, you do not need to be restricted unless recommended to do so from your GP/Healthcare professional. Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet providing good quality protein as well as being loaded with vitamins and minerals.”
Take home message
- When choosing a weight management program, it is important to consider what would fit into your lifestyle and help you achieve your goals
- Noom®, MyFitnessPal™, and Second Nature are app-based programs
- For some people, calorie counting (e.g. MyFitnessPal and Noom®) is effective, but for others it may lead to obsessive behaviour and isn’t sustainable over time
- Noom® has a clear guide of foods to eat or avoid, which can be helpful for some but might not benefit those with an unhealthy relationship with food
- Noom® and Second Nature include coaching throughout your program
- There’s no coaching option with MyFitnessPal
- Noom® and Second Nature help you achieve your weight goals sustainably by focusing on behaviour change as well as eating habits
- Second Nature provides you with an education of nutrition science, allowing you to make informed decisions yourself and develop a healthy relationship with food in the long-term