Which lifestyle program should you join?
From our perspective, you have two options:
- If you want to count calories, track your food intake, weigh your macros, lose weight fast and have a higher risk of weight regain, you can consider MyFitnessPal or Noom®. In our opinion, Noom® might be the better programme as it contains some helpful information on behaviour change and psychology, as well as a human coach for support which can keep you motivated.
- Suppose you’d like to lose weight sustainably, be supported by a UK-registered dietitian or nutritionist, and follow a programme trusted by the NHS and backed by scientific evidence published in the British Medical Journal. In that case, Second Nature might be the better choice.
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.
Some people want rigid rules and a quick fix when working towards their weight goals, whereas others like more flexibility and a long-term lifestyle change.
To save you some tiresome research and help to answer some crucial questions, this guide compares two popular lifestyle change apps: Noom® and MyFitnessPal™. We’ve included comparisons to the Second Nature program.
Both Noom and MyFitnessPal are calorie-counting programs
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).
Counting calories and logging them in the app works well for some people. However, this can lead to obsessive tendencies and isn’t sustainable in the long term for others.
Noom and Second Nature are digital, app-based programs focusing on behaviour change and sustainable weight management.
Like MyFitnessPal, Noom focuses mainly on counting calories. This is despite Noom’s marketing as a sustainable weight loss programme and use of behavioural science.
Noom may just be another strict diet
Despite Noom’s advertising as a sustainable weight loss solution, and their programme containing some information on behavioural science, their approach to nutrition and other programme elements mimic many of the restrictive dieting approaches seen in Weight Watchers and Slimming World.
“Don’t Be Fooled, Noom Is Just Another Diet.
The popular app promises weight loss without dieting. Then it proposes restrictive eating habits.
…behind Noom’s popularity and slick “no dieting needed” marketing, it’s really just another diet. The app is essentially a calorie tracker supplemented by lessons on behavior change and a personal coach who messages you. Many nutrition and mental health experts have warned that the way Noom presents itself is misleading.“
The risks of calorie-counting and strict dieting
Strict calorie restriction risks putting your body into what’s known as ‘metabolic adaptation’. This is essentially a starvation response by your body when energy intake is very low.
This triggers a cascade of events designed to encourage you to eat more and continue to store fat. You might feel lethargic and hungry, and your mood might also experience a dip.
Because of this starvation response to strict dieting, Second Nature has taken a different approach – one where you determine what level of intake works for you, and surprisingly, it can lead to more weight loss in the long term.
Second Nature’s approach: Indulgent but supports weight loss
In 2022, the NHS published data in the British Medical Journal from the National Weight Management and Diabetes Prevention programme, where five providers delivered weight loss services in the UK.
The results showed that after 12 months, Second Nature was more than twice as effective as the four other providers. Neither Noom nor MyFitnessPal has published long-term data to support its approach.
How does Second Nature’s approach work?
We approach nutrition and healthy eating differently. We don’t count calories, track macros, weigh food, or assign strict targets on your intake.
We provide you with evidence-based guidance on a balanced diet and teach you to understand what your physical and emotional drivers for eating are to reach your weight loss goals.
We also provide tools, such as our hunger scale and mindful eating techniques, that help you tune into your physical hunger cues and manage your food choices.
Alongside this, we help you build healthy habits that you can enjoy for a lifetime to help you maintain a healthy weight.
Our feedback inbox is filled with people like Jo, who lost over eight stone to achieve a healthy body weight on Second Nature after following our nutrition guidelines and receiving the support of our app and health coaches.
The difference is that members of Second Nature learn to love food again. They’re no longer restricted. They’re liberated.
If you’d like to join over 150,000 others who’ve joined Second Nature, lost weight and kept it off, then click here to take our health quiz.
Otherwise, keep reading as we look at other key differences and similarities between Second Nature and the Noom programme.
Did you know?
Second Nature was the first-ever digital behavioural change programme commissioned by the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. It continues to be part of their weight and type 2 diabetes management service.
Trustpilot is a platform where consumers can leave reviews, and scores reflect overall customer satisfaction.
|Score||4.3 / 5
|2.3 / 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||✗||✗||✓|
|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||✗||✗||✓</span style=”color: #000000;”>*|
|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 they 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 compare prices accurately.
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 the National Board has approved for Health and Wellness Coaches (NBHWC).
Second Nature coaches are qualified nutrition specialists who guide 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 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||$60 / month||$9.99 / month||$60 / month||$350 / month|
Pricing for MyFitnessPal is based on the $9.99 monthly premium price. If you commit to a 12-month subscription, the monthly cost 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 isn’t the case, as dietary cholesterol is poorly absorbed from the digestive system. If cholesterol is absorbed, the body will produce less to balance out (and prevent blood cholesterol levels rising).
Therefore, you do not need to be restricted unless recommended to do so by your GP/Healthcare professional. Eggs are highly nutritious, providing good quality protein and containing vitamins and minerals.”
Take home message
- When choosing a weight management programme, it’s essential to consider what would fit into your lifestyle and help you achieve your goals.
- Noom®, MyFitnessPal™, and Second Nature are app-based programmes.
- Calorie counting (e.g. MyFitnessPal and Noom®) is effective for some people, 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 programme
- There’s no coaching option with MyFitnessPal.
- Noom® and Second Nature help you sustainably achieve your weight goals by focusing on behaviour change and eating habits.
- Second Nature provides education in nutrition science, allowing you to make informed decisions yourself and develop a healthy relationship with food in the long term.