Weight management programmes can provide a helpful structure for your health journey when you feel out of control with unhealthy habits and want to lose weight.
They can also be a great way to join individuals going on the same journey, which can be incredibly motivating.
Everyone is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing a weight loss programme. It ultimately depends on what suits your individual needs and what fits into your lifestyle.
Many people find online weight management programmes more convenient and easier to fit into daily life.
To save you tiresome research and help to answer some crucial questions, this guide compares two popular online weight loss programmes; Noom® and Second Nature.
Both Noom and Second Nature focus on behaviour change and sustainable weight loss. Both weight loss apps provide the same coach throughout the programme, allowing you to build a relationship with your coach.
With Second Nature, you’ll have daily access to your qualified coach via private chat for expert advice, support, or just a little motivation when you hit a bump in the road.
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.
Dietitian and eating disorder expert Christine Byrne wrote a review on Noom for Outside magazine in 2021 and quoted:
“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.“
Calorie counting on Noom
On Noom, you’re assigned a ‘personal’ calorie target. However, it seems that everyone is assigned a 1200-calorie target, no matter what information you put into the Noom quiz.
Like Weight Watchers and Slimming World, Noom also has a food ranking system to inform you what foods are ‘good’ and ‘bad’. They use a traffic light system based on the energy density of foods.
Energy-dense foods (such as cheese) are labelled red, and low-energy-dense foods (such as vegetables) are labelled green.
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.
Did you know?
Second Nature was the first-ever digital behavioural change program commissioned by the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. It continues to be part of their weight management and type 2 diabetes management service.
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. Currently, Noom has no 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.
Trustpilot is a platform where consumers can leave reviews, and scores reflect overall customer satisfaction.
|Score||4.3 / 5
|4.8 / 5
|Money back guarantee||Full refund (apart from $1 admin fee) if cancelled within 14 days. After this point, any charges non-refundable.||Full refund if cancelled within 14 days. After this point, any charges non-refundable.|
|Clear breakdown of costs||✗||✓|
|Clear cancellation policy||✓||✓|
|Length of program||Dependent on your goals||Ongoing subscription (minimum 12 weeks)|
|Easy to cancel||✓||✓|
|Easy to include family||✗||✓|
Want to make losing weight feel easier?
Second Nature uses science to help you make healthy choices, ensuring they stick in the long run. Join the 150,000 people on a Second Nature journey today by taking our quiz. We use your quiz answers to tailor our advice and support on the programme, to ensure you lose weight and keep it off.
|Dietary approach||Low fat||Lower carb|
|Caters to vegetarian||✓||✓|
|Caters to vegan||✓||✓|
|Vegetarian/vegan recipe section||✓||✓|
(other than vitamin D)
|Tailors the plan around diabetes||✓||✓|
|Tailors the plan around other health issues||✗||✓|
|Access to a qualified nutrition specialised||✗||✓</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.
|Encourages daily weigh-ins||✓||✗|
|Tracks water intake||✓||✓|
|Tracks custom habits||✓||✓|
|Education of nutrition science||✓||✓|
|Requires calorie counting||✓
(calories via a traffic light system)
|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 basic price plans on each program to show you how costs compare. All admin fees are included in these prices.
Both programs provide a coach to support you throughout your lifestyle change journey. Noom® coaches can come from any health-related background, while Second Nature are coaches with expertise in nutrition.
Another option to get support with your diet would be to see 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||$60 / month||$350 / month|
Example nutrition query response
Nutrition is a significant part of any lifestyle change. Therefore, it’s important to receive accurate and reliable nutrition advice surrounding nutrition.
We asked each programme a common nutrition-related query to see how the health coaching support compares.
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).”
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 is not 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 among the most nutritious foods on the planet, providing good quality protein and being loaded with vitamins and minerals.”
Take home message
- When choosing a weight management program, it’s important to consider what would fit into your lifestyle and help you achieve your goals
- For those who find face-to-face meetings uncomfortable or inconvenient, digital programs are a better option
- Noom® and Second Nature are both fully digital
- Noom® has a clear guide of foods to eat or avoid; however, the focus is on reducing calories and daily weigh-ins, which might not benefit those with an unhealthy relationship with food
- Second Nature provides education in nutrition science, allowing you to make informed decisions and develop a healthy relationship with food in the long term.
- You can download the Second Nature and Noom apps on the Apple or Google play stores.
Can Second Nature be used with AOL in the U.S.?
Noom can not . It requires a Google account.