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 Noom or WW. From our perspective, WW might be the better choice as you at least know what you’re getting from them. In comparison, Noom’s marketing is rarely replicated in its program.
- Suppose you’d like to lose weight sustainably, be supported by a UK-registered dietitian or nutritionist, free yourself from the yo-yo dieting cycle, and follow a program 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.
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 management 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, 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 programs: Noom, WW, and Second Nature.
WW and Noom are calorie-counting programs
WW (Weight Watchers Reimagined, formerly Weight WatchersⓇ) considers food, activity, sleep and mindset to help you lose weight.
The program is based on the WW SmartPointⓇ system – a system where foods are ranked based on their calorie density and saturated fat content – and is available in either digital or face-to-face format.
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.
Rather than a points system, Noom uses a colour coding system for foods based on their energy density. So, nuts might be in the red zone, while sugar-free jelly might be labelled green.
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.
Is WW a strict crash diet?
WW claim its points system is a better approach than calorie counting and has no adverse psychological effects that people can experience when becoming obsessive about calorie counting.
However, dietitian, nutrition writer, and food psychology expert Abby Sharp delivered a scathing review of WWs new program on YouTube titled “Dietitian Reviews Weight Watchers (YEP, IT’S STILL REALLY REALLY BAD)”.
You can watch the full video here, but here’s a quick summary of Abby’s analysis:
- The new WW is “just expensive calorie counting”.
- The points system on WW to create a ‘food budget’ is unnatural.
- The ‘rolling over’ of points might mean people intentionally restrict themselves too much to then binge at the weekend.
- WW promotes restriction and binging cycles common in people with disordered eating patterns.
- WW demonises natural, healthy high-calorie foods like Brazil nuts. If you were to enjoy 28g of Brazil nuts, you’d use up half your SmartPoints for the day.
- The points system doesn’t help you identify the quality of the foods you’re consuming. Instead, it mainly focuses on a reductionist approach to calorie density.
Noom may be another strict diet
Despite Noom’s advertising as a sustainable weight loss solution and its program containing some behavioural science information, its approach to nutrition and other program elements mimic many of the restrictive dieting approaches seen in Weight Watchers.
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.“
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.
Interestingly, WW was one of the five providers in this national programme but was removed due to poor results.
The results showed that after 12 months, Second Nature was more than twice as effective as the four other providers.
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 Noom, WW, and Second Nature.
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 and type 2 diabetes management service.
Trustpilot is a platform where consumers can leave reviews, and scores reflect overall customer satisfaction.
|Score||1.8 / 5
|4.3 / 5
|4.8 / 5
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.
|Money back guarantee||Full refund if cancelled within 14 days. After this point, any charges non-refundable.
However, a termination fee of $49.95 applies if you cancel during a Commitment Plan.
|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||All plans ongoing||Dependent on your goals||Ongoing subscription (minimum 12 weeks)|
|Easy to cancel||✓||✓||✓|
|Easy to include family||✗||✗||✓|
|Dietary approach||Low calorie||Low fat||Lower carb|
|Caters to vegetarian||✓||✓||✓|
|Caters to vegan||✓||✓||✓|
|Vegetarian/vegan recipe section||✓||✓||✓|
(nutritional supplements are available to be purchased, here)
Other than Vitamin D
|Tailors the plan around diabetes||✗||✓||✓|
|Tailors the plan around other health issues||✗||✗||✓|
(for meeting / meeting + digital plan)
|Access to a coach with expertise in nutrition||✗||✗||✓</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.
|Recipe videos in app||✗
(Free recipe videos available on YouTube without signing up)
|Exercise videos in app||✗
(Free recipe videos available on YouTube without signing up)
|Tracks custom habits||✗||✓||✓|
|Education of nutrition science||✗||✓||✓|
(Smartpoints® and Fitpoints®)
(calories represented by traffic light system)
|Food diary feature||✓||✓||✓|
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.
For basic monthly plans, Noom is the most expensive option. On the surface, Second Nature seems slightly more expensive than Weight Watchers.
However, you have the same coach throughout the Second Nature program with whom you can build a relationship rather than an ad-hoc response from a different coach each time.
Noom also provides this feature; however, on the Second Nature program, your personal coach is a registered dietitian or nutritionist rather than a previous member (Weight Watchers) or an individual from any health-related background (Noom).
Registration to a professional body requires a nationally recognised nutrition or dietetics degree.
Weekly face-to-face sessions with a registered dietitian or nutritionist can be costly ($70-$100/hour). We have added a column representing this to compare costs (Weekly Nutritionist – WN).
Monthly digital subscriptions:
|Registered dietitian or nutritionist coach||✗||✗||✓||✓|
|The same, personal coach throughout the program||✗||✓||✓||✓|
|Price||$21.95 / month||$59 / month||$60 / month||$350 / month|
If you were to opt for the Weight Watchers® face-to-face group meeting plan, it would be more expensive.
Example nutrition query response
Nutrition is a significant part of any weight loss journey. Therefore, it is essential to receive accurate and reliable nutrition advice.
We asked each program a common nutrition-related query to see how the information provided as an answer 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).”
Weight Watchers’ answer:
“There is no need to avoid these, you can go to the gov website and get the correct information on this”
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 from rising).
Therefore, you do not need to be restricted unless recommended to do so by your GP/Healthcare professional.
Eggs are incredibly nutrient-dense, providing good quality protein and containing vitamins and minerals.”
Take home message
- When choosing a lifestyle program, it’s essential to consider what would fit into your lifestyle and help you achieve your goals.
- Everyone is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss.
- Noom and Second Nature are online and app-based programs, whereas Weight Watchers has an optional face-to-face meeting plan.
- Weight Watchers focuses on eating habits, whereas Noom and Second Nature approach weight loss by focusing on behaviour change and healthy eating.
- Second Nature is the only program where you get a registered dietitian or nutritionist personal health coach.
- Second Nature provides education in nutrition and answers nutrition queries with the most up-to-date science.