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Food writer Nevin Martell kept seeing ads for the Noom diet while he scrolled through food porn on Instagram. Now, he's trying it for six months. (Image: Getty Images)

What happens if you commit to Instagram diet Noom for six months?

I stumbled upon my latest diet while looking at food porn. Ads for Noom kept popping up in my Instagram feed in between photos of burgers, the latest plates from famous chefs, and desserts packed with a week’s worth of calories. After scrolling by it countless times, I finally clicked to discover Noom is an app-based calorie counting system buttressed with healthy lifestyle education, personal coaching and group motivation. It seemed a lot more customizable and flexible than other diets I have tried in the past – Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, paleo – while offering the kind of virtual encouragement I felt would be personally helpful to a guy like me who doesn’t have time to meet with a dieting coach or support group a couple of times a week.

In late February, I finally committed to Noom for six months ($111.75 total thanks to a promo code I found online) after getting on the scale and admitting to myself that the 40 pounds I’ve wanted to lose for quite some time now weren’t simply going to shed themselves.

The Noom process is simple, but still intense in its own way. Every morning, you record your weight. There are a few lessons to digest every day – approximately 10 minutes worth of reading – teaching you everything from what triggers people to eat (and how to combat those impulses) and the necessity of a good night’s rest to achieve weight loss to the best foods to eat and ideas for how to add movement and exercise to your day. It tells you how many calories you have available each day (this number can increase if you exercise more) and you log everything you eat in an easy-to-use system that includes many commercially available foods and generic dishes.

Your coach checks in with you at least once a week to ask about your progress and offer some cut and pasted encouragement. The best part about this element is the coach will ping you through the app –and via text, if you give them permission – if you stop weighing in, logging calories, or otherwise interacting with Noom. And there is a group chat within the app that connects you to a group of other dieters. This has been the component I use the least, but it’s clear that other people in my cohort are finding it very useful and motivational.

It seemed like it would be easy enough to handle. However, some days I have skipped the recommended reading, forgotten to weigh in, or missed recording some meals. That being said, Noom has generally been relatively painless. Constantly making the right choices when I eat – that’s another problem.

You see, I work as a food writer, so part of my job is to eat the kind of stuff I constantly look at in my Instagram feed. Thankfully, Noom has been great at reminding me to make better choices when I’m not on the clock. In general, I’m now a more intentional diner at home. I find I’m eating more lean protein, vegetables, and fruits, while consuming fewer carbs and less processed sugar.

The other great benefit of Noom is its step tracker (i.e., your phone turns into a Fitbit of sorts). Since much of my time is spent sitting down – either writing, eating or writing about eating – this functionality has been a good reminder for me to move around regularly, take a long walk every day to ensure I hit my step goal, and motivate me to get more exercise in general.

I’ll admit, I took a week-long break from Noom when I was on vacation in Mexico – thankfully, the trip involved lots of walking around and generally good food choices – but I have otherwise kept up with it. I have lost eight pounds so far. Though I have reached what I hope is a momentary plateau after six weeks, I am still committed to the program. If all goes well, I will reach my weight loss goal by later this summer.

Stay tuned for Nevin's thoughts at the halfway point and his finale post!