How to Make a Diet and Nutrition App: The Ultimate Development Guide

Healthy lifestyle movements have been popular for several years in a row. People have increasingly begun to think about their health and often go in for sports. This also explains the popularity of fitness trackers and smartwatches that monitor activity. But in order to find out how many steps you take daily and how many calories you burn, you don’t need to buy a special expensive gadget. Offer your customers a more reasonable and rational solution: a nutrition planner app. The Mind Studios team will gladly help you with diet and fitness app development.


  1. Creating a fitness and nutrition app
  2. Who uses nutrition & diet apps?
  3. Classifying diet and nutrition apps
  4. Deciding on the type of app
  5. Features that should be implemented
  6. User preferences
  7. Things to avoid if you want to make a diet plan app
  8. Ways to earn money from your app
  9. Stages of development
  10. Cost to develop a diet app for iOS and Android

Creating a fitness and nutrition app

The first thing you need to find out before starting diet and nutrition app development is the market environment. Food and nutrition tracking tools are rather popular, but the competition is high. The popularity of health and fitness apps has grown over the past three years. Over this time, the engagement rate for these apps has increased by 63.87% according to

We’ve gathered some statistics that show tendencies for those looking to build a diet application.

  • According to Statista, the obesity rate among 20-year-olds grew from 19.4% to 31.3% from 1997 to 2017 in the US.
  • According to Statista, 47% of high school students were trying to lose weight in 2017.
Read more about fitness app development.

Thus, there are a lot of people who want to improve their health and change food habits and you have a chance to help them creating a worth-using diet and nutrition app.

Who uses nutrition and diet apps?

Who uses nutrition and diet apps?

To answer the question of how to make a nutrition app, you must first determine the target audience. As a rule, users of mobile applications are young. Statista reveals the following information about users of diet tracker apps:

  • Among people aged 18 to 29, 26% use meal planning tools regularly.
  • Among people aged 30 to 45, 17% use meal planning tools regularly.

It also makes sense to analyze why people download fitness tracking, nutrition, and related apps. According to a study published by Transl Behav Med, people’s most common goals are:

  • to track physical activity (53%)
  • to track eating habits (48%)
  • to lose weight (47%)
  • to learn to exercise (34%)

Classifying diet and nutrition apps

We’ll classify diet and nutrition apps into four groups and give examples of each type.


Nutrition apps help users eat properly by tracking calories and controlling eating habits, providing tips on the nutritional value of foods, and.

Example: The goal of Noom Coach is not only to teach users how to eat healthy food but also to make it a habit.

Weight loss diaries

These applications help users lose weight without harm to health. They let users record meals and water intake, monitor calories burned and consumed, select a fitness program, and monitor its implementation.

Example: FoodDiary is an easy-to-manage weight loss tool that includes all the functionality we’ve mentioned above.

Calorie counting and detox

Applications in this category are designed for those who monitor their diet every day, regardless of the purpose.

Example: Fatsecret can autocomplete entries, scan product codes, and even recognize products by photos. The app can create graphs and compare calorie intake and nutrients throughout the week.

Healthy food recipes

These applications help users create simple, tasty, and healthy dishes.

Example: PEP selects a menu for each day that includes simple, tasty, and healthy dishes. Menus are chosen based on a user’s settings, and the app maintains statistics. It calculates how many calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates a user needs based on their height, weight, and age, then distributes these across breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates in meals are calculated based on ingredients and their quantities.

Comprehensive applications

combine diet and nutrition apps

Applications of this type combine functionalities described above for each of the four categories.

Example: MyFitnessPal has a complete set of functionality for:

  • creating your own meals and exercises;
  • tracking essential nutrition statistics;
  • generating dynamic reports;
  • setting individual goals based on a dietary profile;
  • calculating the nutritional value of recipes;
  • handling metric and imperial measurements.

Deciding on the type of app

If you’ve decided to make a nutrition and diet app, you need to clearly understand the category your app will belong to in order to decide on the functionality that should be realized during nutrition app development. Research published in Transl Behav Med shows the most frequently used types of apps. The rating of app categories by popularity is as follows (measured by daily usage, from most to least used):

  • Fitness/workout apps
  • Healthy eating apps
  • Apps for improving overall health
  • Weight loss apps
  • Diet apps
  • Apps for maintaining weight
  • Apps for gaining weight

Features that should be implemented When making a nutrition and diet app by category

Function Description
Calendar A built-in calendar can track eating habits.
Meal data By entering information about every meal, users can analyze how well they eat every day.
Photos A nutrition app can recognize food in photos.
Calorie counter This is the basic function of a food control app.
Diet tips This feature is optional, but will be useful for those who not only monitor nutrition but also want to lose weight.
Weight loss diaries
Dashboard The app should graph calories consumed and burned and display the user’s progress.
Diet plan or user’s goals This feature allows the user to make his personal diet plan or set goals for weight loss proceeding from his physical indicators.
Diet suggestions The application should develop a diet based on a user's specific needs a diet.
Calorie counting and detox
Calorie counter The app should show how many calories are in different foods.
Food log Users should be able to upload photos and descriptions of food consumed.
Diet suggesting The app should suggest ways to adjust the diet to achieve normal calorie intake.
Barcode scanner Users should be able to immediately calculate the number of calories by scanning product barcodes.
Healthy recipes
The database of recipes Recipes should be collected in a database and be sortable by category, ingredients, calories, and level of complexity.
Ratings The application should allow users to rate recipes.
Add favorite recipes Users should be able to create their own recipes and share them.
Recipe calorie calculator A calorie calculator shows the calories in a particular dish.
Recipe search form Users should be able to search recipes by keywords, ingredients, and calories.
Features common to all applications
Registration/Sign-in Users should be able to sign in to the application.
Social sharing Users should be able to share their success, for example in losing weight, with friends.
Push notifications Users should receive reminders about eating or starting a workout.
Blog Users should be able to write about their successes on a blog and read the stories of others.
Integration with wearable devices/ activity trackers The application should synchronize data on physical activity and health so that users receive even more personalized advice.
Shopping list This feature allows users to create shopping lists.

User preferences

User preferences for diet and nutrition app

A study published in JMIR Mhealth Uhealth touches on why people use diet and nutrition apps. It shows that the main goal of users is not weight loss in a general sense. Users’ goals are individual: that is, people want an application that can adapt to them. They don’t want to use general functionality and receive generic information. They want each feature to be personalized. For example, some users may want a balanced menu for each day, some may want a reminder that it’s time to exercise, and some may need help stay motivated.

How to build a diet and nutrition mobile app: stages of development

All iOS and Android apps pass through four important stages of development:

  • Discovery stage. This stage can be called a trial. It implies an initial introduction to the idea and a search for potential ways to implement it.
  • App idea validation stage. At this stage, we estimate whether the idea is viable by analyzing the market, competitors, and feedback from the target audience.
  • UX strategy stage. At this stage, we create an entity-relationship diagram and a prototype of the application.
  • Design and development stage. This is when the software product itself is created.

Read more about App development process

Things to avoid if you want to make a diet plan app

The same study published in JMIR Mhealth and Uhealth rates the reasons why users stop using nutrition and weight control apps. Here’s a list of reasons from most to least compelling according to the results of a survey made by the authors of the research among the focus group.

  • Too expensive
  • The application collects too much information
  • The application is difficult to use

make a diet plan app process

Before launching your own diet app, check that potential customers won’t say these things about your product.

Ways to earn money from your app

There are some basic ways to make money with food and fitness apps.

  1. In-app advertising. Built-in advertising works by displaying ads in a designated space in the interface. App owners get paid for display ads based on the number of shows or clicks. This method is ideal for applications that are frequently used.
  2. Paid features. In-app purchases allow users to purchase additional features or bonuses. However, they require truly loyal followers who are willing to pay money for additional nutrition app features.
  3. Paid subscriptions have recently gained popularity, and are another option for monetizing applications. Users of subscription applications pay for access to the application. Localytics claims that the subscription model is more profitable than other monetization models.
  4. The freemium model gives users free access to basic functionality while full functionality is paid.

You aren’t limited to these methods. However, choosing a monetization model is one of the most important decisions you’ll make while developing your app, and the right method will depend on the type of app, its functionality, your target users, and other factors.

Cost to develop a diet app for iOS and Android

Cost to develop a diet app

A diet and nutrition app can’t be a standardized solution; therefore, the question of how much it costs to develop an app has to be answered individually for each specific case. The main factors that will determine the price include the idea itself, the functionality you need to implement, the technologies you choose, the design of the app, and the operating system your app will be created for. The minimum cost of diet app development is about $49,400. You can read more about how to estimate mobile development expenses in our article on estimating the cost of a mobile app.

A consultation is always free, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions about how to create a diet and nutrition app.