Over the past few years, health-conscious eating has been trending. More and more people are trying to develop a healthy diet and track their progress using nutrition apps. Due to the high demand, businesses want to break into the mHealth market by developing a diet app.

If you’re planning to build a diet or nutrition app, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll provide fresh insights into diet apps: what they are, who their target audience is, stages of development, must-have and nice-to-have features, and revenue models.

What are diet and nutrition applications?

Diet and nutrition apps help users maintain a healthy diet. Take Lifesum as an example. It’s a nutrition app that helps users lose weight, be healthy, and get stronger. ShopWell is a nutrition facts app that finds foods that meet users’ needs, goals, and lifestyles. Another great example is MyFitnessPal, the leading health and fitness app in March 2019 according to Statista. MyFitnessPal allows users to determine the calorie content of food and adjust their eating habits to lose weight.

diet and nutrition app development
Source: beachbodyondemand.com

There are different types of nutrition apps, including calorie counters, diet trackers, meal planners, and marketplace platforms that connect users and nutrition coaches. There are also apps designed for niches: pregnancy nutrition apps, bodybuilding nutrition apps, vegan nutrition apps, and diabetes trackers, for example.

Who uses diet and nutrition apps?

Top app ideas are worthless if your app doesn’t create real value for its users. CB Insights states that the biggest reason why startups fail is not meeting a market need. Learn your target audience inside and out before you develop a food nutrition app. Know their demographics and the problems they cope with to offer a one-of-a-kind solution. Below, we give you statistics on who uses nutrition apps. Yet this is just an overall picture. Make sure you know who you’re going to target with your particular diet and nutrition application.

diet and nutrition app development
Source: peerbits.com
  • The typical user of a diet application is young. According to a Statista survey in 2017, 26% of 18- to 29-year-olds and 17% of 30- to 45-year-olds use a nutrition tracker app regularly.
  • Users download mobile healthcare apps to track exercise, monitor nutrition, reduce weight, and learn to work out, according to research published in Translational Behavioral Medicine.
  • Losing weight and keeping it off was a New Year’s resolution for 45% of Americans in 2018, according to Statista. A 2019 Statista study shows that over half of Amercians would like to get more exercise and eat healthier.

How to create a diet and nutrition app: Stages of mobile app development at SteelKiwi

Regardless of the platform you choose ― iOS or Android — your app will go through the following stages of development: discovery, requirements and prototyping, design and coding, and testing and deployment.

  1. Discovery and research. At this stage, you introduce your idea to the software development team. At SteelKiwi, we help our clients determine if their app idea is viable by analyzing the market, competitors, and the target audience. Then, we define the key objectives and the core value of the product. After that, we write a product specification document to outline how your application will function.
  2. Prototyping. Once you approve the product specification, our SteelKiwi design team proceeds to wireframing. This saves developers’ time and effort and specifies the app’s structure, features, and navigation.
  3. Code development. This is the longest stage, during which your software development team turns your idea into a product.
  4. Testing and deployment. At this stage, our quality assurance specialist tests the application to make sure there are no bugs. After we verify the app is stable, we publish it to the app store(s).

Features for diet and nutrition apps: Must-haves and nice-to-haves

These are must-have features for any diet and nutrition app:

Must-have feature


Registration and personal profiles

Registering is usually the first thing users do in an app. At this stage, users should fill in personal details such as name, age, gender, weight, height, level of physical activity, allergies, and food preferences.

Food logging and dashboard

Users should be able to analyze their eating habits. Therefore, your app should allow them to log food and water intake and visualize their progress on a dashboard. A user’s dashboard can track calories, carbs, protein, and fat.

Push notifications

Push notifications are effective for increasing user retention and engagement. A nutrition journal app should deliver information on progress toward the current goal and motivate users to keep moving toward their goals by reminding them to log what they eat.


App onboarding is important. Make sure tutorials provide clear instructions on how to interact with your app. Apart from onboarding, add a help button in case users have problems.

Nutrition applications can have various purposes, and their features can vary accordingly. Below, we describe features that can be useful for some diet and nutrition apps (or that you may want to include later on).

Nice-to-have features



You can share diet tips, news, and the latest food and nutrition research on your blog. If users find your content relevant, they may share it on social media and thus market your app to their friends and family. Also, you can allow your users to contribute to your blog by sharing their successes and failures in maintaining a healthy diet.

Calorie counter

This feature enables your app to calculate the calories users have eaten and burned based on the data they’ve logged.

Recipe book

You can offer healthy recipes and sort them by keywords, calories, ingredients, and categories. Recipes can include pictures, video, and even voice instructions. You can also allow users to rate recipes.

Shopping list

You can allow users to add groceries to a shopping list manually or import ingredients from a recipe or a diet plan.

Barcode scanner

A built-in barcode scanner helps users to count calories and see accurate nutrition information.

Live experts

You can let users get in touch with diet coaches via your app for expert advice. Additionally, you can make this a paid feature.

Diet plans

A lot of users want a diet and nutrition app to not only count calories but also help them maintain a healthy diet. This is where diet plans come in handy. Usually, a diet plan includes nutritional tips, meal suggestions, recommended total calorie intake (per day or week), and recipes.

Integration with wearables

You can integrate your app with wearables and trackers – Android Wear, Apple Watch, Fitbit, Jawbone, Samsung Gear – to synchronize data on health metrics and physical activity.


To increase user retention and engagement, consider including game elements. You can use points, badges, and ranks to reward users for achievements like completing goals or losing weight. Note: Users are more incentivized to earn points if they can redeem them on limited features or personalized meal plans.

Useful technology tools to build your diet and nutrition app

There are different technologies to help you develop a diet app. Let’s have a closer look at the best tools and learn the biggest benefits of using them.

Gather data on user activity

If you’re planning on collecting health and fitness data, consider using Google Fit APIs for Android development or HealthKit for iOS development. These tools also gather information from third-party solutions and exchange this information among other health apps.

Google Fit APIs include The Sensors API for streaming raw sensor data, the Recording API for automatically storing fitness data through subscriptions, the History API for accessing the fitness history, the Sessions API for storing fitness data with session metadata, the Goals API for tracking user goals, the Bluetooth Low Energy API for finding available Bluetooth Low Energy devices and storing their data in the fitness store, and the Config API for implementing additional settings and custom data types for Google Fit.

By using HealthKit, your iOS diet app will provide the following functionality:

  • Gathering and storing health data
  • Merging and managing health data across different sources
  • Enabling social interactions

Incorporate nutrition data into your app

Your diet and nutrition app will most likely need a food database to let users learn nutrition details easily. There are hundreds of already existing food databases available on the market. You can integrate them into your nutrition app by using their APIs. Among the top food databases are:

  • Edamam that includes more than 700,000 products and 520,000 universal product codes (UPC). Apart from a food database API, Edamam offers nutrition analysis and recipe search APIs.
  • InRFood that works with nutritionists and dietitians to create an accurate and complete nutrition database.
  • USDA Food Composition Databases that offers Food Reports (nutritional values of foods such as avocado, potatoes, and bell peppers) and Nutrient Reports (lists of foods and their nutritional values for particular nutrients such as fats, iron, and protein).
  • Personal Remedies that allows users to find information on the harmfulness and helpfulness of different nutrients and make better food choices based on their food preferences, allergies, diseases, and medicines they’re taking.
  • MyNetDiary that includes high-quality and up-to-date data on 735,000 verified foods across the US, UK, Canada, and Australia and 376,000 UPC codes of most common foods.
  • Chomp that contains over 500,000 food products, 680,000 unique ingredients, 535,000 UPC barcodes, and 500,000 nutrition labels. There are three subscription plans: economy, standard plan, and yearly unlimited. Each plan offers different pricing and functionality.

Recognize food and products

To implement instant food image recognition technologies, consider Calorie Mama API. There are three plans:

  • Trial plan at $100 a month. This plan includes macronutrient data (protein, calories, fat, and carbs), full nutrition information, image recognition for packaged US goods, and 1000 server calls.
  • 20K plan at $2000 a month. This plan includes macronutrient data (protein, calories, fat, and carbs), full nutrition information, image recognition for packaged US goods, and 20,000 server calls.
  • Custom plan at a custom price. This plan includes macronutrient data (protein, calories, fat, and carbs), full nutrition information, image recognition for packaged US goods, and custom number of server calls.

Integrate with wearables

To automate processes (such as gathering data on user activity) and provide better user experience, your food and nutrition app will need integration with wearables. To do this, use their SDKs and APIs: Jawbone UpFitbitNike+GarminMisfit, and more.

How to monetize a diet and nutrition app?

If you’ve decided to generate revenue through your nutrition app, there are several monetization strategies you can choose from. The most effective are in-app advertising, paid downloads, and a freemium model. To achieve greater revenue, we suggest mixing monetization models.

diet and nutrition app development
Source: dribbble.com by Raditya Zayadi Maruapey

In-app advertising

In-app advertising is a frequently used method for getting revenue from fitness and nutrition apps. Every time users see an ad or click on it (depending on the advertising model), you get paid. MyFitnessPal and Fooducate use in-app ads. You can choose from video ads, native ads, banner ads, and interstitial ads.

Note: Users get annoyed by ads and can be discouraged from using your application because of them. Therefore, if you choose the in-app advertising model, make sure ads placed in your app are relevant and don’t disrupt the user experience.

Paid apps

Paid apps, or in other words paid downloads, is a revenue model when you charge users to download your app. But be careful with this strategy. There’s incredible competition and millions of free apps vying for users’ attention. If you decide to apply this model, make sure your app stands above the crowd in terms of features, design, and ease of use.

There aren’t many paid diet and nutrition apps on the market. My Diet Coach - Pro is one of the few. It’s one of the best diet and fitness apps, packed with lots of useful features like personalized diet plans, a barcode scanner, a meal diary, a calorie calculator, diet tips, in-app graphs and charts, and virtual rewards.


Freemium is the preferred revenue model among the top nutrition apps. Freemium apps have a mix of free and paid content. The app itself is offered for free with limited features (or with full features for a limited time). To access extra features or use the app for an unlimited time, users need to pay for it. Since users are more likely to download free diet apps, the freemium model is beneficial. If users choose to convert, they do so with full knowledge of the app’s value.

MyFitnessPal offers a premium membership that gives access to advanced features like food analysis, a nutrition dashboard, exercise calorie settings, calorie goals by meal, and tracking of carbs, protein, and fat intake in grams. Also, MyFitnessPal removes ads for premium users. Fooducate is another example of the freemium model. It offers a calorie and diary tracker and food library for free, while paid features include low-carb diets, gluten-free diets, GMO warnings, and no ads.

SteelKiwi advice: App founders often decide to start with free services to create a network effect. It’s a nice way to acquire users for an app and encourage participation. Therefore, we suggest that you grow first and monetize later.

Request a free quote for developing your nutrition app with SteelKiwi

Applications differ, and so do their technology stacks, features, designs, and the platforms they’re built on. All this influences the cost of your nutrition app development. Your software development team, its size, and its location matter too.

If you’re interested in knowing how much it will cost to develop a diet and nutrition app with SteelKiwi or if you have any questions about how to make a nutrition app, feel free to contact our sales representatives. Meanwhile, we suggest you to check out our healthcare software development offer and How Much It Costs to Make an App article to learn more about the costs of app development and other crucial details.