How to Make a Nutrition App With No Mistakes [2024 Overview]

Updated 06 Jul 2023

15 Min




Let's face the truth: a mobile phone isn't only the mean of playing GTA or Angry Birds anymore! Mobile development industry has been growing so quickly, and now the smartphone is a thing capable of solving different problems in numerous areas of life. One of the fields touched by a quick growth of this industry is healthcare. People now strive to live a healthy lifestyle, and it seems that the building of an app focused on healthcare may pique entrepreneurs' curiosity. Since that we've decided to find out how to develop another application which can solve some of the users' problems (related to health, in the main), and make their life a bit easier.

In this article, we’ll go through all the basics of diet and nutrition app development as well as must-have features and useful tools that’ll help you create a competitive food and nutrition tracker from scratch.

What Fitness and Nutrition Apps Are All About?

Well, to one it may seem obvious, to another, it could be rather surprising, but the diet and nutrition app can be applied in more than one sphere of life (think sports) and used not only by athletes. Of course, it would be a great companion for those of us who decided to build a perfect body or are preparing for the upcoming Olympic Games in Brazil, but food and nutrition tracking tools can be successfully used in medicine and daily life as well.

All the abovesaid means that food trackers can solve numerous tasks usually associated with the usage of a pen and paper, from the daily water intakes logging required when following a postoperative diet to building your grocery shopping list when planning an upcoming dinner with friends. But what do they feel like?

Normally, a food and nutrition tracking app is a tool which helps you log your daily food and liquid intakes, keep track of your activities, count the calories taken/burnt, and do more of wonderful things ordinary pen and notebook are not capable of doing. In a word, diet and nutrition apps help you out greatly in taking care of your body and moving toward your goals. Of course, their stuffing can differ. However, almost all of them have something in common. Considering this fact, we've decided to devote the next two blocks to describing the features that form our food journal app. Are you ready to dive deeper? Suppose you are.

Features to build a diet app

As far as we've touched upon the subject of diet and nutrition app's capabilities, you might want to know more about them, don't you? If so, we will start with a handful of basic features every self-respectful digital nutritionist should have. We call it the minimum viable product, you can call it 'a normally working application which can attract a good number of users in the beginning'. So let's build the skeleton of our future food and nutrition tracking star.

Discover how to build MVP, its benefits and how to nail the development

Feature #1 Registration

And our first bone is a registration form. I've tried out numerous apps for tracking food, and they all start with asking you to fill in the questionnaire. In fact, you shall not pass until the application has the fullest info about your current state. Actually, this move seems quite logical. Because this is typically what you do when you come to a live nutritionist or coach.

Diet and nutrition app development

Diet Guru registration screen.

However, our in-app registration procedure is a bit different and includes one more action to be performed before giving an exhaustive description of user's physical condition. I mean a standard signing-up via email or social networks. As usually, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and others are good for such purpose.

Getting back to the questionnaire, we want to give you a basic idea on what is may contain. Thus, your application can interrogate a user about:

  • User's age
  • Height
  • Current weight
  • Desired weight
  • Allergies
  • Food preferences
  • Goals, etc.

Maybe the best but still the most hypercorrect registration form I've ever seen is the one provided by Eat This Much. They have all the abovementioned and two more points like body fat and activity level. Thus, a user can get the best recommendations as for his or her perfect diet.

But what I like even better is their animated tutorial in the very beginning. Actually, an introduction can play a significant role in gaining users' sympathy. That's why we advise you to provide them with a brief explanation on how your food tracking monster can help them out in solving their problems. Colorful pictures or animations are your best helpers at it.

P. S. It's very important to give users an opportunity to choose between the metric and imperial measure units. So you'd better keep it in mind if you want to expand your user base.

Feature #2 Food logging

Let's not forget that the main goal of our nutrition app is keeping count of what you've eaten or drunk. That's why we need some input fields, dictionary, and calories data book. Oh come on, why isn't clear enough?! That's obvious, your users don't want to type the whole name of a dish every time they want to log it. Moreover, counting calories on their own doesn't feel that pretty. So you'd better work out the fullest food dictionary ever and add some colorful pictures to make it look even better. Oh, and take care of a food calories calculator. Let's always learn from the greatest apps to track your food intake (like Ingredient1 or Noom Coach).

Diet and nutrition app development

Food logging interface.

Feature #3 Dashboard

Actually, these two, I mean the dashboard and food logging, are deeply connected. Once input, daily stats should be visible. A dash of beauty and action is exactly what our application needs. That's why every user's move should be reinforced with a high-level visualization.

Diet and nutrition app development

MyNetDiary dashboard screen.

Feature #4 Diet plan or user's goals

Most users expect your application to provide them with a useful info regarding right eating habits. So let's not let them down.

Diet and nutrition app development

User's goals interface.

Once a user specified a goal, desired weight, and food preferences, you may suggest him or her one or another diet. In case you don't want to be responsible for all this stuff, you may redirect them to a real nutritionist. But that's another story (which will be discussed later).

Feature #5 External trackers support

Let your users connect the app with third-party devices, and they will be able to track how much calories have been burnt during a day. Apple Watch, Android Wear, Fitbit, and Jawbone are Ok, but our biggest secret is the collaboration with as many wearables and tracking devices as possible. However, we can always steal some data from the Apple's HealthKit and Google Health. Soon you will find out how exactly.

One of the most useful inventions of all times in fitness industry (yet) is the Fitbit Aria smart scale. Why is it smart? Besides the ability to measure user's weight, body fat, heart rate, or monitor the air quality, this device logs this data directly to a smartphone. That's even more convenient than logging via your Apple Watch or Android Wear accessory. One more attractive thing is that this scale supports the logging of multiple family members.

Feature #6 Notifications

Consider the fact that a food and nutrition tracker should be always on the lookout. I mean it can push users toward their goals. And the best way to do it is to remind them of yourself. It would be nice to hear from your app several times a day. However, your tracker shouldn't be annoying. 'Hey, sup?' or 'Get a refresh!' twice a day will be just enough :)

Feature #7 Help

Show that your users can always count on you. That's easy, just put the '?' somewhere (in the corner) and let your users refresh their memory in case they are confused with a number of buttons. The introductive tutorial can be not enough sometimes.

Well, at this point, we need to proceed to the following block which includes the features that can be included after your application has grown a significant user base. So let's see how we can add seasoning to your product.

Additional Features

These features are special quality-of-life improvements that you can add when MVP features are already implemented. Even though they are not obligatory, you can add them to your diet and nutrition app development features list.

Feature #8 Community

Talk about family members and other people trying to lose weight or live a healthy life together, here should be a social element making them want to return and use your application again and again.

The thing is, people use fitness apps for personal purposes but they do want to show off their results, share experience, and compete. In the case of an app to keep track of weight loss, we could add a food blog, like the best food and nutrition apps do, allowing users to share their favourite recipes and experience. Of course, scoreboards are well accepted. Let your users compete and become healthier two birds with one stone! Check out how it's implemented in MyFitnessPal.

Feature #9 Linking to live experts

However heedful a diet and nutrition application may be, it won't be as severe as a live specialist. So you can integrate something like a real-time chat within your app. Nutrisystem uses such a strategy. The application pairs you with a dietitian coach who manages your nutrition on a daily basis. Depending on your goals, a professional works out a diet plan that fits you best and checks if the food you is really healthy. Sounds like another great way to earn money on your app.

Feature #10 Recipes

The in-app recipe book could be actually a good idea for your existing meal planner app. What's more, there is a chance to strengthen this improvement. How? Ask the SideChef developers. It seems that these guys have just found a new approach to making food. The app provides step-by-step voice instructions while you're completely immersed in cooking (or pan, who knows). If SideChef goes way too fast, you can ask him to repeat commands without having to get your device dirty.

Feature #11 Barcode scanner

If you seek to improve your application further, you can integrate a barcode scanning feature with your diet planner app. Fooducate has even surpassed itself at it by giving an opportunity to scan item barcodes and get a brief description on how nourishing it is.

Diet and nutrition app development

Barcode scanner screen.

Feature #12 Grocery shopping list

Just like in the case of food logging, you can embed a dictionary that will help your user out in building grocery shopping lists. Want to stand out? Well, you can learn from Thrive Market and their approach towards getting food shopping to the next level. For as little as $59,95 a year, users get the craziest deals on natural and organic products. They even make it possible for a user to shop online and get the order delivered right to his or her door.

Diet and nutrition app development

Clean Diet grocery list.

Learn all the peculiarities of on demand app developmentand its benefits for businesses

Special Tools for Diet and Nutrition App Development

Since nutrition apps are quite unusual applications, they cannot be developed without the use of special tools. Therefore, we decided to highlight the most commonly used APIs in diet and nutrition app development.

HealthKit and Google Health

These two tools are the central repository of health and fitness data on the iOS and Android platforms, respectively. The implementation of these databases is quite useful because with their features, developers can use such functions as:

  • Collection and storage of health and fitness data
  • Data analysis and visualization
  • Enabling social interactions**

Apple Watch and Android Wear extension

Apple's and Google's wearables were actually developed to collaborate with mobile applications and be their deputies if a user cannot carry a smartphone around. In addition to transferring features from mobile applications, versions for watches can have unique features for this kind of devices, such as a counter of steps, heart rate, calories burned and much more.


Apple's and Google's wearables were actually developed to collaborate with mobile applications and be their deputies if a user cannot carry a smartphone around. In addition to transferring features from mobile applications, versions for watches can have unique features for this kind of devices, such as a counter of steps, heart rate, calories burned and much more.

Recipe Search and Diet API

This tool allows you to search a large database of over 2 million recipes. In addition, the tool has an automated nutrition analysis on the web-powered proprietary Natural Language by Processing (NLP) engine.

How to Create a Diet App: Step-By-Step Process

After you have drawn up a list of features that you want to implement into your application, it's time to start developing. Since we are an outsourcing company specializing in mobile app development services, we’ll describe the relevant pipeline. If you go to freelancers or create your own team, the diet and nutrition app development process may look different.

Step #1. First Contact

The initial stage without which it is impossible to start development. You leave a request on the vendor's website, which is sent directly to the manager. After processing the application, the manager contacts you to discuss your project’s initial details and further cooperation.

Step #2. Discovery Phase

Discovery phase consists of meetings where a business analyst is gathering information about your business, goals, and project idea. When all information is gathered, the business analyst compiles it in a detailed specification, which helps make a final project estimate. Besides that, UI/UX designers create wireframes for each app screen during the discovery phase.

Step #3. UI/UX Design

Once all wireframes are done, designers start to make mockups of your application. They combine your goals, requirements, and modern UI/UX methodologies to craft a unique look of application that corresponds to your vision and corporate style.

Step #4. Development Process

The main stage during which the features described on paper turn into a working product. Development is divided into sprints, the length of which is two weeks. During these periods, developers must develop the agreed part of the functionality.

Step #5. Quality Assurance

It is impossible to create a perfect product without this step. QA engineers conduct thorough testing of all functionality, and if they find bugs and malfunctions, they pack them into bug reports. These reports help developers identify the problem and quickly fix it.

Step #6. Release and Maintenance

The development team makes the final preparations before the release, and when the application is polished, they transfer it to the customer. However, cooperation does not always end there, and the development team can support the application by introducing new features, and the product is already ready based on the customer's requirements.

See also: How to make a fitness app in our extended guide!

Monetization models

Now it’s time to discuss how your app can gain profit. There are several popular options and you should come up with the most suitable one for you before diet and nutrition app development starts.

Premium Model

The first option is selling you app for upfront money. Although, it's kind of risky since the field of diet and nutrition apps is heavily saturated so we need to have something to impress your future clients and stand out. That could be easily implemented by using the following approach going freemium. You show what your app is capable of doing and ask your client to buy a subscription to get more of its functions.

The most popular premium nutrition and diet apps are:

  • Lifesum. A simple diet app that helps you figure out how healthy eating fits in with other users' habits and covers all aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
  • A special application designed for Paleolithic diet lovers that makes it easy to plan meals and check foods for compatibility with this diet.
  • MyMacros+. The nutrition app has over 5 million foods in the app database, a barcode scanner, and a seamless logging component for foods and their weights.

Free Model With Ads and In-App Purchases

Quite a common monetization model when it comes to diet and nutrition app development. Your application is completely free, but your users must watch ads from time to time or make purchases within the system (various additional functions, removing ads, and much more).

There are several famous nutrition apps with this monetization model:

  • MyFintessPal. MyFitnessPal is one of the best calorie counting apps on the market.The app has a database of over 300 million food items to track your daily calorie intake.
  • Fooducate. In the Fooducate app, users can find out if the selected food contains harmful ingredients such as added sugar, trans fats or monosodium glutamate, and more. In addition, the app offers standard calorie counting functions.
  • Lose it. An application that helps users stick to their diet. There are various diet plans for keto, paleo, sugar detox, and more.

Well, it seems that now you're fully weaponed and ready to get down to work. Remember, if you need someone to make your ideas live, contact us, we are always here waiting for your message, or call, or e-mail, or carrier pigeon :) In short, drop us a line anytime you need a piece of advice or something.

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Frequently Asked Questions
What are the features for a nutrition app?

Here's the list of basic features for a diet and nutrition app:

  • Registration
  • Food logging
  • Dashboard
  • Diet plan or user's goals
  • External trackers support
  • Notifications
  • Help
How to create your own diet app?

To create your own diet and nutrition app the main two points are to create a feature list and decide on a revenue model. Besides, it's also important to analyze the market and find a software development company that will build a product for you.

What are the advanced features of a diet and nutrion app?

To make your app more sophisticated and broaden functionalities, you can create the following features:

  • Community interaction
  • Linking to live experts
  • Recipes
  • Barcode scanner
  • Grocery shopping list
How to make a diet app compatible with wearable devices?

Google and Apple provide their APIs to let other applications exchange vital data on a person's activities and state. Thus, your application doesn't have to query the smartphone's embedded utilities every time it needs the data on the steps walked or calories burnt. Apple and Google Health apps do already have all the necessary info.

What are the most popular revenue models for diet apps?

Here's the list of monetization strategies for diet and nutrition apps:

  • Ads
  • Freemium
  • Subscription plans
  • Paid apps
How diet and nutrition apps help users?

Normally, a food and nutrition tracking app is a tool which helps you log your daily food and liquid intakes, keep track of your activities, count the calories taken/burnt, and do more of wonderful things ordinary pen and notebook are not capable of doing. In a word, diet and nutrition apps help you out greatly in taking care of your body and moving toward your goals.

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About author

Evgeniy Altynpara is a CTO and member of the Forbes Councils’ community of tech professionals. He is an expert in software development and technological entrepreneurship and has 10+years of experience in digital transformation consulting in Healthcare, FinTech, Supply Chain and Logistics

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