How to Build a Diet or Nutrition App?
It’s difficult to deny that healthy lifestyle and nutrition are global trends now. Moreover, it doesn’t seem like a short-term craze since every year the popularity of nutrition applications, diet plans, and healthy recipes is only growing.
About 97% of Americans say that healthy eating is very (72%) or somewhat (25%) important”. - Pew Research Center
Many Startups try to catch this wave and find their niche in this growing market. I bet my avocado toast on the fact that you are one of them! If so, keep reading this article since we’re going to share thrilling insights on how to create a diet app MVP for your Startup!
📱 Key Nutrition App Features: Make a Backbone of Your MVP
One of the most challenging parts of developing a diet app is choosing the right scope of features for your application:
- On the one hand, if you omit some essential features and your mobile Product lacks some functionality, it will probably neither meet users’ expectations nor solve their problems. Therefore, forget about Product-Market Fit and any possible success.
- On the other hand, if you make your app too complicated and spend a lot of resources and time on development, it may not work out well since it’s a lot better to get a PoC and secure funding prior to adding some advanced functionality.
Сonsidering all of the above, we decided to split the features of nutrition app development into 2 categories: ones that fit the MVP-Scope and ones that can be implemented after you pitch your Project to investors and get resources for further scaling.
However, we understand that you have your own idea. Therefore, we’ve reviewed the development process of some generic diet app so you can have an idea of what the whole process can look like.
But first, let’s take a closer look at all the must-have features you need to build a nutrition app.
🥇 Top 4 Nutrition App Features that Form the Core of Any App
The list of features below is quite basic and fits pretty much all diet applications. However, you may also add some features that make up your USP to take a specific niche on the market (we’ll review them a bit later).
# 1: Registration 📝
Personalization usually means a lot for users of health applications. To provide the most value, such apps should take into account their users’ age, sex, different health indicators like weight, height, and so on.
Therefore, the registration process allows linking your application to each specific user and providing him or her with personalized content. It also ensures that their data won’t be lost if, for example, they change their device or delete and then re-install your application.
However, you should be super attentive when working with and storing any personal data. The GDPR and other regulations in this field are rather strict, so we recommend you to store as little personal data as possible so you don’t have any problems with breaches and hackers.
We also recommend you to implement a Social Login feature when you create a diet app. This will allow your users to quickly and easily sign in into their social media profile (like Facebook or Twitter) instead of having to go through the usual sign-up process where users are required to enter their first and last name, their date of birth, email, etc.
# 2-3: Food Logging & Dashboard 📊
This is another essential feature of any diet application. Actually, it kind of works like Wikipedia or a food “dictionary” which stores information on how many calories there are in each meal/product. So, when users enter the type and amount of food they are planning to eat/have eaten, the app shows the average number of calories that the user will consume/has likely consumed.
However, it would be nonsense if you had to enter this information manually. Luckily, there are many different APIs that let you easily build a nutrition app and integrate already existing databases. In fact, we’ve listed some of them closer to the end of the article.
Don’t forget that people use diet applications not just to check the number of calories in their food, but also (and mostly) to track their dietary habits.
This means you should also create a Dashboard Screen as you make own nutrition application. It will allow users to check their daily/weekly calorie intake and plan their further meals based on this info.
Since it’s going to be one of the most used screens in your app, make sure its design is minimalistic and its UI appealing.
# 4: Hydration 💧
If it meets the scope of your Project, we also recommend you to add a Hydration Screen during nutrition app development. Adequate water consumption also means a lot to people who care about their eating habits.
The screen itself looks similar to the Dashboard Screen. Taking into consideration a user’s parameters (height and weight), the app calculates the optimal water intake and visualizes it. The way you do it is only limited by your imagination. For example, it may be the corresponding number of cups or just one big drop that is gradually filling up as the user enters new water intakes.
So, the features above make up the backbone of your diet app. This means that you should definitely include them in the scope of nutrition app development.
However, we’ve also listed some features that can help you define your USP and which may be added later when you scale your product. Let’s take a closer look!
🔝 8 Extra Features For Your Nutrition Application
# 1: Diet Plans 🗂
Many users expect your app to be a “healthy eating helper” rather than just a calorie calculator. Therefore, it may be a great advantage from their perspective if you offer them a more personalized experience (e.g., if they need to lose weight or to build some muscle mass, etc.). Again, the way you do it depends only on you.
For example, you may use some automatic algorithms that will take your users’ body parameters and offer a more or less universal solution. Alternatively, if you have enough resources and experts, you can provide your customers with private consultations, which can also be your USP.
No matter which approach you choose, the Diet Plan Screen will look quite the same: the user’s current plan, their recommended daily/weekly calories intake (you can update the Dashboard Screen with this info, too), and some general recommendations.
# 2: Barcode Scanner 📸
This is a nice and seamless alternative to the manual food login. Your customers will get a few advantages at once if you create a diet app with this feature:
- When possible, users will be able to just scan a barcode which will significantly improve the overall UX.
- They will also get more accurate data on the number of calories since it won’t be just some average estimates but rather correct and exact calculations (such information can be provided by the producers).
# 3: Shopping List 📄
Want to encourage users to open your application even more frequently? A Shopping List Feature is something that can help you with this as you make own nutrition application.
The simplest option is to provide users with the possibility to manually enter their wanted/needed goods. However, the UX can be greatly improved if you allow selecting products right from your own food database.
Also, if you implement the “Diet Plans” feature, your users will be able to automatically import some of the recommended products that match their meal plan to the Shopping List.
# 4: Integration of Wearable Devices ⌚️
Many people not only want to know how many calories they eat but also how many they burn during a day. That’s when you should remember about wearables while developing a diet app. Fitbit, Jawbone, Apple Watch or Android Wear are the main and most popular ones, however, we’d recommend covering as many options as possible to satisfy users with less popular devices, too.
Although this feature doesn’t directly relate to nutrition, it can be rather useful to your audience. People who track their weight are usually active and engage in sports. Seeing the difference between burnt and eaten calories can help them to figure out whether they’re having positive dynamics or should change something about their eating/sports habits.
# 5: Recipe Book 📚
For many people, the worst part of healthy eating is that they have to cook on their own because ready-to-cook meals are usually not very healthy.
A book of pre-made healthy recipes is something that can help your audience, save them a lot of time and give even more reasons to use your app frequently. It can be even more convenient if there is a feature with the help of which users are able to add recipe ingredients right to their in-app shopping list.
It’s possible to go as far as you want with this: just limit yourself to written recipes with photos or implement step-by-step voice instructions like in the Sidechef app.
# 6: Live Experts 👩🍳
You can also build a nutrition app with a “Live Experts Feature” for those who are seeking professional help and want a personalized interaction with your app as much as possible.
Your dietitians can provide consultations either through an in-app chat or via video calls, which will bring the UX to a whole other level.
Moreover, this feature can be used as an additional monetization solution. It will cover the needs of the ready-to-pay audience that is in need of professional guidance from experts.
# 7: Blog | Dietary Tips 📖
Another extra feature that you can implement when developing a diet app is a Blog:
- For newcomers, it will be a great source of information about healthy eating habits - what to eat, how often, at what time, and so on.
- The experienced audience may use it to read news and actual research on this topic.
Blog articles can also have a great marketing effect — if people enjoy the content you give them, they’re likely to share it on social networks and become promoters of your brand among their families and friends.
# 8: Gamification 🎮
When it comes to mobile apps, people like challenges more than anything. Gamification elements give your customers a sense of competition and encourage them to be active users and obtain new achievements.
Badges, points, tiers, ranks, titles — it all works well if you want to keep your retention rate high.
To achieve even better results, you could make own nutrition application in which gamification elements would be connected with some real benefits. Users would be more motivated to collect points if they could exchange them for a personal diet plan, limited access to paid features or a consultation with one of your nutritionists.
⚙️ Tech Stack
We at Stomotion can recommend using the following tech tools to build a nutrition app:
- You will definitely need to integrate some Food Products & Ingredients Database. For example, it may be INRFood, USDA Food Composition Databases, MyNetDiary, CalorieKing or any other you’d like. If you aren’t sure which one fits your Product best, get in touch with us and we’ll help you to make the right choice.
- Pay special attention to the Edamam Dev Platform. It provides a bunch of APIs for different cases, including food database, recipe search, meal recommendation engine and a few others.
- Calorie Mama API enables instant food recognition via devices’ cameras.
- In case you’re thinking about integrating wearable devices, Fitbit, Jawbone Up, Garmin, Nike+, Misfit SDKs and APIs are essential (depending on what manufacturer you choose).
- If you don’t plan to integrate wearables, you can still get info about users’ daily activity (including walking distance and burned calories). You can use Google Fit (for Android) and Apple HealthKit (for iOS).
💰 Cost to Build a Diet App
Here are our estimate of costs to create a diet app. Check it out:
So the diet app development costs are between $16-22,000 without the extra features like blog and between $21-28,000 including them. We calculated the costs to create a diet app using the $45/hour rate that is standard for Eastern Europe. However, this is an approximate estimate so if you want to get an accurate numbers for your project, drop us a line!
Now you know everything you need to make your own nutrition application. This market is booming right now, so you have all the chances to find your customer and occupy a prosperous niche.
The Stormotion Team would recommend you to follow the scenario below to succeed:
- Start with defining the core elements of your Mobile Project: who are the users, what is their diet/nutrition problem, and what solution will your product offer them. Don’t forget about your monetization model and USPs, as there’s a lot of competition.
- Find a reliable Dev Agency that will be your contractor and tech partner for the time being. Let them prepare an Estimate & a Roadmap and pick up the right Tech Stack. Then you’ll have a clearer picture of your Idea’s Time-To-Market - approximate costs and deadlines are quite predictable.
- Create a Diet App MVP with your Agency and check whether it solves the pain of your TA. Iterate until you find a Product-Market fit.
- Pitch your working Product to investors, secure funding and scale your application further!
We at Stormotion are ready to help with developing a Diet App. Drop us a line by hitting the button below and together we’ll build the next big FoodTech-Unicorn!