Top 7 Calorie Tracking Apps and How to Develop One

Around 10 years ago, we could not imagine using our mobile phones for personal health. But, as is often the case, things change quickly on the digital market. Now we can chat with doctors, track our heart rate, and count steps with only one device – our smartphone. Why would we not use it to track calories then? This thought is not new.

As of June 2020, leading health and fitness apps have generated more than one million dollars in revenue. People now take care of their health more than ever before, and this is a global trend. Be it a lockdown or not, users will try to become healthier by all means. There is hardly a better moment to launch a calorie tracking app.

This is a complete guide for you that presents market leaders and describes the development process of calorie-tracking apps step by step. 

7 Best calorie tracking apps in 2020

What does a typical calorie counting app look like? It is hard to give a definitive answer. Calorie tracking is often only a part of the app’s functionality. Let’s take a look at the most popular options on the market.

1. MyFitnessPal

This app is among the most successful fitness projects according to Statista. And it is not surprising given how long it has been around (since 2005) and its huge fan base (900K of downloads in July 2020).

MyFitnessPal is a food tracker to start with. Users track what they eat by choosing a meal from the app’s database, which is big, and can pick the portion’s size. Also, you can find new recipes within the app, log exercises, connect this app with other health trackers, and share your experience with others.


2. Fitbit

The story of this brand started in 2007, but not with an app. Its main focus was on wearable devices and accessories for human health. Now the app has also become a strong market player as it has a robust set of features that includes step, exercise, heartbeat, and water intake trackers. The calorie counter is a part of this complex product.

3. Lifesum

This app will help users stick to a habit of healthy eating. You have everything you need for that: different meal plans for your lifestyle and preferences, a database of recipes, meal and activity trackers, and finally, a calorie (along with protein, carbs, fat, etc.) tracker. Eventually, users get a personalized experience, making it easier to keep up with a healthy diet.


4. Fooducate

The application provides users with more information about their meals. The two main ingredients of this digital “dish” are AI and barcode scanning. So, by using a smartphone, people can figure out how healthy the food or product is. Fooducate has built-in calorie and weight loss trackers.

5. Lose It!

Here is another all-in-one application – the set of features is impressive. The user sets a goal and then tracks food, calories, and water intake along with daily exercises. The smart camera and barcode scanner are also available to provide insight about what you eat. And finally, users get progress reports and can sync the app with wearable devices.


6. Yazio

This is another helper to control your weight, and you have four basic features for that: 20 meal plans for your choice, a recipe database, calorie counter, and connectivity with other apps and devices. Additional functionality includes nutrition analysis of the dish or product, code scanner, food rating, and many other features.

7. FatSecret

FatSecret has several standard features of the healthy eating app and also includes social media functionality. With it, you can scan and analyze your meals, count calories, and, most importantly, share your success with like-minded people. It is easier to work on a new habit if you tell others about your experience.


How to create a calorie tracking app

All these apps we have described look amazing and already have their loyal users. But where does this road start? What you should do first if you want to build a calorie counter app from scratch? We are here to answer your questions.

1. Research the market and form an idea of the future app

Now you clearly understand that calorie tracking is a vital feature of health apps. The next step is to figure out how it can be combined with other features and, most importantly, what new you can offer to smartphone users.

  • Start with market leaders. These apps have already become successful, and their experience can be a start for your research. What features do they provide? What do you like the most as a user?
  • Make up a list of typical features. Our small research has already shown that calorie trackers are only a part of a more complex application. What is usually added to make a full range of a health app? Maybe you can add a unique trait that will make your app stand out.
  • Check the reviews. The user’s opinion is often more insightful than the app’s characteristics. Here people share their pain points and suggest app upgrades. You can easily find some inspiration there.
  • Research the apps’ UX/UI design elements. You should download several apps and go from point A to point B as a common app user. Notice what you like the most, where you find some inconveniences, what design elements you find fascinating, etc.

Your initial thoughts in combination with thorough market research will help you come up with a solid idea. You should document every aspect of it, and then you can move on.

Read also: Key Areas Your Business Should Focus On Post COVID-19


2. Decide on the app’s technical filling

What mobile platform to choose and programming languages to use – these are the two vital points for any mobile app. Basically, now you decide how your application will look on the inside, and you will need some help from a professional developer.

Mobile platform. On the one hand, Android OS has a bigger market share: 74,25% (August 2020) compared to 25,15% of the iOS system. But at the same time, people in some regions prefer iOS more than Android: in North America, people use Apple devices more often (52,79%); in the US this number is 59,33%.

It is up to you to decide on what market you are going to start working in, and, subsequently, will impact your final decision about the operating system.

Tech stack. The OS you choose inevitably impacts other steps of your decision making process. For Android, developers often choose Kotlin or Cordova SDK (Software Development Kit). iOS developers often pick Swift SDK or Cordova as well. Other popular cross-platform programming languages include Unity, Ionic, React Native, etc.


3. Determine the list of features

The number of features in health and fitness apps can be infinite, so it is hard to decide where you should start. While conducting your market research, it is easier to identify what calorie counting apps have in common. Here is the list of features to consider first:

  • User profile. This is where it all begins – all personal information about users will be stored in their accounts.
  • Meals and water intake. First and foremost, users keep a diary of what they eat and drink daily, and calorie tracking is vitally important in this case.
  • Macro tracking. By this, we mean counting macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat). Tracking them is a healthy approach to dieting. While lots of diets limit the macro intake, healthy eating, on the contrary, means that you eat enough of all macronutrients – that is why it is a high-priority app feature.
  • Diet plans. Users do not even have to google healthy dieting – they can find everything in one mobile tool. Detailed meal plans are usually a part of the premium content.
  • Recipes. It is a little simpler than step-by-step plans. By providing a broad recipe database, you give people a reason to come back to your application during the day.
  • Healthy eating goals. Specific goals are necessary to form a positive habit. You can help users out by adding some gamification elements to provide an additional incentive to their daily routine.
  • Reporting. Anything you track or will track within your app in the future should be reflected in the report. Be it  water intake or calorie counting, its stats should be demonstrated in graphs and numbers.
  • Notifications. Messages from your app can be about anything: reminding users to drink some water or to track their lunch. It is convenient because smartphone users unlock their devices many times a day, and they will notice the app’s reminder.
  • Social sharing. They say if you want to achieve success, tell someone about your plans. It is easier for people to keep up with their goals if they can share their interim steps with others.

Read also: Ride the Wave! Creating a Kickass Mobile App for mHealth


4. Decide on the right database

All the information you have within your app should be stored somewhere – that is why choosing a database is essential. When it comes to apps with calorie trackers, there are several types of databases.

  • Web application database. This is the basic storage that allows you to synchronize user data on mobile with desktop or tablet platforms. Database examples: MySQL, MongoDB, Redis, etc.
  • Food database. It provides users with the necessary nutrition information. Let’s say a user enters the name of the meal. Your application should provide necessary nutrition information, and the user will be able to log it right away – it is all about speed and convenience. Database examples: MyNetDiary and CalorieKing.
  • Restaurant dishes database. You can also consider using a database which provides information about a restaurant’s food, its calories, and macro ingredients. It is a useful addition to the main food database.
  • Exercise database. And here you inform users how calories are burnt after doing certain exercises. 


5. Provide useful integrations

Health tracking is usually not limited to one application. People use other apps and devices to improve the quality of their lives, and your app for calorie tracking should be a part of this system. 

This is a rough list of connected tools:

  • habit trackers,
  • smartwatches,
  • sports devices,
  • smart scales, etc.

Depending on the mobile platform, sports and fitness apps need these integrations:

  • For iOS: Apple HealthKit;
  • For Android: Samsung Health;
  • For iOS/Android: Google Fit.

This is “an integrational minimum”. While the market is growing, more integrations will become a necessity for the app’s success.

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You are what you eat

Fast food, excess weight, sedentary lifestyle – all these are side effects of our everyday working routines. Smartphones in this case become a handy helper to keep track of your healthy habits, and food is a considerable part of it.

By creating an app for calorie counting you meet modern trends and, what is even more important, help people change their lives for the better.

Calorie tracking apps are actually a combination of other tools and references that form a complete range of information to keep your weight under control. At the very least, we are talking about meal plans along with recipe and nutritional databases. Naturally, these apps should be fast and intuitive as people use them several times a day.

From the original idea up to the smallest design elements and perfect coding – contact the Eastern Peak team to discuss how your future calorie tracking app will look like.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a calorie counter app?

A calorie counter app is a digital instrument that helps people track their calorie and macronutrient intake during the day by entering details about the meals on the smartphone.

How accurate are calorie counter apps?

Users track information about the meals by themselves, so calorie counter apps always depend on the human factor. Plus, the size of the portion in the app may differ from the real one. These are the two main reasons why calorie-tracking apps cannot be completely accurate. Nevertheless, this is the fastest and the most accurate result that a person can get with modern gadgets.

How to create a calorie tracking app?

To build a calorie tracking app, you should follow these steps:

  1. Research the market.
  2. Discover and describe your idea.
  3. Make the list of features.
  4. Create a prototype.
  5. Develop the code.
  6. Test and deploy the result.
How to make money with diet apps?

Monetization models for diet apps include:

  • using in-app advertising;
  • freemium; and
  • the paid app.

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