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Nutrition apps can help people live a healthy lifestyle by enabling them to track which products they are buying or suggesting particular restaurants for their dietary needs.

Eating a balanced diet is not always easy, especially when eating out, trying to cook new recipes, or managing the demands of a busy life.

This article explains what nutrition apps are and how they differ. It will also discuss what people should look for in an app, depending on what they want to achieve — whether it is understanding which foods to eat while pregnant or tracking foods that may cause adverse reactions.

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Nutrition apps can help make life easier for individuals who need to track their food intake for health reasons. These apps can also help people find restaurants suitable for their dietary needs.

Some apps offer graphs to show correlations between specific foods and how a person feels after eating them, should they want to track potential intolerances.

Other apps provide feedback on strategies for reaching a moderate weight, changing a person’s relationship with food, or getting into better shape.

No nutrition app works for everyone, and some may trigger certain issues. For example, a weight loss app may not be appropriate for someone recovering from an eating disorder.

Learn more about dieting and weight loss apps.

Recent research suggests that nutrition apps that set a clear goal, allow personalization, and have a wide food database may encourage more people to use the app.

However, according to other research, some diet-tracking apps may not be transparent about extra costs and may not provide satisfactory customer support.

Therefore, before installing any app, a person should identify their specific goals and assess whether or not an app will help them reach those goals.

For more science-backed resources on nutrition, visit our dedicated hub.

When choosing a nutrition app, a person should consider the following factors:

  • Dietary requirements: Some nutrition apps are catered to certain diets, such as vegan or vegetarian, while others have a broader focus. A person should consider their particular dietary needs, allergies, and food intolerances to find an app that works for them.
  • Health goals: People will want to use nutrition apps for different reasons, such as weight loss, improving body image, or calorie counting. A person should consider their personal health goals to find an app that will support them. Learn more about counting calories for weight loss and muscle gain.
  • Lifestyle: There are also apps specifically made for certain lifestyles, such as people who eat out regularly and for certain life events like pregnancy.
  • Price: Not all apps are free, and some apps will have in-app costs. This means a person may not be able to access all of an app’s features for free, or there may be a subscription cost to use the app. A person should consider their budget and how useful they will find the app before committing to a subscription or making a purchase.
  • Phone compatibility: Some apps may not be available on both Android and iOS devices. A person should check the compatibility before downloading an app.
  • Reviews: A person should take time to read user reviews before choosing an app.

Following a vegetarian diet may be difficult at times, especially if a person is used to eating meat. Menu options at restaurants may also prove troublesome, particularly if restaurants do not list ingredients clearly.

Below are two apps that may help a person who is following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for meal planning: Forks over Knives

  • Price: around $4.99
  • Pros: helps plan meals, provides recipes, has high ratings
  • Cons: not free to use
  • Android ratings: 4.4 stars
  • iPhone ratings: 4.6 stars

This app compiles plant-based recipes, suggests ingredients, and assembles a person’s favorite meals in one location, so they have a greater variety of meals using healthy ingredients at their disposal.

The company mentions that it adds new recipes every week, and a person can translate recipes to shopping lists to make grocery shopping easier.

The app is not free to download.

At the time of publication, Forks over Knives costs $4.99 to download and use.

Best for finding a diet-friendly restaurant: HappyCow

  • Price: around $3.99
  • Pros: finds plant-based restaurants worldwide, has a vegan community forum, free to download, high ratings
  • Cons: no free version for iOS users
  • Android ratings: 4.8 stars
  • iPhone ratings: 4.9 stars

HappyCow helps people find restaurants catering to their dietary needs.

It has a built-in translation feature to help people read menus in other languages.

Other features include a community forum as well as tips for designing a healthy vegetarian or vegan meal plan.

There is a free and paid version of the app for Android. However, there is only a paid option for iOS users. The paid version of HappyCow costs $3.99.

Choosing what to eat while pregnant can be difficult, especially if a person is trying to avoid certain foods or eat more nutrient-dense options.

Two apps that could help a person create meals and monitor their health are the following:

Best for pregnant people’s health: Ovia Pregnancy

  • Price: free
  • Pros: focuses on health during pregnancy, free to use, sometimes covered by health plans, high ratings
  • Cons: not solely focused on pregnancy nutrition
  • Android ratings: 4.7 stars
  • iPhone ratings: 4.9 stars

While many apps solely focus on fetal development, Ovia takes a comprehensive approach to the health of pregnant people.

A person can gain insight into pregnancy nutrition with the app suggesting recipes and which nutrients will support fetal development. A person can also record their daily servings of protein, dairy, fruit, vegetables, and water.

Individuals can also use the app to check whether certain foods and medications are safe and to track their pregnancy symptoms.

Ovia writes that health plans and employers may cover the Premium Ovia Health apps. Coverage provides a person with extended app features.

This app is free to download and use. At the time of publication, the developers do not require a subscription or offer in-app purchases.

Best for creating custom grocery lists: Allrecipes

  • Price: free
  • Pros: helps make grocery shopping easier, can be customized to suit an individual, free to download
  • Cons: a person needs to pay to download more recipes, not rated as highly as other apps
  • Android ratings: 4.1 stars
  • iPhone ratings: 3.4 stars

The Allrecipes app is not specific to pregnancy, but it may be helpful for suggesting recipe ideas.

People can choose from a variety of recipes, read reviews, and make a custom grocery list to create specific meals for cooking at home.

This app is free to download and use.

If a person’s family has different dietary needs or food intolerances, the person may find creating a grocery list complicated — especially when buying ingredients for cooking nutritious meals from scratch.

Two apps that may help an individual create and cook healthy meals are the following:

Best for meeting healthy eating goals: ShopWell

  • Price: free
  • Pros: includes a nutritional label scanner, option to create custom food profiles, free to use
  • Cons: does not give insight into personal nutritional needs, lower average ratings on Android
  • Android ratings: 3.7 stars
  • iPhone ratings: 4.7 stars

ShopWell helps people create custom food profiles, compile recipe lists, and shop for foods that match their dietary needs.

People can also scan nutritional labels to see whether a product meets their goals and personal food profile.

However, a person needs to already understand their personal nutritional needs for this app to be useful.

This app is free to download and use. At the time of publication, the developers do not require a subscription or offer in-app purchases.

If someone needs to lose weight for health reasons, they may wish to manage their calorie intake and portion sizes.

Two apps that could help an individual be mindful of healthy food choices are the following:

Best for counting calories: MyPlate Calorie Counter

  • Price: from $0–9.99 per year
  • Pros: allows a person to count calories, log exercise and food, provides 8-week meal plans
  • Cons: additional benefits cost extra, potentially unsuitable for those with an eating disorder
  • Android ratings: 4.6 stars
  • iPhone ratings: 4.7 stars

People can use MyPlate Calorie Counter to log fitness goals and daily exercise routines.

Additionally, the app has tips for cooking nutritious meals and allows a person to print recipes. A person can also create a custom 8-week meal plan tailored to their nutritional goals.

While this app may be suitable for people wishing to gain more insight into their diet, those living with an eating disorder may not find the calorie-tracking function appropriate. Research notes that apps with calorie-counting functions can contribute to eating disorder symptoms.

This app is free to download and use. However, individuals can choose to upgrade to a Gold Membership, which starts at $9.99 per year. This membership option gives people access to workouts, a clean-eating guide, and advanced statistics.

Best for forming healthy eating habits: Noom

  • Price: from $0–159.99
  • Pros: uses psychology to help form healthy eating habits
  • Cons: a person must pay to access all features
  • Android ratings: 4.3 stars
  • iPhone ratings: 4.7 stars

Noom prioritizes the psychology of eating. The app helps people re-envision their eating habits, understand why they eat the way they do and make healthy choices while still eating the foods they enjoy.

Learn more about the Noom app here.

This app is free to download. However, a person needs to pay to access Noom programs.

This can cost between $44.99–159.99.

People recovering from eating disorders may find using apps beneficial for staying healthy.

Two apps that may help people who are recovering from eating disorders are the following:

Best for promoting body image: Rise Up + Recover

  • Price: free
  • Pros: teaches healthy eating strategies, includes mindfulness practices, promotes a balanced diet and positive body image, free to download
  • Cons: does not replace support from doctors, third-party evaluation does not rate the company as credible
  • Android ratings: 4.4 stars
  • iPhone ratings: 4.5 stars

Rise Up + Recover teaches people eating strategies and cultivates mindfulness. It also promotes positive body image while encouraging balanced food choices.

The app rewards individuals for logging the food they eat with an inspirational message. Additionally, the app offers more information and advice about the recovery process.

A person should not use apps like Rise Up + Recover as replacements for regular contact with a doctor while they are recovering from an eating disorder.

This app may be best for people working with a doctor who would like to bring meal and mood logs into discussions to help their recovery.

This app is free to download and use. At the time of publication, the developers do not require a subscription or offer in-app purchases.

Best for intuitive eating: Am I Hungry?

  • Price: around $2.99
  • Pros: helps a person understand their body and navigate emotional eating
  • Cons: cost to download, low ratings
  • Android ratings: 2.7 stars
  • iPhone ratings: 3.4 stars

People with binge eating or restrictive eating disorders may find knowing when they are hungry difficult, or they may manage emotions by eating.

This app helps a person listen to their body and advises on intuitive eating.

However, this app should not replace the support of a healthcare professional if a person is living with an eating disorder.

At the time of publication, this app costs $2.99 to download. The developers do not require any subscriptions and do not offer any in-app purchases.

The table below provides a comparison of each of the apps in this article.

PriceIn-app purchasesProsConsiPhone ratingAndroid rating
Forks over Knives$4.99yes• helps plan meals
• provides recipes
• has high ratings
not free to use4.64.4
HappyCow$3.99yes• finds plant-based restaurants worldwide
• has a vegan community forum
• free to download on Android
• high ratings
exclusively lists plant-based restaurants4.94.8
Ovia Pregnancyfreeno• focuses on health during pregnancy
• free to use
• sometimes covered by health plans
• high ratings
not solely focused on pregnancy nutrition4.94.7
Allrecipesfreeno• helps make grocery shopping easier
• can be customized to suit an individual
• free to download
• a person needs to pay to download more recipes
• not rated as highly as other apps
3.44.1
ShopWellfreeno• includes a nutritional label scanner
• option to create custom food profiles
• free to use
• does not give insight into personal nutritional needs
• lower average ratings on Android
4.73.7
Food Intolerances$0–16.99yes• flags potentially problematic foods based on user’s allergies
• covers wide range of intolerances
• expensive compared to other apps
• lower average ratings on Android
4.53.7
MyPlate Calorie Counter$0–9.99 per yearyes• includes a calorie counter
• users can log exercise and food
• provides 8-week meal plans
• additional benefits cost extra
• potentially unsuitable for those with an eating disorder
4.74.6
Noom$0–159.99yesuses psychology to help form healthy eating habitsa person must pay to access all features4.74.3
Rise Up + Recoverfreeno• teaches healthy eating strategies
• includes mindfulness practices
• promotes positive body image
• does not replace support from doctors
• third-party evaluation does not rate the company as credible
4.54.4
Am I Hungry?$2.99yeshelps a person understand their body and navigate emotional eating• fee to download
• low ratings
3.42.7

Medical News Today includes reputable, well-received apps, and with a range of price points and features.

Additionally, MNT looks at some of the following:

  • Health claims: MNT includes companies that make no questionable health claims.
  • Trust: MNT includes companies that operate transparently regarding their products, services, and leadership. Also, those companies have certifications from reputable, third-party organizations where relevant.
  • Business standards: MNT will choose companies that follow safe and ethical business and marketing practices.
  • Reputation: MNT will choose companies with no warnings from governing bodies, unresolved lawsuits, and positive standings with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

If a person is considering changing their diet for weight loss or other reasons, they should speak with a doctor.

A doctor will be able to help a person understand how to follow a balanced diet that will help them achieve their health goals. They can also provide a referral to a dietitian or nutritionist for advice.

If a person believes they may have an eating disorder, they should contact a doctor for advice.

Emotional and behavioral symptoms of an eating disorder may include:

  • preoccupation with weight, food calories, dieting, and food groups
  • refusing to eat certain foods or whole food categories
  • preferring not to eat around others
  • skipping meals
  • frequent dieting
  • mood swings
  • withdrawal from social circles

The physical symptoms of an eating disorder may include:

Below are answers to some of the top frequently asked questions.

What is the best nutrition app?

The best nutrition app will be different for each person based on their health goals and personal preferences. However, good nutrition apps will cater to a wide range of diets, provide accurate and safe nutritional information, be affordable, offer good customer support, and have good user ratings.

Are there any free nutrition apps?

There is a wide range of free-to-download nutrition apps. Allrecipes, MyPlate Calorie Counter, Noom, and more offer free apps. However, a person may have to pay for in-app purchases for some apps that are free to download.

Which nutrition apps work with Apple Health?

There are many nutrition apps that work with Apple Health, including Noom, UP, MyFitnessPal, and Yummly.

The right nutrition app can make balanced eating feel less daunting.

Before making major changes to diet or lifestyle, a person should consider consulting a doctor or dietitian, who may have suggestions on choosing both the right app and the right eating plan.