Fitness vs. Food

Food is easy – you need calories to keep moving. Exercise, on the other hand, might be considered more of an acquired taste. What isn’t an acquired taste is sharing what you’re eating, or lifting, via the hashtags #instafood and #instafit. These tags help maintain a conversation around the best food out there and the efforts to earn, or keep, a healthy body.

We wanted to see how these tags shaped the conversation on social media. We reviewed 425,872 Instagram posts containing the words #instafit or #instafood posted between May 18 and June 27, 2016. This provided a picture (actually, over 400,000 pictures) of the state of foodies and fitness fanatics across the globe. Are you an outsider in an #instafit state, or are you where you belong in an #instafood city?

#Fit vs. #Food

Fit versus food can be a tough decision. When it comes to Instagram and our #instafit versus #instafood competition, only one state chose the munchies over, say, the planking challenge.

In the posts that we looked at, Washington D.C., had 4 percent more #instafood posts than those of the fit variety. With food options like these, who could resist? D.C. residents also understand that all good things come in moderation – the nation’s capital has one of the lowest obesity rates in the country. While it was the only area with more foodie than fitness posts, 4 percent is almost like breaking even. That sounds like a fair deal to us.

Our other top food-focused states were Maine and New York. While they didn’t average more #instafood posts, they did have lower percentages of #instafit posts than any other states. And like D.C., they also average lower levels of adult obesity compared to the rest of the U.S.

The highest concentration of fitness-focused posts came from New Mexico. They had 97 percent more uses of the #instafit tag on their Instagram posts. Must-do attractions when visiting New Mexico include exploring state parks and national monuments, and taking scenic tours. With so much outdoor activity to take in, it’s no wonder that working out is so popular. After all, bouldering – a form of rock climbing – is very popular in New Mexico and bouldering is also a fantastic way to build those highly sought-after washboard abs.

International Pastimes

Taking pictures of food is a worldwide phenomenon; we all have that person in our Instagram feed that regularly does it. In fact, we found an Eastern trend – Asian countries like Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore ranked as the most likely to share a photo that might make your mouth water.

These Asian countries are known for foods with complex flavor profiles, as well as unique delicacies. You’ll also discover more interesting dishes that are likely unavailable stateside; some may appeal to adventurous eaters, while others might encourage those wondering how to lose 5 pounds in a week. These might show up under the #instafood tag.

Countries where #instafit rules the social media airwaves were largely European. Germany, Sweden, and the U.K. made up the top three. Germany and Sweden tend to have much lower levels of obesity than other European countries, and the United Kingdom was the only European country to report higher levels.

Less Typing, More Eating

If you’re tagging your Nutella-filled French toast from Sunday brunch or Friday night’s artisanal pizza party with #instafood, there are a few extra words you might be using to describe your culinary adventures. Sure a picture is worth 1,000 words, but that doesn't stop 31 percent of the photos we reviewed from being tagged with #foodporn. People love seeing these artfully plated and staged meals – there’s even a subreddit, /r/foodporn, which chronicles an ever-growing community of over 440,000 users. Let’s just hope their waistlines aren’t growing proportionately with the user base.

There were also a few examples of adjectives being used as hashtags on these posts. Words like #tasty, #sweet, and #yummy appear to help provide context. We might see solely emoji hashtags shortly, so enjoy these word-based descriptors while they last!

Flex For the Camera

If you’re posting an #instafit image, perhaps you’re doing it right after – or even during – a tough set at the gym. In fact, 31 percent of #instafit posts were also tagged #gym, and 16 percent were tagged #gymlife. These Instagrammers don’t let barbells, supersets, or the plank challenge get in the way of glorious selfies to show off their progress. Just make sure no one is waiting for the machine or the mat you’re using to construct the perfect shot of your renegade row.

Several of the commonly associated hashtags hint that #instafit posts are less about likes and more about a lifestyle. Roughly 24 percent of the posts were tagged with #motivation, and 18 percent were tagged with #fitspo. Another 13 percent also used the #lifestyle hashtag in conjunction with #instafit. Maybe that explains the popularity of all those Instafamous yoga quotes and workout quotes.

Common Interests

It doesn’t always have to be a competition. Some states in the U.S. are equally fond of having #instafood and #instafit in their lives (and their Instagram posts).

New York State topped both lists of #instafit and #instafood mentions. Despite having slightly more fitness-inspired posts, New York is just as proud of its diverse food culture as it is of its trendy, boutique fitness centers that cater to the diverse needs of their members, who can choose to do the happy baby pose in a relaxing yoga venue or a hardcore workout in a standard gym.

In the fitness category, Florida came in second behind New York. For a state where there’s beach weather all year long, staying in bikini-ready shape is almost mandatory. That doesn't mean there isn’t room for food in the Sunshine State; it ranked No. 6 for #instafood posts.

In fact, the same 10 states showed up on both lists for most #instafit and #instafood posts. And doesn’t that make sense? If you work out more, you can eat more; if you eat more, you should be working out more.


While certain cities and states might be more #instafit or #instafood, these words don’t stand alone. There’s a desire to connect social media posts to a larger conversation. Whether it’s the quest for health and fitness or the pursuit of the perfect casual burger (Shake Shack, anyone?), there’s a community out there that is ready to welcome these posts with open arms.


We analyzed 425,872 Instagram posts containing the words #instafit or #instafood. Of those posts, 246,958 were identified as #instafit and 178,914 were identified as #instafood. Posts were collected between May 18 and June 27, 2016. State analysis was limited to states with 20 or more total posts. The country analysis was limited to countries with 1,000 or more posts. The District of Columbia was omitted from the “Top States for #Instafit and #Instafood Mentions” analysis.


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