Importance of reading nutrition fact labelsThe nutrition fact label gives us everything we need to know about what is in the food we consume. It includes serving sizes, major nutrient components, and most importantly the ingredient list. All you need to become a nutrition fact expert, is to know what to look for and be disciplined enough to make the right choices.
Get to know what your body needs
- First, have a trainer at your local gym find out what your total daily caloric need is. This is the number of calories your body burns in a day, not including exercise.
- Next, have your trainer help you determine your macronutrient needs. This is the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat you should be eating throughout the day. To maintain a balanced diet, it is important to include all of the most essential nutrients. Your body will thank you for it! (See my related article on macronutrients and micronutrients)
1. How many times a day should I eat?
2. How much protein, fat and carbohydrates I should eat daily?
3. How many calories should I eat every day?
Finding the serving size on the label
- Control your portions by checking what the serving size is. For example, look at the image at the right. One cup equals 90 calories. The serving size also applies to all the nutrients below as well.
- From what your total daily need is, you can break down how much your body needs in each meal.
- This may sound like a lot of work, but once you get the hang of it, you can quickly scan the label and make the right choices in no time!
How well do you know the ingredients
- At the bottom of the label you will find a list of all the ingredients in the food. Manufacturers will list them from the main ingredient to least used ingredient. For example, if the first ingredient is sugar, it's something you shouldn't waste your time with.
- If you are unsure of an ingredient or cannot pronounce the ingredients in the list you can easily assume it is an unnatural product.
Always look for:
- Foods high in protein
- Foods rich in vitamins in minerals (especially the ones your body may specifically need)
- Food with natural and whole ingredients you can find towards the bottom of the label
- Controlled portion sizes. Check to see how much food equals a serving and then compare it to what the label reads.
- Overdoing the serving size recommendation
- Saturated and trans fat, listed right below Total Fat
- Items high in sodium (See my related blog for more sodium info) http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=1313421274725775422#editor/target=post;postID=626721077171074639
- Try to avoid artificial sweeteners and other items in the ingredient list that you may not understand. The easier it is to read, the healthier it is!