Most of the time when the government decides to get involved in your life you usually end up the short end of the stick, in this instance however I have to agree with them when they required the manufacturers of the foods we eat to update their labels as far as the nutritional content of their products.
For anyone interested in weight loss this label should become your best friend, there’s simply no other way for you to know exactly what you are eating and drinking as far as the nutritional value goes and what effect this will have on your diet.
Understanding just exactly what the label says is extremely important which is why I decided to write a piece on this subject. Everyone should have some idea of what they’re consuming (whether there trying to lose weight or not) just for the obvious health reasons.
What you eat and drink for the most part is going to have a profound effect on the way you live your life and how long that life is going to be, by understanding the nutritional value of what you are consuming will go a long way toward helping you make the right choices for a healthier and longer life.
Labels for dummies
Reading the label:
There are several sections on all the labels you will find on all processed foods (and even some organic ones) so starting at the top we’re going to go over each and everyone. When you first start to read labels they can be little confusing, but by the time you finish reading this you’ll know everything there is to know about the product you’re looking at and whether it is healthy for you and your family to eat.
So we’ll start at the top, the first thing the label will say under the new government regulations is “nutritional facts”. All of the data under this is based on a 2000 calories a day diet, if your body requires more or less than 2000 calories a day you’ll have to adjust things accordingly. (and a little later in this article I’ll teach you to quickly calculate just how many calories your body needs on a daily basis depending upon age and activity level)
This is found right under “nutritional facts” and can be very important in calculating the number of calories you are consuming on a daily basis.
If for instance what your holding is a bag of cookies and it’s serving size is two cookies and you eat six cookies than all the numbers on the label will have to be multiplied by a factor of three. Right under serving size is servings per container which makes it real simple to keep track of how many calories your consuming.
Calories per serving:
This is also very important to pay attention to especially for people trying to lose weight, for instance using the example from above say a serving of two cookies is 150 calories but if you ate those six cookies you’re talking 450 calories which is why serving sizes are so important.
And while this section tells you how many calories are in a serving it doesn’t tell you what kind of calories they are, it does however tell you how many calories are from fat.
This section you want to look at very closely, it is broken up into four categories which are saturated fats, Trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium. This section is important because these four things affect whether your going to suffer at some point in your life from things like high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity just to name a few so when looking at the labels try to pick foods that have the lowest numbers as possible in these categories.
A good rule of thumb is to limit your total fat intake to no more than 55 to 78 Grams a day and no more than 15 g of saturated fat, 2 g or less of Trans fats, 300 mg or less of cholesterol, and around 2500 milligrams of sodium.
Percentage of daily value :
This section you’ll find on the far right hand side of the label, this is a percentage of the ingredients that the scientific community considers essential for a healthy diet. If the label says dietary fiber equals 3% for one serving of whatever product you’re looking at then you know that you’ll have to get another 97% of your daily fiber from other foods throughout your day.
The same goes for fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, however you will not find a daily percentage of Trans fats because the FDA doesn’t have at the current time the scientific information in order to make a judgment on this.
When reducing your fat intake you increase your carbohydrates, choose foods that are high in complex carbohydrates that your body breaks down more slowly so as not to affect too much the insulin levels in your blood. Think whole grain breads, vegetables, and fruits.
I’m sure most of you are aware of how important fiber is for your diet. Vegetables, fruits, beans, peas, and whole grain foods are all an excellent source of dietary fiber and it’s well known that having a diet high in these foods helps reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
If you have read anything else on my site and then you know how I feel about artificial sugar. All the sugar your body requires should come from natural sugars like fruits, dairy, and carbohydrates.
Try to stay away from or limit any kind of artificial sweetener when you’re reading the label also look for corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, dextrose, sucrose, maltose, honey, and maple syrup. These might all sound like different things but once they hit your bloodstream there all the same, artificial sugar.
When you say protein most people think beef, poultry, or fish. The problem with animal protein it also contains fat and cholesterol, when getting in your daily amount of protein without going over your daily amount of fat and cholesterol think vegetable proteins that come in cereals, grains, and beans.
You can also get protein from dairy products like cheese, yogurt, and milk. You won’t find your daily value percentage on this or sugar for the same reason you don’t find it on Trans fats.
Vitamin and mineral section:
This is all very straightforward it lists the vitamins and minerals contained in the product and the percentage of how much it contributes to your healthy daily requirements. Bearing in mind that different people (IE children, teenagers, men, women, people over 50) all have different needs when it comes to vitamins and minerals.
% of daily values:
This is the last section that you will find on the nutrition facts label, it is just here to let you know that all the values are based on a 2000 calorie a day diet. So you’re going to have to figure out what is right for you and adjust these things accordingly, not everybody is going to be the same.
For people wanting to lose weight these figures would have to be adjusted down if your dietary requirements were 2000 calories to maintain your weight. Also a lot of people require more than 2000 calories a day especially if they’re very active. While smaller people will only require 1600 to 1800 calories a day to remain healthy.
How many calories a day do I need:
This all depends on how active you are and your body size, and while there’s a lot of ways to calculate how many calories you need there is one simple way to check this. If you’re a person who gets little to no exercise take your body weight and multiply it by 13 so if your weight is 175 pounds you would need 2,275 calories a day to maintain your weight. However if your 175 pounds and you want to get down to 150 pounds then you need to decrease your daily calorie intake two 1950 calories. (150×13)
If your a person who gets moderate exercise each day then you need to multiply your body weight by 16, using the example above of the 175 pound person that would acquaint to 2800 calories to maintain your weight and 2400 calories to lose that 25 pounds.
And finally if you’re someone who has a very vigorous exercise routine, you need to multiply your body weight by 18, you would need to consume 3150 calories a day to maintain your weight and I would assume if you have that healthy of an exercise routine you’re not looking to lose weight.
So there you have it, you should now know everything you need to know when it comes to reading the labels on the back of the foods that you buy. When buying your food always check similar brands of the same things because the nutrition facts can be wildly different, and it only takes a few minutes to find the best Brands to feed your family. Also it won’t take to many trips to the grocery store before you know what’s good for you and what’s not so good for you.