Being able to properly read a food label is a critical skill in maintaining a healthy diet. Here are 2 important areas that you need to examine.
Serving Size – It is important to look at the servings on the labels of food. Consider a 20 ounce soda – if you look on most of those, maybe it says 15 or 20 grams of carbohydrates but that’s per serving. If you look closer it says 2.5 servings.
If you drink a whole soda, which most of us would, you’re going to be consuming 45 grams of sugar, not just 15. So it’s very important to look at how many servings a particular food or drink has in it.
If you buy a package of food you might think, “Well, I would eat that in one sitting.” There may be more than one serving per package. If you just look at the nutritional values without looking at the servings it could be very deceiving.
Percent of Daily Value – For the most part the percent of daily values aren’t necessarily what you will be focused on as you should not be trying to consume 50 or 60 percent of your calories from carbohydrates and only 15 percent from protein. Instead look at the total gram amounts to better understand what is actually in the food that you are eating. You want to keep a low total carbohydrate to fiber ratio, 5-10 grams of fat per serving, and at least 7 grams of protein per serving. These recommendations don’t always fit but they are good general guidelines.
Ingredients List – When looking at the order of ingredients it’s important to know that companies are mandated to list the ingredients in order of most present in that product to least present which is calculated by weight.
When you are looking at a list of ingredients, the first ingredient you see will be found in the highest abundance. Then as you go down the list the amount of the particular ingredient will be less. For example if you look at the nutrition label for a jug of protein power you will may find that whey isolate is listed before whey concentrate. That means your protein powder has more whey isolate than whey concentrate in it (that is good!).
It is especially important to look at the order of ingredient when buying breads as you want to make sure that a whole grain flour is listed first.
Reading food labels is extremely important. Remember to always check the serving size, gram amounts of protein/carbohydrates/fats, and the ingredients list. Do all these things and you will be well on your way to making better, more educated food choices.