Required on nearly all products in the United States, the Nutrition Facts Label helps you discern the amount of calories, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and sugars that are contained in each product. Balance is key, so it is most important to be aware of the ratios between these macronutrients. Like the first steps to learning an unfamiliar language, this information can be dense and even intimidating at times; the key is learning how to decipher the cryptic way these labels are written. Perfection in balance is near impossible, but following any of these tips is a surefire way of making a revolutionary change t0 your lifestyle.
Balance is key
In terms of daily intake, a good starting point is to consume the same number of calories from each of the three macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates). Since fats contain a little over twice as many calories per gram, eat approximately half as many grams to set it equal to carbs and proteins, and then figure out what works for you individually.
While your eyes may naturally move to “calories”, the Serving Size at the top is the most important, as it determines the standardized portion that the nutritional information on the rest of the label applies to. A simple way to decode the amount of calories in more than one serving is to multiply all of the other numbers by the number of servings you consume. While a single serving of chips may have 120 calories, the whole pack consisting of 3 servings will have 360 total calories.
Calories refer to the amount of energy contained in a single serving of food. “Calories from fat” tells how many fat calories there are in one serving. The right number of calories depends on your individual calorie needs.
This equates to more than just total fat: saturated fats are often found in meat and dairy products and must be consumed in moderation to avoid heart disease, and unsaturated fats are often found in liquid forms and are good for the heart. Avoid enemy fats such as Trans Fat, which slows down your metabolism, while raising “bad” cholesterol known as LDL and lowering “good” cholesterol, or HDL. Also, when eating multiple servings a day, bare in mind that products with less than 1 gram of trans fat per serving can be listed as containing zero trans fats on nutrition labels. Pay attention to the list of ingredients, practice moderation, and pay attention to the serving size, as trace amounts of trans fat can sneak up on you.
Protein & Dietary Fibers
According to a nutrition label rule of thumb, around .8 grams of protein should be consumed for every pound of body weight. This varies from person to person, according to individual dietary needs. Dietary Fibers aid the digestive system. Rich in fruits, vegetables, and beans.
While most dieters try to cut back on carbs in their efforts to stay lean, carbs are the number 1 source of energy for the body. As you should be eating all of your carbs in the first half of the day, you will ultimately end up eating more protein than carbs throughout the day. The total carbohydrate on the label includes sugar, complex carbs, and fiber. When reading labels, you can subtract the grams of fiber from your total carbohydrate- fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body cannot digest and therefore it does not increase your blood sugar levels. A trick amongst fitness pros is to be aware of balance. While you can compensate a high carb food with a high protein food, the grams of carbs should not differ greatly from the amount of protein in individual products.