Oct 162011

Nutrition facts are provided on every food product that is being made everywhere in the world. The thing that most nutrition facts don’t provide though, is how to understand them. Although you would think that the nutrition facts would be pretty straightforward, there are several things that many people may have a hard time understanding. Such as how to determine the fat content compared to other products. Some may be low in fat but may also have a high sodium content. A lot of people may be bewildered in the process of reading nutrition labels because they can’t determine what any of the information means.

The reasons why many people look at nutrition facts is because of the fat content. They want to determine how many calories they are putting into their bodies. Many people make the mistake of only looking at the total fat content. But you must also take into consideration of trans fats and saturated fats. This is where people become lost because a lot of people may not know what different fats do to their bodies and if the different fats will make them gain weight.

Deciphering A Nutrition Label

There are four main parts to every nutrition label. There is the recommended serving size with how many servings in a particular product, the calorie amount per serving, the amount of nutrients per serving, and the recommended daily nutrient amount information. So with all these in mind it is hard to know where to start. Let me show you the steps that I take when reading nutrition products.

Step 1

The first thing that I think most people will look at is the amount of calories in a recommended serving. That’s why it is placed conveniently at the top of the label. To determine if the amount of calories is right for you, first you must determine what is your goal. This will be up to you to decide. Is it to lose weight or is it to gain muscle?

I am usually trying to put on muscle mass so I generally like to have more calories. But I also take into consideration how healthy those calories are, which we will talk about in a minute. The other thing you have to take into consideration is how much of those calories are you planning to burn. So for example, if you are trying to loose weight, but you want to eat something that has a high amount of calories, it is usually fine if you are planning on burning those calories from your daily workout.

Many labels also include the amount of calories that come from fat. This is also beneficial if you’re trying to cut some weight. Around 100 calories is about the range of the normal amount of calories that you would see in any food product. So use 100 calories as the determining factor when seeing if something has high or a low amount of calories.

Step 2

After I have looked at the amount of calories I will be consuming, I see exactly what I’m putting into my body by looking at the nutrients section. I usually like to explain this section like this; the top have of this section is usually the things that you want to cut down on your diet, and the bottom half is the nutrients where you want the most out of your diet.

It breaks down like this; the top half includes fat content, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, and protein. With the exception of fiber and protein, these are the things that most people don’t want in their diet. The bottom half includes all the vitamins that are contained in the product. Mainly you will see vitamin a, vitamin c, calcium, and iron. Then you will see the daily value percentage of each nutrient.

A point of reference that could be used is 5% or lower is considered to be low and anything thing that is 20% or higher is considered to be high. So eat foods that contain 20% of your daily value with the nutrients that are found at the bottom half of the nutrient section.

Understanding the last Part of The Label – The Footnote

The footnotes of food labels are the same on all products. This part of a nutrition label is merely a reference to determine how much nutrients you should be taking in. The information is based on a 2,000 diet. Compare this information with the information above to tell if the nutrition information corresponds with your recommended daily intake.

Erik Smith is a contributor at Workout Designs and is passionate about fitness and living a healthy lifestyle.

  One Response to “How to Understand Nutrition Labels”

  1. This is quite helpful. I always check the calories on labels too, haha.

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