Food Label 101

Hi guys. Today we are going to be talking about nutrition labels and how to properly read them. Sounds quite simple, but you’d be surprised at how wrong you might be.

Spot me at the grocery store and you’ll find me slowly inching down the isles scanning the nutrition labels of everything that goes in to my cart. Now, the BIG mistake I used to make was simply looking at the serving size and calorie count, then putting it back if I deemed it too “unhealthy”.

This isn’t to say that serving size and calorie count aren’t important, because they are. However, what is WAY more important is the Macro and Micro nutrients that make up those calories. If you look a few posts back you will find my post on counting macros– but if you don’t want to read it then a brief tutorial is this- 1 gram of Protein or Carbs =  4 Calories, 1 gram of Fat = 9 Calories. So, does that mean that mean a container of yogurt with 90 calories and 0 gram of fat per serving is ‘healthier’ than one with 120 calories and 4 grams of fat per serving? Not necessarily.

For example, take Yoplait 99% Fat Free Stawberry yogurt. Despite being 99% fat free, it has 26 grams of sugar per 6oz container. Now to the Average Joe consumer, this may not sound alarming (which is what marketers are banking on). What you may not know, is that the American Heart Association recommends that men eat no more than 36g of sugar per day and women eat no more than 20g per day.

Yep… you read that correctly. This means that if you are a woman you just went  6g over your sugar allowance for the day and it’s probably not even past 11am. YIKES.

Now, I am not saying that everyone should abide by what the American Heart Association deems appropriate. I think everyones bodies are different and people respond to ingredients very differently. My point is simply this- DO NOT stop at reading the calorie content. Take the time to scan all the way down the label to access how much of each Macro & Micro nutrient are in what you are consuming.

A good rule of thumb is this- Compare the protein content compared to carbs. Don’t worry SO much about the fat as this type of fat is generally healthy. What will really get you is the Sugar Carbs… that is what resides in your middle section causing stubborn belly fat. Sorry ladies, this is us.

Also- for all the nutrition newbies, Sugar is a Carb… so don’t think that because you are skipping a bowl of cereal for a “healthy” yogurt, that you aren’t getting the exact same (or more) amount of carbs as your little kiddo eating Lucky Charms is. And lets face it- the Lucky Charms would have been far more enjoyable.

Highlighted below are the ones that I deem healthiest when comparing the Protein content to the Sugar/Carb contents. Again, this is my opinion and you should figure out what works best for your body and your goals, this is simply a guideline.

Since we are using yogurt as an example today, here is a chart comparing the ingredients in different yogurt brands.

5.3 OZ. YOGURT CALORIES TOTAL FAT (G) CHOL. (MG) CARBS (G) SUGARS (G) PROTEIN (G) CALCIUM (%)
Chobani Nonfat Plain 90 0 0 7 4 15 15
Chobani Nonfat Vanilla 120 0 5 16 13 13 15
Chobani Low-Fat Mixed Berry 150 2.5 15 19 16 12 15
Fage Total 0% Plain (6 oz.) 100 0 10 7 7 18 20
Fage Total 2% (7 oz.) 150 0 0 20 18 15 15
Fage Total 0% Split Cup Strawberry 120 4 20 8 8 20 20
Dannon Oikos Nonfat Plain 80 0 10 6 6 15 15
Dannon Oikos Nonfat Vanilla 120 0 5 19 18 12 15
Dannon Oikos Nonfat Strawberry 120 0 5 19 18 12 15
Dannon Oikos Triple Zero Vanilla 120 0 <5 15 7 15 15
Stonyfield Organic 0% Fat Plain 80 0 <5 6 6 15 20
Stonyfield Organic 0% Fat Vanilla 130 0 <5 20 19 12 15
Stonyfield Organic 0% Fat Strawberry (5.3 oz.) 130 0 10 19 18 11 15
Yoplait Vanilla 140 0 <5 22 18 11 10
Yoplait Strawberry 140 0 <5 22 18 11 10
Wallaby 0% Fat Plain (6 oz.) 100 0 5 6 4 17 20
Wallaby 0% Fat Lemon 120 0 5 18 15 12 15
Wallaby 0% Fat Mixed Berries 120 0 5 17 15 12 15

 

I hope this helps!
XO,
Abby
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