How to You Read A Nutrition Label?

Learning how to read a nutrition label is one of the most challenging things for people to understand.  The fact that there are so many things on the back of the nutrition label such as protein, carbohydrates, fats, sodium, cholesterol and sugars causes several people to simply give up and lose interest in an attempt to comprehend this topic.

This is the reason why I created an article on the subject matter as I knew several of my readers would benefit greatly from this.  So what I would like to do is break down the 6 main ingredients that can be found on all major nutrition food labels and show you exactly what you will need to know in order to understand how to read one the next time you are shopping at the grocery store.

So without further ado, here are the 6 items to look for the next time you read a nutrition food label.


Grilled Chicken Is a Great Source of Protein

Nutrition Food Label Item #1:  Protein

Protein is the building block of lean muscle tissue.  It is one of the three macronutrients which means our bodies need it to survive.  Protein yields 4 calories per gram and should not be a concern when it comes to gaining unwanted weight.  However, do not consume protein in excessive amounts such as 60 or 70 grams in one serving.

This should not be an issue for most people while reading a nutrition label as it is hard to consume this many grams of protein unless you drink a large protein shake or eat large portion sized meals such as chicken, steak, ground beef, tuna or egg whites.


Apples Are a Great Source of Carbohydrates

Nutrition Food Label Item #2: Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are similar to protein in the sense that they yield 4 calories per gram and are one of the three macronutrients.  However, they do differ from protein in the sense that they provide us with more energy.  One important thing to take note of is that there are different types of carbohydrates.

When reading a nutrition label, remember that complex carbs consists of starchy and fibrous carbs. Green foods such as vegetables are considered to be fibrous carbohydrates while potatoes, oatmeal and bread are considered to be starchy carbs.  You can consume fibrous carbs in large serving as they prompt the release of a hormone known as cholecystokinin.  This hormone sends a signal to the brain and satiates it so you feel full when in reality you are not.

In addition, fruits such as bananas, strawberries, grapes, mango, etc. are considered to be simple carbohydrates.  These carbs are the ones that have the fastest release of energy to your body and are best if consumed right after a workout due to the effects they will have on your insulin.

The tricky part about reading nutrition labels is they do not tell you what kind of a carbohydrate is in the food itself.  This means you will have to use the knowledge prescribed above to know which ones are needed to best suit your overall health needs.


Fats on a Nutrition Label

Nutrition Food Label Item #3: Fats

Of course, the infamous fats that everybody tries to avoid, right?  Think again!  One of the main problems I find with people reading nutrition labels is they think that all fats are bad for you.  However, this is not the case.  Saturated fats are the fats that can cause you to gain weight if consumed in excess; however, they are needed in small amounts to assist with hormonal production.

Now polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are the types of fats that yield good health benefits.  They can actually help lower your cholesterol and maintain triglyceride levels.  When it comes to shopping at the grocery store, try to keep the saturated fats to a minimum and do not pay as much attention to the grams of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats as they will not cause you to become unhealthy or gain weight if consumed in moderation.  Note: All fats (regardless of the type) contain 9 calories per gram.


Sodium on a Nutrition Label

Nutrition Food Label Item #4:  Sodium

Sodium is an ingredient placed in most canned goods and frozen dinners because of its ability to preserve the food.  So as you can see it is a healthier option to buy the same food that comes in a can or frozen dinner in its all natural state because they are not as high in sodium.  A great example of this would be corn eating corn in its natural state as opposed to a can of corn or a bag of frozen corn.

When it comes to reading food labels, if you do decide to buy something that is not in its natural state, then do not consume foods that contain excessive amounts of sodium as they will cause you to retain water and may prohibit you from achieving your fitness goals.  Note: a rule of thumb is to consume around 2,000-2,300 mgs of sodium a day.


Learn About The Health Risks of Cholesterol

Nutrition Food Label Item #5:  Cholesterol

Cholesterol is found in the foods that we eat containing fats.  As I stated before, it is not that important to count the grams of fat you eat on a daily basis as opposed to the types of fats you eat.  If you consume high amounts saturated and trans fatty acids, you will notice a difference in your cholesterol levels as they will increase.  By having high cholesterol, you can potentially set yourself up for cardiovascular diseases and even atherosclerosis.  But as long as you can follow the guidelines prescribed in this article, you will be better able to control your health and stay fit.


Learn About The Health Risks of Too Much Sugar

Nutrition Food Label Item #6:  Sugars

Sugars are a simple carbohydrate as stated above!  The way to determine if a carbohydrate is a simple carb or a complex carb is easy.  All you have to do is take the total grams of carbohydrates and subtract the grams of sugar to get the total amount complex carbohydrates.  The rest of the carbs which is sugar will be the total simple carbohydrates.


So now that you understand what these 6 components are to reading a nutrition label, you should be well on your way to being able to make healthier choices the next time you are at the grocery store!

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