Making Sense Of Nutrition Labels (Part 2 of 3)


Welcome to part 2 of my Learn How To Read Nutrition Labels series. 

If you haven't checked out the first three tips, be sure to do that first as they will set your expectations and reveal some pretty interesting insights into nutrition labels. 

You can check out part 1 here -

Once you have gone through part 1, you are ready to move on to part 2. 

4. Look At The Per 100g To Get A Better Insight

Food manufacturers are allowed to determine their own serving size for a product. This can make things highly confusing when you are trying to ascertain how good a product is.

For eg. a lot of products will work out a point that looks good on paper in terms of sugars, fats, calories etc. But the serving size may be really unrealistic. 

This is the nutritional info for a pizza...

1 serve is only 68g, so you are like 135 calories per serve that's pretty good. 

But there are 8 serves to a pizza... so if you eat the whole thing (like a lot of people do, that's 1,080 calories!! 

So always try work out the calories per 100g so that you have a baseline and so you can compare different brands. Most products are required to list per serving size and also per 100g now for more transparency. 

You should also work out how many times 100g will go into the product - so say you have a ready made meal that is 300g - you can easily times the 100g serving by 3 to work out the values. This will help you work out better what is right for you and how much you should eat if you want to maintain or lose weight. 

5. Know Your Numbers 

Depending what your goals are, how much time you have and what kind of progress you are making, it is always a good idea to know at least a rough idea of how many calories you are consuming, and whether that is having a positive or negative impact on your weight. 

This doesn't mean less is best. 

In fact, extreme restriction can have other unintended side effects which I have spoken about at length in other blogs. 

But, it is always a good idea to roughly know how much you consume on a daily basis and how that is affecting your weight. Especially if you are consuming packaged foods. 

If you are following a strict whole food plant based diet, then it is much harder to overeat. 

But as soon as you start incorporating sauces, oils, fats, additives, ready made meals and convenience items, it always pays to know just how many calories you are having. 

Cause packaged foods can seem small, the portions can seem innocuous, sauces can seem innocent.... 

But every little bit counts. 

So it can be very easy to underestimate just how much you are eating. 

It can also be very easy to overeat these items as a lot are very moorish and as one well known brand says... 

Once you pop you can't stop 

So it can be very easy to overdo your intake unintentionally. 

This doesn't mean you have to account for every single calorie and macro, unless you are following a specific macro plan like what I outline in this blog but having a rough idea doesn't hurt, especially if you are trying to lose body fat, or have hit a plateau. 

6. Keep Sugars Low 

Now we already know that sugar can be labelled many different things on a label and this can also impact just how much needs to be declared in the nutrition panel. 

So you want to ascertain what kinds of sugar are used first, then look at the percentage as a value out of 100g. 

Personally, if I am buying products that contain non natural whole food sugars (ie. not things like dates) that are used to sweeten the product I like to keep it as close to 0 as I can or within 10% of the total dietary value. 

If the product is a bar, or protein ball for eg. that contains actually whole food ingredients and not a syrup then I know that the fibre in the product will help steady my blood sugar and having a higher % of sugar isn't as detrimental. There are also other vitamins, minerals and nutrients in whole foods that are lost when things are turned into sugars and syrups. 

I hope these next three tips help you out! 

Stay tuned Friday for my final three. 

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.... or post up in the Facebook Group

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