We know that reading nutrition labels is important in making healthier choices with our foods. But, a lot of us don’t know how to do that. What is a serving size? What are the different types of fats? How do I know if this is good for me? We’re here to help you out! Here’s an easy, simple guide to reading Nutrition Facts labels.

Serving Size

  • Common household measure
  • Nutrition information listed based on this measurement
  • Make sure to check serving size when comparing foods

Calories

  • “Energy” supplied from all sources in one serving

Fat

  • 1 gram of fat=9 calories
  • Saturated fat: animal products, solid at room temp
    • The human body MAKES more saturated fat than it needs (not necessary to get from foods)
  • Unsaturated Fat
    • Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats: plants, liquid at room temperature
    • Trans fat: partially hydrogenated oils made through food processing
      • Not essential in diet

Cholesterol

  • Found ONLY in animal products
  • Human body MAKES more than it needs (not necessary to get from foods)
  • Good vs. bad cholesterol (LDL vs. HDL)

Sodium

  • NOT salt, mineral that is a chemical element found in salt
  • Needed in small amounts for fluid balance, muscle contraction, and nervous system function

Carbohydrates

  • 1 gram carbs=4 calories
  • Found primarily in plant foods and dairy
  • Sugars, sugar alcohols, starches, and dietary fiber
  • Dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber
    • Most people don’t get enough
  • Sugars: smallest and simplest type of carb, easily digested and absorbed
    • 1 gram sugar=4 calories
    • Body breaks down sugars into glucose (primary energy source for the body)

Protein

  • 1 gram protein=4 calories
  • Helps body build and repair cells and body tissue
  • Necessary for body growth and development

Vitamins and Minerals

  • Vitamins: organic substances made by plants and animals
    • 13 vitamins total
    • Body makes vitamins D and K
  • Minerals: inorganic substances not made by living things
    • Found naturally in soil and water and absorbed by plants
    • iron, calcium, potassium

This may look like a lot, but there are only a few things you need to really look at to make healthier choices. The first thing is calories and serving size. Chances are the serving size is less than the whole food package. Yes, 100 calories on a chocolate bar sounds great! But, the serving size is probably only for a quarter of the whole bar. Be careful in checking your serving sizes when comparing foods.

The next thing to look at is protein. Most people do not get enough protein in their diets. So, make sure the calories you are consuming are worth your while! You could eat 100 calories worth of a chocolate bar, or 100 calories of a protein bar. The protein bar will be more beneficial for your body. TIP: instead of worrying about carbs, make sure your protein and your calories line up, and you can know that the carb content won’t be too high. But, when looking at the carbs, look for lower sugar and higher fiber.

Finally, there’s sodium. Most packaged foods are high in sodium. Look for items that are low in sodium and high in potassium. We recommend keeping your sodium intake to under 2,000mg. Consuming too much sodium can lead to higher blood pressure and other health risks.

Now you’re an expert! Or at least you have some guidelines for that next grocery shopping trip! Nutrition labels don’t have to be intimidating, but they’re important to read when making healthier food choices.

-Courtesy of Your Ufit Team,

Stay strong. Stay fit. YOU’RE WORTH IT!

 

-At Ufit we aim to educate and empower. Nutrition is the foundation to your health and fitness. We want you to eat right and move right so you live well for as long as possible.