Reading nutrition label is very important for your weight loss efforts. In today’s hurried, harried world of food shopping, many people take the claims on the fronts of food packages -“healthy,” “low carb” or “low fat” – as the final word on nutrition.
But by failing to read the small print, particularly the “Nutrition Facts” panel and the ingredients list, consumers may not be aware of what else they are getting, namely added sugars and trans fats. For example, did you know that a chocolate peanut butter PowerBar Performance Bar has 20 grams of sugar? That’s twice the amount of sugar in a Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut.
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Reading Nutrition Label
Reading labels, particularly if you are following a controlled-calorie lifestyle, is one of the best ways to take control of what you buy and eat.
Serving Size and Calories
Always look at the serving size, for instance, to ensure that the portion will be able to satisfy your appetite. In many cases, it is smaller than you might assume. If you don’t read the label, you may never realize that the smoothie you just drank is actually two servings, not one. Calories listed is for the serving size not the whole container. For example, in the image above there are 240 calories per serving and the container has 4 services so total of 960 calories per container. To achieve or maintain a healthy weight, balance the number of calories you consume with the number of calories your body uses. 2,000 calories a day is used as a guide for general nutrition advice. Your calorie needs may be higher or lower and vary depending on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level.
Also, look for an adequate amount of fats, fiber and protein, all of which assure satiety.
Emerging body of evidence confirms – that a high- carbohydrate diet, particularly one that includes a significant amount of added sugars in a variety of forms, contributes to many health-related concerns. Saturated fats and trans fat have also been linked with raising “bad cholesterol” and increasing risk of heart disease. But remember this: Low-fat diets have the same effect on body weight gain or weight loss as higher-fat diets, or higher-protein diets. For weight loss, it’s about controlling calories and limiting foods in your diet are giving you excess calories. Thus, it’s crucial to read the labels on all packaged foods.
Avoiding added sugars also is important. Natural sugars in milk and fruit are fine, while added processed sugars, such as sucrose (table sugar) or corn syrup, should not be part of any healthy diet. Intake of sugar alcohols, which often are used in low-carb products to replace sugar and add bulk, also should be monitored.
The final rule requires “Includes X g Added Sugars” to be included under “Total Sugars” to help consumers understand how much sugar has been added to the product. The FDA recognizes that added sugars can be a part of a healthy dietary pattern. But if consumed in excess, it becomes more difficult to also eat foods with enough dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals and still stay within calorie limits. The updates to the label will help increase consumer awareness of the quantity of added sugars in foods. Consumers may or may not decide to reduce the consumption of certain foods with added sugars, based on their individual needs or preferences.
A controlled-carb approach requires strict monitoring of the total carbohydrate content of any product. Atkins products do the work for the consumer, omitting added sugars and trans fats and providing a Net Atkins Count, based on clinical testing, that displays only the number of carbs that will have an impact on blood sugar.
Other products may require carb-conscious consumers to do this work themselves. In this case, subtract fiber, sugar alcohols and glycerine from the total carbohydrate count
Saturated fats or trans fat
Knowing what ingredients should not be in products is equally crucial. The front of the package may say “no trans fats,” but the ingredients list might reveal trace amounts of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. A product that contains less than 1 gram of these oils is not required to include them on the Nutrition Facts panel. The only way you can be sure that a product is free of these unnatural, harmful fats is if there is no mention of them in the detailed ingredients list.
Nutrients to get less of: saturated fat, sodium, added sugars, and trans fat.
Most Americans exceed the recommended limits for these nutrients, and diets higher in these nutrients are associated with an increased risk of developing some health conditions, such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Nutrients to get more of: Dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium.
Many Americans do not get the recommended amount of these nutrients, and diets higher in these nutrients can reduce the risk of developing some health conditions, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and anemia.
For weight control or weight loss, one should focus on calories per serving and limit saturated fats, cholesterol and sodium. Get more vitamin D and calcium.