Nutrition labels can be beneficial to you on your weight loss journey. The United States requires every food package to have a nutrition label. These handy little labels tell you what is in your food, although many people tend to misread or misinterpret them.
Reading and understanding food labels can make a significant impact on your weight loss efforts. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s your job to pay attention to things like this. Revolution Physical Therapy & Weight Loss will discuss what nutrition labels set out to do, how to read them, and what we should interpret from them.
Required by the FDA, a nutrition label is a label that appears on most food packages in the United States. The nutrition facts label provides information about the details of the food’s nutrient content. This includes the food’s fat, sugar, sodium, fiber, and more.
There’s a lot of information we need to break down in this section, so pay close attention. Let’s start by interpreting the label from the top down.
Under the title “Nutrition Facts,” you’ll see the number of servings per container and the serving size. While many people think that a serving size suggests an amount you should eat, it is actually the amount a person typically eats.
You should also note that all of the nutrient information displayed on the label refers to the serving size. For example, if the serving size for a box of rice is one cup, and you ate half a cup of rice, the nutrients you took in would be half of that on the label. Therefore, if you eat more than the serving size, you’ll need to calculate the nutrients you’ve consumed based on how many servings you actually ate.
Underneath serving size, you’ll find the calories section. Usually, this is where your eye will land first. This is due to the large text and because people trying to lose weight often fixate on the number of calories they’re taking each day.
Calories are a measure of how much energy your body receives from eating a serving of food. In your weight loss journey, you should make sure to balance the number of calories you take in each day with the number of calories you exert. Calorie needs are different for many individuals, but the general number of daily calories recommended is 2,000.
Finally, underneath the calorie section, you’ll find a list of the essential nutrients in this food. Within this list, you’ll find total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, dietary fiber, total sugars, added sugars, protein, total carbohydrate, and so on. There is so much information all at once that it can be challenging to comprehend it fully.
Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, we have an example of what daily limits you might put on yourself during your weight loss experience:
Sodium: 2,300 milligrams
Saturated Fat: 20 grams
Added Sugars: 50 grams
Dietary Fiber: 28 grams
Calcium: 1,300 milligrams
Potassium: 4,700 milligrams
Iron: 18 milligrams
Having this standard allows you the freedom to make educated decisions about what you put into your body. When you’re trying to lose weight, food is half the battle. Making sure you’re consuming enough without consuming too much can be difficult to figure out without the information that food labels give you.
Here are some more tips and tricks for reading the nutrition label and getting the most out of it for losing weight.
Make sure any grain is whole grain.
Always read the label and ingredient list before eating.
Don’t believe any health claims that are made on the front of the box.
Think about the ratio of nutrients you want to the nutrients you don’t want in a food.
Pay attention to the sodium content.
Aim for foods high in fiber.
Try to avoid added sugars.
Search for foods that keep the ingredient list short.
Ingredients are often ordered by weight/quantity.
Aside from our nutrition label reading guide and our quick tips on using this information, there are a few other things you should keep in mind.
Calories are not the end all be all of weight loss and eating healthy. Plenty of people eat a small number of calories every day but are not eating healthy. You’ll find that many people on their weight loss journey think of calories as the most critical aspect of eating while on a health kick.
This one might throw you for a loop if you’re ingrained in diet culture: not all fats are bad. There’s most certainly a place for fats in our everyday diet, but there are many that you shouldn’t eat with reckless abandon. The healthy fats in your diet should be monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Avoid trans and saturated fats.
Additionally, you should disregard any packaging claims. This is especially true if the package makes claims about health using buzzwords to attract the customer. Organic, GMO-free gluten-free, whatever it may be: don’t believe it until you look at the nutrients label. Essentially, do your research when it comes to what you put in your body.
Now you can consider yourself well-versed in reading nutrition labels and knowing what to do with the information. From here on out, it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re taking the right steps to create a healthier diet.
Losing weight can be difficult. Maintaining a balanced diet and exercise routine can be challenging at times, but it comes to you easily over time if you stick to it. If you’re interested in learning more about approaching your weight loss journey, contact us at Revolution Physical Therapy & Weight Loss.