Believe it or not people actually read food labels. Why? Because they are a great source of information about the foods you eat! But what should you look at? What should you avoid? Here are a few tips!
A good first thing to look at is the ingredient list. Simply put, if there are ingredients that you cannot pronounce or sound like they belong in a chemical factory, it may not be the best for you. Another key thing to remember when looking at ingredient lists is that the manufacturer can be creative in how they represent sugar. It may not explicitly say ‘sugar’ but can be disguised as glucose, fructose, dextrose, maltose…the list goes on. So be careful with this and avoid products that are high in sugar.
After scouring the ingredient list, it’s important to check the serving size. How much are you eating to take in the macros listed? Try and find foods that have larger serving sizes (with appropriately healthy macros). This will allow you to eat more quality food and generally stay full for a longer time.
As mentioned earlier, choose items low in sugar as sugars can cause weight gain and a few other ill health effects. When it comes to fats, be sure to look at the breakdown of fats, as not all fats are created equal. Things like trans fats are to be avoided when it comes to grocery shopping. Saturated fats are fats that are found as solids at room temperature and can be ingested but should be limited to a degree. Unsaturated fats are the best of the fat family and can be found in nuts, seeds, avocados…etc.
So often we focus on the macronutrients (carbs, fats, protein) but food labels are great ways to also factor in micronutrients. One micronutrient that gets a lot of attention is sodium. Sodium is important in a few bodily processes but the daily intake shouldn’t be exceeded as it can contribute to high blood pressure.
If you track your macros, be sure you choose items that will fit your macro profile and are balanced. When in doubt, feel free to reach out to someone who knows a thing or two about nutrition and food labels!
Nutrition Coach Steve