Reading food labels is an important part of healthy eating. These nutrients are especially important to check when reading labels for weight loss:
- Calories/serving size:
Calories in relation to serving size are not the whole story for weight loss but calories do count! Pay attention to calories per serving. Also keep in mind that if a product has 200 calories/serving you can always halve or even quarter your serving and still enjoy a snack but for 100 or 50 calories instead of 200 calories. Little changes in the right direction add up over time and make the difference between weight loss/weight maintenance/weight gain.
Sugar provides empty calories and contributes greatly to weight gain. Sugary foods also contribute to hunger causing blood sugar to spike and crash. When reading a food label look at carbohydrates and sugars. A healthier option will have a lower amount of sugar grams compared to carbohydrate grams. For example if 2 cereals both have 25 grams of carbohydrates per serving but one has 2 grams of sugar and the other has 8 grams of sugar, which is the better choice?
Adequate protein intake preserves muscle. Muscle burns calories at a much faster rate than fat. Protein also slows digestion, keeping you full longer. When comparing a food label of the same type of food (example: crackers), choose the product with a higher amount of protein.
High fiber foods help to keep you full longer and also are generally nutrient dense, meaning they have higher amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals needed to maintain health. Fiber is found mostly in fruit, vegetables and whole grains. The Daily Reference Intake (DRI) for adults is a minimum of 25 grams per day.