I know we’ve all probably seen a nutrition label, tried to read a nutrition label, and probably said WTF regarding the information on the nutrition label.
I get it, it’s confusing, and in this last year the FDA has has made recent changes making it mandatory by 2021 for companies to comply with new guidelines that require more detailed information & transparency when listing information on nutrition labels.
Here’s what’s changed:
Using a larger print
Adding “added sugars” as a category under “total sugars.
Removing “calories from fat”, since research shows that the type of fat is more important than the amount.
Changing which vitamins and minerals are required to be listed in amounts per serving and as a percent of daily value.
Updating the serving sizes to be more realistic
Listing calories and nutrients for a single serving as well as the whole package for foods that are typically consumed in one sitting.
Here’s what to look for:
Now listed in larger font on the label since it is especially important.
The serving size is the portion of food that all the other numbers and values on the label refer to.
Many people a larger serving than the listed/suggested serving size, which means all the other nutrition values would also multiple.
Sometimes more than 1 serving size listed on a label, so make sure you’re looking at the intended one.
Ex: if the serving size is 1/2 cup and the calories are 200, it means that there are 200 calories in that ½ cup. And, 400 in 1 cup.
2. Total calories
Number of calories for a given serving size.
This number should be referred to as a guide, keep in mind not all calories are created the same. Meaning that the quality of calories matters much more than the amount.
Ex: 200 calories from a nutrient-dense food like nuts or veggies affects the body more efficiently than the same number of calories from items like chips, soda, or candy.
3. Trans fats
Trans fats are the most harmful type of fat, so much so that the FDA placed a ban on their use in the food supply which was required to be fully implemented by January 1, 2020.
Food manufacturers can still claim that a product has “0 grams of trans fats” on the label if the product has less than 0.5 grams per serving, this is still harmful to our health.
Make sure to check the ingredients list for words such as “partially hydrogenated oils” or “hydrogenated oils”, which will tell you if the product contains trans fats or not.
4. Saturated fats
These are also believed to be a less healthy type and are linked to conditions like cardiovascular disease and are therefore recommended to be limited.
Saturated fats are mostly found in animal products like steak and butter.
Note, plant sources such as coconut products may not affect health in a negative way.
Limit saturated fat intake to no more than 10% of total calories.
FYI: Sodium is an essential electrolyte for our health, too much can negatively impact health, especially for people who have or are prone to high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.
Try to limit sodium intake, especially added sources.
Processed foods like canned soups, condiments, frozen meals, and processed meats are high in sodium and should be limited or avoided.
6. Dietary fiber
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate and is listed underneath the “total carbohydrates” section on a label.
Most people don’t consume enough fiber, and it is super important for many aspects of health including blood sugar balance, gut health, and weight management.
The recommended intake for fiber is between 25-30g/day for adults.
7. Added sugars.
Recent requirement to be listed on a label, added sugars are more harmful to health than naturally occurring sugars.
Research has shown added sugars to increase the risk for heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and inflammation in the body.
Sugar is also called high fructose corn syrup, cane syrup, evaporated cane juice, or dextrose.
Recommended intake for added sugar less than 25 grams per day.
Protein plays many important roles in the body including muscle growth and repair as well as supporting the feeling of fullness.
I typically suggest 10-25 grams of protein with every meal. Learn how to get 25g of protein in HERE!
Use the label to learn how much protein is in our favorite items.
Note, if an item claims to be a “protein product” it should have more protein than carbs or fats!
9. Vitamins and minerals
Manufacturers can list any Vitamins & minerals they like on nutrition labels vary.
Required to be listed on a label: potassium, calcium, iron, and vitamin D.
Vitamin D and potassium are now required to be listed since they have been found to be nutrients of concern for Americans.
Vitamins A and C will no longer be required but can be included on a voluntary basis.
Calcium and iron are still required.
Check to see how much of each nutrient is included in foods with a nutrition label, those with higher numbers generally being better.
10. The following are Some ingredients to watch out for and try to avoid include:
Partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils (aka trans fats)
Refined oils such as vegetable, soybean, or canola oil
Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose
MSG (monosodium glutamate)
Any artificial colorings such as blue 1, red 3, and yellow 6
Nutrition is the main reason we people don’t reach their goals. Even if they join FitsLana’s LABB, find a gym they enjoy and workout frequently, most people have no clue what to eat or how to properly fuel themselves.
I highly recommend taking more time to check the back before you snack & continue your education by reading one of our previous blogs, 7 Pointers to Navigating Nutrition Labels! If you’re ready to commit to a FitsLana’s Meal Plan, check out my customized plans HERE!