Hey guys. In the last post regarding the amount of calories you need in a day (calculated using the calorie calculator), then what percentage of carbs, protein, and fat you need to get those calories in (go see: https://fitnessanswersblog.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/the-basics-of-your-diet-calories-per-day-and-finding-a-diet-for-you/). I know it may still seem a little confusing but again, this blog is here to get you to start understanding how to make healthy choices and for that to happen, you need to know some of the basics.
Many questions come along from this then, mostly regarding the fact that people dont know how much carbs, protein, and fat are in a product and how to read labels. Secondly, what is a ‘light’ product, and what is a reduced fat product, which is better etc! So what this post is going to show you is how to read a nutritional label on a product so you can start getting an idea of how to make better choices. This is a very basic explanation and we wont speak about things such as Sodium, vitamins, minerals for example. We will just be talking about carbs, protein, and fat content so you can see if the product is actually light, or if there are other products that are better for you.
If we look up at the picture label at the top of the screen, you will see SERVING SIZE which states a serving is 1 cup (228g). Typically, labels show you how much per serving, and how much per 100g (they give you both). In this case we will talk about per serving. This then gives you an idea of how much you are using in your meal, so if this label is rice for example, then a serving is one cup of rice. Ok the next it will tell you is the amount of calories in the serving (they use Kcal – which is calories, but sometimes they use kj – all you do then is divide the kj value by 4.16 to get the calorie value. So in this case it says 280 calories come from one cup of rice. The next values that are important are fat, carb, and protein values.
We spoke about how many grams of each you need during a day. In this product (we calling rice) there are then 13g of fat per cup of rice, with 31g of carbohydrates per cup, and 5g of protein per cup. Very simple! So if you think to yourself, I’m going to have a cup of this rice at lunch, you can get an idea that you will be getting 13g fat, 31g of carbs, and 5g of protein. From there you can say well im going to have a tin of tuna, read the label and for example, tuna has 24 g of protein per serving, no fat and no carbs. So lunch for you will then be 13g of that, 31g carbs, and 29g of protein in total, which you can now check against what you need from your calorie calculator requirements we worked out. This can give you much better ideas about what you are actually eating, and you can get approximates to if you are getting in the right amount of what you need in a day.
The second issue is that of ‘light’ or ‘reduced fat’ products, or even comparing products, like two brands of yogurt for example. Firstly, the light product issue is an interesting one in South Africa. There is currently no requirement for a product to have a certain amount of fat per 100g to be called light. All it has to do is be lighter than the original product. This is KEY! So many products call themselves light or reduced fat, BUT look at the per 100g readings. If a product is not at least 10g or less of fat per 100g of product, it’s not really light. For example, mayonnaise, all the products claim to be light, yet they are still 30-40g of fat per 100g, in other words, you get 40% of the energy from fat in these products, so be careful, just because a product is light, it doesn’t actually mean it is light, you need to see for yourself, it just means its lighter than the last product.
Finally, if you comparing products, like yogurt and are wondering what is better for you, you can now compare the two. Compare the fat per 100g, compare the carbs and protein per 100g, and see how many calories you get per 100g. If you trying to lose weight, choose the option that has less fat per 100g (they may both say fat-free or low-fat, and still have values for fat, believe me!).
I hope this gives you some basic information that you can start looking at the labels and making choices for yourself. If you have any questions please go like the Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FitForSummerLetsdoittogether) or follow me on twitter (https://twitter.com/Fit4Summa) to ask questions or post some ideas!