The foundation of any weight loss plan should include some basic knowledge about nutrition. But you don’t have to earn a PhD in biology to understand what you’re eating and how it affects your body. Learning to read nutrition labels on food will go a long way toward creating a healthier diet to support your weight loss goals.
Serving size. This is the most important piece of information on a nutrition label. Many people look at the calories, see a low number, and snack away. So what’s the problem with that? If a food seems to be low in calories, but you accidentally eat seven servings, you may have just consumed way more calories than you had intended!
Servings per container. If you’re snacking, this is a really important piece of information to investigate. Don’t make the mistake of gulping down an entire container of snacks, when the container was supposed to hold multiple servings!
Calories. After checking out the serving size, now you can take a look at the calorie content of your food. Your weight loss physician has probably given you some guidance about the total number of calories you should consume each day, so keep that information in mind when you make choices about your foods.
Protein. Your weight loss physician may have also told you that a certain percentage of your food should come from protein. If you’re on a high-protein diet, look for foods that contain at least half as much protein as they contain carbs.
Fats. The label will express fat content as a number of grams. But not all fats are the same! If the label breaks down this figure into types of fat, you will have more information at your disposal. Unsaturated fats are the “good” fats, whereas you should avoid foods that are high in saturated or trans fats.
Carbohydrates. If you’re on a low-carb diet, your weight loss physician probably gave you a “carbohydrate limit” for your daily intake. If the label breaks down the carbs into different types, avoid foods that are high in sugars. Choose those that are high in fiber or complex carbs instead.
Most people don’t love the idea of performing mathematical equations each time they eat. But once you learn the basics of reading food labels, the process becomes automatic in your mind. Just keep working at it. After a week or two of practice, you will be able to glance at a new food and know how it fits into your diet plan.