How to Read Food Labels

Written on the 19 January 2015 by Studio Pilates

It's important to learn how to use the simple information contained on food packaging to your advantage in helping you to lose weight. You see, most processed foods will have a label on the side of the packaging. This is a great way to learn about the energy, protein and fat levels of the foods that you buy.

This is an example of what a food label looks like:

Now, there are a few things to note on your food label. Its' interesting to note that the serving sizes that are recommended are often very small, not only that, it's often very hard to leave a packet of chips un finished when the packet recommends that there is 12 servings in the whole thing! I don't know about you but I can polish a whole bag of chips off easily in one go.

You'll also notice that your label is divided into two columns, one is a per serving column and the other one is a per 100 grams or 100 millilitres column.

This is the column I generally use to do a simple and quick check to see whether it's a good food or a bad one. It also helps you to compare different types or brands of the same foods and also teaches you how to rank foods in accordance with how much you should eat them. Another great thing about this part of the food label is it easily allows you to work out the foods percentage of fat and more.

Let me explain. The first thing the label lists is the energy it contains in either kilojoules or calories or both. Kilojoules versus calories is just like feet and inches is to centimetres and's just another way to express the energy content of the it doesn't really matter which one you use.

If a small serving of a certain food that isn't very filling contains half of your recommended daily energy or calorie intake you're going to get very hungry if you stick to the recommendation. If you blow your calorie budget you'll be putting on weight and this is not the goal of many people.

Also in the per 100 grams column, check the protein amount and the fat amount and quickly convert this number it into a percentage. If a food says it has 42grams of fat per 100grams then quite simply it contains 42% do you think that a food that is this concentrated in fat is going to help you to lose weight? No way! You should choose food with a low fat and low energy content and the opposite with protein. You should be looking for foods with high protein as this helps to tone your muscles when combined with your Pilates.

What if the food has no label on it I hear you ask....well, if it's been made by man or by a machine or in other words it hasn't come out of the ground, from a tree or it wasn't once an animal and it doesn't have a label on it then I recommend skipping it. It will no doubt be a pie, sausage roll, a cake or slice from the bakery or something similar.

If it doesn't have a label on it and it's a fresh fruit or vegetable, then not a problem...these foods in the most part are lower in energy and lower still in fat. If it's a lean meat with the fat trimmed off or some fish for example then this is also OK.

Your processed foods also have a list of ingredients on them. The ingredients are listed by their largest quantity first to the smallest. So if your foods first, second or even third ingredient listed is sugar then you're in trouble as this food will have a high percentage of sugar which of course will show in the kilojoules or calorie content on the label also.

So I hope this helps to take away some of the mystery surrounding the foods that you eat and by being conscious of the energy, fat and protein levels of all of the foods that you eat you will start to gain specific and empowering knowledge on what you are putting into your body.
In general try to stick to unprocessed and raw foods as these are in their natural state and are when they're their most healthy.




Author: Studio Pilates