Label Reading Basics

Let’s get back to basics. We often think we know how to read labels, but we often miss read them at first glance. In this article I am going to present a few examples of labels and the basic way to read them. I have found three random labels (see below) that we will use to show the basics for reading.

First, we see the top red rectangle as the serving size, each nutrition label is based on. It is also important to note the measurement used (Tbsp., cup, tsp, ounce etc…). Second we see a yellow circle used to show the number of servings within that specific container. The first example shown has only 4 servings, while the third example has 102 servings. You will see condiments, and additives to dishes will have more available servings, at a much smaller serving size. The second and last red rectangle is the calories per serving. This is a crucial component while looking at nutrition labels.

Many times we will stroll down an aisle and grab a drink or snack of some sort, quick glance shows

that the drink or snack may only contain 90 calories. Further investigation may reveal that there is two or possibly 2.5 servings per container. The 90 calorie drink or snack that you consumed without guilt may have just been an unexpected 180 to 225 calories. These are how calories can inexplicably sneak up on us.

Let’s look at the latte factor (usually used for money, but for us it will be used for nutrition). We will pretend that you like to stop at your local morning drive through to grab that morning pick me up. You have decided to be conscious about your caloric intake and begin buying medium Mocha Frappuccino in lieu of a large. Every morning you consume 390 calories, on top of breakfast, lunch, dinner and possibly snacks. Five days a week at 390 calories equals 1,950 calories. Taking a typical 4 weeks a month, that is 7800 calories a month. Being that 3500 calories is equal to a pound we have sufficiently placed a possible caloric increase equal 2.2 pounds a month. Couple that latte factor with not paying attention to reading our labels properly, we have a recipe for disaster.

For those who are interested here are calories per gram:

Carbohydrates: 4

Protein: 4

Alcohol: 7

Fat: 9

Calculate the calories content by multiplying the chosen macronutrient (carb, fat, protein) by the number of calories per gram and divide into the serving. For example, let’s look at the first label and carbohydrates.

21g of carbohydrates X 4 (calories per gram) = 84 calories of carbohydrates per serving

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