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Understanding Food Labels!

| Filed under: Q&AFoodAdviceCaitlin Cooks

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Ever get the feeling that you should know a little more about food labels and nutrition calculations??

Well join the rest of us!

This FitPerezcious reader would definitely like to know more, and so would we:

I am wondering whether you could please walk me through the best ways to read and understand food labels and nutrition calculations. I have recently wanted to understand exactly what I am eating.

And, of course, we have one of our fave contributors standing by: Caitlin Cooks!

Here's her response:

It's great to see that you are taking an interest in health and nutrition!

As an athlete, it is extremely important to me that I purchase products that are high in protein, low in saturated fats and low in sugar (as my main focus is adding and preserving lean muscle mass). I also look at the ingredients list and check to see how many chemicals there are in the product. The more additives and chemicals, the more I know that it is probably not good for my body, so I will try to replace it with a more natural and wholesome option.

Even if you're not an athlete, you can follow this same routine, to ensure that you know what you are looking at next time you pick up an item at the grocery store.

Here is an example of a food label for a popular yogurt:

1. Protein - First of all, I look at the protein. In this case there is 12 grams, which for a yogurt, is great. Protein keeps us feeling full and is necessary for the building and repair of body tissues.

2. Sugar - Then I have a look at the sugar content. Only 3 grams. I try to keep simple sugars under 5 grams when looking at labels (personally), so this is still looking ok. With all the hidden sugars in our food today, it is important that we keep our intake low. Many of us don't realize how much sugar we ingest on a daily basis!

3. Fat - I want to keep my saturated fats low, so with only 1 gram, I am happy with this. Also total fats are only 1.5 grams. Looking good so far.

4. Serving Size - It's also important to check the serving size. Many items might look good at a quick glance, but then you might release that there are 8 servings in the small container (meaning that the item could be very high in sugars/fats etc once you add them all up!) In this case, there is only 1 serving, so you know that the values on the label represent the whole container.

5. Ingredients List - Have a quick look at the ingredients. Are they natural ingredients like water or long weird names? For this item, there are quite a few additives, which would be a downside to this product.

If saw a yogurt with similar values in the protein/sugar/fat sections, but less additives, then I might choose that one instead, as I always look for the most "natural" option, but overall I would say this yogurt is a good choice for someone wanting a quick healthy snack, especially compared to a lot of the yogurts on the shelves today.

Let me know how you go reading the labels at your next grocery store visit!

Thanks, Caitlin! This really helps!

Make sure you check out her website for more great ideas, and if U wanna know more about labels OR anything else, U can always email us at Questions@FitPerez.com!!

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