Decoding Nutrition Labels

Are you following my Nutrition: Back to Basics but don’t know how to tell what is in your favourite snacks? Don’t worry, I was the same. I always found myself looking at the back of packets in the supermarket and nodding as though I knew what was going on, but really I didn’t have a clue what to be looking for. For anyone who can relate, this article is for you. Hopefully, I will be able to clear some things up and give you a basic understanding of what to look for.

I would recommend reading my article Nutrition: Back to Basics before reading this post. I will be referring to it a lot and will give you a good basis of what to do with the information in this post.

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 16.10.471) Size of the serving 

2) How many servings per container 

Many people believe that the nutritional information on the back of the packet represents the whole packet. In some cases it does, but not always. It is a crucial mistake to make. You could eat a full packet of crisps and think it was only 200 calories but really it was 200 calories for 7 crisps. Same goes for the nutrients listed. The information is all per serving. So be careful.

3) Calories: Can be related to ‘energy’ in my Nutrition: Back to Basics article. Remember, its calories per serving. Not always for the full packet!

4) Fat: In my basic nutrition article I talk about Precision Nutrition’s hand sized guide. They outline how per meal you should aim to have the ‘top of your thumb’ of fat.

5) Sodium: Try to keep to highly salted foods to a minimum. High sodium meals can in some cases cause the body to retain fluid in the form of a ‘bloat’.

According to the NHS:

  • A high amount of salt is 1.5g per 100g
  • A low amount of salt is 0.3g per 100g

6) Carbohydrates: In my basic nutrition article I talk about Precision Nutrition’s hand sized guide. They outline how per meal you should aim to have the size of a cupped hand of carbohydrates.

Sugars: A classified carbohydrate,  which can be found in foods in its natural form and in the form of artificial sweeteners.

According to Diabetes Ireland:

  • More than 15g per 100g is considered high
  • Less than 5g per 100g is considered low

7) Protein: In my basic nutrition article I talk about Precision Nutrition’s hand sized guide. They outline how you should aim to have the ‘size of your palm’ of protein per meal.

8) Bottom section and Percentages: I ignore these sections as like I mentioned in my other article everyone has different energy and macronutrient needs based on height, age, weight, and activity level. While the recommended daily intake can be somewhat useful I believe that when it comes to nutrition there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’. Everyone will have different needs. The guidelines given at the bottom of the nutrition label are the recommended daily amounts for all men and all women and the percentages are the percentages of each nutrient per single serving in terms of the daily recommended amount. I wouldn’t treat them as gospel but it is something to consider.

There are a lot of other things that can be considered when examining nutrition labels, but I am hoping that this article along with Nutrition: Back to Basics will be able to give you the basics on how to decode the label and what to do with the information you have decoded.

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The Girl on the Go xx

 

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