Learn How To Read A Nutrition Label Fast Or In Detail

Nutrition Is Not Always Just About The Label, It’s A Way Of Life, So Take Your Time To Enjoy It.

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The 1st Step: How To Read A Nutrition Label

The 1st Step to do is understand how the nutrition label is set out

From the name and color to the ingredients, and then working your way to read the rest of the nutritional label facts. This is a good time to use the phrase “a picture says a thousand words. Meaning, if you look at the food product as a whole, every bit tells you something about the product, knowing what to look for and where can help speed up the time it takes you to choose a meal.

Looking From The Front Label To The Back, We Start With Branding

Obviously the first thing that usually has the biggest effect on people at first glance  is the brand. It starts with the name, and goes all the way to the colors. Branding for a reputable company takes many years and is extremely hard to maintain in the modern day world. 

This is due to competitors starting up over night now, and businesses going global much easier through the internet and with technology.

An empty shopping trolley in a supermarket next to a shelf with different branded product food labels

The Business Name, Logo And The Slogan Or Mission Statement

The name, logo and slogan of a business should be strategic. Either related to the product or service, or something that has a story and is personable with your business. Why you might ask? The main reason is people will relate to your product or service faster, it helps with the buyer intent. If it’s not, then you want to capture that intent with relatable branding. 

A business will spend a lot more money and energy on catchy designs or personable details being added to their web pages. But, doing this helps build their relatable product faster and helps build the buyer intent in another way. Combining both strategies obviously has the best affect.

How Colors Affect Buying Behavior

Over time, successful brands and research have proven that certain colors in certain industries affect buying behavior. Think about it, when you think about McDonalds, what color do you think about? Yellow. What about the color for food? You will find most people will normally say yellow or greens for healthy foods.

What Do The Portion Sizes On Food Products All Mean?

Usually located on the front and at the bottom of the food and nutrition label is the size of the total product, either in grams as “G“or liters as “L“. 

This information will become useful and will be explained more in the Nutritional facts Label section. This section of the product has a breakdown of the contents insideIn short, it helps understand the overall size, the serving sizes or ingredient sizes per 100g in the product

For example, if a crisps packet said it was 190g, it will specify the serving size on the back and show how many servings are in the product. Just in case you want to ration it out evenly throughout the day

It is also nice to have 2 quick ways to measure out your food portions to make up meals when drinking or eating out, or for snacking.

Measuring tape wrapped around a carrot portion on a pale blue background

What The Main Benefits of the product Are

The main benefits of a product are usually found on the front of the food label. If branding and marketing teams are doing their jobs right, they will be adding special contents or benefits that are in the product here

It will normally be printed in big and bold writing, so it’s the first thing that catches your eye. But, like we keep saying, just make sure you also check the fine print of a nutrition label.

How To Understand The Ingredients List

Learning how to understand the ingredients List is actually easier than it sounds. What you might not have known is they are actually in order of the most used to the least used ingredients. Starting with the most used at the top of the list.

A good little hint here is if the food you are looking at all have unwanted added ingredients, or macronutrient breakdowns that don’t suit what you should have, then you can at least quickly find the next best thing.

The Nutritional Label Facts Explained

You should have seen these many times, but have you ever wondered what the nutrition label facts all mean, and how it works?

The Nutrition label shows a list of categories which can be broken down as shown below.

Nutritional Facts For Orange Drink by Beweightloss BWL

Total Energy Is shown In Calories Or Kilojoules

Energy from food is used for the absorption, transportation, interconversion, oxidation and deposition of nutrients. The processes all increase heat production and oxygen usage throughout your body.

Energy on a Nutrition Label shows the values for calories and/or kilojoules, the different one being shown next to the other in brackets. Your body uses the energy to run and operate properly

Energy is made up of calories, calories are made up of macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients changes in food depending on the ingredients used and their corresponding makeup. This is why energy, or calories change in each food product, or even the same foods, but different brands

The Bolded Carbohydrates Line on a Nutrition Label

The total of the Carbohydrate line is shown in bold and is the total sum of all carbs coming from the combined ingredients in the product. This can include Dietary Fiber and Sugars, which are listed as a sub categories under the total carbohydrates. This is because both Sugar and Fiber are Carbohydrates.

An example of this is when you look and the nutrition label, and If there is 15 grams written on the fiber or sugar line on the label, this means that there is 15 grams of sugar or fiber in a single serving or per 100g’s, whichever column you choose to work from at the time. Also remembering there may be multiple servings in the food item you choose to eat

However, if you were to look at this as a whole, the total Carbohydrate section will be saying 30g in bold, not including the other carbs, which will then need to be added.

Protein Label Facts Are Nice & Easy

Protein on a label is an easy one, it just shows the total combined protein amount from all ingredients within the food.

Understanding the many different types of protein and how they work can be another story. The digestion and absorption rates of protein into your body can vary quite significantly.

What Does The Fat Column Mean?

Total fat again this will be in bold, followed by possible sub items such as saturated, trans, monounsaturated etc. You will normally see further breakdowns to this sort of detail for marketing purposes, to promote the product with higher healthy fats used.

Other Micronutrient Details Found On A Nutrition Label

There are other micronutrient details that can be found on a Nutrition Label, such as; Calcium, Vitamins, Zinc or Potassium

Low calorie foods with a lot of micronutrients, such as fruits and vegetables, have higher nutrient densities. These are considered nutrient dense foods.

Nutrition Label Facts Food Label Showing Per Serving And Per Daily Value Of Protein Powder Supplement

The 100g column on a nutrition label explained

The Nutrition Label should show at least one column with the nutritional facts per 100g. This column means that per 100g of the actual food or product, there will be the specified amount of nutrients inside that one hundred grams. This is the one that is most known and used. It is also the easiest and most accurate to use when you are cooking your own meals to suit your specific calorie and macro intake.

The Per Serve Nutritional Facts Column Explained

The nutrition label can also show an added column for the serving size as mentioned briefly in the size section. The serving size is usually a suggested portion size set by the company. You can imagine how a company would think when it comes to choosing the portion size. It all relates to what we have been speaking about, to advertise the healthier way to consume their product. It is also another way of advertising smaller caloric meals in a larger packaged item.

The caution with reading off the serving size is to make sure that you are constantly checking them each time you buy it. The ingredients in the nutritional breakdown can change with product updates or per size difference and per brand.

A great example is the well known Coca Cola drink. If you read the serving size of both a 600ml bottle and a 1.5L bottle, you will notice the ingredients and per 100g columns are the same, but the serving sizes are completely different. The 600lm coke bottle has 1 serving in the bottle, so the serving size is 600ml. Where as the 1.5L coke bottle has a serving size of 250ml

This would mean that the serving size difference is over 2.5 times more. Not only are you paying more for the smaller bottle, but they are assuming that you drink it faster as well.

Serving Size column highlighted in yellow On Nutrition Facts Food Label

What The % Column Or The Percent Daily Value (DV) Means

The last column that is shown on the nutrition label is the % or the Percent Daily Value (DV). This column is a guide to the nutrients in one serving of food. DV’s are also based on a diet for healthy adults from 2,000 calories a day

For example, if the nutrition label lists 9 percent for the salt line item in the % column. It means that one serving provides 9 percent of the salt of a diet with 2000 calories per day. Even though your diet may be higher or lower in recommended calories, you can still use the DV as a guide when checking the labels fast.

What Sugar Means On A Nutrition Label And Quick Things To Look For

The sugar item on the nutrition label you are looking at might have more than one sugar ingredient in it. This is why you have to look at the ingredients section with the quantity breakdown of the sugar in the nutritional LabelCarbohydrate section. They all contribute to the overall sugar content in the food. 5% or below per line item is considered low. 20% or more is considered high.

The sugars or sweeteners that can be found on a label can be found below. Just remember that the ingredients are listed in most used ingredient to least used of the overall weight in the product. So, if you are reading a nutrition label and there is a sugar or sweetener as one of the 1st ingredients, you know to steer clear. 

Putting It Together To Understand All The Nutrition Label

It’s a great skill to have to be able to understand food labels for your own benefit. Manufacturers have been known to use all kinds of ingredient or substitutes to try and make your favorite meals as a “healthy option

Did you know healthy supplements are even adapted to be able to sell or promote in trending claims or media focused areas for revenue purposes. They can use different types of ingredients to sweeten products, reduce fat or lower total calories

This can change the contents up or down in different ways to sell in different categories. Some of the different sweetening ingredients used in foods are listed below.

A List Of Different Sweeteners And Sugars Used In Foods

  • Maltodextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Sucrose
  • Maltose
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Honey
  • Syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Fructose corn syrup
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Sucralose [955]
  • Saccharin [954]
  • Cyclamate [952]
  • Acesulphame potassium [950]

Put Your New Skills To Practice By Following A Diet

Read through overviews of the Different Types Of Diets and the Different Benefits you can gain from each one.

There is free guides that including; Dieting Shopping Lists, Start Up Steps, Things To Avoid, and Cheat Sheet Checklists. Even find resources from Nutrition Tracking Journals used for taking the hard part out of measuring your results.

Learn healthy approaches that teach you to be consistent for the long term and you won’t go wrong! 

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