I put it out there to my communities. The biggest request for a video/blog post? Label reading!!
**if you prefer to watch, video is below
I totally get it. Labels are like foreign countries. They're complicated. They have rules you don't understand. So this blog post is allllll about simplifying them.
For the sake of simplicity, I'm assuming that you're looking to labels to tell you if something is going to fit into your fat loss plan. Since I teach fat loss through balancing hormones and especially minimizing insulin, I'm going to be teaching you to read labels through that lens.
Here's my top 3 need to knows around label reading:
1. Don't even LOOK at the front of the label. Organic! Non GMO! Gluten Free! None of these mean ANYTHING when it comes to fat loss. Remember, fat loss and 'healthy' are not the same things. We're not talking about the merits of those claims right now, because we're looking at labels purely through a fat loss lens. Moral of the story? Don't fall for health washing. Skip right on over the claims and move over to the good stuff.
2. First go to the Nutrition Facts.
Let's see an example:
Okay...so here's what I want you to look at.
Start with fat. In this case there is only 2.5g of fat. We know that there are 9 calories in every gram of fat. This means that overall there is 22.5 calories of fat coming from a serving of this food. If you look at the calories per serving (120), that's NOT a very big percentage.
Now let's look at protein. Another easy one. There is 8g of protein in a serving of this food. Protein has 4 calories for every gram, so that means that 32 calories are coming from protein.
Finally, let's check out the carbs. First of all, don't worry about the sugars heading under carbs. Let's be real: all carbs aside from fiber break down to sugar. We want to know how much sugar is going to enter our bloodstream when we eat this right? So let's just take the total carbohydrate number and subtract fiber (which passes through without being broken down). That would mean that 15g of sugar (or carbs) is in a serving. Carbs are the same as protein, having 4 calories per gram, so that means that of the 120 calories in a serving of this food, 60 of those calories are breaking down to sugar.
So to sum it up, in a serving of this food, there is 120 calories (so what...we don't really care about the calories except to let us see the much more important picture of where they are coming from). 60 of those calories are coming from carbs (thats 50%!), 32 calories from protein and 22.5 calories from fat. Definitely NOT ideal for fat loss. Actually, we want basically the opposite. Half the calories should come from fat and the least should be from carbs.
Regardless of the outcome of the label reading, this should give you a pretty great idea of what to look for.
3. After you look at the Nutrition Facts panel and decide it's worth proceeding, you can now read the ingredients. Here you just want to look for major red flags, like hydrogenated anything (trans fat alert) or a lot of polyunsaturated fats that could potentially be oxidized and inflammatory (see 2 blog posts back on fats).
A word to the wise: if the label reading is confusing to you, then I have a pretty simple solution. Stick to whole foods while you're getting used to eating this way. Stop trying to find perfect snack foods that end up stressing you out. Buy nuts. Buy seeds. Buy unsweetened coconut and super dark chocolate. Mix em up and eat them. Have a half an avocado or a hard boiled egg. If you stick to things like that then label reading becomes secondary and isn't such a big deal.
Also, if you find yourself needing to source out a lot of snack foods, take a look at your meal portions. Ideally, when you're eating high fat, moderate protein and low carb in any way shape or form, the goal is to do away with snacking. Eat at meals and take time to digest and use up those fat stores for energy in between. If you need an occasional snack that's totally fine, but if you find that you're snacking constantly it could be a sign that you need to retool your meals a bit.
Bottom line? Don't stress yourself out reading labels. It's always simpler than it seems. If you do just one thing, check the carbs. It's so easy to consume soooo much sugar without realizing it if you're not somewhat proficient at label reading. If there is more than 10g per serving, stop and read the rest of the label. Then decide if it's worth it. Maybe it is and maybe it isn't. That I can't decide for you. If it is? Enjoy the hell out of it. Treat it as one moment in time and then go right back to the way you were eating before that. If not? Move on!
Want to know more? Dive deeper? Really understand how to eat for fat loss? Reserve your seat in my brand new (and free) webinar below!