Reading nutrition labels shouldn’t be complicated or confusing. The trick is knowing what information to look at and what you can ignore. This video clearly explains how I read a nutrition label. The truth is, there’s so much information that if you try to read everything on each label you would never get out of the store.
The first and most important item I read is the serving size and the calories. Many products that appear to be a single portion can actually have two or more servings. Next I read the carbs, fiber, sugar, sodium, protein and fat in that order. I always aim for less than 5 mg. of sugar per serving and I want a low carb and sodium count. The amount of protein is also important to me as I try to consume a good amount of it. The Daily Value (DV) is the percentage of a nutrient like sodium or iron that a serving contains. I only skim these numbers and stay away from products that have 100% of a nutrient like sodium.
Many people find nutrition labels misleading and hard to understand. The FDA has revised nutrition labels and the new format will start to appear Summer 2018. Here is a side by side comparison of the current label versus the new label:
The most obvious difference is that the label boldly displays how many servings are contained in the package and the calories for each serving. Many new labels will revise the size of a portion because some of the current serving sizes do not reflect how much of a product is typically consumed at one time. For example the serving size for ice cream will now be 2/3 cup instead of the current 1/2 cup. Another important difference is the amount of sugar added to a food will be clearly displayed.
It is critical that you read each and every label. Food companies are always reformulating products and often times there is either no or very little indication on the package that a change has been made. Even if I’ve been consuming a product for years I always skim the label just to make sure nothing has changed. As diligent as I am I have been fooled before. I know reading your labels can be labor intensive but it is very important for both weight loss and good nutrition.