Ever wondered what you’re really looking for when you check out nutrition labels? We asked our fitness experts the BUF Girls to demystify things for us…
Top tips for reading food labels
- Always look at the per 100g column, NOT the per serving column because the serving size is determined by the manufacturer and therefore not consistent.
- When it comes to SUGAR, you’re ideally looking for products with 5g or less per 100g but in reality, so long as it has single digits (less than 10g), you’re doing OK. 15g or more is getting into ‘high sugar’ territory.
- When it comes to CARBS, well that depends on what your goals are. If you’re keen to shift some weight, eating low carb is important, so you’d want to aim for lower carbohydrate products, with between 0-20g of carbs per 100g. Make sure you watch your serving sizes too, as for weight loss you want to stay south of 150g in total per day. Lastly, make sure any grains you eat are unrefined, whole grains - wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat, oats and whole rye are all good examples of this. Pasta and bread do NOT fall into this category, unfortunately.
- A bit of a tough one is FAT. Healthy, natural fats in the diet will actually help keep you lean, boost your immune system and improve brain function, so be comfortable with eating raw nuts, avocado, olive oil, organic yoghurt, grass-fed meats and oily fish. But when it comes to deep fried foods, donuts, biscuits, chips, margarines and processed oils, steer clear! One thing you should really pay attention to on labels is whether the product contains trans fats, or altered fats. Steer clear of these where possible.
- Sodium, otherwise known as SALT is another one to look out for. It depends on your personal health concerns but as a general guide, less than 300mg of sodium per 100g is A-OK.
- Also make sure you check the FIBRE content of your foods. This is perhaps the only nutrient that’s worth checking out ‘per serve’ and any product with more than 3g fibre per serve is a winner.
- Try and choose products with as few ingredients as possible and that are close to their natural state. An apple is an apple but I’m not sure what apple-caramel-splice-treats are and I certainly don’t want to eat something containing ‘maltodextrin’. As a general rule, if your granny doesn’t recognise an ingredient, it might be worth reconsidering putting it in your body.
- Don’t be fooled by ‘Low Fat’ products. The full fat, less tampered with products usually contain less sugar and more nutrients. They also help with satiety. Just manage your portions and enjoy the creaminess.
- If in doubt, stick to foods that don’t require a label – veggies, fruit, grass-fed meats, fish, eggs, nuts, beans and other ‘one ingredient’ products always win!
- You don’t have to give up your favourite foods, just check the labels and swap don’t stop!
See more awesome tips from the BUF Girls at www.bufgirls.com!