For those who find nutrition labels confusing, this post aims to simplify it. For those who know how to read them, this post may or may not provide information you didn’t previously know.
The old model of how nutrition labels are listed is just flat out stupid. The serving sizes often made no sense and the labels were often seen as misleading. That’s changing. Large companies were required by law to change their labels by July of this year. So you’ll see a lot of these new labels at the grocery store already. Smaller companies have until 2019 to make the change.
First thing to pay attention to: the calorie count. The old label was small. The new label now lists the calories in large, bold font. Also listed in larger font than before is the “servings per container” count. 8 servings @ 230 calories each means the item pictured contains 1840 calories total. One serving is 55 grams, which is the measuring unit you’ll want to use if you want to be as precise as possible.
Next are going to be your macros. You’ll see the “calories from fat” label went away. Hopefully that’ll mean a reduction in the vilification of fat. The label informs you what types of fat comprise the total fat content.
Next is carbs. For now we won’t discuss total carbs VS net carbs. That’s a different topic for another time. Of the total carbohydrate count, sugar and fiber will be listed as constituents. The new label, as you can see, lists “added sugars.” Should you care about that? Not really. But again, for now, just pay attention to the total carb content. We could also get into the topic of “how much sugar and fiber should I consume”, but that’s a different topic for another time, too. Again, this post is just a how-to on nutrition label reading.
Lastly, protein will be listed. The label on the right DOES have protein listed, it’s just cut off in this example. Of the 3 macronutrients, protein is most important for muscle retention during weight loss. Again the takeaway here is that these are all figures based on the SERVING size.
Final note: you’ll notice I didn’t really touch on sodium, cholesterol, minerals or micronutrients. If you don’t have issues with your cholesterol, then cholesterol amounts shouldn’t be much of an issue. Same thing with sodium.
That isn’t to say micronutrients & minerals aren’t important. They ARE. But once again, that’s a different topic. For what it’s worth, however, the new labels will no longer show vitamins A&C, and instead will show vitamin D and potassium.
The new labels will hopefully now make sense to a larger portion of the general public, and hopefully this article helped clear up any confusion you may have previously had about the label and its layout.