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How To Read Food Labels For Weight Loss

Author : Ram Gupta

Almost everyone realizes that a healthy and low calorie diet is essential for weight loss. However, in a world which offers a million choices in food, how do you control your diet? The answer is simple: by learning how to read the food label that comes with every packaged food product.

A recent study conducted at the Washington State University confirmed the value of this information. It found that people who simply read food labels are more likely to lose weight than people who exercise but pay no attention to food labels. This is a significant finding. It shows that when you know how to read food labels, you are better equipped to control the quantity of calories you consume in a day, as well as the quality of what you eat. The result is a healthier diet and weight loss. Here are some basic facts that will help you read food labels.

Serving Size

This is the first piece of information on a food label that you should pay attention to. It suggests the amount of the given food item that you should consume in a day. For instance, if you get a box of Pop Tarts with 8 pastries, the label says 'serving size: 1 pastry'. This means that 1 pastry is all you should be having in a day.

Naturally, since food manufacturers are not aware of your specific metabolism and the number of calories you require in a day, they calculate the serving size according to an average person's daily dietary requirement, which is 2,000 calories. If you know your metabolism, and your body requires 3,000 calories a day, the maximum serving sizes for you would be one-and-a-half times the recommended amount.

Number of Calories

Right next to the serving size, the label specifies the number of calories per serving. This information is crucial, if you are out to lose weight fast. By paying attention to all the food labels, you would be able to compute the number of calories you consumed in a day or week, and measure whether that is helping you lose weight. Without the calorie information, you would have a hard time managing your diet. Typically, food items that contain 200 or more calories per serving should be avoided for weight loss (unless a single serving of something is the nutritional equivalent of a full meal).

Information about Nutrients

Contrary to what a lot of people believe, counting calories is not the only essential information for weight loss and good health. It is equally important to pay attention to the quality of what you are eating. The qualitative value of your food can also be monitored and regulated from food labels. This is because the food label of a given food item specifies all its constituents, including proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and micronutrients such as vitamins, calcium, sodium and other minerals.

Percentage Daily Value

Additionally, the food label also specifies the daily percentage of each of these nutrients that the food item contains. So, if a food item contains 7 g of fat (equivalent of 63 calories), it would mention this value and in brackets, 10%. This means that this is 10 percent of the daily amount of fat you should eat, based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

So the next time you shop, make sure you pay attention to the fine print and read the food label carefully. You will know exactly what the food item in your hands will do for your nutritionally, and this will help you make a more informed choice for better health and weight loss.

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Tags:   weight loss efforts, lose weight fast, how to read food labels, food labels, weight loss

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Submitted : 2011-07-18    Word Count : 715    Times Viewed: 515