Today I thought I would come to you with a little topic that might seem trivial, yet I still think it needs to be addressed. I feel like so many people are obsessed with calories and serving sizes on labels that they tend to miss the bigger picture.
For anyone who is looking at labels and feeling slightly confused by all that you are seeing, this post is for you! We’re gonna look at the label in different ways to try and understand what to look out for depending on your situation.
If you are looking for a snack that will keep you full…
When it comes to the 2 o clock hunger pangs or avoiding dying of hunger during your workout or a snack that will help you stay full for longer then 10 minutes, DON’T LOOK AT CALORIES.
What you want to be looking at is protein and fiber. The golden combination you should ingrain in your brain! (that rhymes too so I know you can remember it).
Protein and fiber has this amazing way of adding bulk to your food, which makes you feel fuller without having to eat so much. Fiber also slows gastric emptying, which helps you stay fuller longer.
You need about 25-35g of fiber a day, so anything with at least 10-15% fiber (about 5g) is a great choice.
As for protein, recommendations currently state that 0.8 g/kg of protein per day is sufficient. Simply multiply 0.8 by your weight (kg) to know how much protein you need!
Looking at this protein bar, 10g protein meets about 20% of my protein needs, so I know it contains a lot of protein! As a rule of thumb, anything above 8-10g of protein is a high protein choice. Even 5g protein is quite good in my opinion.
If you are wanting to avoid sodium and cholesterol…
Simply enough, this would require you to look at the sodium and cholesterol content of the food you are eating.
Remember though, cholesterol is only found in animal products, so any plant based food or non animal food will be cholesterol free.
As for sodium, it’s getting harder and harder to not exceed by a landslide our sodium needs. So try remembering this rule of thumb from Health Canada: whenever you are looking at the % daily value, 5% is a little and 15% is a lot.
In this case, you would want to make a choice that would have less than 15% of your daily sodium requirements.
If you are concerned with fat content…
Keeping an eye on your fat intake is a wise choice, but you really do need to be careful. With all the reduced calorie and fat options on the market, sugar content of food tends to increase substantially. If you eat too much sugar, it will simply turn into fat in your body, so try keeping that in mind!
You might see some labels that have many different types of fats listed under total fats:
Here is a quick guide to each fat:
Saturated fats: These often come from animal sources, such as butter, lard, shortening or even coconut. There is mixed evidence on the effect of saturated fats, but my best advice would be to try and choose foods with lower saturated fat, although it can be really hard to find a good food choice (protein bars, granola, snack bars…) that does not contain at least some saturated fat. Don’t fret over this one too too much.
Trans fats: This one raises your bad cholesterol and can cause increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. I try avoiding this fat in all the products that I buy.
Monounsaturated fats: This fat is healthier for you as it can raise your good cholesterol! Seeing this fat on the label is good.
Polyunsaturated fats: Can help lower your bad cholesterol and usually comes with Vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant!
Omega 3: An essential fat your body can not make, it helps in lowering your risk of heart disease thanks to it’s anti inflammatory properties. This fat is a great choice!
Omega 6: An essential fat your body can not make, it can actually be pro-inflammatory if consumed in high amounts. The trick is to consume a good balance of omega 3 and omega 6, which can be a little tricky. Generally, our diet provides enough omega 6 and not enough omega 3, so focusing on omega 3 is a good way to go!
That’s all I have for today! If you have anything to add or have other questions, don’t be shy to comment down below!
P.S. I thank all of you who filled out my one year blogiversary survey! This post was written because of your awesome feedback, I love knowing what you guys would want to see!
If you still have not filled out the survey, click HERE to fill it out now! (this a web link so for anyone who had troubles filling the survey out if you are using a tablet, this link should work fine!)
P.S x2: This post is in no way telling you to always chose foods based on these recommendations, it’s good to know so that you make healthier food choices, but some foods will contain some trans fat or have a lot of saturated fat and I am in no way telling you to completely avoid them!!
Have a great one!