How to buy the Healthiest Food | Understanding the Nutrition Facts on Food Labels
Let Kris J. Simpson, author of the All Inclusive Diet, train you how to buy the Healthiest Food by understanding the Nutrition Facts on Food Labels.
Learning how to read and understand food labels can help you make healthier choices. It doesn’t sound like the most interesting topic but it’s a really important one because have you ever went into a grocery store with the intention of buying healthy food and judged your food by the cover? There’s so much marketing that goes into food that a lot of times it’s just easier to judge the food by its cover but it’s sort of like books. If you’re going to read a book, then you’re going to want to also take a look inside the cover you’d want to look at the description. You’d want to know if this book is good for you or not good for you. I really think we need to do the same thing with our food and I can tell you my friend, that it wasn’t always that way for me. I found food labels very confusing. I used to bring in my calculator when I was preparing for bodybuilding shows and everything had to be so finite. I’d bring in my calculator and I’d calculate everything on the fly and my shopping trips took a couple of hours and I don’t have that amount of time anymore. In fact, I learned a new way of doing it that’s a lot more time sensitive. So let’s get right into it. Three steps to understanding the Nutrition Facts on Food Labels are serving size, daily value and ingredients.
- Serving Size
Serving sizes are standardized to make it easier to compare similar foods; they are provided in familiar units, such as cups or pieces, followed by the metric amount. Compare the serving size on the package to the amount that you eat. If you eat the serving size shown on the Nutrition Facts Table, you will get the amount of calories and nutrients that are listed.
- Daily Value
% Daily Value puts nutrients on a scale from 0% to 100%. This scale tells you if there is a little or a lot of a nutrient in one serving of a particular food. Use the 5-15 rule. 5-15% is basically the spectrum or the range of carbs, fats, and proteins that you should be consuming. Use this percentage to compare the nutrient content of different foods you enjoy.
When looking at the ingredients, you should opt for foods that contain more fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium. What you want to see less of is sodium, cholesterol, saturated fat, trans fat, and tropical fat such as palm oil or kernel oil.
Always remember, if you can’t pronounce it, denounce it. It’s as simple as that.
Inspire to Aspire,
Kris J. Simpson
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Hey friend, Kris here. I help people cultivate energy, restore balance and live an inspired life. Today’s topic, how to understand nutrition facts by reading food labels. Doesn’t food labels sound like the most interesting topic but it’s a really important one because have you ever went into a grocery store with the intention of buying healthy food and judged your food by the cover? What I mean is, let’s pick on the Smartfood over here. Maybe you think that this is the smart food because that’s what it’s called, or that is has no trans fat, it has low sodium, it has reduced fat, it’s non-GMO. So on and so forth There’s so much marketing that goes into food that a lot of times it’s just easier to judge the food by its cover but it’s sort of like books. If you’re gonna read a book then you’re gonna want to also take a look inside the cover you’re gonna wanna look at the description. You’re gonna wanna know if this book is good for you or not good for you. I really think we need to do the same thing with our food and I can tell you my friend that it wasn’t always that way for me. I found food labels very confusing. I used to bring in my calculator when I was preparing for bodybuilding shows and everything had to be so finite. I’d bring in my calculator and I’d calculate everything on the fly and my shopping trips took a couple of hours and I don’t have that time anymore. In fact, I learned a new way of doing it that’s a lot more time friendly and it only requires three easy steps. So let’s get right into it. I’m gonna show you three easy steps to simplify reading food labels so you can truly understand nutrition facts and make the determination is this food good for me or not food for me. Thumbs up or thumbs down. Let’s pick on the smart guy over here. This is the Smartfood movie night butter popcorn. Sounds really interesting, that’s for sure. It’s got my taste buds acting up on me here. But let’s just find out if this one’s gonna get a thumbs up or thumbs down. Step number one, let’s figure out here if the serving size is gonna be listed and it always is and it’s right up here so this is three cups. This is three cups a serving size. So we really need to pay attention to that because if we don’t then everything to follow or step two I’m gonna show you in a moment will be completely inaccurate. So having six cups essentially doubles all of the formula that I’m gonna show you below here. So we have to really determine if it’s gonna be three cups it has to be three cups or about three fist fulls that’s equivalent to three cups. So that’s the first thing. We can always play with this too. Maybe we wanna have four cups or maybe we wanna cut back a little bit and have two cups. We can always do that but first we need to know what is the baseline and the baseline for this food is three cups, that’s a serving size. So that’s step number one. Step number two, we need to look at the daily values. Now what I used to do is I used to look at all of these numbers here. How many milligrams of sodium does it have? How many grams of carbohydrates? That might work for you if you’re the type that’s actually looking at food labels but that’s really hard to determine, is this a food to keep or a food not to keep. The daily value which is this column, which is rarely used by most people on the far right over here makes that process quite easy. It does that because is determines all of your macros, your fats, your protein and your carbs, what percentage of your daily intake this food is according to that serving size. So for example, the fats in here are 26% of my daily value of fat, and it also breaks it down into saturates and trans fats, and we’re at 12% here. Now here is the formula: we call this the 5-15 rule. That’s basically the spectrum or the range that you always want to be in when it comes to your macros or your carbs, your fats, your proteins, or what they call the DV, or the daily value. So that’s the range. Now if you’re trying to get a little less of something, maybe it’s carbohydrates you’re trying to cut back on right now for example, then it’s gonna be closer to the five percent or the lower end of the range. Maybe it’s something you wanna get a little bit more of. We all know how important fiber is in our diet so maybe we wanna get higher and closer to that 15% or maybe even beyond that. So it’s called the 5-15 rule and that’s the way we can determine the DV and where we wanna fall within that. Let’s go back to the DV for the other macronutrients here. Looking at carbohydrates, so we’ve got 28 grams. We don’t even need to look at that anymore because we have an easier way of looking at it. It’s nine percent. So as you can see, nine percent falls into that 5-15 range, it’s sort of in the upper middle, so that would get a thumbs up here, assuming that you can handle nine percent carbohydrates per serving. Now, it’s also broken into fiber and sugars. This is where I like to switch things up a little bit because here’s the problem. There is no DV for sugar and that’s because the dietitian board of Canada, works for food Canada has not determined how much sugar we should have each day. There’s lots of guesswork behind that but studies are still ongoing and they really haven’t determined what that number should be. What is that safe zone, that safe amount of sugar that we can ingest without any health consequences because that’s what the DV is all about. Now it wanna clear this up right now. The DV, or the daily value, and all those percentages on that right column aren’t about you losing weight. It’s about your health. It’s about preventing preventable health risks, diseases. Cardiovascular disease, heart disease, cancer and all of these common illnesses that we have in our society today. It’s all about decreasing the risk and they’ve done years and years of worldwide studies to show that the DV, the ranges of carbohydrates, proteins and fats have to be within that five to 15 percent in order for use to maximize our health. When we go beyond that, that’s when we could be getting into some preventable health problems. Moving on here, back to the Smartfood popcorn, we can look at the protein, which is at four grams. Now, protein is not listed neither, and the reason behind that is the same as sugar in the sense that they don’t have a number because they really haven’t researched it because they’ve determined that we’re getting enough protein in our diet as it is. Some people that are on a high protein diet would disagree with that. And for them, they probably know how many gram of protein they’re gonna want per day and they’re gonna have to track that manually or on maybe a food app, FitnessPal or maybe its FatSecret. There’s plenty of them out there to do that but for us everyday folk, we don’t really need to worry about that because we’re easily gonna get that 10 to 25 percent which is what the DV is based on, that 10 to 25 percent of all our calories should come from protein. That’s where that healthy range is. Of course some people go beyond that. That’s okay. That might be the right fuel blend for you. Everybody’s different but there’s enough studies that show that 10 to 25 percent of protein from your calories is where you should be to prevent health problems. Now back to that sugar fiber thing. The easiest way to do that, to figure out how much sugar you should have or shouldn’t have I call it the high five, low five. High five, low five. High five, we wanna have more than five grams of fiber. Low five, we wanna have less than five grams of sugar. That’s not easy my friend. It’s very challenging actually. You’ll see that with a lot of the grain products, if it’s cereal or bread, you’re gonna have that fiber and sugar always listed together which is really convenient but again as I said, there’s gonna be no daily value for sugar. So I just do the high five, low five here and in this case you can see we’ve got five grams of fiber so it sort of hits that minimum five grams of fiber that we want but it has no grams of sugar so it’s definitely under five grams of sugar. We got a thumbs up with this one, no doubt about it. One thing I wanna mention as well, if you see in food labels, sugar in products, like for example, healthy grains, spelt, kamut, quinoa that’s because there is sugar found naturally in grains. It’s actually fructose which has been given a bad rap lately because of a lot of sugar non-advocates that are looking at all the different sugars, including fructose and saying that that’s something that we’re getting too much of and perhaps we are, but it’s coming probably from the added sugar not the natural sugar that’s found in all of these natural, organic, wholesome products like the spelt, the kamut and the quinoa, and that’s why you’ll see one gram or two grams in organic rice for example and you scratch your head and say well I know they don’t add the sugar to it that just doesn’t make sense I got this off the organic shelf so it can’t have any added sugar but it’s the natural founding sugar that’s giving it the one or two grams that you might see in so just to clear that up, that’s where its coming from. It’s natural. It’s all good and there isn’t anything to worry about. So back to the macros here. We finished off the fats, the carbohydrates, the proteins, those are your macros. The DV, or daily value also lists the micronutrients. Micronutrients are all your vitamins and minerals that are over here. So you can see that vitamin A, C and also calcium, there’s zero percent of these minerals and vitamins in this food. So it’s not high in vitamin A, C, or calcium and has nothing, nada. Iron, though, it’s got six percent. So for somebody that’s trying to increase their iron, maybe they’re borderline anemic or they are anemic, popcorn would actually be a great food because you’re getting a significant amount. It’s between that 5-15, it’s at six. It’s at the lower range but it’s still got some iron in it. That’s step number two when looking at food labels, understanding the daily value and using that far right column that, I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t used to use it. I used to get my calculator and do it the hard way. There is an easier way. They’ve already done it for us. It’s a guideline. I wanna clear that up right now too. If you need a specific diet, you’ve got specific goals, maybe they’re athletic goals or cosmetic goals, and you wanna put a lot of focus and a lot of attention on your nutrition, this might not be for you. This is just for people that want to maintain or increase their health, maybe lose a few pounds too. But it’s definitely just a guideline. It’s a ballpark. It’s not finite math. You need to go to registered dietitian to get a personalized meal plan and something really specific for you. That might not be a bad idea because then you can get what I call the fuel blend and it’s always personalized. That’s when we break down our macros. How much percent of carbs and proteins and fats are gonna work for you. What works for me is within that range that the DV works with. My carbs are anywhere between 50-60% and my fats and my proteins are always 25-30% of my daily calories or my daily intake. That’s what works for me. That’s a fuel blend. If I need to lose a few pounds, then that’ll change a little bit. My protein and fat will probably come up a little bit, and my carbs will come down a little bit but I still have carbs. They might not be 60%, they might be 50% of my daily intake for example. But again, back to the DV, it’s a great general ballpark guideline that you can use to get in and out of the grocery store really quick and finally understand where is my food coming from? What is in this? And that’s our responsibility. I really think that because, my friend, who’s gonna take care of that other than you? I’ve learned that the hard way as well. I’ve learned that I need to take care of myself. So that means that I gotta spend a little bit of time on stuff especially that is going into my body. But once you learn the quick and easy way or doing things which I’m showing you here today, then it’s not such a burden. You learn this, you start practicing it and before you know it, it’s really like snapping your fingers and you’ve got this. You can really understand food labels. The third step, number three is the ingredients. So let’s take a look at here. We’ve got popcorn, obviously. We’ve also got vegetable oil, salt, natural butter flavor and color. So this is my thumbs up thumbs down with these ingredients here: popcorn, okay. It’s corn, it’s a grain. I need grains in my diet. I find that that fuel blend really energizes me as long as I don’t overdo it so it’s got my thumbs up there. Vegetable oil. I find with vegetable oil, I have to restrict it. These are where our omega 6s are coming from and I think that we’re overdoing it on the omega 6s and it’s really throwing off our omega 6 and omega 3 ratio which really should be two to one, three to one omega 6 to omega 3 but typically in our diets, it’s probably 20 to one or 30 to one in some cases. So we need to beware of vegetable oil. It is everywhere. It’s in a lot of packaged and processed products. It gives it it’s tastes, helps preserve all of these products. But in excessive amounts, it really makes me feel like crap quite honestly. So that’s gonna get a thumbs down. Now, salt, if we look at the micronutrient here is 11%. It’s between that 5-15 range I talked about. So, hey, not too bad. I’m not too worried about that. Natural butter flavor, thumbs up again with that. What about this? This is color. Now, it’s artificial color, and how I know that is because it’s a proprietary blend and this is something that I need you to be aware of as well. Whenever you see flavor or color, that usually is a proprietary blend and it’s protected under law, meaning that they do not have to disclose all of the chemicals that make up that natural smokey bacon flavor of the chips that you’re eating, for example. Same with the color as well. So that’s when they get a thumbs down for me because I know that there’s a lot more ingredients that they’re not even listing and probably most of those ingredients I wouldn’t even be able to pronounce. I have a little food labels saying, If you can’t pronounce it, denounce it. It’s as simple as that. So in a lot of cases, with food colors and food additives and preservatives, they’re chemicals. You won’t be able to pronounce them. You won’t be familiar with them and that’s really where you gotta say thumbs down or you’re going to use it as a treat. You’re going to use it in limited quantities and not overdo it. So that is the three ways that you can easily understand nutrition facts by reading food labels. Number one, you’ve gotta know the serving size. That’s very important my friends. In this day and age, especially with finger foods like popcorn, we can definitely over-consume and go way beyond three cups, which is the serving size for this Smartfood here. The second thing is, use that far right column, the DV percentages and make sure you’re between five and 15. Because sugar doesn’t have a DV, you’re gonna have to use the high five, low five. High five on the fiber, as a ratio compared to the sugar which should be under five grams of sugar. So high five, low five, 5-15. If you can remember those two formulas, that makes the DV, or the daily value index really easy to understand. You can fly through the labels and either put it back on the shelf or put it in your cart. The third things is what’s in this, the ingredients and can you pronounce them, and how many ingredients there are. I always use Tostitos, or sorry, Doritos and it’s the Cool Ranch flavor, I think. I couldn’t believe it. First of all, I used to eat them. Confession. And I always used to feel terrible afterwards, so it dawned on me to read the description. Don’t judge the book by the cover and flip it over and I found that it had 32 ingredients in it. Now, this is a corn chip. Corn in a chip, that’s it. One ingredient, yet it had 32 ingredients. That really tells you, or tells me why in that case I was feeling so terrible afterwards just because of all the artificial ingredients that were in a product like that. So I really hope this has helped. Until the next video, my friend, keep on inspiring to aspire.