A strong knowledge of nutrition can be a huge help during your medical weight loss program. Understanding nutrients and calories can help keep you motivated to lose weight.
But not everyone is a trained dietitian or understands the intricacies of diet and nutrition habits. When you first adjust to a new diet plan it can be hard to guess what’s healthy and what’s not. While cake and candy are obviously not, other common breakfast, lunch, and dinner staples can leave you scratching your head.
Luckily, there’s a cheat sheet attached to every piece of packaged food–a nutrition label. You can find out all you need to know about the item and make an educated decision if it’s a good addition to your diet.
How to Read Nutrition Labels for Weight Loss
Here are a few tips to help you start reading nutrition labels as you lose weight:
- Start at the top. Some of the most pressing information about an item is found at the top of the nutrition label. This includes the serving size, number of calories, and how many servings are in one container. Never assume one bag, box, or bottle is one serving—this can cost your diet several hundred calories a day, if not more.
- Scan the nutrients. There are some nutrients you’ll want to avoid, like sugar, fat, and cholesterol. The middle of the nutrition label will tell you the number of grams per serving. Remember, the less the better. The nutrition label can also tell you information about nutrients that you want to add to your diet. For example, protein, vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium.
- Read the percentages. The percentages on the nutrition label tell you how much of each nutrient you should consume. These are average daily values and based on standard calorie allotments. Your weight loss doctor will tell you how much of each nutrient you should consume. So these percentages as rough guidelines.
Learning to read nutrition labels is a great way to start improving your health. The next time you reach for a snack, turn the packaging over and have a long look at the nutrition information. You might be surprised by what you find!
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