If you’re in a weight loss program and trying to “eat right,” you’ve probably been told to pay attention to the nutrition labels on the foods you eat. But pay attention to what, exactly? A quick glance at a nutrition label reveals a lot of information, including details about calories, fat content, grams, and percentages. What does all of that information mean, and which is most important to pay attention to?
A nutrition label will tell you how many calories are contained in a serving size of food. It will also list the ingredients and tell you how many grams of fat, protein, and carbohydrates (as well as other micronutrients) are included. Nutrition Facts labels will also list a percentage next to each nutrient. This percentage indicates the “percent of daily value.” If a label indicates that the food has 10% of protein, that means that it contains 10% of the recommended daily protein intake. But, for who? Daily value percentages are based on a 2,000-calorie diet, which may or may not be comparable to your own daily caloric needs.
Which numbers should you watch?
If you’re trying to manage your weight, you probably want to pay attention to the total calories. You may also keep an eye on the number of calories that come from fat so that you can determine what percentage of your daily calorie intake comes from fat calories. It’s recommended that healthy adults get 20 to 35% of their daily calories from fat, with no more than 10% coming from saturated fats.