Weight Loss and Understanding Nutrition Labels

if you’re like most people, this is how you deal with nutrition labels.

Let’s say you’re in a grocery store and you are looking at the label on a can of peaches. Usually after about 15 seconds you just put the can back without getting the information you’re looking for. This is because, to the general public the standard nutrition label is confusing , plus the deluge of misinformation, relating to sugars, carbohydrates, good fats, bad fats, proteins and calories that we see in the media  just adds to the confusion. Hopefully this blog will make things more clear.

The first two lines on a standard label refer to serving size and servings per container. These are relatively easy to understand in most cases. It usually requires just a little bit of math.

The next line refers to calories. If you’re trying to reduce body fat these first three lines are all you need to be concerned with. Let me explain.

 We all know what the worst or most unhealthy foods are. These include anything processed or fried, greasy, made primarily of white processed flour and in general any desserts and any sugary foods or liquids.

If you are on a healthy diet that includes mostly whole foods, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, berries, beans and seeds and is low-sodium and contains adequate fiber you do not need to be concerned with everything below the “calories” line on the label.

This is because you are not consuming unhealthy choices and everything below the calories line (the 2 bottom sections) relates to whether the food item is a healthy choice or not.

I’m trying to provide a way that you can look at a label and quickly get the information you need to determine whether or not you should eat it and if so in what amount.

One less thing to worry about because now, if you’re primary concern is reducing body fat, you need not be concerned with anything below these first three lines. Losing or adding body fat is purely a function of calories in and calories out as I discussed in earlier blogs.

I have included a visual to the right that demonstrates the information in this blog. Again, if you’re primary concern is losing or controlling body fat and you are currently consuming a healthy diet, then the bottom two sections are not important as they are X’ed out. This, as I said earlier will make getting the information you need from a nutrition label much quicker and easier.

Myth– Not eating enough will cause me not to burn fat or lose weight. Over the years this idea has been put forth, usually by companies trying to sell you something.

The truth is when we say not eating enough that’s exactly what it means. You’re not eating enough which means that your body will use its reserves and possibly some muscle tissue to maintain life. There’s no way around this. You can’t violate the law of physics which tell us that you need a certain number of calories per day to maintain your current body mass.

A calorie is not an object rather it’s a measure of heat. When you consume food it’s either converted into body mass, burned as energy or stored as body fat depending on your total intake versus your caloric expense over time.

Here is the truth. Your body does make some metabolic adjustment to starvation. When you consume less calories than you need for maintenance, your body perceives that you are in starvation and responds by slowing metabolism. However, it can only slow metabolism by about 10% at the most.
Here’s an example: Let’s say your body needs 2000 cal a day to maintain its current mass. It doesn’t matter whether you eat 1900 or 100 cal per day, your body will senses starvation mode because both values are under 2000 cal. If your body reacts by adjusting metabolism by 10% this means your body needs about 1850 cal a day now to maintain its current mass.

Continuing, let’s say that you’re actually on a 1000 cal per day diet. Your body needs 1850 cal, your eating 1000, so there’s an 850 cal difference. It takes 3500 cal to constitute 1 pound of fat loss. So, it would take you approximately 4 days to lose 1 pound of fat (4×850 equals about 3500 cal).

Diet myths generally originate from the same sources as literary myths do; meaning there is usually some basis in truth which is stretched or altered to fit a given situation or to sell a given product.