Reading Food Labels to Lose 100 Pounds Part 2
Reading food labels is an important part of the weight loss journey. even if it’s not that exiting, it’s, one of the tools I used to lose 120 pounds and I use this skill now to maintain that loss.
Reading food labels is a little dry, but it needs to be understood, so let’s dive in to part 2 of this series… If you missed part 1 check it out here.
Today we are going to look at Fats, Proteins and Carbs…
These are the building blocks of good nutrition, and I want to share a few inside tricks with you…
So let’s see what I can share with you!
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If you're new here, and you don’t know where to start on your journey? I lost 120 lbs and I have kept it off for almost 7 years. Check out the following podcast episodes to get you started.
- What are Macros
- Will Macros Work For Me?
- Making Weight Loss Easy
- Binge eating is taking me off track... or is it?
- 5 Reasons For Weight Loss Plateaus
- Have You Told Yourself Weight Loss Is Too Hard?
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Reading Food Labels: Fats
What do ya’ need to know about fats when reading the food label?
Really the first thing to know is that fats aren’t bad. We do need them! But… and this is a big but (no pun intended)…
Fat is a different beast, protein and carbs have 4 calories per gram. Fat has 9 calories per gram.
Fat’s should really only make up about 25-35% of your daily calorie intake.
And they should also come from sources such as Olive Oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, and possibly dairy.
But you do need fats in your diet…
There are several benefits to fat in the diet, and here are a few from ACEFitness.org
Benefits of Fat in the Diet
- Hormone production – sex hormones, steroid, and cholesterol
- Brain function and mood
- Absorption of fat-soluble vitamins – vitamins A, D, E and K
- Flavor – fat carries flavor and provides mouth-feel that improves meal satisfaction
- Satiety – fat takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, so you feel fuller for longer
So when you read the food label, keep that in mind. Now, there are 3 kinds of fats listed on the label. And then there is the total fat in a serving.
The 3 types of fat listed are:
- Trans fat
- Saturated Fat
- Unsaturated Fat
Let’s look at each of these:
Trans fat is the one you want to avoid completely…
The FDA says 1.11 grams of this per day is okay, but your body really doesn’t agree!
And unfortunately the food manufacturer’s have figured out how to list items as Trans Fat free even when there is “a little”. The FDA allows food manufacturers to round down…
So what does this mean for you?
If a food has .49 grams of Trans Fat, it can be listed as Trans Fat Free!
Trans fats are created by the processing vegetables… sounds healthy, but the process used to create them is not healthy for your body.
Foods that have trans fats, hidden or otherwise include margarine, snack foods, packaged baked goods and fat for frying fast food… so even if one of these items say trans fat free, remember that the FDA allows the manufacturer to round down.
They may not be trans fat free…
Saturated Fat is another source of fat, it is listed separately because it can cause issues with raising cholesterol. But in the right forms it’s still good for us.
One example of a good for you Saturated Fat is Coconut oil.
The American Heart Association does recommend limiting this source of fat because of there may be a cholesterol raising factor.
Monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature when they come in oil form. Like Olive oil.
But you should know two other fats fall into this category. Avocado and Almonds!
The majority of the fat I eat falls into this category with just enough of the following Polyunsaturated Fats to keep me healthy.
There are two different polyunsaturated fats, and each of them are needed in our diet.
But the US diet includes way too many of one of them….
Omega-3’s are the first one…
They are anti-inflammatory and they lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and depression and obesity…
They are most often found in fish, flax and chia seeds.
Omega-6’s are the second…
These are the guys that the US diet has way too much of…
Because these are found in processed foods.
These fats are pro-inflammatory.
I blame these guys for a big portion of the pain I was in prior to starting my journey!
My body was filled with inflammation, and I feel it was caused by the processed food we consumed and specifically Omega-6 fatty acids..
I’m sure part of it was all the extra weight, but once I started cutting out inflammatory foods, I saw a huge change in the way I felt.
The healthy Omega-6’s are found in Nut and seed oils.
When these two fats are eaten together, the pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory characteristics balance each other out!
Now you have some basics about fat! Remember, keep it simple to start with!
Start by lowering your fat intake to between 25%-35% of your total calories and then try to clean up the fats your eating. This is a great step by step to follow…
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Reading Food Labels: Protein
This macro is very important and the average person does not get nearly enough!
Protein helps to build and maintain muscle.
Women need muscle too. 🙂
Strong muscles lead to strong bones. And you can’t have either without protein.
As a weight lifter, I must give my mandatory plug for building muscle… 🙂
I started lifting after my mother broke her ribs moving laundry from the washer to the dryer from osteoporosis!
And the process of weight lifting actually strengthens the bones and lowers the risk of osteoporosis… ok, I am done plugging weight lifting… hahaha
How much Protein do you need?
Ok, let’s get back to protein… so how much do you NEED?
This depends on several factors, but most women that have a 100 pounds or more to lose should be eating at least 100 grams of protein per day.
Basically, your protein requirement is .8 X your lean muscle mass. But when I was 100 lbs overweight I had no idea how much lean muscle mass I had… so the 100 grams is very much an estimate….
I would say if you get between 85-100 grams of protein your headed in the right direction.
If at some point you choose find out your actual muscle mass… this is only if you have an interest in doing this! It’s not required to lose weight. 🙂
To put this in perspective a 4 ounce piece of chicken has 25 grams of protein.
So on a good day you need about 4 palm size pieces of chicken… now don’t run out kill yourself eating chicken! LOL .
But watch your processed food . An item with 11 grams of protein is acceptable as long as it is low in added sugar.
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Reading Food Labels: Carbohydrates
The first thing you need to know is when it comes to carbs and reading food labels is…
Carbs are not the devil!
But processed carbs come close…
The non-processed kind, like potatoes, fruit and vegetables are important.
These nutrient dense carbs give you energy, fuel your muscles and give your brain power.
Who doesn’t want more brain power, am I right?
Carbs are broken down into to pieces… fiber and sugar. Let’s take a look…
What about the Fiber…
Now you want carbs high in fiber and low in sugar, and we get this from all those fruits and veggies.
To keep things running smoothly you want about 25 grams of fiber per day… but don’t try to reach that goal without building to it.
If ya do, it will be a bathroom party for days…. That is your public service announcement for the day. hahah
Great sources of fiber include: Fruits, vegetables, whole grain foods, beans and peas.
This leaves you with the sugar part of the carb.
What about the sugar…
Not all sugars are the same. When looking at the food label, it’s best to run away from anything with added sugars.
Bummer I know, but it will help you have that 100 pound before and after picture… So I personally call this a good trade off!
What else do you need to know about sugar?
- Only 10% of your calories should come from sugar.
- Fruits and dairy products contain natural sugars
- Processed foods contain added sugars
The added sugars usually comes in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup or even just sugar.
These added sugars really add up and it would be best to avoid them where you can.
Over all limiting sugar is a good way to decrease your waistline and improve your health.
Let’s Wrap this Up…
Wow! We covered A LOT today…
A summary for today may be complete overwhelm, but I hope not. This is an important skill for you to start working on. So let me give ya’ a little summary…
- Fat’s should be limited to 25-35% of your calories
- Fat’s are needed in the diet, but they do have higher calories than carbs and protein
- Healthy good for you fats include: coconut oil, avocado, almonds, olive oil, flax seed, chia seeds and fish-oil.
- Run from Trans fats
- Watch the fat in processed food it causes inflammation–OUCH!
- Most women don’t eat enough protein
- Protein is needed to build strong muscles and bones
- Shoot for 85-100 grams
- The calculation for the amount of actual protein you need is .8 X Lean Muscle Mass (for non weight lifters)
- 4 oz of chicken has 25 grams of protein
- Protein should be a part of each meal & snack
- Carbs are not the devil!
- Focus on whole food carbs (potato’s, fruits, veggies & whole grains)
- Carbs are made of two items, fiber and sugars
- We need 25-50 grams of fiber per day
- Watch the added sugars and eliminate high fructose corn syrup
If you want more information check out these resources:
Weight Loss Coach, and the Original MacroUnicorn
Hey You Amazing Lady!
Let me help you reach your weight loss goal. I've lost 120 pounds and maintained it for 8 years, and helped countless others reach their goal too. I'm an ACE Certified Health Coach, a certified Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach and a Certified Wellness, Nutrition and Fitness Coach for people who want to reach ONEderland (below 199 on the scale) and stay there, I coach you and give you the tools to change your nutrition and movement habits and change you life forever.
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