Reading and paying attention to the nutrition facts of the foods you eat is essential when you are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle! If you want to start making some serious gains, either in muscle growth, athletic performance, or in weight loss, reading and understanding the nutrition facts of the foods you are eating will help you get to where you want to be!
Nutrition Fun Facts
Let’s break it down with an example. Say you ate a good breakfast, but a couple of hours later your stomach is growling, and it’s still hours until lunch! You want a quick snack, so you reach for a snack bar. Here is how to make sure that bar you choose is the right one for your health goals, according to its nutrition facts!
nutrition facts :: CALORIES
Contrary to popular belief, reducing calories while ignoring the rest of the nutrition facts in your foods will not help you reach your goals or stay healthy in the long run! Sure, at first, reducing your caloric intake will help you lose weight, but if you are not fueling your body with the proper balance of fats, carbs, and proteins, you will hit a plateau and not be able to lose those last pounds or gain the muscle you are working for in the gym. Try to keep your caloric intake to a reasonable amount, which is usually 1600 to 2000 depending on your gender and activity level, but don’t stop there! Focus your attention on the rest of the macronutrients listed in your nutrition facts, follow the serving sizes and watch your portions, and the calories will take care of themselves.
nutrition facts :: CARBOHYDRATES
When you look at the carb count, first consider the source. Are the carbs from brown rice or other whole grains? Are they from fruit? You want the carbs you consume to come from a nutrient dense source, so that they are absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream and will not cause a spike in your body’s insulin level.You also want to take into consideration what time of day you are eating the bar, and if you need extra energy from carbohydrates to power your next workout, or if you’re done with your exercise for the day and your body will not require as much energy to burn off. A good way to tell the nutrient density of the carbs listed on your nutrition facts label is by considering the next number on our list, which is Dietary Fiber.
nutrition facts :: FIBER
You want this number as high as you can get it! If your bar has carbohydrates, as almost ALL products do, your fiber number is critical in deciding if the carbs are “good” carbs or “bad” carbs; in other words, if the carbs in your bar are complex or simple. Complex carbs provide longer lasting energy, and the higher the dietary fiber number is, the more likely your carbs come from a nutritious source! Fiber will help with digestion, keeping blood sugar levels stable, and keeping you satisfied for longer. You want to make sure your bar has at least 4 grams of dietary fiber, but more is always better. Fiber keeps you full and your systems functioning!
nutrition facts :: PROTEIN
The protein number should be the highest number on your label! Protein is absolutely essential for maintaining blood sugar levels, keeping energy up, and of course, building that muscle!! You may think that only big muscle men need to take in protein, because it is a bit of a stereotype. However, if you want a good physique and just a healthy, capable body, you need protein! If you are grabbing a protein bar for after a workout, you want to aim for about 20 to 30 grams of protein, so that your muscles can grow. The more muscle mass you acquire, the more fat you will burn during your workout and throughout the rest of the day!
nutrition facts :: FATS
There are good fats and bad fats, but you definitely want to make sure you are consuming fats in your diet! Many essential fatty acids are found in foods such as whole eggs, nuts, seeds, fish, and other important foods. Fat does have more calories that an equal amount of protein, so keep your calorie counter handy and make sure you don’t overdo it. Stick to the serving size recommended and you shouldn’t have to worry too much about calories from fat. Watch out for saturated fat and trans fat! Keep those numbers low, and enjoy a healthy balanced diet.
For an specific example of a food with amazing nutrition stats, you should check out these sweet potato nutrition facts!
Now that you know what to look for in your nutrition facts, you can choose a snack with confidence that it will provide your body with the right fuel and proper nutrients to succeed with your health goals! You’re practically a human nutrition facts calculator! Get out there, get active, and get the nutrition that your body will thank you for.
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