So, you decided it is time to start paying more attention to what you buy, or as you are on a LCHF diet reading labels become suddenly something very important. So you start, and so you get overwhelmed and confused with all those numbers, terminology, and ingredients. Let me help you with a tutorial on how to get you started. So we go to the store, and find this:Hummm ok, what does this all mean? Let me simply it for you:
So now we’re good right? Wrong. Why?
Well, in fact reading ingredients is for me even more important than just looking at numbers.
And why is that, you may ask?
If you are interested in clean eating like I am, there is where the importance of reading ingredients is. A food says it has 6g carbs for 100g, ok, fine, low carb it is. BUT if those 6g come from wheat, sugar, and other bad choices of ingredients, it’s totally different than it would if those carbs came from clean sources.
Remember: people want to sell that product, they are not much interested in selling you health, they are interested in maximizing profit.
So, lets just give you some basic rules for ingredients:
- Choose foods with as less ingredients as possible
- You cannot understand those ingredients? Do they look Neptunian to you? Don’t buy.
- On labels, ingredients are listed in order by weight, meaning that the first ingredients are the ones in higher amount.
- Avoid trans fats like the plague.Trans fats are nasty, are chemically modified fats. In some countries, if a food contains less than 0.5g of trans fat per serving, it can be labelled as containing zero trans fats (remember that portion sizes can be small ad quickly it adds up and you end up with trans fats on your diet. Terms to look for are hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated
- Look for hidden sugars. Sugar can be sneaked in by using one of the many names it can have among them high-fructose corn syrup, organic cane sugar, fructose, glucose, honey, maple syrup, sucrose, maltose, caster sugar, agave, brown rice syrup, maltodextrin, corn syrup, palm sugar, molasses, etc. NOTE: most bacon and cold cuts are cured with sugar or honey. The amount of residual sugar in the final product is very low so they are acceptable, specially if you cannot find a clean brand
- Stay away from added sugar as much as possible (connected to the above). Sugar naturally occurring in food, such as cheese (lactose is a sugar), fruits and veggies is totally different from added sugars
- Run away from “light”, “sugar free”, “Low fat”, “Diet” products, as most have hidden sugars and other not so nice ingredients to replace the nutrients taken
- Avoid vegetable oils such as soybean, peanut, corn, safflower, rapeseed, sunflower etc, stick with good sources such as olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia oil, coconut oil, etc
- Just because it states organic, does not mean it is. Try to look for labels that are certified or state that it was certified organically produced (of course that if you are in a country where organic is as difficult or more than catching the next space shuttle to Venus, you have to be less strict)
- Stay away from artificial sweeteners (aspartame, cyclamate, Saccarin, Sucralose, etc)
- Look for additives: anything artificial is out. Caramel color is out, natural flavors can also be a no as many times there is nothing natural about them. Take a look at this infographic from the CSPI:
So now, lets finish with a few examples of labels:
Hope I have helped somehow