Are You Reading Food Labels Accurately?
The following article is presented by my friend, Frank Pastorelli, from www.genesis-health-fitness.com in Central Florida. Frank is one of the most passionate, and by far the hardest working fitness expert I know.
Did you know that there are many loop holes within the food labeling laws that can allow you to eat foods that you do not think you are eating?
Foods can actually say FAT FREE and still have FAT. Foods can say sugar free and still have SUGAR. Why and how can the food companies get away with this? It is quite simple actually. In order for a food label to say "fat free" it has to contain less than .5 grams of fat per serving. The same goes for sugar; as long as it has less than .5 grams of sugar per serving it can be labeled "sugar free".
Unfortunately, some fat-free labeled foods may be 50%, 70%, or even 100% fat and they say "fat-free" on the label!
If you look at the laws of both requirements of fat and sugar free labeled products you will see something in common. What you see is that they each have to have less than .5 grams per serving. At first sight that seems great, if we look a little deeper we will see it is an illusion.
The way these food companies get away with this is that there is no law stating how large or small a serving size needs to be. So they adjust there serving sizes so they fit within the laws to label "fat free" or "sugar free".
The bad part is that their "serving size" is not even close to what we actually use in real life.
Let's take the common cooking sprays for example. They claim to be fat free.
However you have to realize that every food has two labels on it. You have the marketing label which is on the front and will boldly state "fat free". Then you have the real label on the back where the ingredients are listed, this is the only label that counts.
If you take that can of cooking spray that claims on the front to be fat free and turn it around, you will be in shock to see what it states in the ingredients. Also note that ingredients are listed by potency, the higher percentage ingredients are listed first.
So, when you look at the so called "fat free" can of cooking spray you will notice the first ingredient to be canola oil or some other type of oil. Hold on, I'm confused, I thought oil was fat and this product is supposed to be fat free; are you following me?
Next let's look at the serving size. It says 1/3 of a second spray. O.K. so 1/3 of a second spray must yield less than .5 grams of fat in order for the company to be able to label it as "fat free". I don't know about you, but I never used a cooking spray for a 1/3 of a second.
So that cooking spray you thought was fat free, depending on how long you spray it, may yield 5 grams of fat.
Is 2% Milk Really 2%??? Earlier we spoke about the two different types of labels on food products. The first being the marketing label on the front. In this case it is the BIG 2% on the container of milk.
2% meaning the amount of fat.
That would mean that the other 98% of the calories in the product should come from other nutrients, either proteins or carbs.
Once again when you turn the bottle and take a look at the real label you will see that is not true.
Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying 2% milk is a product you should not drink; I drink it myself. I am simply trying to educate you on how to read food labels so you know what you are putting in you body.
Let's take an 8 oz. glass of 2% milk and break it down.
8 oz. or 1 cup of 2% milk yields 120 calories on average. It will give you 8 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbs, and 5 grams of fat.
1 gram of protein yields 4 calories.
1 gram of carbs yield 4 calories.
1 gram of fat yields 9 calories.
So if you have 5 grams of fat at 9 calories per gram that will give you 45 calories from fat. Last I checked 45 calories of the total 120 is not 2%. It is more like 38% fat, give or take.
So how do they get away with this; it is yet another loophole.
Food companies are allowed to label their products based on total food volume, not only the foods that contain calories; which is what we need to be concerned with. So milk is primarily made of water and the food companies are allowed to put that into account even though water is calorie free.
So you think you are drinking a 2%fat product, but you truly are not.
If you look at "calories per serving," and "calories from fat," you'll be able to do some quick division and find out how misleading the reported percentages can be.
Some more interesting food facts I borrowed from friend and mentor Phil Kaplan...
Aunt Jemima's Frozen Blueberry waffles don't contain any blueberries at all! The bluish things are dried apple parts treated with food dye.
Quaker Instant Oatmeal Fruit and Cream Variety comes in strawberry and blueberry flavors. The strawberry version doesn't contain any strawberries; the blueberry version doesn't contain any blueberries.
Betty Crocker Stir & Bake carrot cake . . . doesn't contain even a shred of carrot.
Now that's disturbing!
What is a Calorie?
What is a calorie? This question is far too overlooked. If you do not know what a calorie is it is going to be extremely difficult to lose weight so let’s first define it. A calorie is simply a unit of energy. Yes, when you are eating a fruit containing 100 calories you are consuming 100 units of energy. If you eat two slices of pizza containing 1200 calories you are consuming 1200 units of energy. So, lets say on a given day you consumed 3200 calories or units of energy and through your daily activities and exercise (and you better be exercising) you burned 2700 calories or units of energy. That will leave you with a difference of 500 calories, agreed? Good! Note: Energy cannot be created nor destroyed it can only be transformed from one form to another. Knowing this what do you think happens to the excess 500 calories that you consumed for that day. It is plain and simple people-It gets stored as fat. Note: One pound of fat is made up of 3500 calories.
Knowing this – if you are in excess of 500 calories everyday for an entire week what did you just do? You just gained a pound of fat. 500 excess calories per day multiplied by 7 days in a week equals 3500 calories equals a pound of fat. Are you getting the idea yet? Let me break it down in more of a long term scenario. Let’s say you on average are in a calorie excess of 100 calories per day, which is an extremely easy thing to do. Over the course of a year that amounts to an excess of 36,500 calories. 100 calories per day multiplied by 365 days in a year. Divide that number 36,500 by 3500 calories contained in each pound of fat and you just gained 10 and ½ pounds of fat simply by going over your recommended calorie allotment 100 calories per day.
That is how sensitive the human body is! 100 calories a day- that’s 10 ounces of soda, an apple, or a low fat yogurt. That is how simple it is to gain fat. And’ it does not matter where that excess 100 calories come from. It can come from any of the macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) once you go over your calorie allotment for the day those excess calories will be stored as fat!!!
What are carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are caloric nutrients containing four calories per gram. They are the body’s #1 source of energy, especially during exercise. They also help regulate digestion and utilization of proteins and fats.
What are proteins? Protein, like carbohydrates, is a caloric nutrient containing approximately four calories per gram. Beside water, protein is the most plentiful substance in the body. Proteins are the “building blocks” of the body. They help build in repair tissues of the body. They help provide energy and are involved in preservation of the immune system. However, eating too much protein does have it’s draw backs. Consuming more than 30% o0f your total caloric intake forces the kidneys to over work. It also depletes calcium levels of the body and contributes to fluid imbalance or dehydration.
What is fat? Fat is a caloric nutrient containing nine calories per gram as opposed to carbohydrates and proteins which yield only four. Fats are a major source of energy, especially for aerobic activity. Fat helps protect the body and helps keep organs in place. It is the major insulator of the body. It helps transport vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Overeating any of these macronutrients will result in weight gain. They all play a huge role in the human body-that is why they are called MACROnutrients. Macro- meaning large, of large importance to the body. You need them all and a good place to start is 60% of food coming from carbohydrates, 25% coming from protein, and 15% coming from fat.
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