Understanding Food Labels & Knowing What To Look For!

The ability to read and evaluate food labels is not just a matter of choosing to eat healthy. To those of us trying to gain muscle mass choosing the right mix of foods can be critical. Learn how to decipher those labels and more!

Nutrition labeling is mandatory for most packaged food in the United States, and is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The nutrition facts panel typically consists of the following components:

  1. Serving size information
  2. Calorie information
  3. Percent daily value (based on a 2000-calorie diet)
  4. Nutrient information, and
  5. A footnote of recommended daily values for standard 2000- and 2500-calorie diets

Sounds pretty straight forward doesn't it. Unfortunately it isn't. If you're confused by what's listed in food labels, especially the more complicated ones, you're not alone.1,2

Studies have shown that with some help in deciphering them the Nutrition Facts label can be an effective educational tool to increase nutrition knowledge.3

In fact I've found that most people don't understand enough about what's on food labels to make an informed choice of what's best for them.

The reason is two fold. First of all most people don't fully understand the lingo used on the labels, and secondly label information pertaining to newer "low-carb" products are not well regulated by the FDA and are more challenging to understand.

Most people think they understand most of what's important on the food/nutrition labels—for example the number of calories and maybe even the amount of carbs, and fat and protein in the food or supplement. But they're wrong because it's just not that easy to understand and use without some guidance.

The ability to read and evaluate food labels is not just a matter of choosing to eat healthy. To those of us trying to gain muscle mass and improve body composition choosing the right mix of foods can be critical to our success. And for people trying to manage chronic disease like heart ailment or diabetes, label reading can at times even be a life saving matter.

An Overview Of What To Look For

Knowing what to look for is the first step in understanding nutrition facts labels. The Nutrition Facts Label gives a lot of information but the key is to know how to use this information to help you make the food choices that are right for you.

If you look on the FDA site at you'll find information on how to understand and use the nutrition facts label. The illustration I'm using below is a sample label for macaroni and cheese from cfsan.fda.gov. The FDA added the colors to the label for illustration purposes.

Sample Label
+ Click To Enlarge.
Sample Label.

As you can see the label is meant to give you specific information on what's in each food product, information that you can use for healthy eating and achieving your goals.

The nutrients on a label are ordered from what we should limit, such as fat, cholesterol, and sodium, to those nutrients we need to make sure we get enough of, such as dietary fiber, vitamin A and C, calcium and iron. However, as we'll see, while this information is useful it does have limitations.

From Top to Bottom: What's On the Label

First of all we'll cover the information you'll find on the food label. After that we'll look into how to read into what's not on the label.

Serving Size

When you're looking at the Nutrition Facts label on the food product begin your reading at the top of the label with the food's recommended serving size and number of servings per package.

Be sure to compare the serving size to how much you eat. For example, serving size may be 1 cup and you may eat two cups. In that case you're eating double the serving size so you need to double the calories and other nutrient numbers, including the percent daily value.


Continue down the label to total calories and calories from fat. Total calories, which includes the calories from fat—and from carbohydrates and proteins, is the amount of calories per recommended serving.

Calories from fat is the total calories in one serving that come from fat. The reason that total calories from fat is listed, and not total calories from carbohydrates and proteins, is because of the emphasis in the last few decades about the health effects of lowering fat in the diet.

Putting this information on the label allows people to easily monitor the amount of fat in their diets, with the general recommendation being that no more than 30% of daily calories come from fat. This translates to no more than 600 calories of an allowable 2000 calories should come from fat.

Knowing the total calories from a portion of food allows you to compare the amount of calories in how much you will eat of the food to the total calories you need for a day. If you are trying to manage your weight, choosing foods that are lower in calories will help. Even small differences in calories per serving can add up over the course of a day.

Keep in mind when reading the rest of the label that:

  • 1 gram of fat contains about 9 calories.
  • 1 gram of protein contains about 4 calories.
  • 1 gram of carbohydrate contains about 4 calories.

Using some simple calculations you can figure out how much of the difference between total calories and calories from fat comes from carbohydrates and proteins. You can also simply figure out the number of calories that comes from carbohydrates and from protein by multiplying the grams of each by 4.

Percent Daily Values

The Percent Daily Value, listed in the right hand column in percentages, is the percentage of each nutrient recommended to meet the needs of the average person each day in a 2000-calorie diet. This and is measured in grams and milligrams depending on the nutrient.

It basically tells you if the nutrients in a serving of food contribute a lot or a little to the recommended daily intake. The goal is to eat 100% of each of those nutrients every day. For example, if a serving of a food is listed as 25% of the daily value of protein, then that food provides 25% of your daily protein needs based on a daily intake of 2,000 calories.

Percent daily value is a useful measure of whether a food is high or low in specific nutrients. A food is considered a good source of a nutrient if the percentage is between 10% and 19%. If a food has 5% or less it's considered to be low and if it has more than 20% of the percent daily value, it's considered to be high in that nutrient.

Total Fat, Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, Cholesterol, & Sodium

Next down the line in food labels is information on nutrients that most people should limit, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

Total Fat

This is the total amount of fat in a serving. While it's recommended that total fat be low, today the consensus is that between 20 and 30% of our daily calorie intake should come from fats.

Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, and Cholesterol

Saturated fat and trans fat are considered bad fats because of their ability to raise cholesterol levels (as can dietary cholesterol) and increase the risk of heart disease. Saturated fat is found in greater amounts in butter, cheese, whole milk, whole milk products, meat and poultry.

Trans fats are used by food processors to increase the shelf life of processed food. Foods high in trans-fat include stick margarine, vegetable shortening, cookies, crackers, snack foods, fried foods and other processed foods. Since consumer awareness about trans fats has recently increased many food manufacturers are trying to decrease or eliminate trans fats from their products.

As of January 2006 food manufacturers in the US must list trans fat on all their products (see cfsan.fda.gov). If the product comes from outside the US and the amount of trans-fat is not listed, look in the ingredients list for words such as "partially hydrogenated oils." This indicates trans-fats are probably in the product.

Some dietary supplements, for example high protein/sports/energy/nutrition bars, and meal replacements, may contain trans fat from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil as well as saturated fat and cholesterol. Because of this the FDA requires trans fat levels be on the label if a dietary supplement contains 0.5 gram or more trans fat per serving.

Cholesterol, while necessary for the endogenous production of many substances in the body including vitamin D and some hormones, can become a problem if it's too high.

Unsaturated Fats

In most cases, since it's not required by the FDA, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, are not listed on the label. If they're not listed then you can get an estimate of how much total unsaturated fats (although not individual amounts) is in the food by subtracting the trans and saturated fats from the total fat.


Sodium, mainly from salt naturally present in food or added, more commonly added to food, can contribute to fluid retention and high blood pressure and thus should be limited. Knowing how much sodium is in food can be especially useful for bodybuilders looking to limit their sodium intake during contest preparation, or alternately to sodium load.

Information On Carbohydrates and Protein

Information on the other two macronutrients is also found on the labels.


Carbohydrates are broken down into total carbohydrates (carbs), fiber, and sugars.

Total Carbohydrate:

This is the amount of total carbohydrate per serving measured in grams. Carbohydrates are primarily found in starches, vegetables, fruits, sweets and milk. Carbohydrate counting is used in diabetes meal planning.

Total carbohydrates combines all the carbs in a food including fiber, sugars, starches, sugar alcohols and glycerin.

Dietary Fiber:

This is the amount of indigestible (insoluble fiber) or partially digestible (soluble fiber) bulk from plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, oats, nuts and seeds and is measured in grams. Foods high in fiber are shown to be beneficial for weight control, diabetes, high cholesterol and some forms of cancer. Foods with five grams of fiber or more are considered "high fiber" foods.


These are part of the Total Carbohydrate content and are measured in grams. These contain sugars from natural, normally present in the food, and added sugars.

You can see which sugars have been added by looking at the ingredients list—for example, glucose, fructose, sugar, dextrose, maltose, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, turbinado, maple syrup, molasses, barley, and malt. Other ingredients are treated like sugar and should be counted as carbohydrates by those on low-carb diets. These include sugar alcohols, such as maltitol, xylitol, and sorbitol, and glycerin.

These added sugars, along with trans fats, should be avoided by anyone trying to improve body composition, health and performance. Although there has been a case made for the use of sugars post exercise, I believe that the use of simple sugars is counter productive at any time.

Keep Carbs In Context:

If you're counting carbs you need to consider most of the total carbs in a product to arrive at the number you can use in your carb counting. There are a number of issues to consider especially since many manufacturers use various tricks to significantly understate their products carbohydrate content.


This listing, measured in grams, tells you how much total protein is in a single serving of a food. While there are differences in the biological value and effects of various protein sources, there is no distinction made for the type of protein or the source. Also amino acids and peptides (including glutamine peptides from hydrolyzed wheat gluten) are not included as they're not considered whole food proteins.

Vitamins and Minerals

The only two vitamins on the food label are vitamins A and C, presumably because of their historical importance to health. Both are measured in percentages since the idea is to take in 100% of each of these nutrients daily in order to prevent deficiency diseases.

Calcium and Iron are the only minerals required on labels. As in the two vitamins they are measured in percent daily values.

Ingredient List

The ingredient list is another part of the Nutrition Label and gives you an overview of everything that's in the product. The ingredients are listed according to how much of the ingredient the food contains. Not only are the macronutrient ingredients listed but other ingredients such as spices, preservatives, artificial coloring and flavors are also listed on the ingredient list.

The ingredient list can help you determine whether the food is right for you, depending on your views on what you want and don't want to put in your body.

Label Information For Avoiding Allergies

The FDA, as of January, 2006, requires food manufacturers to list common food allergens on food labels in simple terms that adults and older children can understand. Common allergens, such as milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, and tree nuts, although listed in the ingredients list, it must also be clearly state on food labels (after or adjacent to the list of ingredients) whether the products contain these allergens.

Beyond The Nutrition Facts Panel

Labeling Terms and Their Meanings

Besides understanding the food label, consumers, especially those on special diets, also need to be aware of nutrition claims posted on foods. Some food labels make claims that they're low in cholesterol or low in fat. But these claims have very specific meanings that most of us aren't aware of.

However, although these claims can only be used if a food meets strict government definitions, you have to be careful you don't misunderstand them. For example, the standard for "reduced or less" is always at least 25 percent lower than the reference or original food.

Although a label may say that the food is reduced fat or reduced sodium that only means that the amount of fat or sodium has been reduced by 25% from the original product. So if the original product was high in fat or sodium the reduced product will be a notch lower but will likely still be relatively high.

Even if a food is low in fat, the food may not necessarily be nutritious. Even a low-fat food can be high in sugar. Food companies also may make claims such as "no cholesterol" (meaning there is no animal fat used in making the product), but that does not necessarily mean the product is low in fat.

Here are some of the meanings according to government mandated definitions:

  • Sugar Free: Means that it has less than 0.5 g per serving.
  • Reduced Sugar: Indicates that the product has at least 25% less sugar per serving.
  • No Sugar Added: Products are those that have had no sugar added during processing or packing. They do include products that already contain natural sugar such as dried fruit and juice.
  • Calorie Free: Means that the product is fewer than 5 calories per serving.
  • Low Calorie: Is an item that contains 40 calories or less per serving.
  • Fat Free: Is less than 0.5 g of fat per serving.
  • Saturated Fat Free: Tells you that the product contains less than 0.5 g per serving and the level of trans fatty acids is no more than 1% of the total fat.
  • Low Fat: Is 3 g or less of fat per serving and if the serving is 30 g or less or 2 tablespoons or less, per 50 g of the product.
  • Low Saturated Fat: Informs the consumer that 1 g or less per serving and not more than 15 percent of the total calories are from saturated fat.
  • Reduced Or Less Fat: Can be used on the label if at least 25 percent less per serving than the original reference food.
  • Reduced Or Less Saturated Fat: Is at least 25 percent less per serving.
  • Light: Means that the product has 50% less fat than the same regular product. Can also be used to mean one third fewer calories or 50% less sodium.
  • Lean: Means less than 10 grams of fat, 4 grams saturated fat and 95 mg of cholesterol.
  • Extra Lean: Means less than 5 grams of fat, 2 grams saturated fat and 95 mg of cholesterol
  • Cholesterol Free: Is any product that contains less than 2 mg of cholesterol and 2 g or less saturated fat.
  • Low Cholesterol: Refers to an item that is 20 mg or less and 2 g or less of saturated fat per serving; and if the serving is 30 g or less or 2 tablespoons or less, per 50 g of the product.
  • Reduced Or Less Cholesterol: Indicates a product has at least 25 percent less and 2 g or less of saturated fat per serving.
  • Sodium Free: Is less than 5 mg per serving.
  • Low Sodium: Means the product is 140 mg or less per serving.
  • Very Low Sodium: Is an item with 35 mg or less per serving.
  • Reduced Or Less Sodium: Requires that the product be at least 25 percent less per serving.
  • High Fiber: Is any product that contains 5 or more grams per serving. High fiber claims must also meet the criteria for low fat or the level of total fat must be shown next to the high fiber claim.
  • Good Source Of Fiber: Refers to products with 2.5 to 4.9 g per serving.
  • More Added Fiber: Products must contain at least 2.5 g more per serving than the original reference food.

The Food Label and Special Interests

Most of what we've gone through so far will help you to decide on what's in the food you're eating and allow you to make healthy choices about food. The nutrients on a label are ordered from what we should limit, such as fat, cholesterol, and sodium, to those nutrients we need to make sure we get enough of, such as dietary fiber, vitamin A & C, calcium and iron.

However, since the information on food labels is geared mostly to the average person on an average diet, how you use the nutrition facts panel depends on the type of diet you're on and your goals.

If you're looking to maximize body composition and/or performance, or if you're following a specific diet, then you're going to look and use the information that's on the food panel a little differently than Mr. Average. For our needs it would be useful to have more information on what's in the food or nutritional supplement than is now on most labels.

So while it's always a good idea to minimize trans fats and sugars, the amount of other fats, proteins and carbs can vary dramatically depending on what you're trying to accomplish.

For example if you're following a low carb diet then your total fat level will usually be high, unless you're drastically cutting back on calories. And if red meat is an important part of your diet, then your saturated fat intake will be relatively high. But that may not be a problem because when you're low carbing saturated fat is treated differently than when you're on a high carb diet, especially one high in sugars.

Regardless of the type of diet you're on you should minimize your intake of sugars and trans fat, and increase your intake of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Unfortunately neither of the unsaturated fats is required to be listed on the food label although some companies do.

It would also be useful to have the number of calories from each macronutrient and subsections under that macronutrient. This would allow you to more accurately tailor the food for specific macronutrient requirements. For example, it would be useful to know how much of the fiber was soluble and how much was insoluble fiber. That's because while insoluble fiber has no useable calories, soluble fiber does.

Breaking down the macronutrients into subsections also allows you to see through some of the marketing ploys used by some manufacturers to give a false impression of what's in their products. No where is this more needed than when discussing the carbohydrate content of food and supplements, especially low carbohydrate protein snacks, bars, and meal replacements. We'll cover this subject below under Disguised Carbohydrates.

The following chart is an example of what a more detailed food label should contain, as against what it now contains.

What A Label Should Contain

Under the label's "Nutrition Facts" panel, manufacturers are required to provide information on certain nutrients. The mandatory (underlined) and other components that could be listed, and the order in which they should (and in some cases must) appear are:

  • Total calories
  • Calories from fat
  • Calories from saturated fat
  • Total fat
  • Saturated fat
  • Trans fat
  • Polyunsaturated fat
  • Monounsaturated fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Total carbohydrate
  • Dietary fiber
  • Soluble fiber
  • Insoluble fiber
  • Sugars
  • Sugar alcohols (for example, the sugar substitutes xylitol, mannitol and sorbitol)
  • Other carbohydrates (the difference between total carbohydrate and the sum of dietary fiber, sugars, and sugar alcohol if declared)
  • Protein
  • Amino acids
  • Peptides
  • Vitamin A
  • Percent of vitamin A present as beta-carotene
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Other essential vitamins and minerals
  • Caffeine content (especially in various commercial drinks such as sodas and energy drinks)

Caffeine Content Of Food and Drink

Another relatively unregulated area is the caffeine content of various drinks, mostly coffee and tea, carbonated beverages and energy drinks, and foods, mostly chocolate, especially dark chocolate, and coffee flavored yogurt and syrup. When caffeine is added to foods and beverage it must appear in the list of ingredients on the label. However, manufacturers aren't required to list the amount of caffeine.

Only a minority of companies voluntarily state the amount of caffeine in their product on their labels. For the American Beverage Association Guidelines on the Voluntary Quantitative Labeling of Caffeine go to ameribev.org.

This is a problem with carbonated beverages and especially the new crop of energy drinks, with the energy coming almost 100% from the caffeine (and related compounds) content even though it may have several other ingredients in the mix such as taurine, B vitamins, sugar, etc.

An average cup of brewed coffee has around 100 mg of caffeine. However, the caffeine content of coffee from retail outlets, including different sources of the same brands, can vary appreciably, mostly from 70 to 140 mg.5,6 And even decaffeinated coffee contains significant amounts of caffeine.7

For a list of the levels of caffeine in foods, drinks, OTC pills and medications go to erowid.org. As you can see from these lists the amount of caffeine in various beverages varies dramatically from those with a caffeine content of several cups of brewed coffee to relatively low levels.

Up to 400 mg of caffeine per day is considered safe for healthy adults,8 although an upper limit of 300 mg is recommended for some, such as women in their child bearing years.9 While these limits may seem to be high, if one looks at all the sources of caffeine, reaching unhealthy levels is easier than most people think.

For example, some of the energy drinks, in their bid to outdo each other, have raised caffeine levels in their products to the point where their use alone could be dangerous to health.10 For example a 20 oz bottle of Fixx (enough for one training session), and energy drink aimed for those that exercise, contains 500 mg of caffeine. And an 8 oz container of Spike Shooter contains 300 mg of caffeine and it wouldn't be unusual to consume more than one a day.

Disguised Carbohydrates

There are times when a carb is not a carb, and when something which isn't technically considered a carb is in fact a carb. The confusion mainly stems from the food and supplement industry.

The Food Label terms for carbohydrates as defined by the FDA can be confusing however some of the definitions are straightforward, such as.

  1. Total Carbohydrate: calculated by subtraction of the sum of the crude protein, total fat, moisture, and ash from the total weight of the food. "Sugars: the sum of all free mono- and disaccharides (such as glucose, fructose, lactose, and sucrose)."
  2. Sugar Alcohol: "the sum of saccharide derivatives in which a hydroxyl group replaces a ketone or aldehyde group whose use in the food is listed by FDA (mannitol, xylitol) or is generally recognized as safe (sorbitol)."
  3. Other Carbohydrates: "the difference between total carbohydrate and the sum of dietary fiber, sugars, and sugar alcohols if present.11 (reference for above 3 points) "
  4. Glycerol, Glycerin, And Glycerine Refer To The Same Substance: FDA nutrition labeling regulations require that when glycerin is used as a food ingredient, it must be included in the grams of total carbohydrate per serving declaration. Also, when the label of a food containing glycerin has a statement regarding sugars, the glycerin content per serving must also be declared as sugar alcohol.12

As straightforward as these definitions are the manufacturers have succeeded in muddying the waters by introducing some new phrases to describe the carbohydrate content of their products.

The relatively new phrases "net carb," "low carb," and "impact carb" are not FDA definitions but rather created by companies so that you'll see their product on the shelves and be attracted enough by what they're saying that you'll buy the product.

To calculate the "net carb," companies subtract the grams of fiber, sugar alcohols, and glycerin from the total carbohydrates. The reason behind this, at least as far as these companies are concerned, is that the body does not digest fiber so it shouldn't be counted as part of the total carbohydrates, and that glycerin and sugar alcohols don't increase insulin or blood glucose levels like sugars and starches do.

However, the idea behind low carb diets for those interested in body composition is to maximize the use of body fat as a primary fuel and anything that interferes with that in a facile way (dietary fat and protein don't) should be suspect. The sugar alcohols, glycerin and even soluble fiber do just that and as such should be counted in as carbs.

While I'm sure that taking the strict definition of carbs suits the food industry and increases sales, they're deceiving the public as far as the usefulness of their products for those on low-carb diets.

The bottom line is that several macronutrients and ingredients, including soluble fiber, sugar alcohols, alcohol, lactate, pyruvate and glycerol act like carbs and if they're not taken into consideration as being the equivalent to either full or partial carbs will sabotage the effects of low-carb diets on weight and fat loss, and body composition.

Sample Food Lists


How Do You Know How Much Is Too Much?

Based on a 2,000 calorie diet your total fat should not go over 65 grams and saturated or trans-fat should not be more than a combined 20 grams. How much is that?

Homemade hamburger (3 ounces): 15 grams of total fat, six grams of saturated fat Cheddar cheese (1 ounce): 9 grams of total fat, six grams of saturated fat Fast food French fries (medium): 18 grams of total fat, five grams of saturated fat, five grams of trans-fat.

Monounsaturated Fats Include:

  • Olives
  • Olive Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Cashews
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Avocados
  • Most other nuts...

Polyunsaturated Fats Include:

  • Corn
  • Soybean
  • Safflower
  • Cottonseed Oil
  • Fish

Saturated Fats Are Found In:

  • Whole Milk
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Ice Cream
  • Red Meat
  • Chocolate
  • Coconuts
  • Coconut Milk
  • Coconut Oil

Trans Fats Are Found In:

  • Margarines
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil
  • Deep-fried chips
  • Many fast foods
  • Most commercial baked goods

Find The Right Fat:

Aside from staying away from bad fats, try to get as much good fat as possible. The best fats are mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated that are found in:

  • Vegetable Oils
  • Nuts
  • Fatty Fish
  • Avocados
  • Olives and more...

Better yet, pick food products with the highest level of monounsaturated fat like olive and canola oil. Choose the squeeze or spray margarines or even a light version in a tub because stick margarines have more trans-fat than the other types.

Margarine that has less trans-fat is still a better choice than butter because butter is so high in saturated fat. Same thing goes with cheese, pick one that is lower in total fat and saturated fat such as mozzarella part-skimmed.


When picking out breakfast cereals, choose items with high dietary fiber content. Fibers are important in lessening the risk of diabetes, heart disease and colon cancer. Choose one that has at least two-and-a-half grams of fiber per serving. And watch out for the sugar content in the cereal. Remember the grams of sugar represent added sugar as well as the natural sugar found in fruit and milk.

Recommended Whole Grain Cereals*

  • Cheerios - General Mills
  • Chex, Wheat - General Mills
  • Grape Nuts - Post
  • Healthy Choice Toasted Brown Sugar Squares - Kellogg's
  • Just Right with Fruit & Nuts - Kellogg's
  • Kashi - Kashi Company
  • Mini-Wheats (Raisin Squares, Frosted) - Kellogg's
  • Muesli - Familia
  • Nutri-Grain (Golden Wheat and Almond-Raisin) - Kellogg's
  • Oatmeal Crisp (Almond, Apple Cinnamon, Raisin) - General Mills
  • Organic Healthy Fiber Multi-grain Flakes - Health Valley
  • Puffed Wheat - Quaker
  • Shredded Wheat (Bran, Frosted and Spoon Size) - Post
  • Total, Whole Grain - General Mills
  • Wheaties, Crispy 'n' Raisins - General Mills

* No trans fat, little or no added sugars.

Recommended All Bran Or High Bran Cereals**

  • 100% Bran - Post
  • All Bran, Bran Buds - Kellogg's
  • All-Bran, original - Kellogg's
  • Bran Flakes - Post
  • Chex, Multi-Bran - General Mills
  • Complete Wheat Bran Flakes - Kellogg's
  • Complete Oat Bran Flakes - Kellogg's
  • Crunchy Corn Bran - Quaker
  • Fiber 7 Flakes - Health Valley
  • Fiber One - General Mills
  • Oat Bran - Quaker
  • Oat Bran Flakes with or without Raisins - Health Valley
  • Organic Bran with Raisins - Health Valley
  • Raisin Bran - Kellogg's
  • Raisin Bran Flakes - Health Valley
  • Raisin Bran, Whole Grain Wheat - Post
  • Total, Raisin Bran - General Mills

** 5 or more grams of fiber, no trans fat, little or no added sugars.

Check out the ingredient to see where the sugar is coming from. If sugar or other sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup are among the first three ingredients, that food product is probably pretty high in added sugar.

+ Click To Enlarge.
When Picking Out Breakfast Cereals,
Choose Items With High Dietary Fiber Content.


Snacks don't have to mean junk food. Healthy snacks include fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads or even a few bites from last night's well-balanced dinner. When eating snacks think about the serving size and how much you are actually consuming and also be aware of marketing ploys, such as a low-calorie cookie. The low-calorie cookie is really not low calorie at all.

Examples Of Healthy Snacks

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole Grain Breads
  • Tuna
  • Turkey
  • Lean Meats (95-98% Fat Free)
  • Low Fat Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Low Fat Muffins
  • Eggs
  • Protein Bars
  • Protein Shake

Examples Of Snacks To Avoid

  • Fast Food
  • Candy
  • Mayo
  • White Bread
  • Regular Butter
  • Regular Soda
  • Anything Salty

Often times when manufacturers take the fat out of cookies, they add some sugar. And sometimes when they take sugar out, they add some fat. Cookies are not the only culprit. Crackers and chips—especially those with partially hydrogenated oil—contain higher levels of trans-fat, which is bad for the heart. A better choice would be the reduced-fat version of the cracker because it will have 25 percent less fat and therefore, less trans-fat.

View Snacks Products Sorted By Top Sellers Here.


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