Understanding food labels

Tue 2 Jun 2015

Congratulations if you have already joined us at Derby Arena and are hitting the gym on a regular basis. This alone means that you are already on the right track in achieving your fitness goals. Even better if you are also paying a closer look at what foods you are eating. Since food labels can be confusing and difficult to understand we have put a brief guide together for you. It explains some of the most often used terms in the food industry to make the whole process a lot easier for you.

Low Fat

For a food product to be advertised as ‘low fat’ in the UK it requires for it to have less than 3 grams of fat per 100 grams for solid food products or 1.5 grams of fat per 100ml for liquids.

‘Fat FREE’ has become a big seller these days trying to encourage people buying ‘guilt free’ foods and drinks. Even though the products are advertised as being fat free, often there will be a large amount of added sugar, salt and food thickening products to replace the lack of fat. This again doesn't always mean that you are consuming a lower amount of calories so pay a closer look at food labels to ensure you know exactly what you are eating. 

‘Reduced fat’ means that the product contains 25% less fat than any regular versions of the certain products. Please note that any foods high in fat that have been reduced in fat have been heavily processed in the production process. Reduced fat doesn't always mean healthy so think twice before you buy anything.

The good fats

Monounsaturated fats (like olive oil) are those that have been found to lower the bad cholesterol in your bloodstream and raise the amount of the good cholesterol. It is proven for the good cholesterol to clear the bad types of cholesterol from the blood.

Polyunsaturated fats found in fatty fish, such as tuna and salmon will also help to lower the amount of bad cholesterol.

Try and incorporate more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated foods in your daily diet

The bad fats

It would be advised to try and stay away or at least reduce the amount of bad fats consumed on a daily basis. When talking about the bad fats we refer to saturated fats, found in animal products (such as beef, pork, butter and other full-fat dairy products) or artificial Trans Fats, found in partially hydrogenated oils (such as palm, soy and vegetable oils).

Even though the bad fats don’t have any extra sugar or sweeteners added to them, the food itself can still contain a high amount of sugar. Always check the nutritional label to see exactly how much sugar the food contains. For example the label of the Ribena drink says - ‘no added sugar’, yet still contains 26 grams of sugar per serving.

A few tips to keep in mind

Any food that is higher than 125Kcal per 100g is considered to be energy dense food. Try and limit the number high calorie foods consumed on a daily basis.

Try and stay away from food that contains more than 22.5 grams of sugar per 100 grams.

Remember that not all food manufacturers are using the green, amber and light system so study the label carefully to check whether a certain food is high or low in certain macro-nutrients.