Figuring out nutrition labels and weighing food

I know that’s a pretty dry title for a blog post, but that’s what this is about, so here we are.
A few people have been asking me about measuring food nutrients, carbs, fats and protein. So I decided to write a quick post about what you want to look for on nutrition labels.
First, though, you need to get a food scale. The one pictured below is the one I have. It measures in both grams and ounces and they carry them at Target. Click here for the link. As of this morning they had them in stock at all of the Targets in the area.
Next, let’s talk about food labels. Below is an example of the nutritional label for black eyed peas.
OK, let’s break it down. One serving size is 200 calories, 1 gram of fat, 36 grams of carbohydrates with 11 of those grams being fiber, and 13 grams of protein.
One of the things people neglect to look at the serving size. It is very common that companies will alter the serving size on their labels to make their food look healthier than it actually is. In the case of this product, the serving size is 172 grams. Here’s how you would figure out the nutritonal breakdown of the amount you’d like to eat.
First, take your handy food scale and set it to measure in grams. Now put the amount you’d like to eat on the scale. Let’s say it weighs 90 grams. How do you figure out how many carbs are in that 90 grams? OK, let’s do some math.
Divide 90 (amount on the scale) by 172 (full serving size). You get .52. That means that 90 grams is 52% of 172 grams. There are 36 grams of carbs per serving so multiply 36 x .52 and you get 18.72. That’s how many grams of carbs are in the 90 grams. Don’t forget to figure in the fiber, as well. 11 grams x .52 = 5.72. 18.72 – 5.72 = 13. So the serving size you have contains 13 grams of carbs.
All in all, it’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it. If you are doing the Carb Nite diet, it’s very important that you have a good knowledge of how to break down the macro-nutrients of what you’re eating. At the beginning it’ll take some work, but as you go along it will become second nature.
Once again on that diet here are the basic rules:
1. Stay under 25 grams of carbs daily.
2. Eat about 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight daily.
3. Eat about 1 gram of fat per pound of bodyweight daily.
Please get familiar with labels. They are your friend.
Have a great day and please let me know if you have any questions.
Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach
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