In America, when discussing health, the morbidly obese elephant in the room is the over consumption of calories. This over consumption leads to about 2/3 of our population being overweight or obese. Obesity is very complicated. While this blog will not attempt to discuss obesity in its entirety, it is important to point out 1 commonly misconstrued piece of consumer information impacting our calorie consumption – nutrition facts label.
The Nutrition “Fallacy” Labels
If you were trying to lose weight you might look at the Nutrition Facts Label – the labels found on food packaging. These labels may seem quantified and straightforward, but that is far from the truth.
Fallacy 1 – The percentages for your daily value are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Most males above the age of 18 eat closer to 2,500 calories. This means that unless you carry your calculator around with you and know how many calories you consume daily, these numbers can’t tell you exactly what you need.
Fallacy 2 – The numbers are rounded. As a result, as long as a food item contains less than .5 grams of fat, it can list 0 grams.
Fallacy 3 – The numbers are estimated. This is especially true when it comes to fruits and vegetables. For example, a tomato grown in nutrient rich soil is going to have more nutrients than a tomato grown in nutrient depleted soil.
Fallacy 4 – All nutrients are not created equal. For many nutrients such as protein,1 gram on 1 label is not equal to 1 gram on another. Protein on the label represents hundreds of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Our body needs a certain amount of the different amino acids. Some foods, such as eggs, do a really good job of providing the different amino acids we need in the correct amounts. Other foods, such as wheat, do not do as a good of a job.
If you were relying on the nutrition label for solid numbers, think again.
It should be used as a guide for comparison or to let you know if you are on the right track. Now that you know to use your nutrition labels as guides, what should you focus on?
If you ask this nutritionist about dropping some pounds, I recommend eating more vegetables and fiber, and cutting back on red meat and saturated fat. It isn’t a new exotic fruit, it isn’t sexy, it isn’t fun, but it works for most people.