Know your Food Labels : Part One

Food Labels and Weight Loss

I have previously written about how weight loss or gain is governed by the overall rule of calories in/calories out.  If we consistently take in more calories than we use we will gain weight.  It is important to remember a weight gain of a tiny 100 grams per week translates into 5 kgs per year. Equally important to remember is that most of us underestimate how many calories we take in and overestimate how many calories we burn which means the kilos just creep on.

So one of the most important tools we have in weight loss is an understanding of the labels on our food.

Australia has quite good labelling laws and once we understand these labels the path to weight loss becomes much clearer. I explained how labels worked to a weight loss client from Seaford and this was the key to her eventual weight loss success.

Most importantly we need to look at the calories per 100 grams opposed to calories per serve. By looking at calories per 100 grams we can quickly and easily compare different foods.

For example:

If we compare calories per serve of the following :

  • Brown rice (cooked)  215  calories
  • Chocolate cake          235  calories
  • Chicken Breast           184 calories skinless
  • Vegetables                  54 calories

(The above figures are estimates only and used to demonstrate a point.)

So if we look at the above figures it is deceptive in identifying just how  calorie dense different foods are because we are not comparing like with like.

Now if we look at calories per 100 grams

  • Brown Rice (cooked)    111 calories
  • Chocolate Cake             420 calories
  • Skinless Chicken Breast  230 calories
  • Steamed Vegetables     27 calories

By looking at 100 grams, we can compare like with like and evaluate which is the most calorific.

This is important because many over-eaters suffer from “portion distortion”. By understanding which foods are the most calorie dense, we can choose the foods that will give us the best value for our calorie allowance. To put it into more familiar terms we can learn to maximise our calorie budget just like we try to maximise our personal budgets. Even though a “serve” of chocolate cake is only 235 calories most over eaters will tend to have more than a serve. Since chocolate cake is very calorie dense as shown by calories per 100 grams, it is easy to take in way too many calories and still be hungry. Then the kilos start creeping on.  Never forget that calorie creep is how we can put on 20 kilos in five short years.

Back to my weight loss client from Seaford; once she started evaluating how calorie dense her various food choices were it became much easier to control her fight against calorie creep.

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