Reading the food labels

 

Make sure you read the “Ingredients” on the back of the label as well as the macronutrients break down

 

I remember when I was just getting into the Ketogenic diet, My time spent in the supermarket went up to at least another 45 to 50 minutes just in reading the labels on the back of bottles, jars and packaging!

There was more than one time that I thought I’d done the right thing and made sure the macronutrients one the back were on the money, I was so proud of myself and excited that I had found products that were low carb, fairly low protein and higher fat. Only to get home, have time to thoroughly study the label on the back to see yes it was very low carb then to check the ingredients to find it had canola oil or some other vegetable oil or a thickener of some sort etc.

It was only very recently that I was once again caught out with a delicious mayonnaise that I had picked up at a weekend market. I don’t  know why I hadn’t caught on from previous bad buys, I guess it was because I was so excited to find a stall holder that had other Keto friendly products  for sale.

This time, it wasn’t until I’d opened it and put a tablespoon of mayo on my plate that I read the ingredients only to find canola oil! The mayo also listed olive oil as one of the main ingredients, it makes me crazy when they feel the need to also add canola oil if there is already olive oil in the product!

In order to do the Keto diet correctly you need to know how to read the labels to make sure it’s Keto.

 

Personally, I don’t By very many packaged or canned goods anymore, I like to do Keto with as much whole, real foods as possible. However, the few things I do buy, I really want to know they don’t contain vegetable oils, thickeners/starches and other non-friendly Keto.

Below, is a label from an ice cream container that I am using here as an example because one of my favourite things in life is ice cream, I own an ice cream machine and can make my own but not when I’m on the road travelling as the actual ice cream bowl that has to go in the freezer for a few hours is bigger than the whole freezer in the bus! I have occasionally made ice cream the stir method way however, I find it too difficult in my mind to do while on the road with my other half mapping out activities every day. Honestly, I have never been so flat out in my life until I retired! I have never tried this ice cream below, it is a good example that I found on the web…

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There are not many products specifically made for Ketonians.

 

At present, hopefully things will turn around sooner rather than later, they don’t make and market that much food that is Keto friendly so we have to do the job for ourselves and ensure we know how to read these things.

 

Total fat is the sum of saturated fats, trans fats, polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats.

 

These products like I said are not targeted for the Ketogenic diet, that’s why the “fat” listed is quite low a 2g. Watch out for Trans Fats you DON’T want trans fats to be on the label.

Keep in mind that the total fat calories for keto dieters should make up roughly between 65-75% of your daily caloric intake. This number, of course, depends on a variety of factors, like your age, weight, height, etc. On a 2000 calorie diet, this would come out to about 1300-1500 calories from fat alone.

 

Carbohydrates

Sometimes dependent on where the product has come from, you most likely will not see net carbs on nutrition labels, so it’s important for you to do the simple calculations yourself.

What the nutrition label does contain in regards to carbs are the Total Carbohydrates, Sugar, Dietary Fiber, and sometimes it might even contain Sugar Alcohols.

To get the net carb count of a food item, take the total carbohydrates on the food label and subtract the dietary fiber and sugar alcohols (if listed) from it.

Example:

Total Carbohydrate (5 grams) – Dietary Fiber (1 gram) = 4 grams of Net Carbs

While calories also matter on the ketogenic diet and you should keep an eye on these, they aren’t as important as keeping your carbohydrates low.

Sugars

You might have noticed that sugar is incredibly prevalent in many of the foods we buy, and consequently, companies will do everything in their power to mislead consumers and prevent them from realizing how much sugar is in their product.

When it comes to sugar, there are at least 60 different names for it listed on food labels! Some of these names include sucrose, dextrose, maltose, rice syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, and organic cane sugar, among others.

Sugar has been found to play a key role in a variety of illnesses, from diabetes to heart disease[1], and should really be avoided on any diet.

When you see sugar listed on a nutrition label, this means the sugar is not naturally present in the food, but was added.

So be mindful of any food that has added sugar, as it can lead to a spike in your blood sugar levels. Just because a label calls their sugar organic sugar doesn’t make it a good thing.

Dietary Fiber

When calculating the net carbs, we subtract dietary fiber from the total carbs because it’s something your body cannot digest and use as energy. But your body still needs dietary fiber to function, so it should never be left out!

You can use the nutrition label as a guide on your daily fiber intake. While on the keto diet, you should actually be eating more than the recommended 25 grams of fiber. But the labels will give you a good idea.

While many calories from vegetables come from carbohydrates, the majority of these in keto friendly veggies are from fiber.

 

Ingredients

It’s always a great idea to look through a product’s ingredients instead of relying on what is advertised on the front of the package. This will tell you exactly what is in your food.

Some common ingredients you want to avoid include artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame. These will digest like carbs in your body. Natural sweeteners, on the other hand, such as stevia and sugar alcohols, are perfectly fine.

Chicory root fiber has become another popular way to sweeten food without adding more calories, but this is a healthy ingredient that is beneficial to your body.

Other toxic ingredients to steer clear of include:

  • Palm oil
  • Shortening
  • White flour
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Sodium benzoate and potassium benzoate
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole
  • Sodium nitrates and sodium nitrites
  • MSG

Food labels are an important source of information about the nutritional value and calories you eat. It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but begin reading labels and start learning more about common ingredients you find on the foods you’re consuming.

By taking nutritional label-reading more seriously, you will set the stage for building a heart-healthy and overall more nutritious diet.

 

Protein

Protein is a very simple line on the nutrition labels.  There is no breakdown here, except that some protein supplements may break down amino acid profiles.

Protein will make up 5-25% of daily calories on a 2000 calorie diet.  This equates to 100-500 calories per day of protein, and 25-125 grams per day.

 

 

 

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