It's hard to know what's lurking in the food that's marketed as healthy unless you can read food labels like a pro! Here's a handy infographic to help you become a pro at reading labels:
STICK TO WHAT YOU RECOGNIZE:
If you've never heard of an ingredient, there's a great chance that you're better off without it.
SERVING SIZE & AMOUNT MATTERS:
Check what they consider a serving and how many servings there are per container. Otherwise, it's easy to crush an entire pack of something without realizing exactly how much you're consuming.
1st INGREDIENT = MOST:
Ingredients are listed in order of quantity: Highest amount to lowest. Beware of items that have unhealthy oils and sugars that are the lead on the ingredient list.
HEADS UP ON "NATURAL FLAVORS": The term "natural flavors" sounds harmless, right? Unfortunately, it's not as innocent of a term as it sounds. Turns out that natural flavor technically can include artificial flavoring. Limit your intake of things with this ambiguous term.
CONVERT GRAMS TO TEASPOONS:
Who knows what 10 grams of sugar looks like? Not me. I definitely know what 10 teaspoons of sugar looks like though. There are ~4.2 grams of sugar in a teaspoon. Find your total carbohydrate number in a product and divide that by ~4.2 to get total teaspoons of sugar.
HOW MUCH IS A LOT?
Excess sugar is a root cause of many health and performance issues. It's easy to consume multiple food items in a day with double digit grams of sugar per serving. These can add up quickly. Have your eyes peeled for double digits.
TOXIC OILS SHOULD BE A RED FLAG:
Don't be fooled by the healthy sounding names of the list of toxic oils. The following oils will cause inflammation and other nastiness: Canola, corn, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, vegetable and soy.
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Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS spent 6 seasons as the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and is the founder of TD Athletes Edge. He is nationally renowned for his evidence-based and scientific approach to fitness, training, nutrition, and recovery for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
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