Food Label Terms and What They Really Mean
All the nutrients that a food contains are important; however, to achieve weight loss, the total fat and calories are the most important to track from nutrition information on a food label. Cholesterol and sodium (salt) don’t add calories, but eating too much sodium can contribute to water retention and therefore water weight. The calories from saturated fat are included in the calories from fat total.
This table lists some of the terms that are particularly important when you're on a weight-loss plan.
|What the Food Label Says||What It Means|
|Fat-free||Less than 1/2 (0.5) gram of fat in a serving.|
|Calorie-free||Less than 5 calories per serving.|
|Lowfat||3 grams of fat (or less) per serving.|
|Lean (on meat labels)||Less than 10 grams of fat per serving, with 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol per serving.|
|Extra lean (on meat labels)||Less than 5 grams of fat per serving, with less than 2 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol.|
|Less||Contains 25 percent less of a nutrient or calories than another food.|
|Reduced||A nutritionally altered product that contains at least 25 percent fewer calories, sodium, or sugar than the regular one.|
|Lite (Light)||Contains 1/3 fewer calories or no more than 1/2 the fat of the higher-calorie, higher-fat version; or no more than 1/2 the sodium of the higher-sodium version.|
|Cholesterol-free||Less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams (or less) of saturated fat per serving.|
|Healthy||The food must be low in fat and saturated fat and contain limited amounts of cholesterol and sodium.|
|Percent fat free||The food must be low in fat or fat free. Plus, it must reflect the amount of fat present in a serving. In other words, if a food contains 5 grams of fat in a serving, it can be labeled 95 percent fat free.|
|Low-calorie||Fewer than 40 calories per serving|
Many dieters find that portion control is real tricky. Manufacturers certainly don’t help in this regard. Some containers look as though they should contain one serving, because that’s probably how most people consume them. However, consider that
A 16-ounce container of iced tea is 2 servings.
A 6 1/2- to 7-ounce can of tuna is 2 1/2 servings.
A 4-, 6-, or 8-ounce container of yogurt is considered 1 serving.
A 20-ounce bottle of soda is 2 servings.