When learning how to read food labels, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. It can be very confusing at first when you have no idea what everything means. Today I’m going to break down how to read food labels for you and hopefully it will help you be successful on your macro journey!
This is label for a S’mores Quest Protein Bar.
The highlighted sections are the ones you want to focus on when looking for macros. Don’t worry about anything else for now.
Serving Size (Teal)
The serving size tells you how big one serving is. In this case, the entire bar is one serving. If you’re looking at a bag of chips, it may say one serving is about 9 chips. That’s not an exact amount so in that case, you can weigh your serving. See where it says 60g? That is what weight you want on your scale for one serving. On every label, the grams are listed by the serving size. You should always weigh your food in grams even if it tells you another form of measurement.
For instance, on a bag of popcorn, it will say serving size 2 cups (28g). You will want to weigh it in grams rather than measuring 2 cups. It is really easy to stuff a cup full of popcorn or let it overflow. In that case, it would be much more than the 28 grams making it more calories than you’re tracking and your macros wouldn’t be correct. I hope that makes sense!
Servings Per Container (Yellow)
This is simply telling you how many servings come in each package. In this case, this is a box of Quest Protein Bars so there are 12 to a box.
This tells you how many calories are in each serving, NOT the entire box/bag. So remember to portion out your serving, don’t just eat out of the box/bag or it’s impossible to know how much you’re eating.
Total Fat (Pink)
How many fat grams are in each serving. When counting macros, we are tracking fat, carbs and protein. So this tells you how many grams of fat per serving you are eating.
Total Carbohydrate (Orange)
How many carb grams are in each serving.
Dietary Fiber (Green)
How many grams of fiber per serving. Fiber isn’t a macro but it is super important for our health so that is why I listed it here. You want to make sure you’re not only hitting your macros, but also your fiber.
How many grams of protein are in each serving.
Don’t worry about the sugar, sodium, vitamins etc. when entering your food. Of course, there are other reasons to track those things but as far as simplifying this post simply for macro counting, the highlighted sections are the ones we want to focus on. As you’re starting out, get the hang of reading food labels. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to look at a label and determine whether it will fit your macros or not.
Everyone has different macros, but for me, I try find things that are lower in fat and carbs and higher in protein. Once I’ve hit my protein goal for the day, then I go for things that are going to help me reach the other 2 macros.
Go to your fridge or pantry or even the grocery store, and take a look at the labels on the food. Pick out foods that are going to help you hit your macros and become familiar with them. The more you practice learning how to read food labels, the easier it will become!
If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments section! Good luck!