How to Read Food Labels and Understand Ingredients

And so ingredients are listed in
descending order I’ve been referring to this Nature Valley protein bar and I
just kind of copy and pasted that ingredient panel over to the right-hand
side here. But they’re listed in descending order from most prevalent to least
prevalent so the first few ingredients that you see in that ingredient panel are
highly important because it’s telling you what the majority of that product is made up of. At the very bottom you’re going to find some common allergens or saying
‘products that may contain X, Y, and Z’ and this is important if you are someone who
has a food sensitivity or you do have an allergy because a lot of times products
are produced in facilities that other products are as well and so you could
potentially see oats which are technically a gluten-free product
produced on the same machinery that may be a wheat base product or barley based
product was and so you want to look at the bottom if you’re
someone that does have an allergy especially for the common allergens like
tree nuts, so,y dairy, peanuts, and wheat for example and take a look and see if
there’s any sort of cross-contamination there. In general I would recommend the
shorter the ingredient list the better but I’ll speak a little bit more about
how a short ingredient list can still pose some problems. So I recommend taking the PAR approach to reading food labels. Choosing on par and choosing ingredients that you can pronounce, are appropriate for that food product, and
are recognizable as a whole food source so we’re not fueling our body with poor
fuel. Another way that you could think about that is choosing ingredients that
are 75% farm and allowing maybe the 25% to be factory and maybe factory
ingredients aren’t going to cause so much harm to our health which I’ll address.
So we’re back to that Nature Valley protein bar and I want to do a little
side-by-side eat this not that comparison of some of these ingredients
here. So we have a peanut almond chocolate trail mix and a peanut almond
and chocolate protein bar, so both really nutritionally similar.
We’re getting some protein from pumpkin seeds and the trail mix and the protein
also present in the Nature Valley bar. Really similar flavors, we’re still getting
that peanut and that chocolate taste and also portable I know for a lot of you
guys a huge thing is convenience you’re working you’re training you maybe have
families that you’re trying to take care of and so having things that are easy on
hand the fuel sources is important so I wanted to kind of scroll through some of
the first seven ingredients in both of these products. Farm. So we’re just going
to kind of keep going. Farm. See a little factory starting to come in and as we
keep going down you see ingredients three through seven in the peanut almond
and chocolate protein bar are all coming from processed foods and some of these
two of these are processed sugars we have sugar and corn syrup as opposed to
in the trail mix where we’re getting Thompson raisins and goji berries we
have some vegetable oils that were going into the cocoa there where in the
trail mix we have some cocoa nibs to provide some magnesium a little bit of
crunch also some polyphenols and we have soy protein isolate which there’s a lot
of benefits to soy but when you see soy protein isolate you almost want to think
of it not all soy is created equal and maybe that’s like the Twix version
compared to tofu so we’ve got you know a process protein present in there we’re
in the trail mix we have a pumpkin seed which is going to provide us with
protein 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds it’s about 10 to 12 grams of protein and so
just there kind of give you a little bit more awareness to how we can start to
recognize some of these products that could be a little bit more inflammatory
or less ideal fuel sources in our diet as athletes and maybe some alternatives
that we can be gravitating towards and now as we start to look at the rustic
ingredient here I apologize it’s a little blurry they’ll read them too
those were just the first seven but then again in that order of increasing or
descending amount in the product we have coconut Whole Foods but then we have
whey protein concentrate tapioca syrup high maltose corn syrup fructose cocoa
vegetable glycerin rice starch rice maltodextrin salt soy lecithin dextrose
baking soda a natural flavor and so I don’t know how many of those were from a
farm but we’re seeing a lot of ingredients that you know I don’t know
if our salt would totally recognized and so something definitely just to be aware
of when you’re starting to you know fuel up with some of these products