Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Don't always believe what you read

This is the first in a series of posts dealing with nutrition. Nutrition labels can be very misleading and very tricky to understand what you're really eating. This week I'll focus in on carbohydrates and sugars.

Here's a prime example of a label being misleading "always Fat Free". Is that true? Technically yes but what they're not telling you is that this form of sugar is stored in adipose tissue (fat) if not expended.

Each of us have what is known as carbohydrate craving and is determined by energy expenditure and metabolism; i.e. if you exercise more it's higher. Endurance athletes have the luxury of not only having a high energy expenditure but also a high metabolism so most of this energy never makes it to the adipose tissue.... unless you eat a lot of it!

Candy is considered empty calories, meaning they offer no nutritional value. To top it off the sugar that candy, soda, and most anything sweet that is processed comes from High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). I'm not going to go into detail about how this "chemical" is produced, if you want to know more you can read here. Just know that it's not natural and there are a lot of chemicals involved to make this product. But having said that if I were to choose a "lesser evil" candy then it would be Red Vines as a "treat".

When looking at nutritional facts the one thing I focus on is the percent of sugar grams contributing to the total grams in carbohydrates. If 100% of the sugars grams account for all the carbohydrates then the carbohydrates are all sugar; as in most candy and pop.

Ideally in all foods with nutrition facts the rule of thumb is to have no more than 50% of the grams of carbohydrates coming from sugar. It requires a bit of calculation but it's easy math so don't fret. In this example of macaroni and cheese 16% of the of the "Total Carbohydrate" are coming from sugar - that part is good. Does it mean that Mac and cheese is a good food? Not entirely!

In the coming posts I will go into the other parts of this label so you get a full understanding of the nutrition facts.

So in summary: don't always believe what you read, know what you're eating, keep the percent of sugar grams to 50% or less, and keep your treats to being only a "treat".
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