Many of us try to live a healthy life as best we can. We try to do some form of exercise and try to eat right, however, we can often be misled by the advertising and packaging, to the point that what may seem healthy, is often laden with high sugars and fats, and unnecessary additives.
On many packaged food products, the labels will indicate the calorific content along with its fat amount, carbohydrates and sugars. All these are important to us so we can watch our intake, according to our ideal eating goal. Although all this is a helpful indicator, it is not enough, as what we really need to know is what type of fats, carbohydrates and sugar source is actually present and in what amount.
So when we read those labels, we should really be going to the ingredients list – they are legally meant to be listed as to what there is most of at the top and what it contains least of at the end. As you read and go down the list of ingredients, this will tell you roughly how much of what is actually present.
Often people don’t bother even looking at the ingredients list, unless they have some sort of allergy, but there is so much more we need to be aware of.
Carbohydrates in our eating is good for energy. In the UK, it is recommended that 50% of our food intake should come from carbohydrates. The dietary guidelines recommend that carbohydrates make up 45% to 65% of the total daily calorie intake. So if on a 2,000 calories a day, between 900 and 1,300 calories should come from carbohydrates. That is about 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates a day.
When eating less than 50g per day, the body will go into ketosis, supplying energy for the brain via so called ketone bodies. Ketone bodies are synthesized during fasting (even overnight fasting will take you into mild ketosis, as several hours or more is required), after starvation or prolonged exercise in response to high-fat, low carb diets. This may suppress your appetite and may cause you to lose weight automatically. A low carb diet offers weight loss results faster, but in the long term, both low carb and low calorie diets are equally effective.
Carbohydrates are vital and should not be totally eliminated. Carbs can actually speed up the metabolism; as the resistant starch moves through the digestive system, it releases fatty acids that encourage fat burning, especially in the stomach area. The fatty acids help preserve muscle mass and that can fire up the metabolism, assisting in faster weight loss. Resistant starches are carbohydrates that do not break down into sugar and are not absorbed by the small intestine. It is similar to insoluble fibre, passing through most of the digestive system unchanged. High resistant starches are brown rice and pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn tortillas, beans and legumes, soy beans, pinto beans, garden green peas, green and yellowing bananas. Cooking and cooling starchy foods will increase their resistant starch content.
Fats are an important source of energy but they contain twice as much energy per gram as carbohydrates or protein. Yes, too much fat can lead to health problems, but our bodies do need some fat every day. The difference is what type of fat; the saturated fat, trans fat has to be listed on the nutrition label, as well as the total fat. The polyunsaturated fats and monosaturated fats were not required originally essential to be shown on food, but some manufacturers choose to list these in order to give credibility to their healthy food product.
Low fat is considered 3g or less and low saturated fat is 1.5g or less. High fat is 17.5g or more and high saturated fat is 5g or more per 100g of food.
Sugar content is also important, especially for those who have to watch their sugar content because they may have or require to avoid developing diabetes.
Nutrients are displayed in a standard format, which is amount per serving and per 100g or 100ml if it is liquid. A way to look at these numbers is to think of them as percentages – an example would be 35g of sugar means the product contains 35% sugar.
Many jars of sauces such as curry and pasta sauces contain a lot of sugar and/or fat added that you may be unaware of. Many pots of dips also contain those fats and sugars. Checking what particular type of sugar may make the difference in your choice. Reading those ingredients carefully can make all the difference in choosing a different brand or may make you decide and choose preference in making your own.
So here we have it, keep a check on what type of carbohydrates, fat and sugar are being consumed and how much. It is likely to make all the difference in maintaining a healthy weight, gaining weight or losing it.
Not only that, do you really not want to know what goes into all that processed packaged food you eat? Please read the label!

Love and Sparkles
Samsara x
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