It’s a fairly easy step that can have dramatic consequences for your nutrition, especially if you make it a habit. Reading labels takes a little extra time but the payoff is worth it—and once you’ve learned a label, good or bad, you can narrow your choices and become a more efficient shopper. For example, once upon a time I routinely bought Ragu Chunky Tomato sauce, with its nervy 90 calories per 1/2 a cup and 12 grams of sugar. After the label-reading habit took hold, I found a new sauce, something less sweet and more savory: introducing Safeway Select Spicy Red Bell Pepper Pasta sauce—50 calories for 1/2 a cup and 3 grams of sugar. AND it tastes better, IMO.
So here’s a story problem for you.
Based on the following caloric values and the label info provided, does a popular turkey burger really have 50 percent less fat than ground beef, as the company claims?:
1 g. of protein = 4 calories
1 g. of carbs = 4 calories
1 g. of fat = 9 calories.
To solve, look at the turkey burger label, and determine total calories from fat:
15g x 9cal/g = 135 cals from fat
That means that of the total 200 calories, 68% are from fat.
Doing the same equation with the lean hamburger, we get:
8g x 9 cal/g = 72 cals from fat
So of the total 170 cals, 42% are from fat.
While it is ideal to keep cals from fat below about 30% for any given thing you eat (which even lean hamburger exceeds), the turkey burger claims are definitely misleading. And nutritionally at least, you’d be much better off with a lean hamburger. Not to mention the wallop of sodium in the turkey burger and the fewer protein grams. So the bottom line?—it’s right there on the label…you just may have to dig for it.
–Keep moving! Jennifer