(908) 858-2839 Zack@tonebodyfit.com
If you’ve ever looked at a nutrition label and weren’t sure how to use the information on it, this blog post is written for you. In this post we’ll break down the different sections on a nutrition label, and give you a baseline understanding of what they mean. If you need any more help you can message me for online personal training.

Serving Size

(1) The first section of a nutrition label covers the servings. The first line describes how much of something equates to one serving. All of the information on the rest of the label reflects this serving.

The next line describes how many servings are in the package you have. In the label posted above, if you eat the whole package (8 rolls), you’d need to multiply sections (2) through (9) by 8 to reflect how much food you’ve eaten. This means if you eat the whole bag, you’ve eaten:

  • Calories 800
  • Calories from Fat 80
  • Fat 8g
    • Saturated fat 0g
    • Trans fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 0mg
  • Sodium 1840mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 168g
    • Dietary Fiber 40g
    • Sugars 16g
  • Protein 40g

Amount Per Serving

Section (2) on our nutrition label describes the number of calories in each serving. Going back up to section (1), one roll is a single serving, so each roll is 100 calories.

(3) Describes how many calories come from fat. 

Often times small packaged snacks display 100 calories, but contain multiple servings for the whole package. It’s important to check the amount of servings per package, to make sure you’re not eating 5 servings by accident. 

How are calories calculated?

A calorie is a unit of measurement for energy. Only three sections on our nutrition label count towards calories (these are called substrates). They are fat (4), carbs (7) and protein (8). For every gram of each of these, the amount of calories they’re worth are:

  • Fat: 9 calories per gram
  • Carbs: 4 calories per gram
  • Protein: 4 calories per gram

Since fiber can’t be digested, it doesn’t count as calories; so we can just subtract that from the total number of carbohydrates.

In section (2) the numbers are usually rounded slightly. For example, if you calculate the calories for each substrate and add them together, you’ll get a total of 93 calories. You’ll also see that since there’s only 1 gram of fat on our nutrition label, the calories from fat  (section 3) come out to 9.

This slight rounding is fine, because the only way to 100% accurately measure calories is by burning the food and measuring the heat it gives off. More on this *here*, for those who are interested. Nutrition labels are accurate enough, and there’s never really a reason to do these calculations.

However, knowing this information will help guide you when you go to the store to buy food. For example, if you’re shopping for high protein food, and 50% of the calories are coming from fat, depending on your dietary needs, you might want a different choice.


Cholesterol (5) and Sodium (6)

People typically try to keep these numbers as low as possible for fear of developing health conditions. Unless your doctor specifically told you to lower your intake of either of these, it these numbers shouldn’t worry you too much. By moderating the amount of processed foods and red meat you eat, these numbers will fall in a healthy range.

Vitamins and Minerals

Section (9) explains the breakdown of vitamins and minerals per serving. These percentages are based on a 2,000 calorie diet as explained in section (10). You’ll notice different foods have different vitamin and mineral compositions, and processed foods usually have the least amount of vitamins and minerals, unless they’re fortified.

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA)

Section (10) explains the breakdown for the RDA. These numbers are very general guidelines. The amount of calories and composition of substrates your body needs depends on several factors including your goals, metabolism speed and how active or inactive you are.
Personal training clients typically require more protein to help them tone up faster.
You can read more on how the RDA came to be, *here*.
If you’ve been thinking about joining a gym but aren’t sure where to get started, you can work with me as your personal trainer and I can help you out.
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