When it comes to a healthy diet, the best way to make better food choices and meet your weight loss or fitness goals is by focusing on macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These nutrients are found in a variety of foods and are essential to your body’s health and function.
Macronutrients are located on the top of a nutrition label, below serving information and above key micronutrients (such as sodium, potassium, vitamins, minerals). They include total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sugars, dietary fiber, protein, carbohydrate and satiety-inducing fiber.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main energy source and help to form cells, build muscle tissues, regulate hormones, enzymes and maintain fluid balance. The recommended daily intake of carbohydrates varies from 45-65% of total calories, depending on an individual’s health goals and medical conditions.
Protein is a macronutrient that is crucial to cell repair, growth and protein metabolism. It is also necessary for muscle tissue development and to maintain a healthy weight. It’s important to consume enough protein to satisfy your appetite and help you feel full, so it’s commonly listed on a nutritional label alongside carbohydrates.
Most labels provide the amount of a specific nutrient per “serving” on the left side of the nutrition facts panel, while the % Daily Value is displayed on the right. To compare the nutrient content of foods, gather nutrition facts labels from several different products and look at how much of each nutrient each serving contains. If the number of grams, milligrams or micrograms is the same for each product, you can use this comparison to rank the food and beverages by the nutrient you are interested in.