How To Know If Something Is Really Low Carb, Low Fat or High Protein

Today, so many food products are labeled with increasingly popular terms like “low fat,” “high protein,” and even “low carb.” On one hand, it’s nice the food industry has shifted a bit from strictly caloric measures to macronutrient measures, but on the other hand, if you don’t have any basis of what a regular amount of each of those macronutrient numbers should/could be for you specifically, how can you possibly understand what “low” and “high” even mean?

If you Don't UNDERSTAND what these numbers mean for you, you're just another victim of marketing. Is that what you want to be?

It'd be like walking into Best Buy, seeing a brand new piece of technology for sale for $450 and saying, “Whoa! That’s expensive!”  If this technology is brand new though, something you've never seen before, how do you know whether or not it's expensive or competitively priced?

Since the specific number or range of each macronutrient varies from person to person, it’s impossible to say “women in their 20s need 100g of carbs per day,” or something like that, but it is possible to get an estimate to at least begin basing your judgements off of. 

I recommend using either Katy Hearn’s macro calculator or to get an idea of what your macros might be. 

Using one of the sites I've listed above, you'll calculate your macros for different circumstances like maintenance, muscle building, or fat loss. 

Let’s say you calculate your macros with the goal of losing fat and find out you should be eating around 150g of carbohydrates a day. Now, when you see a food label marked as “low carb,” you will have some basis of judgment because you know how many grams of carbs you need in a given day. 

Even if something is not marked as “low” or “high” something, it’s still a good idea to have at least a level of comparison. This is true even for calories. How would you ever know if something was too many calories for you if you had zero idea of how many calories you were recommended to eat during a day? Someone consuming 2500 calorie/day can easily eat 600 calories in one meal. It’s less than a FOURTH of their entire day’s worth of calories! Someone consuming a more conservative amount of calories per day, say—1700— might not want to eat 600 calories in a single meal, because their other meals are going to have to be smaller to not go overboard. 

Do you have a general reference number for calories, fats, carbs and protein?

If something is marked “high protein” or “low fat,” are you more inclined to buy it?

I know I used to be, especially when I had no idea how much protein was healthy for me to consume on a daily basis. When you're trying to eat 120+ grams of protein a day, a cereal bar with 10g of protein and 200 calories isn’t the smartest choice you can be making, and that's what this is about. It's about educating yourself so that you can feed your body an appropriate amount of nutrients for it to function optimally. 

You will never know these things unless you take the time (literally 3 minutes or less) to find out some numbers for yourself. 

There’s no sense in getting obsessive or completely shifting your diet— it’s just about educating yourself so that you don’t fall for gimmicks in the grocery store. Walking around thinking “30 carbs is a lot!” is totally useless. A lot compared to what?

If you're serious about seeing results from altering your eating habits, do yourself a favor and find some numbers to serve as a reference for yourself. 

Look, like I said, there’s absolutely no reason to get obsessive or try and calculate everything out to the gram, but there is a reason to move out of ignorance and magazine education and move to a place of understanding. 

Feel free to shoot me a message with any questions about how to understand this better and start to apply it to your own lifestyle!