On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m taking you into the grocery store with me to uncover the top 19 misleading food labels that are deceiving you.
It’s time to put an end to the nutrition lies that many food companies are claiming on their packaging.
I really hope you are not falling for this marketing hype, but if you are, you’re about to be schooled.
Let’s go into the grocery store so I can save you from making falling for some of these common nutrition label mistakes.
But before we get started, always remember to follow this Live Lean pro tip.
The outside perimeter of the grocery store is your safe zone.
97.45% of the time, you can avoid all 19 of these deceiving food labels, and basically forget every one of the rules I’m about to share with you, by simply sticking to the outside edges of the grocery store.
You enter the danger zone when you start walking down the middle snack aisles at the grocery store.
The breakfast cereal aisle is a classic example of this.
How many of these 19 foods do you think are healthy?
Next time you walk down the breakfast cereal aisle, take a quick look at the nutrition claims on the cereal boxes.
Here’s a classic example of a misleading food example.
A big food label on a box of Frosted Flakes promotes it contains 20% of the daily value of Vitamin D.
Frosted Flakes, a food that is filled with sugar, coloring, and the chemical BHT, is being promoted as a good source of Vitamin D.
Are you kidding me?
Let’s take a look at the real food label and the nutrition facts, to see what you really get.
Frosted Flakes Nutrition Facts:
* Based on a very small serving size of 3/4 cup (31g)
Frosted Flakes Ingredients:
It’s always better to eat foods that naturally are high in vitamin D, as it is absorbed by the body better, compared to processed foods that have synthetic Vitamin D added to it.
Vector is a brand of cereal that is actually marketed as being an athletes type of cereal, because it contains 13 grams of protein.
Based on this, it’s being promoted as a higher protein cereal.
However, look at the image of the ingredients list below to see all of the different forms of sugar found in Vector cereal.
Plus, the primary source of protein is the fourth ingredient on the list, and it comes from soy protein.
Soy protein is one of the lowest quality sources of protein.
In addition to all of this, one serving of Vector cereal only contains 5.5 grams of protein.
This means over 55% of the 13 grams of protein marketed on the food label, actually comes from the dairy milk, not the actual cereal.
Special K cereal is another example of a misleading food label claiming to be a high protein cereal.
Let’s take a look at the ingredients in Special K cereal.
The first ingredient in Special K is whole grain oats, followed by textured soy protein concentrate, sugar, then more carbohydrates, and the chemical BHT.
This is another example of a misleading food label highlighting protein, when the calories from carbohydrates are 3 times higher than from protein.
Plus, the protein comes from cheap, lower quality soy protein.
Mini Wheats should be a good source of fiber, right?
Well, if you look at the nutrition facts label, it will also show you that it is a good source of sugar.
Mini Wheats Ingredients List:
This is simply a cereal high in sugar and chemicals, that also contains fiber.
Eat your vegetables and these foods high in fiber.
Look at all of the ingredients.
This “fiber protein bar” is just filled with chemicals, sugar, and a low grade source of protein.
This fruit bar claims that it is “Made With Real Fruit Filling”.
Okay, show me the fruit in this ingredients list.
Unfortunately, I had a hard time finding any fruit.
All I see is ingredients that contain sugar and chemicals.
All right, let’s move on to the soda and chips aisle.
This Diet 7-Up soda claims it is made with “Natural Flavors”.
Show me the natural flavors in this ingredients list.
When I look at the ingredients list, it seems to contain a lot of artificial sweeteners and chemicals, including sodium benzoate.
Next up, Vitamin Water.
Vitamins and water sounds like a good combination, right?
Well, when you flip it over to look at the nutrition facts, you’ll see that this “water” contains 32 grams worth of sugar, in one serving.
When you look at the ingredients list, you’ll also see that sugar is the second ingredient.
Okay, here’s a good one.
This brand of potato chips claims to contain 0 trans fat per serving.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the potato chips contain 0 grams of trans fat.
According to FDA rules, food companies can round down.
This means if the food contains 0.4g of trans fat per serving, it can be marketed as 0g.
However, if you eat 5 servings worth of chips, which happens all the time, that would equal 2g of trans fats.
It’s obvious that this consumption of trans fat can quickly add up.
If you’re not aware of what trans fats are, they are horrible for your overall health.
All let’s talk about crackers promoted as being “made with whole grains“.
Let’s turn it over and look at the ingredients list.
The second ingredient is vegetable oil.
All right, food labels that state “made with real fruit juice”, are one of my favorites.
Especially when the food is literally candy.
In this case, it’s gummy bears.
The first, second, third, and fourth ingredient are all different forms of sugar.
Where is the fruit?
Oh I know, the fruit is in the fruit aisle.
Even though this “Cranberry” juice looks like it’s only made with cranberries, it’s not.
If it’s a blend, it’s usually mixed with other lower quality, cheaper fruit juice fillers.
Oh yes, more whole wheat.
In this example, I’m showing Kraft Dinner, a processed form of macaroni and cheese in a box, that is made with whole wheat.
Since it’s made with whole wheat, it must be healthy, right?
Here is the ingredients list.
That doesn’t look like a healthy list of ingredients to me.
Do I really need to say anymore more?
All right, let’s take a look at these “no sugar added” snack pack puddings.
Before you add it to your grocery cart, turn the package around and to see what is in the ingredients list.
As you can see, the ingredients list is filled with words that sound like they are from a science experiment.
In other words, this sugar free pudding contains a lot of artificial sweeteners and chemicals.
These frozen chicken strips market that they are “made with whole chicken fillets”.
Unfortunately, this chicken is also made with vegetable oil and soy.
Thanks, but I’ll just cook my own chicken breast.
These frozen dinners use the word “Healthy” in the name.
Well, just because the brand name includes the word “healthy” in it, it does not necessarily make it healthy.
Also, just because something is lower calorie, it doesn’t necessarily make it healthy.
Take a look at all the additive ingredient bonuses that come with this frozen meal.
Always read the ingredients.
If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, or it doesn’t come from plants or animal, 99.35% of the time you should put it back.
Even though it says “organic” on the food label, it doesn’t always mean it’s healthy.
You always have to read the ingredients.
Look at all the sugar in this organic yogurt.
Seriously, if the second ingredient is sugar, just say no.
This particular high protein “nutritious” energy drink contains a food label that advertises 28 vitamins and minerals.
Let’s take a look at the ingredients to see what’s inside.
This “nutritious” drink is filled with chemicals and sugar.
Plus, I can’t even pronounce half of these ingredients.
When a food or drink contains this many ingredients that Bill Nye “The Science Guy” couldn’t even pronounce, it’s never a good thing.
I know I’ve been repeating myself, but I guess I have too to drive home my point.
Also, where is the protein?
All right, we’re now in the gluten-free aisle.
Let’s take a look at this gluten-free chocolate cake mix.
It still contains a whopping amount of sugar and potato starch.
In gluten-free products, potato starch is often used to replace flour.
However, potato starch is known to really raise your blood sugar levels.
So there you go.
Thanks for coming to the grocery store with me.
I hope you learned a few things.
Don’t fall for the marketing hype.
Always read the ingredients list and the nutrition facts label first.
Better yet, fill your cart with foods that don’t even have an ingredients label.
If you see more than 5 ingredients, especially ingredients you can’t pronounce, in most cases it’s not a good thing.
Just use your brain and stick to the outside aisles for the majority of your food at the grocery store.
As long as you mostly add real foods to your grocery cart, you’re going to be safe in the grocery store.
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Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.