The Right Way to Read Nutrition Labels

The right way to read a nutrition label

It’s information overload when looking at nutrition labels.

While reading labels shouldn’t be your main tool for creating a healthy diet, being armed with the right info can help you make better choices.

You don’t need to understand the entire label. It all boils down to a few key elements.

Serving Size

Label serving sizes can be totally unrealistic, and that changes everything.

If you look at the top of the label on your favorite ice cream, you’ll likely see the serving size say “1/2 cup.”

1/2 cup?!

I don’t know about you, but when I eat ice cream, I fill the bowl.

That means I’m eating more like 2 cups of ice cream. Which means if I want accurate information, I have to multiply every number on the label by 4.

150 calories becomes 600 real quick.

Serving sizes will be changing by 2020 to supposedly be more accurate (the serving size on ice cream will go up to 2/3 cup), but only you know what you’ll actually consume, so factor that in before you look at anything else on the label.


Calorie counting isn’t our go-to method for weight loss (see our alternative here), but it’s still good to have an idea of what calories represent for your diet.

Before you can gauge if you’re on track, you need to calculate your ideal calories – this calorie calculator from Precision Nutrition (where I got my coaching certification) can help.

Then divide the total calories by the number of meals you typically eat in a day and you have a goal range for each meal.

Knowing this number is helpful to see if the food you’re looking at is causing you to eat too much or too little at any given meal. Don’t forget about extra things you may add to a boxed item (butter, milk, oil, etc.).


To help you lose weight (or prevent gaining it), it helps to know what your food consists of.

There are three major macros: carbs, protein, and fats.