Scoring a six-pack requires reading food labels. And we do mean labels. The front of the box may boast all kinds of claims, but, pro tip: Those fat-free and sugar-free foods are not calorie free. “The manufacturer can label a food fat free or sugar free if it has less than a ½ gram of fat or sugar per serving,” said Karen Brewton, a registered and licensed dietician with The Methodist Hospital in Houston, in a prepared statement. Portion sizes also play a role. “A product can meet that ‘free’ criteria if you eat the portion listed on the label, but if your portion is much larger, you may be consuming significant amounts of fat or sugar and therefore more calories,” she says.
Manufacturers set the serving size for the package, so it’s important not only to look at the serving size but also the number of servings in the package. If you eat the entire package, you will need to multiply the numbers on the label by the number of servings listed. For example, those small bags of chips and snacks offered at grocery and gas-station checkouts appear to be one serving but actually offer two or three servings per package.