(NaturalNews) Mid-life for many women is a constant struggle to salvage what is left of a waistline that seems to be gradually morphing into a shapeless belly. Diet and exercise are the standard advice. But what really works? One recent study indicates that exercising alone will not do the trick but keeping a sharp eye on food labels is effective for weight loss.
The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Affairs, concludes that people who make it a habit to read food labels and to exercise lose more weight than those who merely exercise. Even more interesting is that those who only read food labels and are sedentary lose more than those who exercise but ignore the food labels.
Not surprisingly, the study found that women between the ages of 37 and 50 years are more likely to read food labels than their male counterparts and are therefore more likely to lose weight.
The study`s author, Bidisha Mandal, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the School of Economic Sciences at Washington State University, looked at four years` worth of data drawn from a National Longitudinal Survey of Youth which had 12,000 original participants born from 1957 to 1964. Over fifty percent of the study`s participants were trying to lose weight and of these less than fifty percent were reading food labels on their first time purchase of a product.
Americans have been reading food labels since 1994 when the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act was passed requiring food manufactures to disclose nutrient and ingredient information on their packages. Recently states and the federal government have extended the disclosure requirements to chain restaurants and vending machines.
What should you be looking for when you are reading the small print on food labels? Here are six simple tips to reading a food label for weight loss:
1. Claims on the front, back, and sides of the box, except for the small print of the nutrition facts panel and the ingredient list, are advertising. Don`t rely on those claims.
2. Remember that the first ingredient listed on the label is the largest by weight. If the first or second ingredient is sugar, the product is mostly sugar and it`s best to pass on it. Sugar goes by many names, so keep an eye out for maltose, sucrose, dextrose and evaporated cane juice, just to name a few.
3. Check the ingredient list for anything that says "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated." This indicates the presence of trans fats. Even if the nutrition fact panel or the box claims "Zero Trans Fat," the product can contain up to one half gram and still make the claim of no trans fats. Avoid any product with those unhealthy fats in the small print ingredient list.
4. Check the ingredient list for "high fructose corn syrup," and avoid any products containing it.
5. If the ingredient list is really, really long with words you don`t know, pass on that product. In general, the fewer the ingredients, the better the product is for you.
6. For breads, cereals and crackers, the first ingredient better say whole grain or whole wheat, not refined or enriched wheat or flour, and there should be at least 2 grams of fiber for each serving of 100 calories.
Margie King is a certified holistic health coach, Wharton M.B.A. and former corporate attorney. She received her training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. Margie leads workshops on nutrition, conducts healthy cooking classes, and offers individual and group health and nutrition coaching to women and busy professionals. For more information and to receive her free report "Bread: What You Need to Know Before Buying Your Next Loaf," check out Margie's website: http://margieking.net/ Read more of Margie's articles as the Philadelphia Nutrition Examiner here: http://www.nottheexaminer.com/x-6753-Philade...