Food Labels to Know

As runners, we know what goes into the body plays a significant role of how we perform during our training runs. We must fuel our bodies with the proper ingredients to turn it into energy to run faster and stronger. It’s always best to consume food in their more natural form: raw fruits and vegetables and clean proteins. But it’s not always possible. How do you know what you’re eating is good for you, especially with the long list of ingredients on labels? Here are a few truths on six common food labels:

Any ingredients cannot contain artificial ingredients or preservatives. Everything must be minimally processed and are generally healthier. Adding fat and processed foods makes food last longer on the shelves–foods with “natural” ingredients have a limited shelf life and are better for you.

These foods must include at least 95 percent of organic ingredients and the other five percent must come from the National List by the USDA. The products cannot include pesticides, growth hormones and antibiotics.

Free Range
You see this referring to protein products generally, such as free range chicken. Free range pertains to food created from animalsĀ  not allowed to be contained in any way (also known as cage free), and must be allowed to move freely over open areas of land.

The term local refers to food grown close to where it is sold. It is becoming more popular to buy local and support farms rather than larger organizations selling to grocery stores.

This terms refers to economic qualities and not nutritional qualities of food, as so many people think. The most sustainable food producers are local farmers.

Gluten Free
This became a popular term in recent history, as popular fad diets tout not adding gluten into your diet. But what does it do? Foods containing gluten will trigger antibodies in people with what is known as Celiac’s Disease, which will attack the small intestine.

Hopefully these definitions help you make an informed decision next time you head to the grocery store.