One of the most beneficial tools when you are "Counting Calories" is the knowledge on How To Read A Nutrition Label correctly. The government has also assisted us with this endeavor, in that they have made it a law that all foods sold both in a grocery store or even in a restaurant has to have Nutrition Facts available to the consumer. I thought we would use a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese to demonstrate how to read a nutrition label correctly.  That way, you can also see how you can read a nutrition label and realize that certain foods are just not good for you no matter how you spin the information. Grab a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, 7.25 oz., and refer to the side of the box where it reads Nutrition Facts

Serving Size - Under Nutrition Facts you will read Serving Size 2.5 oz. Then it reads that there are 3 servings in this box, each of which should be around 1 cup of finished product. So, if the label says "one cup" per serving size and there are "three servings per box." that means there are three servings in the whole box. For example, If you are planning on eating the whole box by yourself, knowing that there are three servings in the box, you must double all the nutrition facts measurements to know your total intake of each nutrient. Below Serving Size, you will see Calories and Calories From Fat.

Calories - You will notice that next to Calories it gives you both calories As Packaged product (which would be raw noodles and dry cheese, so do not want that), and calories As Prepared (cooked noodles with the milk, cheese, and butter added). Remember that the Nutrition Facts listed on this label is based on a 2,000 calories a day diet. Depending on your goals, you may need to consume more or less of these 2,000 calories a day. If your daily goal is well below 2,000 calories, then use the percentages as a frame of reference, realizing that most will need to be below the label percentages. Basically, you will have to eat less of the product depending on the outcome of the percentages that you read on the food items label. That being said, 40 calories per serving is considered low. 100 calories per serving is considered moderate, and 400 calories per serving is considered high. From the information on the Macaroni and Cheese Nutrition label, there are 400 calories (as prepared), in each single serving. So, you already know that this amount of calories in one serving is high based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet. Wanting to consume even less calories to reach your goals, these 400 calories per serving is going to be considered even higher that recommended. Listed below Calories you will see Calories From Fat.

Calories From Fat - When it comes to tracking your fat intake every day, AIM LOW!!! For an overall healthy lifestyle, choose foods with a big difference between the total number of calories and the number of calories from fat. As prepared, the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese has 160 of its 400 calories per serving from fat. So, almost half of the calories you would be consuming per 1 cup would be from fat. "Shut The Front Door." Under the Calories and Fat From Calories on the label it reads, % Daily Value.

% Daily Value - Daily values are listed for people who are consuming between 2,000 and 2,500 calories a day. If you are eating less, your personal Daily Value will be lower of course. The % Daily Value tells you the percent of each nutrient in a single serving, in terms of the daily recommended amount. You can refer to the Food Guide Pyramid located under the Body Works on this web site. If your goal is to consume less calories choose foods with a lower % Daily Value - 5 percent or less is low, 20 percent or more is high. Under the % Daily Value, you will see Total Fat Grams on the label. 

Total Fat Grams - When consumed in moderation, fat is essential for an overall healthy body. In addition, fat provides hair and skin with essential moisture and elasticity. The Mayo Clinic states that the recommended intake of total fat grams per day is between 44 and 78 grams. I am going to say, "WOW! That seems really high to me." Learn to keep your fat intake at or below 30% of your caloric intake per day especially when reaching your goals. Notice that the label here reads only 2 grams of fat. Read a little lower on the label. Under IRON, the label, in small letters of course, reads "Amount in box, Preparation with Margarine and 2% Reduced Fat Milk, adds 15 grams of total fat (3g saturated fat, 4 g trans fat)." Those 15 grams are addition to the 2 grams of fat as stated on the label. Do you recall reading that foods containing 20 percent or more total % Daily Value is considered higher than recommended for a healthy diet? As stated on the Macaroni and Cheese label, 26% come from fat, with 20% from Saturated fat. Saturated fat is part of the total fat found in food. It is listed separately because of the health risks associated with Saturated Fat in foods and the risk of heart disease. So, in a nut shell, EAT LESS!!! Reading a little lower on the label you will see Trans Fat.  Trans Fat is a type of fat created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, in an attempt to keep the foods fresher longer.  Trans Fat is most commonly seen in baked goods and fried foods. Found under the Total Fat on the label is Cholesterol.

Cholesterol – Looking at the Cholesterol on the Macaroni and Cheese box Nutrition label, the FDA says that you are getting 5 mg per serving, around 2-3% of the recommended amount of cholesterol for a person consuming 2,00o calories a day. Remember those magic numbers 5% and 20%? Anything listed in the percent daily value column that is 5% or less is a low number for nutrients. This is a good range for those things that you want to limit like cholesterol. So, as you can see on the label, Macaroni and Cheese, even after being prepared, has an appropriate amount of cholesterol based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Now, find Sodium, located right under Cholesterol.

Sodium – Let’s go back to the magic numbers 5% and 20%. As the % of cholesterol was found to be adequate, the Sodium reads at 610 mg, 740 mg after preparation, per serving, which is 25-31% of Daily value of nutrients. Anything listed as 20% or higher on the % Daily Value of a label, is considered high. This is a bad range for things that you want to limit, like sodium. A good range for those things you want to eat plenty of like fiber, calcium, iron and vitamins, but definitely not Sodium. Keep your Sodium intake low, no more than 2,400 to 3,000 mg or less a day. Below Sodium, you will find Total Carbohydrates.

Total Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are foods like breads, potatoes, fruits and vegetables, that give you lots of energy and nutrients. The first thing to look at is the total grams of carbohydrates. If it is very high and your goal is to reduce your body fat and overall weight, put the item back on the supermarket shelf. Even coming from a “Good” source, too many carbohydrates at once, will increase you blood glucose very fast. 49 grams of carbohydrates on the Macaroni and Cheese Nutrition label means to put it back on the shelf. Below Total Carbohydrates reads Dietary Fiber @ 2-3 grams, and Sugars @ 7 grams. Notice that 2-3 grams plus 7 grams do not add up to the 49 grams of carbohydrates listed on the Macaroni and Cheese label. This tells us that the 39 grams of carbohydrates left are from starch, and starch usually raises blood glucose. Located under Total Carbohydrates, Dietary Fiber and Sugars, is Protein.

Protein – Proteins are made up of smaller units called Amino Acids. Our bodies cannot manufacture nine of the essential Amino Acids, so we must get these from the foods we eat. Since the body is continually using up proteins, we must attempt to continually eat small protein portions throughout the day. Animal protein sources such as Chicken and Fish give us all of the essential Amino Acids that our bodies need to complete a protein, and many plant sources can also contribute. Nutritionists recommend the method of multiplying our body weight in pounds by .37. This total count would be the recommended grams of protein recommended in our daily diet. Of course, the more active a person is, the more protein a person requires per day. The 9 grams of protein found in a single serving of Macaroni and Cheese, is not bad, but again, beside the milk, does not come from an animal source. Located at the bottom of a Nutrition label you will find information on important Vitamins and Minerals.

Vitamins and Minerals – Your goal her is 100% of each for the day. Let a combination of foods throughout your day add to 100%. As you notice on the Macaroni and Cheese label, not too good on the extremely important Vitamins and Minerals.

You can now buy foods with confidence. Read every food product label to assist you in choosing foods that make up a healthier, low calorie, low fat, high fiber diet.

Black Eyed Peas


Black-eyed peas are a great source of protein, although they need to be served with a whole grain such as brown rice in order for a complete protein...One serving of Black-eyed peas contains 10 percent of your daily iron needs...Iron plays a key role in oxygen transport...So, when iron is lacking in your diet it can negatively affect your physical work performance due  to a decrease in oxygen transport to the working muscles...However, your body does not absorb all of the iron in non-meat sources...To better receive the absorption of iron from non-meat sources such as Black-eyed peas, make sure to consume them with either a meat such as chicken or vitamin C such as a glass of orange juice...As always, stay clear of caffeinated beverages, especially while consuming a meal high in iron...Caffeine inhibits iron absorption...Like many legumes, black-eyed peas contain soluble fiber, which helps your body get rid of cholesterol, thereby lowering your risk of heart disease...

Black-eyed peas naturally contain no fat cholesterol or sodium...When people prepare them, that is when fat and these other non-essential ingredients are used...To avoid this, soak the black-eyed peas in water overnight...Then, simmer the black-eyed peas on the stove for 2 hours...Use 3 cups of water per 1 cup of peas...You can also simmer them in a crock pot for 6-8 hours...Salt to taste...Use sparingly of course...You can also obtain black-eyed peas from a can...Be sure to use a low sodium source...

Serving size: ½ cup black-eyed peas
Calories 70 Calories 
Total Fat: 0g
Total Carbohydrate: 16g
Dietary Fiber: 4g 
Protein: 3g      
Vitamin A: 15%
Vitamin C: 4%
Calcium: 10%
Iron: 6%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet



Skinless chicken breast has about 240 calories per 6 ounces and breast with skin has about 340 calories...3 ounces of chicken is one serving and is the size equivalent of a deck of playing cards...

Chicken also has calcium in it... Four ounces of cooked chicken has about 17 milligrams...The body requires calcium for muscles to move...About 1,000 mg is recommended for an active adult...1,000 mg daily for active adults is the recommendation for calcium intake...Calcium's most well-known function is its role in bone formation and its ability to work in tandem with other nutrients to strengthen bones and teeth...

Chicken has about 290 mg per 4 ounces, of potassium...Potassium helps to maintain a proper fluid balance in your body...Potassium is also in charge of properly storing enough carbohydrates in your body to utilize for energy by fueling your muscles...The frequency and degree to which your muscles contract is heavily dependent on the right amount of potassium in the body...Your body loses potassium through urine and sweat...So, obviously extra important to add some of this important electrolyte back into the body after a vigorous  sweat enhancing workout...I like to consume some low calorie Gatorade after my extra-long runs...Gatorade is my choice of fuel for my energy...Other sport drinks, preferably low in sodium, are also electrolyte replacements...(Try my HIIT suggestions for a vigorous Sweat Fest)...

Chicken has no carbohydrates...

Collard Greens


My favorite collard greens are from a can...I am sure to use a low sodium source, but I find that because I cannot prepare them well, I get this cholesterol-lowering source from YES a can...As an excellent source of vitamin K and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, collard greens provide us with anti-inflammatory nutrients that involves cardiovascular support...

Each 1-cup serving of cooked collard greens contains about 50 calories, 4 grams protein and 9 grams carbohydrates...Collard greens have no cholesterol and take up only 1 percent of your daily allotment of fat and sodium with each serving...



The protein and fat in eggs keep you feeling fuller throughout the day, thus sustaining your energy levels...
Studies have shown that people who eat eggs for breakfast are more likely to lose weight...
Whole eggs are one of the most complete sources of protein, meaning eggs contain all the essential amino acids which we must get from our diets...
Choline, an essential nutrient found in eggs, has been linked with increasing memory retention and recall as well as improving alertness...
One egg is the equivalent, for protein, of 1 oz. of red meat... 

One whole large egg provides 75 calories, 6 g of protein, 5 g of fat, 1.6 g of saturated fat, 0 g of carbohydrate, 63 mg of sodium and approximately 213 mg of cholesterol. 

Most of an egg's protein is in the white portion while the cholesterol is found in the egg yolk... 

Food Guide Pyramid


You remember the Food Guide Pyramid that we were all taught in school by the end of 6th grade...The Food Guide Pyramid is an outline of what to eat each day based on the Dietary Guidelines...Use fats, oils, and sweets sparingly...2-3 servings of milk, yogurt, and cheese...3-5 servings of vegetables...2-3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts...2-4 servings of fruit...6-11 servings of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta...Although the actual serving sizes are not large amount, eating all of the appropriate foods every day can lead to an increase in calories that we are attempting to avoid in order to lose or maintain weight...Think of the Food Pyramid as a guide for eating a variety of foods to get the nutrients you need and at the same time the right amount of calories to maintain healthy weight...
Let’s take a moment to calculate the amount of calories our bodies need in order to lose extra body fat, or to just maintain our current weight…First, multiply your body weight in pounds by 4.35 then add that number to 655…Second, multiply your height in inches by 4.7 and add on that number…Third, multiply your age in years by 4.7 and then reduce that number from your total…Your overall calculations should look something like this…655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years) = BMR…Remember that this number will increase or decrease depending on your activity level and body weight goals…It takes 3500 calories burned to lose 1 pound of pesky body fat…So, you would need to reduce your BMR by 500 calories a day to burn 1 pound of body fat a week…SAFELY…
Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories you'd burn while just sitting on the couch eating Bon Bons. (Old joke. lolo) Your Basal Metabolic Rate decreases as you age as well as decreases every time you deprive yourself of food in hopes of losing weight. On a more positive scale (excuse the pun), a regular routine of cardiovascular exercise and weight training, can increase your BMR. The more muscle weight a person has, the more calories that person burns while at rest.  So remember, this equation will be very accurate in all but the very muscular and the very fat. Your Basal Metabolic Rate is a basic organ function, so is not something you can just increase. To increase you BMR you simply need to exercise more.
When I give each of my clients an eating plan that will help them achieve their own personal weight goals, I do attempt to get in all of the Food Guide Pyramids recommendations...But, sometimes it is not so easy when a client is at 1500 calories or less a day...Therefore, it is essential that you take a high quality multi-vitamin and any other nutrient based vitamins and minerals that a doctor or nutritionist may require...
Although the actual serving sizes are not large amount, eating all of the appropriate foods every day can lead to an increase in calories that we are attempting to avoid in order to lose or maintain weight...Think of the Food Pyramid The Pyramid calls for eating a variety of foods to get the nutrients you need and at the same time the right amount of calories to maintain healthy weight...If you are at a caloric deficit to reach your personal weight goals, you will also need to make the most out of every calorie you put in your body...Here are a few ideas that you can take with you when designing your own meals or when you are preparing one of the meals that I have recommended for you...
Bread, cereal, rice, and pasta
Include several servings of whole grain foods (breads, rice, cereals, etc...) daily for their good taste and their health benefits. If your calorie needs are low, have only 6 servings of a sensible size daily, such as,  whole wheat bread, whole grain ready-to-eat cereal, low-fat whole wheat crackers, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, whole barley in soup, and Tabouli salad...Be sure to prepare or choose grain products with little added saturated fat and a low amount of added sugars... Also, check the sodium content on the Nutrition Facts Label...
Milk, yogurt, and cheese
Dairy foods can be very high in fat, so reach for fat-free, low-fat, part-skim, or reduced-fat cheeses, ice cream, frozen yogurt, ice milk, and fluid milk products...Alternate soy based dairy products, such as soy milk, are a great option that provide additional protein for the body...Remember that skim milk provides just as much calcium as whole milk provides...It may take some time to adjust to the low-fat or fat-free version of dairy...Try to half and half your dairy (1/2 part whole milk, mixed with 1/2 part skim milk) to slowly adjust those stubborn taste buds...
Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts
3 ounces of chicken is considered a meat source serving..3 ounces is about the length and width of a deck of playing cards...2 1/2-ounce soy burger or 1 egg counts as 1 ounce of lean meat...1/2 cup of cooked dry beans or 1/2 cup of tofu counts as 1 ounce of lean meat...2 tablespoons of a all-natural, low-fat peanut butter, or 1/3 cup of nuts counts as 1 lean meat serving...Opt for egg whites instead of using the entire egg...Meat is the main source of protein in most of our diets...The amount of protein needed will vary depending on how active you are; the more active you are, the more protein you need...
Vegetables and Fruits
Orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin...Dark-green leafy vegetables such as spinach, collards, turnip greens...Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C along with citrus fruits and juices, kiwi fruit, strawberries, cantaloupe...Green Peas are a great source of potassium...Broccoli and green peppers are a great source of much needed iron...1 small apple is full of fiber...If you have to buy canned fruits or vegetables be sure that they are low in sodium, and that the fruit is not kept in a syrup but its natural juices and added water...
Fats, oils, and sweets
Olive oil is my choice of oil but used extremely sparingly...Do not deny your sweet tooth cravings all together...A miniature candy bar, when needed, will not hurt your diet...Now, if 1 leads to many others, then you will have to wait on even the smallest sweet snack until you have the ability to portion control...
If you can make it to one of my Indoor Cycling classes, you will most likely hear me say at least one time, “If you wait until you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.” This fact also stands true when it comes to eating.  If you let yourself get too hungry, your metabolism makes adjustments to fit your starvation, therefore slowing down.  When you allow yourself to eat right again, the metabolism cannot just immediately speed up to keep up with the change in your eating So, it is much harder to lose weight. One thing that has remained a constant in the “Food Facts” world has always been that breakfast is essential. Eating a meal of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats within an hour or so of rising can rev up your metabolism and give you fuel for an active day As soon as you notice your body's hunger signals, make sure you eat within an hour. Irregular eating patterns and skipped meals can confuse your body and mess up your metabolism. Plus, if you wait until you’re feeling ravenous, you may be more likely to overeat. ? But what about the meals after breakfast?
I believe that all the 5 to 6 “small” meals that you should be eating throughout your day are also essential.  Keeping the body fed with a combination of the 3 macronutrients (Protein, Carbohydrates, Healthy Fat,) you can keep the metabolism going strong enough to promote weight loss, improve energy levels, help stabilize blood sugar, and preserve lean muscle mass.  Think of it as keeping the fire going throughout a cold winter’s day, by constantly adding wood to the fire. As long as you continue to add wood, the fire will continue to grow stronger.
If eating that often begins to cause you stress, remember to start out slow.  What is super important, especially when attempting to lose a significant amount of body fat, is that you decrease your portion sizes and therefore decrease your total caloric intake each 24 hour period. Watch the amount of food you are consuming during each of these “small” meals, just as close as you would have for 3 basic larger meals.  I like to think of 5 to 6 meals a day, as basically eating 5 to 6 healthy, well-balanced “snacks” a day.
 Many people who follow a reduced-calorie weight loss plan struggle with hunger. Eating more frequently throughout the day can help with feelings of fullness and satiety, so you're more likely to stick with your plan  Always remember when counting calories, that it is equally important to make sure your body receives all the nutrients it needs for proper maintenance. Since this is extremely hard when reducing calories for fat loss, you should be supplementing with a doctor recommended multi-vitamin. If you need 90 grams of protein every day, for example, you would need to make sure that at least  1 grams of protein per small meal.
This is what a *sample day of mini meals might look like, based on a 1,800-calorie diet.
7:30 am - 1/2 cup unsweetened juice; 1 slice whole wheat toast with 2 tsp. margarine and spreadable fruit; 1 hardboiled egg (Nutrition Total: 320 calories; 44g carbs; 10g protein; 12g fat)
10 am - 2 oz. of natural cheese thinly sliced on 4 saltine crackers; 1 piece of fresh fruit; water/tea (Nutrition Total: 325 calories; 59g carbs; 15g protein, 19g fat)
12:30 pm - 2 oz. of turkey breast on whole wheat bagel with lettuce leaf and 2 slices of fresh tomato with 1 tablespoon of spicy brown mustard; 1 medium banana; 1/2 cup of 1% milk or soy milk (Nutrition Total: 405 calories; 76g carbs; 18g protein; 3g fat)
3 pm - 1/2 cup of sugar free pudding; 4 vanilla wafers; 1/2 cup of 1% milk or soy milk (Nutrition Total: 211 calories; 30g carbs; 7g protein; 7g fat)
6 pm - 2 oz. of falafel with whole wheat pita halves; 1/2 cup of broccoli; water/tea (Nutrition Total: 386 calories; 60g carbs; 16g protein; 12g fat)
8 pm - 1 oz. almonds; 1/2 cup of unsweetened juice (Nutrition Total: 222 calories; 20g carbs; 6g protein; 14g fat)
(Sample Meal by Tanya Jolliffe)

Whole Wheat Toast


Whole Wheat is low in fat and an excellent source of fiber...In fact...Whole Wheat bread has four times the amount of fiber as white bread does...Remember that when selecting a bread, make sure that the packaging reads "WHOLE WHEAT" and not just "WHEAT" bread to make sure that the bread is made of whole wheat flour and not just wheat flour...

Nutrition Facts:
Serving Size 1 regular slice
Calories: 68
Total Fat: 1.06g  
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 138mg 
Potassium: 53mg  
Total Carbohydrate: 12.32g 
Protein: 2.39g