Nutrition labels are a jumble of words and numbers that don't make any sense, but these facts aren't meant to be confusing. In fact, nutrition facts do a great job of quickly summarizing everything you need to know in order to figure out if you should eat it or not with just a quick glance. What it doesn't do so well is tell you that you really don't need to know everything it lists. In fact, there are only two pieces of information you absolutely need from this line up in the early stages of dieting.
What You Need to Read
A serving size is how much within the container makes up one serving. All other numbers following are based on this.
Typically, it will be listed as both a measurement (usually cups) or a weight (usually grams). Of the two, weight is more accurate, but if you don't have a food scale, kitchen measurement tools work perfectly fine. For instance, if I have a box of cereal and the nutrition label tells me one serving is 1/2 cups (33g), I would then measure this amount out into my bowl, and I now have one serving of the cereal.
This number is how many calories you will eat when you eat the single serving you just poured out of the cereal box. DO NOT worry about "calories from fat" to the right of this. It doesn't matter to you right now.
A Note on Nutrition Labels
If you're counting macros, the only other data you'll need are the total fat, carbohydrate and protein amounts. Pay close attention to the marketing versus what's actually on the label, though. While many energy bars are plastered with "high protein", most also come with a higher amount of carbs -- great for bulking, not so great for cutting.
Co-host of HeroesForge, founder of Battle to Be Better, gamer, singer and all around happy person.