Color-coded Foods & Drinks


Why is chocolate milk a Yellow-coded beverage? The military promotes it as a good recovery drink after workout/PT.

Due to its protein and carbohydrate content, chocolate milk can be an appropriate “Green” recovery drink after intense or long workouts. Without the benefit of exercise, chocolate milk might be too high in sugar and calories for your eating plan—and is coded Yellow.

Why is Gatorade a Yellow-coded beverage?

Similar to chocolate milk, sports drinks, can be appropriate recovery fuel after long periods of exercise, training, or missions, especially in high heat and humidity. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade, provide the needed fluid, electrolytes, and carbohydrates to replenish what’s lost during exercise. In these circumstances, sports drinks are coded Green. However, if you’re not exercising intensely and/or living in extreme environmental conditions, then sports drinks might be too high in calories and sugar for your eating plan—and are coded Yellow.

Why is iceberg lettuce coded Green?

Iceberg lettuce is Green-coded because it’s minimally processed, contains some fiber, and doesn’t contain saturated fat or added sugar. Dark, leafy-green vegetables such as spinach and Romaine lettuce are also Green-coded, but they contain higher nutrients.

Why is BBQ pork coded Yellow, not Red?

Like many meats, pork can be very lean (Green-coded) or high in fat (Red-coded) depending on its cut. BBQ sauce contains sugar, but less than the amounts in sugary drinks or desserts. Overall, pork is a good source of protein and lower in saturated fat than other Red-coded meat dishes.

Why is yogurt coded Yellow, not Green?

All yogurts have some naturally occurring sugars. However, Yellow-coded yogurts contain added sugar or artificial flavors. Plain, low-fat yogurt is Green-coded because it doesn’t contain high amounts of added sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Why are high-fat foods, such as salad dressing, sometimes coded Green?

The type, not the amount, of fat is most important for health and performance. Unsaturated fats—fats mostly from plants (oils, nuts, seeds, olives, and avocado)—are better for you than fats from animal products. Even though these foods might be higher in calories, they’re high in nutrients, including healthy fats. Avocado, guacamole, olive oil-based salad dressings, hummus, and salmon are all Green-coded fats.

Why are high-sodium foods such as olives, pickles, and soup coded Green?

G4G has a two-part coding system. Nutritional quality (Green, Yellow, and Red) is coded separately from sodium codes (Low, Moderate, and High). Sodium content doesn’t affect a food item’s color code. A high-sodium product can be coded Red just as a low-sodium product (such as pie) can be coded Red.

Why isn’t every vegetable coded Green?

Most vegetables are coded Green due to their high nutrients and low sugar, calories, and saturated fat. Red-coded vegetables include large amounts of added butter, cheese, or cream sauce.

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