The simple truth is that large portion sizes can easily derail weight loss efforts. It’s easy to end up with more on your plate than you realize.
Regardless of the type of diet you follow, determining the proper portion size allows you to know exactly how many calories, carbs, sodium, or fats you’re consuming. This knowledge is the foundation for developing healthy eating habits, which will increase your chances of reaching your health objectives.
Servings vs. Portions
A standard amount of a food, such as a cup or an ounce, is referred to as a “serving size.” Serving sizes can help you choose foods and compare similar items when shopping, but they are not recommendations for how much of a particular food to eat.
The term “portion” refers to how much food is served to you or how much you eat. Portion sizes can differ from meal to meal. At home, you might serve yourself two small pancakes in one portion, but at a restaurant, you might get a large stack of pancakes in one portion. A serving size can also be larger than a portion size.
Getting The Right Amount
When it comes to losing weight, there is no right or wrong amount of specific food to eat. Proper food portion sizes are those that allow you to fuel your body with energy and nutrients while also feeling satisfied. In contrast to serving size, portion size should be calculated based on the number of calories you intend to consume in a day. You’d then plan your menus by calculating how much of each food you could eat while staying within that limit.
Once you’ve determined how much to eat, you may need to take extra precautions to ensure that the portion sizes are correct. Here are some simple tips to help you control your portion sizes.
AIM FOR A 50/25/25 PLATE
What is the best way to judge healthy portion sizes? Fill half of your plate or bowl with vegetables or salad, 25% with lean protein, and 25% with starchy vegetables or carbs. This allows you to automatically control portions in a rough manner. It’s difficult to fit a 12-ounce sirloin into a quarter of your plate if protein takes up a quarter of your plate. This also allows you to consume more vegetables, which are low in calories and fat.
EAT OFF A SMALLER PLATE
There is evidence that plate, spoon, and glass sizes can unconsciously influence how much food someone eats. Using large plates, for example, can make food appear smaller, leading to overeating.
In one study, people who used a large bowl ate 77% more pasta than those who used a medium-sized bowl. In another study, nutritional experts consumed 31% more ice cream when given larger bowls and 14.5 percent more when given larger serving spoons. Surprisingly, the majority of people who ate more because of larger dishes were completely unaware of the change in portion size.
As a result, substituting a smaller plate, bowl, or serving spoon for your usual one can reduce the serving of food and prevent overeating. Most people feel just as full after eating from a small dish as they do after eating from a large one.
DRINK MORE WATER
Water is essential for all of your body’s functions, and the more you drink, the easier it is to cut calories (without going hungry) and lose weight. In one study, dieting participants who were instructed to drink two cups of water before each meal lost 30% more weight than their thirsty counterparts, most likely because the water filled their bellies and suppressed their appetites.
USE YOUR HANDS
Another method for determining appropriate portion size without the use of measuring tools is to simply use your hands. Because your hands typically correspond to your body size, larger people who require more food have larger hands.
A rough guideline for each meal is as follows:
- High-protein foods: A palm-sized serving for women and two palm-sized portions for men — such as meat, fish, poultry and beans
- Vegetables and salads: A fist-sized portion for women and two fist-sized portions for men
- High-carb foods: One cupped-hand portion for women and two for men — such as whole grains and starchy vegetables
- High-fat foods: One thumb-sized portion for women and two for men — such as butter, oils and nuts
LIMIT YOUR CHOICES
If measuring or thinking too hard isn’t your thing, keep a smaller variety of foods on hand. As strange as it may seem, limiting your options can help you avoid overeating.
The reason is that having too many options saps your willpower. This includes avoiding buffets and stocking your kitchen with only your go-to staples. This ensures that you’ll have plenty of portion control when a coworker arrives with cupcakes or there’s a massive dessert table at a friend’s wedding.
TAKE IT SLOW
Eating quickly makes you less aware of when you’re full, increasing your chances of overeating. Slowing down can help you eat less because your brain can take up to 20 minutes to register that you are full after eating.
Focusing on your meal and refusing to rush increases the likelihood that you will enjoy it and keep your portion sizes under control. Take smaller bites and chew each mouthful at least five or six times before swallowing, according to health experts.
USE A FOOD JOURNAL
According to research, people are frequently surprised by how much food they consume. According to one study, 21% of people who ate more because they had larger serving bowls denied doing so. Writing down all food and drink intake can help you become more aware of the types and amounts of foods you consume.
Those who kept a food diary lost more weight overall in weight-loss studies. This was most likely due to them becoming more aware of what they ate — including their unhealthy choices — and adjusting their diet accordingly.
There is no doubt that losing weight necessitates foresight, preparation, and discipline. You are more likely to achieve your fitness goals and develop healthy eating habits if you establish good habits from the beginning.
These simple changes have been shown to be effective in reducing portions without sacrificing taste or feelings of fullness. Finally, portion control is a quick fix that improves your quality of life and may help you avoid bingeing.