Understanding Portion Control
No matter what you do to lose weight, whether it’s altering your diet or exercising regularly, there might not be anything more effective than portion control. After all, it’s not just what you eat that contributes to weight gain. It’s just as much a matter of how much you eat. Overeating isn’t only unhealthy, it’s a big part of what causes people to become overweight.
There are several things you can do to promote portion control, and it’s important to understand what it is about portions that causes a person to gain weight.
What Happens When Overeating
There’s a reason that eating too much causes weight gain, and it doesn’t just have to do with calories.
“When we overeat our stomach capacity stretches and eventually (and quickly) becomes used to eating more — in fact, it expects it,” nutritionist Pip Reed said. “Eating more leads to training your body to consume and expect excess calories which it can’t use, inadvertently leading to weight gain as the excess energy is stored as fat.”
Calories are an important factor, however. Bigger portions mean more calories, which causes overeating and ultimately weight gain.
“Consider the fact that a sedentary woman needs approximately 1,800 calories to maintain her body weight while a typical fast food meal easily contains over 1,000 calories. Some meals provide more than a day’s worth of calories,” Kat Barefield MS, RD, said.
“Sit-down restaurants are notorious for serving large portions of high-calorie foods, which is why many nutritionists advise splitting a meal with a friend or taking half of it home. Another way to use portion control is to avoid eating out of packages and in-front of the TV. In both cases, research shows you’ll eat more. Instead, take food out of the package first and enjoy every bite while you’re free from distractions.”
Tips and Tricks
There are several tips and tricks to follow that can seriously help with maintaining proper portion control and ultimately lose weight more efficiently. One very simple way to practice portion control is to eat off a smaller plate.
Consider, especially, restaurant portions. These days, the portion size for take out or restaurant food is absolutely massive. And with many people being taught at an early age to finish their plates, it’s very easy to wind up overeating.
“Start by reducing the size of the plate you use for serving as we eat first with our eyes, and this is an easy way to trick your brain into thinking it is having enough,” Reed said. Investing in smaller plates can be a seriously smart way to eat smaller portions without having to feel like you’re doing it.
Another important step you can take in practicing in portion control is eating certain kinds of foods and striking a balance.
“When it comes to lunch and dinner, the best guide is to fill your plate half with non-starchy veggies or salad, one-quarter with whole grains and one-quarter with lean meats or alternatives,” dietitian Jemma O’Hanlon said.
“Non-starchy veggies such as carrots, broccoli, capsicum, zucchini, eggplant, green beans and cauliflower are a fantastic source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber and help fill us up with very little kilo joules. If you want to reduce your portions without feeling deprived, the best advice I can give is to always top up your plate with non-starchy veggies.”
A food diary is a great way to count calories and monitor your portion control, and using a food scale to measure your portions is essential. It’s very easy to think that correct portion sizes should be bigger than the actually are. Sometimes, actual healthy portions appear much smaller than you might expect. For this reason, investing in a scale and counting your calories in an app or using an online food diary can go a long way.
No matter what you do to lose weight, maintaining the proper portions is absolutely crucial. Balance portion control with proper diet and an exercise routine, and the pounds will come off in no time.