Super-sizing, big portions, and big plates are the “in” way of eating.
Our understanding of what is an acceptable portion of food has become…well, has become warped. And in some cases, it’s become a code of honor to see who can eat the 24 oz Rib Eye Steak, the Quadruple Bacon Burger, or the 16″ Meat Lover’s Pizza (by themselves). Portions in America’s homes and restaurants have doubled or tripled in just the last 20 years according to National Institutes of Health (NIH). It’s no wonder our waistlines are drastically increasing along with them. When your goal is to lose fat, it’s critical to take the extra steps to weigh and measure what you eat. Small increases in foods at each meal can add up quickly over the course of a day.
Sound like too much work?
Not really, because the GOOD NEWS is: once you take the extra steps to carefully weigh and measure for a week or so, your understanding of proper portion sizes will become second nature, and you’ll be able to set aside the measuring tools.
Tools of the Trade
Although pre-packaged foods provide calories per serving figures, it can be a little more difficult when consuming fresh proteins, starches, vegetables, and fruits. To truly prepare proper serving sizes, you must become familiar with what serving sizes actually look like. Consider educating yourself about serving sizes at each meal by weighing and measuring. Here are some tools to help you:
The Food Scale can be your new best buddy along your fat loss journey. Consider this: 1 ounce of lean chicken (i.e., protein) is about 40-45 calories. So, if you are trying to keep your total calories for your Dinner at 350 calories, going the extra step to measure out 3 ounces of protein will give you room to add a boatload of nutrient rich veggies, a starch, and a drizzle of fat.
Use a Measuring Cup to measure dry foods, especially those that are much denser in calories, such as nuts, grains, and starches.
Measuring Spoons are important when cooking with oils! One teaspoon of oil (olive oil, canola or other) equals about 40 calories. So, when you’re cooking and coating your pans, be cautious not to overdo it when pouring in the oil. Who wants to put 120 calories (3 teaspoons!!) in the pan before you even put in the food!?!
Think about taking that extra step to measure liquids (like milk in your coffee or cereal) with a Liquid Measuring Cup. Two fluid ounces of Milk (2%) is 30 calories — creamers and half-and-half dairy products are more. If you’re having 2 cups of coffee each day, each with 2 ounces of milk– you’re adding 60 calories!
So, you’re out at a restaurant, family picnic, tailgate or other places where weighing or measuring your foods just isn’t an option — what should you do? Remember to control your “portions of food.” With the simple palm size/hand size tactics below:
Proteins could make up about 25% of your plate (or a Palm Size serving)
Starches (such as potatoes and rice) could make up 25% of your plate (or a Palm Size serving)
Veggies could make up the remaining 50% of your plate (or a Hand Size serving)
Fruits (if you’re adding them to your meal as a dessert) could be a Palm Size Serving
Here’s a photo showing some favorable portions of a healthy Lunch or Dinner:
Example Calorie Breakdowns
Below we’ve provided sample meal breakdowns for an 1800 calorie daily meal plan (generally male) and a 1400 calorie daily meal plan (generally female):
No doubt about it…losing body fat is tough. There is no magic pill or quick fix for long-term, sustainable fat loss. It does take long-term discipline and a lifestyle change. Weighing and measuring your food is a great way to start understanding your intake.
Do it for a week or two…and see what happens.
You’ll become a “Portion Pro!”
You can do it…and you’ll be happy you did!!
Week 16 Quiz:
1) Two fluid ounces of 2% milk equal approximately 30 calories:
2) A good rule of thumb for vegetable consumption is: a) veggies should cover 1/2 of your plate b) veggies should be rarely consumed c) veggies should be loaded with butter and margarine d) veggies should cover only 1/4 of your plate
3) Measuring and weighing your food intake for a week or so could realistically result in a second nature understanding of portion sizes: a) True b) False
4) Which of the following are ideal portions of a healthy meal? a) lean protein could take up 1/4 of your plate b) non-processed starches could take up 1/4 of your plate c) fruit can be used as dessert and could be approximately palm size d) all of the above
Once you've taken the quiz, click here to see how you did.