Portion Control: Save Calories with One Change
by Jari Love
In a world overrun by crazy restrictive diets, miserable juice plans, and weight loss pills, it’s easy to forget about one simple concept: portion control. But new research shows that making this one change—or paying more attention to how much you eat rather than what you eat (or don’t eat)—is the gold standard if you want to lose weight. In fact, scientists at Cambridge University in the UK have found that cutting back on serving size alone can help Americans eat an average of 527 fewer calories per day, resulting in a weight loss of one pound per week, all from by reducing portion size.
How does this happen? Researchers crunched the numbers on more than 60 studies on food intake to find that the bigger portion sizes that are now so commonplace in our society have caused us all to eat more, regardless of our gender, hunger levels, how thin or fat we are, or amount of self-reported willpower. In particular, they found that supersized portions can add more than 500 calories to each of our plates every day, which has only helped to make us fatter… and fatter.
“The message is that, however it happens, reducing the amounts of food that end up in front of us in the first place is key [to weight loss],” says Gareth Hollands, PhD, senior research associate at Cambridge University School of Clinical Medicine and coauthor of the paper.
But there’s one big problem: The first and only step of portion control—eat less—is notoriously difficult to do. So how do you accomplish the feat? Here are the top meal-reshaping, fat-blasting tips from Lisa Young, PhD, author of The Portion Teller.
- Forget about portions when you eat out, because restaurants are notorious for serving oversize meals. Resolve before you even walk into a restaurant to split an entrée, supplementing with a salad or veggie side dish. Avoid all-you-can-eat deals like the plague, and wait to have your cocktail until after your meal, since alcohol is proven to trigger overeating.
- Downsize your plates and glasses to smaller tableware, which will go a long way in reducing how much food ends up on your plate.
- Most of us, even the healthiest, weight-conscientious of eaters, are serving ourselves WAY too much food, without even realizing it.
- Fill half your plate with low-calorie, fiber-rich fruits and veggies that aren’t dripping in butter or cream sauce (herbs and spices are your friends!), using one-quarter of your plate for a lean protein and the final quarter for sweet potatoes or a whole grain like brown rice.
- Plate your meal in the kitchen and keep serving dishes there so that you’re forced to get up for seconds rather than reach across the table.
Jari Love – original creator of Get RIPPED! DVD series and group exercise classes. The hot-selling and critically acclaimed Get RIPPED! series enables individuals of any fitness level to burn up to three times more calories than the traditional weight-training program, and has received rave reviews from fitness critics throughout North America since the first title debuted in late 2005.