Trainer Tip: Portion Control for Weight Loss or Maintenance

Do you know how many calories you consume on a daily basis? Most people don’t know that they’re consuming far more calories than they realize. As Americans, we tend to eat with our eyes. It tends to be a sense of happiness and satisfaction to see good looking food on our plates. We always say, “The more the better.”  For example, how many times have you gone out to eat at a buffet and kept adding more to your plate? When did you say enough is enough? Most likely your answer is, “I didn’t say no until I was stuffed like a turkey.”

Anyone who knows me knows that I do not believe in diets. I believe in a healthy lifestyle. The word “diet” can be interpreted as depriving oneself of a certain food. We all know that we need carbs, fats, and proteins in our daily diet. The secret to a healthy lifestyle when it comes to food is a well-balanced meal consisting of healthy food in controlled portions or standardized servings.

Standardized serving sizes help consumers, health professionals, and food manufacturers find a common terminology for food portions. Although serving sizes are “standardized”, individual portion sizes will vary because people have different caloric requirements. Portion size also depends on a person’s specific weight management goals and health needs. For example, pregnant and breastfeeding women may require larger portions of food than do women who are not pregnant or nursing. Portion sizes and overall dietary requirements depend on several factors, including activity level. For example, an inactive person may only need three-quarters to one cup of cereal in the morning, which is the usual serving size of most cereal varieties. But someone who runs several miles a day or who engages in other forms of aerobic exercise may need two or three standard serving sizes.

What’s a portion size? According to the American Dietetic Association, you can use the following “models” to approximate portion sizes:

  • A deck of playing cards = one serving (3 oz.) of meat, poultry, or fish (can also use the palm of a woman’s hand or a computer mouse)
  • Half a baseball = one serving (1/2 cup) of fruit, vegetables, pasta, or rice (can also use a small fist)
  • Your thumb = one serving (1 oz.) of cheese
  • A handful equal to the size of a tennis ball = one serving (1 cup) of yogurt or chopped fresh greens

Recommendations when at home:

  • Take time to “eyeball” the serving sizes of your favorite foods (using some of the models listed above).
  • Measure out single servings onto your plates and bowls, and remember what they look like. Figure out how many servings should make up your personal portion, depending upon whether you need to lose, gain, or maintain weight.
  • Avoid serving food “family style.” Serve up plates with appropriate portions and don’t go back for seconds.
  • Never eat out of the bag or carton.

Recommendations when eating out:

  • Ask for half portions.
  • Eyeball your appropriate portion, set the rest aside, and ask for a to-go container right away.
  • If you order dessert, share it or choose a healthier option like fruit.

*If you are unsure about your personal nutrition requirements, seek the advice of a registered dietitian (RD). These professionals can create individual menus and food plans that are suited to your specific weight management and overall health goals. Many of our gyms have certified LiveRite diet coaches who can help you. Ask us at the front desk.

Trainer Tip by Christina Perez.

Lucille Roberts Staff

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