Portion control can help you achieve permanent weight loss, and it is a very effective way to lose weight safely and keep it off.
These days there are hundreds of websites and media outlets that boast dieting strategies that help you to lose weight fast. Not only can you lose weight fast, but you can also do so without exercising and without much effort.
How effective are these strategies?
Not so much, most of the time they are not sustainable, and once people abandon these fad diets (and they always do) they regain weight they may have lost and then some.
This is a phenomenon known as yo-yo dieting or weight cycling, where dieters jump from one diet to another because they never reach or maintain a healthy weight.
It is important to understand the correct way to lose weight, which will be both good for your health and allow you to reach your weight loss goal and maintain it over a lifetime. Sustaining weight loss is actually the largest predictor of weight loss success.
The only method that proves this possible is by making lifestyle habit changes to include eating a sensible and healthy diet.
There are several component of healthy weight loss, and portion control is key.
The Importance of A Healthy Weight
Before we discuss how to get there, we must understand the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. There are hundreds of benefits to maintaining a healthy weight. However, these benefits can be broken down into a few categories.
These categories include benefits to your current physical health, your emotional health, and your future health. It is crucial to understand the reasoning behind your weight loss goal in order to reach it. If you understand your needs, you will do whatever it takes to get there.
Current Physical Health
Your current physical health may be suffering due to your weight.
- Are you tired a lot?
- Do you find yourself having difficulty staying energized throughout the day or getting out of bed in the morning?
- Have you been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes?
- Does your everyday performance suffer?
- Do you have high blood pressure?
- Do you have high LDL cholesterol, how about low HDL cholesterol, or high triglycerides
- Has your doctor told you are at risk for heart disease?
- Do your joints ache or do you have body pain?
- Is your quality of life low?
Your weight, eating habits, and your current physical activity level are all factors in your overall health.
Our emotional health also directly affects our ability to function and to press on when things get tough. According to the Centers For Disease Control, mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other disorders are linked to and serious consequences of obesity.
Low self-esteem, and lack of confidence related to overweight or obesity can greatly impair quality of life, social relationships and may lead to loneliness and isolation.
Your Future Health
Your future health depends on your current health. As stated, eating healthy and getting active can improve your current health. This will in turn create a positive outlook on your future health.
According to the Centers For Disease Control, even a loss of only 10% of your bodyweight can greatly reduce your risks for heart disease.
Just what exactly does obesity and weight gain do to your body over time?
According to Stanford Health, obesity-related conditions incur more than 150 billion dollars in medical costs and are complicit in about 300,000 premature deaths.
Health Risks of Obesity
- High-blood pressure or hypertension – A chronic medical condition in which the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high.
- Type 2 Diabetes – An obesity related condition that causes insulin resistance in the blood stream, presented by elevated blood sugar levels. Complications of this chronic condition are numerous, including heart disease, and nerve damage, just to name two.
- Heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women in the United States, and is mostly caused by lifestyle choices.
- Joint problems – Obesity causes great strain on the joints.
- Sleep apnea is a condition that causes people to stop breathing during sleep, and snoring. These types of respiratory problems are associated with obesity and occur because extra weight on the chest squeezes the lungs to cause restricted breathing.
- Cancer – Women who are overweight at a higher risk for breast, colon, gallbladder, and uterine cancers. In men, overweight and obesity elevates risks for prostate and color cancers.
- Metabolic syndrome – Metabolic syndrome consists of six major conditions and elements, including belly fact, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, insulin resistance with or without glucose intolerance, and increased clotting factors in the blood.
As you can see, the risks and the future ailments are many. However, these can be stopped in their tracks when you lose weight.
According to the Centers For Disease Control, 1/3 of US adults are obese and therefore many people are concerned with losing weight, but they invariably fall victim to yo-yo dieting, which poses several issues, not the least of which is their inability to keep the weight off for the long- term.
Yo-Yo Dieting Pitfalls
Weight cycling or yo-yo dieting can be described as the repeated loss and regain of body weight.
These weight cycles range from smaller losses of weight to larger gains of weight over a certain period of time.
Weight cycling can be an effect of various diet techniques such as crash diets and “fast and quick” fad diets.
These diets cause you to lose a certain amount of weight fast, only to gain it back and then some once the diet is over. Instead of a lifestyle change, you are dieting in cycles, losing and regaining the same weight or more.
The reason the fad diets never yield lasting results is they fail to implement any type of lasting habit changes, so once one returns to eating as usual, the weight comes back.
Here are some examples of these crash diets
- Baby food diet – States that baby food should replace full meals in order to lose weight fast.
- Cookie diet – Specially designed “cookies” are given to replace meals throughout the day.
- Cabbage Soup Diet – A special cabbage soup is eaten and nothing else for several days
- And many more
These diets claim quick results. You can skip meals, lose weight fast, and perhaps even eat cookies all day to get there. In fact, these diets are causing weight cycles that can be damaging to your physical and mental health.
MedicineNet states, “Some studies suggest that weight cycling may increase the risk for certain health problems. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and gallbladder disease.”
To avoid this never ending and vicious cycle and the negative effects of yo-yo dieting, it’s important instead to focus on making profound lifestyle and diet habit changes, and forget the “dieting” scheme altogether.
What is the way to do that effectively?
Portion control of course!
What Does Portion Control Mean
Portion control can be described as simply gauging your portions to match your exact needs instead of overeating in any single meal.
Portion control is controlling the amount of food that you eat in a sitting in order to give your body the proper nutrients while satisfying hunger.
For the most part, many people eat much more food than they need in one sitting and subsequently in one day.
Any extra calories consumed that are not burned off will turn to fat; it’s as simple as that.
The formula that supports, promotes and yields permanent weight loss is calories in/calories out.
This simply means that you eat less calories than you burn each day to create a deficit.
The Caloric Intake Formula
One pound equals 3500 calories
- When you reduce your daily diet by 500 calories, you will lose one pound a week.
- When you reduce your daily diet by 1000 calories, you will two pounds a week.
It is best to use an online calorie calculator to calculate how many calories you actually need to lose and maintain your weight, as that formulation will be based on your weight, age AND activity level. The more active you are, the more calories you can have to create a deficit.
Portion control allows you to control caloric intake, without having to count calories. It takes a little training and practice, but it can change the way you eat and therefore change your entire lifestyle for the better to allow you to lose weight and keep it off!
Instead of another “diet,” you are changing your habits, which greatly tip the scales towards reaching your goal weight and keeping it off.
Portion Control For Smart Weight Loss
A 2004 study that included 329 overweight people found that 38% of the subjects who practiced portion control over a two- year time span, lost 5% or more of body weight as compared to the 33% who did not mange portions and gained 5% or more.
Most people do not realize how little food it takes to feel satisfied.
Notice the term satisfied, not full.
Eating to fullness usually means you ate too much food, and that extra will only turn to fat inside the body.
There are various ways in which managing portions benefits your weight loss efforts, and unlike the endless fad and commercial diets, it allows you to achieve permanent weight loss by making profound eating habit changes that can actually last.
No More Binge Eating
When you begin to eat smaller portions, you are training your stomach to be happy with less food, so you don’t have to worry that you will feel starved.
Have you ever binged on pasta? With binging, comes a very uncomfortably full feeling afterwards.
When you smaller portions at each sitting, you improve digestion and avoid placing an undue strain on your digestive system, which reduces occurrences of bloatness, cramping, and stomach pains.
Avoiding Blood Sugar Spikes
Overeating leads to unhealthy shifts in blood glucose levels. Whenever you eat, glucose is produced in the blood, the larger your portions, the more glucose levels rise, but eating smaller portions helps keep your blood sugar stable, supporting a healthy weight and reducing risks for type 2 diabetes.
Feel Full Longer
When you train your stomach to eat smaller portions you will not be tempted to over eat. You will feel satisfied with less food, create a calorie deficit that supports permanent weight loss and setting a habit that can keep that weight off.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
All of these things can aid you in the most important benefit of all, which is maintaining a healthy weight.
All of these are benefits of portion control.
As you can see, portion control plays an important role in healthy weight loss.
Through maintaining healthy portions, you can lose weight without giving up important food groups that your body needs.
You can also train your body to eat properly instead of crash dieting to lose a couple pounds at a time only to regain ten.
Through portion control, you can change your lifestyle instead of just changing your life for a moment.
Serving Size vs. Portion Size
Labels can be tricky; usually the serving size listed on the nutritional label does not coincide with your needed portion size.
A portion is how much food you eat at one time. When a label states a serving size it can often be much more food than you should eat at one time.
For example, 1 cup of macaroni and cheese may be one
serving on the box, but that is much more than should be eaten in one portion.
The same is true for cereal, meats, chicken fish, and other foods.
The main difference between the two is what you need according to your calorie intake.
For example, three ounces of meat is a serving size. However, the portion that you consume may be six ounces due to your activity level and your caloric intake.
10 Ways To Control Portions
Now that you know the importance of portion control, what can you do to control your portions? At first, it can seem a little bit daunting. However, there are simple ways to help control your portions that you may not have even thought of. With time, and practice you will set the habit, and it will become second nature.
Use Small Plates
This may be one of the simplest ways to control your portions. Grab a smaller plate when eating meals at home. Instead of using a large dinner plate, use a 6” plate.
Once you eat what is on that plate, be done. The small plate can trick your brain into thinking you have consumed more food than you actually have and is therefore mentally satisfying so you can continue with getting your body used to smaller portions.
Portion Control Plates
You can purchase portion control plates that have separate sections for different food groups in appropriate sized portions.
Weigh and Measure Your Portions
If you have the time, you can weigh your portions. For example, you can weigh three ounces of meat, which is the Department of Health and Human Services average. You can do so before you cook or prepare it. You can also use measuring cups and spoons to dole out different types of food.
Use Your Hands
One of the simplest ways to manage portions and avoid having to measure, weigh or count calories is to simply use your hands.
Use this graphic to make your plate, and you will be well on your way to permanent weight loss.
Another simple way to control your portions and save money is to meal plan. Start on Sunday and create a menu for the week. Go grocery shopping for everything you need and pre-prep as much as possible and stick to your plan.
Share Your Plate
Are you going out for dinner? Most restaurants serve double, triple, and even four times a healthy serving size amount.
When you go out, share a meal with someone, or order an appetizer instead of a main dish. If you do order a main dish, eat only 1/4 of it, and take the rest home to make several more small meals.
Listen To Your Body
This is important. Listen to your body to understand when you have had enough to eat. Science says that it takes twenty minutes for you to feel full. Eat slowly and give your brain time to register satiety.
Keep in mind that you should feel satisfied instead of stuffed. This is often a foreign concept in our super-size world, but feeling satisfied means eating just enough food to satsify hunger, feeling stuffed, gorged, or sick after eating always means you ate too much.
Practice mindful eating and pay attention to every bite, and your body reacts.
Don’t Skip Meals
Whatever you do, do not skip meals. When you skip meals you become famished, which always results in eating too much and binge eating at the next opportunity. Feeling famished also makes it very difficult to make mindful eating choices.
Eat Every 3 Hours
Eat a small meal every three hours instead of three large meals, this helps boost metabolism, keeps the blood sugar stable, and prevents out of cravings and binge eating. Unless you are doing Intermittent fasting or following a keto diet, on these diet your blood sugar gets highly regulated so you won’t need to eat often.
Take your time when you eat. In our hectic modern world, we are always on the run, wolfing down burgers between one errand and another.
Portion control means that you will be eating less food, so it is important to sit down at every meal possible and really enjoy and be mindful of every bite.
Mindful eating also allows you to remember the meal, and what you ate, which is psychologically satisfying.
Eating slowly can also aid in digestion and allow you to register satisfaction, considering the twenty-minute rule.
There are many creative ways to control your portion sizes. Controlling your portion sizes allows you to healthily maintain your weight without the yo-yo dieting nonsense.
The importance of a healthy weight includes benefits to your current physical health, your emotional health, and your future health.
You can avoid the yo-yo dieting trap by eating properly and being in control of your decisions, and by making healthy changes to your unhealthy habits you can lose all that weight and keep it off for a lifetime!