Portion Control For Weight Loss: How To Do It Right

portion control for weight loss

Last Updated on August 27, 2021 by Femniqe Editorial


Portion control works very well when done properly.

In this quick guide, let’s dive into how you should approach it for maximum results.

What is portion control?

Portion control is the disciplined practice of eating only a limited amount of food.

Portion size plays a significant role in weight management and obesity prevention. It can also play an important role for anyone who has to manage his or her weight due to health reasons, such as hypertension, diabetes or high cholesterol levels.

For example, someone whose body mass index (BMI) places him or her over 30 should consider portion control while losing weight.

Keep in mind that one cup may not be equal to one cup from another company.

Always measure your portions using a measuring cup when you are using packaged meals or other products that come in single serving containers.

How To Determine Portion Size?

To determine portion size, use your hand as a guide.

For example, if you are deciding between 2 types of fruit juice – one that comes in 8-ounce container and another that comes in 16-ounce container – the smaller serving would be the best choice for weight loss dieters.

You can also apply this method to other food items like pasta, rice or cereals.

If you measure what you eat using your hands instead of relying on eye measurements or cups, your risk of overeating will decrease dramatically!

This method is not just part of a fad diet or some temporary fix; it is something you can practice every day.

And it works because the human brain responds to visual cues better than abstract numbers.

It is very important to remember that you should eat enough food each day, and not “diet” yourself into starvation mode.

Starvation will make your metabolism slow down which may cause you to gain weight once you start eating normally again. To avoid putting your body in starvation mode it is a good idea to follow the portion control diet on days when you exercise less than usual or skip workouts altogether.

This way you prevent your body from slowing down and burning fewer calories.

So if eye measurements are really off mark, does that mean dieters can forget about counting calories?

Not necessarily!

Studies have shown that using portions as a guideline for calorie intake can be useful for people who want to lose 5-10% of their total body weight.

If you try to lose more than that, counting calories becomes even more important. Additionally, if you are recovering from anorexia or bulimia, which often involve a distorted perception of normal portion sizes, it is especially important to rely on measuring cups for determining meal size.

How Can Portion Control Help You Lose Weight?

One very simple way to achieve and maintain your ideal weight is by eating the right amount of food – this means choosing food items with lower calories and smaller portions.

When served in larger quantities, most high-calorie foods tend to contain fewer nutrients per calorie; therefore, having a smaller serving size will enable you to get the essential nutrients your body needs while still limiting how many calories you ingest each day.

2 Methods For Portion Control

Basically, there are two ways of using portion control for weight loss and overall health improvement: The first approach is to use the visual cue method mentioned above.

Simply translate your serving size into a number that the brain can relate to, rather than trying to memorize abstract caloric numbers.

A general guideline would be 20 grams per 1 ounce (for fruit), 25-50 grams per cup for grains, 120 ml or half cup for liquids and 31-35 grams per tablespoon as well as approximately 70 calories per slice in case of breads which makes it easier to follow a daily calorie budget without getting confused or frustrated by counting calories all day long.

The second approach involves educating yourself on the most common nutritional values of food items. To help you with this, listed below are some general portions sizes for various types of foods:

  • 1/3 cup cooked or 1-ounce raw portion is equal to about 50 calories. Your breakfast cereal should have no more than 130 calories per serving.
  • 2 pieces of sushi is roughly equivalent to one meal and should consist around 110-130 calories.
  • If you choose a snack such as a chocolate candy bar (37 grams), 10 jelly beans (6 grams) or 15 gummy bears (25 grams), it would be smart if your total daily intake does not exceed 230 calories at most.
  • 2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) cooked pasta or rice is about the same as a medium bagel. That’s why when choosing your serving size you should keep in mind that one average bagel contains about 250 calories.
  • 1 cup of soup or stew can be around 150 calories, but if it contains cheese, cream, butter and other high-calorie ingredients, then its actual calorie content will be greater than this amount.
  • 3 ounces of turkey (about the size of a deck of cards) has approximately 90 calories; the same size portion of cod (without its skin) has 110 calories; 3 ounces of chicken breast (the size of a palm) has about 120 calories, etc.
  • 7 ounces of lean ground beef (or tofu) is equal to the amount found in one hamburger patty – it contains between 240-260 calories.
  • 1/2 cup of cooked or raw carrots or green beans would be around 50-70 calories; 1 apple (3 inches) would be roughly 80 calories; 1/4 head of lettuce has about 8 calories; half a small potato / sweet potato (100 grams) equals about 200 calories; 1 banana (8″) equals approximately 100-120 calories and so on.
  • A glass of skim milk or soy milk is roughly equivalent to 150 ml or half a cup which means that each serving should contain no more than about 100 calories.

There are some other foods that can also be included into your daily meal plans if you want to have healthy portion control: nuts (no more than 10-12 almonds, 4-5 peanuts, etc.), olives and pickles.

Please remember this – all these values need to be converted into actual food portions.

In case you need an easy way to measure your food intake for the whole day or just want some guidelines on how much of what do eat, here is a simple formula:

Make sure that 40% of your diet consists of complex carbohydrates, 30% should be lean proteins (lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs), 25% should be fat sources (nuts and seeds; vegetable oils; fish and seafood; avocados / guacamole, etc.) and 5% should be non-caloric beverages (water, coffee, tea).


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