As far as dieting goes, one thing that seems to be consistent across the board on several different philosophies is the importance of portion sizes. However, this can vary greatly depending on the person: age, activity level, hormonal stage, size, etc. You may have been able to get away with something in your teens or 20s that no longer flies in your 30s and 40s. I’m right there with you if this rings a bell.
Most people who come to me think they have portion-control issues. And usually, this is a quick fix by following a real food program. But here’s the kicker: quality of food matters, too! Have you ever noticed it’s easier to overeat if you’re eating out or eating foods that are highly processed? This is reflective of the addictive nature of chemically enhanced foods. Unfortunately, they are designed to be overeaten. So not only can you fall into the downward spiral of less nutrient-dense foods, but it also makes portion control a lot harder. Doable, but harder. Let’s just say it’s doubly important to follow the chart below when you aren’t using high-quality ingredients.
Long-term intake of chemically processed foods can lead to an assortment of diseases, but it’s also incredibly hard to manage a healthy weight with this approach. Not only will you feel more fatigue, but the motivation to exercise will be more challenging too. You know the pattern. Not to mention, it can have a direct impact on your metabolic rate too. Believe it or not, you can fix all of this just by shifting your thinking and swapping out your ingredients for real food.
When you’re consuming high-fiber, colorful, macro-balanced meals, portion sizes are a pretty intuitive process. You won’t need to measure because your stomach consumes food much more slowly with these “bulky” foods, and it’s really hard to overeat.
I’m not much of a rule person—I encourage more of a guideline approach—but when you’re just starting out, rules can be a good thing.
Here are my rules for improving your own portion sizes:
• Eat your breakfast or first meal within the hour of waking up.
• Eat every four hours after that.
• Keep your meal sizes consistent.
• Always combine your macronutrients: carbs, fat, and protein, and ideally 50% carbs, 30% fat, and 20% protein.
• Include colorful fruits and vegetables in every meal. Shoot for five colors a day.
• Increase water intake to 80 ounces a day.
When you’re able to apply these concepts to your daily eating, measuring out portion sizes becomes less important. We know it’s not always possible to commit to these daily practices, so use this guide to help improve your portion control:
This guide applies to every meal: breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. But keep in mind that days you are more active, you may need increased portion sizes. If that’s the case, try to increase all three macros in each meal.
By practicing portion control, you will likely improve your metabolism, be able to manage your weight and caloric intake, as well as decrease your fat storage. This will improve your body’s ability to metabolize food and help to increase your energy levels too.