Portion control is an important part of a successful weight loss plan. In fact, in a 2004 study in Obesity Research, women who consumed two portion-controlled frozen meals per day for eight weeks lost more weight than did women on a self-selected diet. The portion control group lost an average of 5.6 kilograms during the study period, whereas those in the self-selected group lost only 3.6 kilograms. This is the equivalent of losing 12.32 pounds versus 7.92 pounds.
If you want to experience the same weight loss success, it is important to keep your food portions in check. Here, learn about five ways to make portion control easier, and you will be well on your way to achieving your health and fitness goals.
Invest in Some Measuring Cups
It may be a pain to measure out portions of food, but taking the time to do so will prevent you from over-eating, as people tend to serve themselves more than the recommended serving size. In a 2015 study in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia, both adults and children served themselves portions of food that exceeded the recommended serving size. This was especially true for pasta, where participants served themselves portions that were, on average, 55 percent larger than the recommended serving size. To keep your portion sizes under control, stock your kitchen with measuring cups and spoons, and measure out portions of foods like pasta, cereal, cheese, and peanut butter, until you learn to eyeball what constitutes a proper serving size.
Use Smaller Serving Bowls
Whether you’re hosting a party or simply serving a family dinner, you can reduce your portion sizes by using smaller serving bowls. In a 2005 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, participants who served themselves snacks from large bowls consumed 142 calories more than did those taking food from medium-sized bowls. Forego the super-sized bowls, and serve your spaghetti dinner out of a more modestly-sized dish, and you might just find that your portion is more diet-friendly.
Choose Pre-Portioned Foods
You can find single-serving portions of everything from cereal, to snack foods, to frozen dinners at the grocery store. Choose these pre-portioned packages of foods, and the serving sizes will already be measured out for you! The research has supported this method of eating for calorie control. In a 2009 study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, participants given single-serving packages of applesauce and cereal for breakfast consumed fewer calories than participants who ate non-portioned servings of these foods.
Learn the Tricks to Portion Control
You can teach yourself proper serving sizes of common foods by comparing them to everyday objects, such as a deck of cards. As the authors of a 2010 article in Alive: Canada’s Natural Health and Wellness Magazine have explained, an appropriate portion of meat or fish should be about the size of a deck of cards. A serving of fruit is approximately the size of a tennis ball, and a 9-volt battery is the same size as one serving of block cheese. Use these comparisons to determine the ideal serving size without having to measure an exact portion.
Be Cautious with Snacks
Buying the family size bag of chips or pretzels may be the most economical option, but it isn’t too friendly for your waistline. In a 2004 study in the journal Appetite, subjects consumed more calories when eating chips from larger bags than when eating out of a smaller bag. If you still want to save money with larger bags of chips, measure yourself out a single serving instead of eating directly from the bag. Or, portion individual servings of chips into plastic snack bags as soon as you get home from the store, so you can just grab a proper sized serving when the need for a snack hits.
Sticking to smaller-sized servings of snacks can help you to keep your calorie intake in check. Take advantage of the other strategies discussed here, and you will be well on your way to maintaining proper portion control so you can meet your health and weight loss goals.