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How do I Eat Smaller Portions to Lose Weight?

author image Jennifer Sukalo
A writer since 2007, Jennifer Sukalo has been an educator and presenter in the health and wellness industry since 1989. She has written for Rodale Inc. online and contributed to "Prevention" magazine. Sukalo is a Certified Health Education Specialist and holds a Master of Science in exercise and wellness from Arizona State University.
How do I Eat Smaller Portions to Lose Weight?
A food scale can help you learn portion size. Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

In the world of super-sizing, proper food portioning has become a complete mystery. Understanding how your body works and learning how to properly portion your food can help you to develop healthy lifestyle habits and win the weight battle for good. Your body responds to an energy equation; energy intake in the form of calories from food and drink, and energy output in the form of calories expended during activity. Controlling the portion size of the food you eat is one way to shift the energy balance in your favor and help you to lose weight.


In order to lose weight, you must alter the balance of the energy equation; your energy intake must be less than your energy output. However, you must also fuel the engine of the body, your metabolism, and ensure that it has constant fuel in order to run at optimum performance. The more active you are, the more fuel your body requires and the more calories you need on the intake side of the equation.


Determine your daily caloric intake needs based on your sex, age, height, weight, activity level and amount of weight you wish to lose. Sites such as myplate on LIVESTRONG.com or MyPyramid.gov can help. Next, divide your daily caloric intake into smaller portions so that you consume your needed calories throughout the day. For example, if your required daily caloric intake is 2,500 calories, then divide by five and you have five meals at approximately 500 calories each.


Learning to eyeball serving sizes is incredibly helpful in keeping your portions in check. A one ounce serving of cheese is about the size of four dice. A half cup serving of whole grains such as brown rice or whole grain pasta is similar to the size of half a baseball. A three ounce serving of lean meat is the size of a deck of cards. A serving of fruits or vegetables is about the size of your fist.


Combine appropriate portion sizes into healthy balanced meals to ensure nutrient variety and quality. An approximate 500 calorie meal might look like this: one apple diced, one cup of nonfat plain Greek yogurt, two tablespoons of honey, and one ounce of sliced raw almonds. Another example is: one egg, two egg whites, two slices light whole grain toast, two slices turkey bacon, and one slice of 2 percent or light Swiss cheese.


Spreading out your daily caloric intake into smaller meals eaten more frequently during the day stabilizes your blood sugar levels, maintains energy levels, and improves the performance and efficiency of your metabolism. You will be teaching your body that it is all right to let go of your fat stores since you will be readily supplying your metabolism with fuel. Your metabolism will kick into high gear and you will feel more energized and alert.


The biggest misconception people have when trying to lose weight is thinking that the less they eat the better. When your daily caloric intake is too small, your body goes into starvation mode. Instead of decreasing fat and losing weight, your body stubbornly holds onto stored fat. When the body has an adequate source of nutrient rich fuel in the form of food, it will readily release and use stored fat, which helps you lose weight.


These additional tips will get you started on smaller portions. Cut your normal portions in half and split them into two meals. If you have a bagel in the morning, have half for breakfast and the other for a snack. Buy a kitchen scale and start weighing your food. The extra effort pays big dividends. Eating smaller portions of nutrient-rich food can become a lasting healthy lifestyle habit and help you finally win the weight loss battle.

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