Portion Control: Simple Ways to Cut Calories for Weight Loss

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Portion control is more than just an important part of meal planning, it’s also essential to losing weight. In order to lose weight you must create a calorie deficit, meaning that you must burn more calories than you consume. Learning what is the correct amount or knowing how much to consume is easier when food has a label that indicates serving sizes, and has nutrition information. But what can you do to measure out the proper portions when you don’t have a label? Here are some easy tricks you can use to help you achieve your weight loss goals without any labels.

Estimate- Serving sizes can be eye-balled using common household items like a deck of playing cards (3 oz of meat, 1 serving), or a tennis ball (1 cup). Measure out one cup of dry ingredients like flour, and find something around the same size so you can estimate your portions on-the-go. Try a to-go coffee cup lid, a cup holder or egg carton.

Find Portion Controlled Containers- Grabbing an extra cup at the gas station to keep in the car is a great way to keep your hand out of a bag of munchies like chips or crackers. Limit yourself to one cup of these foods, to stay on the path to weight loss.

Half Your Plate- When eating out split a meal with your companion or have the waiter divide your portion and place the other half in a to-go box for later. Sip on water after your meal and allow your body time to realize that you’re full. Portions at most restaurants are generally oversized and it can be too easy to overeat with the entire plate in front of you.

Pre-Meal Munch- Instead of bread or having a creamy appetizer like dips, and spreads go for a plate of low-calorie vegetables to snack on while you wait for your meal. Limit the amount of dressing you use, and always go for a healthy option like a light vinaigrette on the side, over something high in fat like ranch or blue cheese. Eating before a meal can offer a fuller feeling before you eat without adding many calories.

For more great tips on portion control, watch this short video:

Follow these general guidelines for measuring foods:

Hand Measuring Tools

  • 1 baked potato = fist
  • 1 ounce of chips or pretzels = 2 handfuls
  • 1 ounce of nuts = thumb
  • 1 serving of fat (butter) = thumb
  • 3 ounces of meat (one serving) = palm
  • 1 serving of vegetable = 1 handful

Visual Measuring Tools

  • 2 tbsp peanut butter = ping pong ball
  • 3 ounces of cooked meat = deck of cards
  • 1 piece of cornbread = bar of soap
  • 1 serving of bread = one slice
  • ½ cup cooked broccoli = scoop of ice cream
  • 1½ ounces of cheese = 3 dominoes
  • Medium piece of fruit = baseball
  • 1 ounce of cheese = 4 dice
  • ½ bagel = hockey puck