Harmonize Fitness
Harmonize Fitness

portion control


Portion control


There are so many strategies you can use to make sure you´re eating the right amount of food, one of those is portion control.

One of the most common fitness goals is weight loss, followed by muscle growth, obesity and overweight is still a huge problem and it´s getting worse. One of the reasons why is because portions are bigger and bigger, companies make bigger portions and they trick you with the small and medium sizes so that you end up buying the bigger one. With this increase in sizes we´ve also increased the amount of food we consume per meal even when we cook at home so having an idea of how much we´re eating and how much we actually need as a great strategy for weight loss.

You may had even try to lose weight before maybe more than once so I´m sure you´ve followed the most common advice “eat less – move more”, I´m sure you´ve also heard about portion control. Some people just get crazy counting calories and they find it easier to stay on track by controlling every portion of food they eat.

From what I´ve seen, this strategy is used more by girls who are losing weight, some guys also follow it for weight loss. This strategy can be used to help you stay on track on your diet by having a clear idea of how much food you can eat for each macronutrient. We all know that if you eat more you´ll gain weight and if you eat less you´ll lose weight. The problem is that since portions nowadays are really big we are completely misguided on how a single portion of each macro looks like. There are different ways you can keep track of portion control when you´re cooking and preparing your meals, one is using your hands as a guide and the other is using your plate. I consider using your hands as the best strategy because there are different sizes of plates and this can create confusion.

To use your hands there are certain guidelines for example: a portion of protein is of the size of your palm for girls, a portion of vegetables would be the size of your fist, for carbohydrates it would be one cupped hand and for fats it would be the size of your thumb. For guys you can go up to double of each. When you´re eating out most people who are following this strategy find it easier to order half of the portion.

For some people even this guidelines can be confusing so getting help from experts is important, nutritionist or dietitians can show you what a portion of each macro looks like, when you´re seeing it in front of you it´s easier for you to get a more clear idea so that you can stay on track.

If you measure this you´ll find out those portions are small considering what you´ve been eating, so when you start a diet and follow this guidelines you can feel hungry almost all the time because you´re eating way less and considering that you are making two changes at the same time it makes things harder. I´m considering you were eating a lot of unhealthy highly processed and fast foods so the first change is avoiding those unhealthy foods and eating healthy ones and the second change is eating less.

When you start this change, if after a couple of weeks you find it really hard to stay on track then you need another strategy that helps you improve your hormones and metabolism to get rid of those cravings and hunger so that it´s easier to lose weight.

For some people strategies like counting calories, points or portion control alone work great to lose weight and keep it off, for others we may need some more strategies that help us improve our health and at the same time lose weight.

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Does portion control work?


I see many people who are not professional athletes and who don´t compete trying to be perfect counting calories, most of them just want to lose weight and get in shape. If the goal is just to get in shape and sustain it, then it´s not necessary to be perfect counting calories or macros. The best tool to use here is portion control.

Having a clear idea of portions will make it easier for us to achieve our goals and we´ll be considering what´s important.

Focusing on the most important things is the best way to achieve our goals and finding ways to make it simple will reduce stress and obsession, portion control is one of those things, as I´ve said before it is better to count macros than to count calories but weighting our food every meal is impossible so a way to get it done is with portion control.

Knowing how a portion size really looks like and getting it accurate is hard at the beginning, most of us are really bad at portion sizes we don´t know how a cup of rice or 4 ounces of meat look like and if we take our plate and take a look thinking on portion control and we measure it we´ll find out we´re eating more than we need, this may be one of the reasons why we can´t achieve our goal.

Portion control gives us the opportunity to focus on macronutrients, as we know now each has its function and job in the body, it´s easier to adjust how much we eat of each food so if we need to lower carbohydrates we can reduce portions or add some protein according to our goals.

Portion control is the amount of food we eat, we can weight our food or use some simple rules that we can find on the internet like 3 ounces of meat is the size of a deck of cards, half cup of oatmeal is the size of a hockey puck, one cup of broccoli is the size of a baseball. With time you´ll get familiar with sizes and you´ll be able to “eye ball” all your portions and get them more accurate with time.

Portion control can also help us reduce the amount of unhealthy foods and keep those in check while increasing healthy foods, this can make it easier for us to start making the right choices by changing or substituting some unhealthy foods for healthier options.

It´s easier to keep portions under control when we´re eating at home or when we prepare our meals but it can get more complicated eating out and specially this days when packages are bigger and when we have the chance to make our meal bigger for some dollars more in fast food chains.

Buffets are a great way to eat healthy and control portions, when we eat out we can ask for one portion of carbohydrates and double protein with some healthy fats we can choose what we want to eat, and in restaurants we can tell the waitress to change fries for salad or to give us only half portion of carbohydrates.

As always don´t get obsessed with this use it as a tool and guide to keep the amount of food you eat under control but don´t try to make it perfect, perfection will stress you, make the best you can and enjoy your meals, if your meals are healthy you don´t need to get obsessed or stressed, if you don´t see results just reduce the amount of food to lose weight or increase it to gain muscle, the most important macronutrient you need to focus a little more is protein, you need to consume enough protein and even when you´re losing weight you want to keep it high.

You also need to consider the macro ratios you are following, if you go with a balanced diet between carbohydrates, protein and fats or if you prefer keto, don´t forget that fats are higher in calories compared to the other 2 macros and it will keep you full longer.

If we get obsessed and want to be perfect we are only making everything harder that it actually is, we need to know how a portion of carbohydrates, proteins and fats look like according to each food and use it as a guide. Keep things as simple as possible by avoiding all unhealthy foods like junk, sweets, processed and refined foods and stick to whole fresh foods, from there we just use portion control as a guide for each meal.

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