Health Tip: Measure Your Portion Sizes

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As my last Health Tip post on how to get your motivation back was quite popular, I decided to share more of my health tips with you lovely people! So today’s tip is all about food and portion sizes and is especially great for those of us aiming for weight loss and fat loss.

You’ve probably heard of the saying, “Too much of a good thing is a bad thing”? Well the same can be said for food. Yes, we all know too much bad food is most definitely bad for you, but did you know too much good food can be a bad thing too? Wait, hear me out. I’m not saying if you eat too many carrots you’ll turn orange, or if you eat too much spinach you’ll turn into Popeye. What I mean is, watch what you eat and how much you eat.No matter which style of eating you’re following, whether it’s Low Carb, High Protein, IIFYM (if it fits your macros), Eating Clean or something else, measuring your portion sizes will most definitely help your progress.

Why measure portion sizes?

When I first started eating clean I switched all my white, starchy carbs to wholegrain alternatives, such as brown rice instead of white rice, sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes etc. When plating up I always insured I filled half of my plate with veggies, then a quarter with protein and a quarter with carbs which I thought was a good way of getting my portion sizes right. I soon started using MyFitnessPal to track my daily intake and exercise. Doing this helped me to make smarter choices, especially when it came to snacking. I started feeling better and losing weight slowly. Great, right?

However, I was guess-timating my portion sizes when I entered the values into MyFitnessPal. If I followed a recipe that called for something to be measured in cups or spoons, I’d use a regular cup or a spoon from the cutlery drawer. I figured if I always used the same cup, it would be OK. Then one day I decided to ‘push the boat out’ and bought myself some measuring cups, measuring spoons and a digital food scale. Once I started properly measuring and weighing my food I realised I’d been massively under-eating on protein and over-eating on carbs. As I corrected my portion sizes I felt a little hungrier at first but this soon corrected itself and my weight loss sped up.

I don’t personally count calories, but if you do then measuring your food will make it even easier. It’s so easy to ‘eat with your eyes’ and pour out a bigger portion than you should when you’re hungry. Plus, you’ll soon realise just how much more you can eat of healthy food for the same amount of calories for tiny portions of junk food. Just check out this image of what 200 calories looks like in different foods.

How to control portion sizes

Most foods that come in a packet have suggested serving sizes on them, start by following those guidelines. Did you know that the typical serving size of breakfast cereal is around 30g? Depending on the cereal that barely fills a bowl! Porridge on the other hand is 40g and as it is finely ground and expands once it’s cooked you get a lot more bang for your buck (or, food for your grams?!). A lot of drinks bottles actually have 2 servings in them, but judging by the size of the bottle you’d never guess. Don’t get caught out by serving sizes.

MyFitnessPal also shows you a macronutrient breakdown of the food you’ve eaten. Put simply, this means how much protein, carbs and fat you’ve had from the food you’ve consumed that day. It also gives you suggested percentage values you should aim for each day, this could be 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fat for example. If at the end of the day you find you’ve only had 20% protein, 60% carbs and 20% fat then you’ll know to increase your protein portions or incorporate it into more meals and cut down on carbs. It will take trial and error, but once you’re equipped with your own set of cups, spoons and food scales, it will soon get easier.

This post is as much for myself as it is for you as I’ve been slacking on the portion sizes front. One goal I’m setting myself for the next week is to weigh and measure my food. What will your goal be for the week ahead? Do you already measure your food or are you going to start?

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