"PORTION" CONTROL Are your meal portions oversized?
As you know portion sizes play a huge role in our efforts to
achieve our ultimate health and fitness goals. In fact our training results
rely on up to 80% of what we eat.
Gone are the days when everyone thought "if I exercise I can eat whatever
I want". Not only is this a myth that has led many people to actually
gaining weight, and more than often more body fat, but it hasn't helped with
the fight to improve heart health either.
1. So what's so bad about consuming oversized portions?
The larger your portions the more calories you consume. Which can definitely
back-fire on you if your aim is to get lean.
Some of the research that has been performed on this topic has shown that soft
drink portions have increased by 62%, salty snacks by nearly 58%,french fries
by 57%, deserts by 33%, burgers by 18% and home made burgers by 50%.
Next time when you are shopping check out the weight of products and you will
see how many of them now offer larger size packets, cans, jars and serving
Frozen dinners now offer a choice of larger meals. Chocolate bars are larger
and so called "healthy snacks" which are often packed full of sugar,
but state low in fat, also now offer bigger servings.
2. Some of the reasons why portions are increasing
Over the years of working with clients I have found the following reasons to be
the most common "dilemma" for portions getting out of hand.
a. You're doing your food shop and come across a packet of crisps or chips for
which the label claims is "low in fat", plus the packet offers an
extra 50% on top of it's normal size for the current product promotion. WOW!
There are three options that could be taken here:
a. Don't buy it
b. Buy it and keep to your normal portions or...
c. Think - "heck if it's low in fat then I can eat the whole pack,
including the extra 50%! And because it's low in fat I won't get fat.
The majority of people would probably chose "c". And why not, they're
presenting a total munchie session for you to take advantage of! You couldn't
possibly pass it up.
How many products on your shopping list are low in fat? Have you actually
checked out the fine print on these products? Many make huge claims that they
considerably low in fat however the fat content is often indicated in weight
rather than "fat calories".
How many times have you said "oh a little bit extra
won't hurt - after all it is low in fat". I am guessing you couldn't count
the amount of times you've heard yourself say this. So you decide to just go
ahead and add another dollop or serve. Without even realizing it you're
increasing your portions.
In the case of the low fat crisps you are most likely eating more fat and salt
than you were when you were restricting yourself to the small non-fat packet,
because you ended up eating about 10 whole "portions sizes" of it!
The following is also very common... using a larger plate to serve your food.
No! I am not joking.
I have had a few clients who have said they read somewhere that if you use
three portion meals you just divide the actual plate size into thirds - which
according to them entitles them to have larger meals. I admit I have also read
something similar but it stated that the plate was smaller in size than your
average bountiful dinner plate. I think this is called "selective
On asking them to measure their plates we discovered that they were actually
eating double each portion size each meal. Which, as you can imagine, won't do
a thing towards helping that six pack appear, due them doubling their calories
If you're the type of person who feels deprived if your plate isn't heaped full
of food then I suggest you serve your meals on smaller plates.
Now don't go emailing me with abusive emails because I told you that you have
to go out and buy a new dinner set - that's not what I am saying. You just need
to think smart about how you serve your food and your portions correctly to
make it work for you.
Using your common-sense and sticking to your portions
As most of you know I have been a huge supporter for years now of the three
portion meals - especially when including weight training in your workout
routine and if your goal is to reduce body fat.
Consuming 5 smaller meals daily, and six smaller meals if your training is
really intense and performed each day. (Note: This doesn't include people who
are wanting to pack on size).
Each portion per meal should include:
1 x portion of protein: lean chicken breasts, lean turkey breasts, fish, very
lean read meat, low fat dairy products etc
1 x portion of starchy carbs: Brown is best, such as whole grain bread, brown
pasta, brown rice, sweet potatoes and fruits such as apples, oranges, stoned
fruit etc. Corn and pumpkin also come under the higher carb category.
1 x portion of green salad and veggies: spinach, peas, broccoli, cauliflower.
The easiest way to measure a portion is:
1 x portion = equivalent to the size of a deck
1 x portion = approx 3 ounces
1 x portion = approx 1/2 a cup
For those of you who are aiming to reduce body fat then
reduce your starchy carbs towards the end of the day. Keeping them for your
breakfast and lunch and removing them for your evening meal. A sample evening
meal would be: grilled lean chicken breast with a low fat green salad.
Just remember the above eating ideas are about providing
sound nutrition to provide energy, increased health, to decrease body fat and
increase muscle. Don't forget to offer yourself lots of variety so don't get
bored with your meals. Get creative and have a brainstorming session where you
write down some ideas for meals and recipes so you can purchase the ingredients
when you perform your next food shop.
� 2002, 2003
Persons who are of good health, suspect of their health or
are aware of any conditions, physical deficiencies or diseases should always
consult a physician before undertaking any eating or exercise program. Mandy
Gibbons, Virtual Fitness Trainer, www.virtualfitnesstrainer.com.au and
www.virtualfitnesstrainer.com disclaims any liability or loss in connection
above program or advice given in this article.