Posted on January 06 2020
Many people spend hours each week sweating in the gym, but still struggle to see the weight loss results they are looking for. The fact of the matter is that while exercise is very important, diet and portion control are also vital weight loss factors, and even a few hundred extra calories a day can completely cancel out all of the calories you burn in the gym. Thankfully, there are a number of simple, effective strategies for trimming down your portion sizes without spending the whole day hungry. Below are some of the best ways to easily cut calories without turning it into a part-time job.
Drink More Water
Studies show that drinking a big glass of water right before a meal can help prevent overeating. Not only does the water take up space in your stomach and make you feel more full, it also fends off dehydration, which can cause symptoms that make your food cravings stronger. It's worth noting that drinking lots of water before a meal can cause temporary bloating, so keep that in mind if you're out on the town or at a public event.
Snack Before Meals
While you don't want to completely spoil your appetite, a small, healthy snack before dinner can take the edge off of cravings and cut down on your caloric intake. The key is to use snacks that are high in protein and low in sugar in order to increase satiation and avoid a spike in blood sugar. Ideal options are nuts, beef jerky, yogurt, veggies, or even a light soup.
Use Smaller Plates
It may sound strange, but research shows that serving meals on larger plates or in bigger bowls can actually cause people to eat larger portions of food - in some studies, by as much as 30%. While the exact reason for this isn't known, it may be because using large plates makes a regular portion of food appear smaller by comparison, tricking the brain into believing that it is actually less food than usual. So next time you set out the dinnerware, reach for the smaller dishes instead.
Make Protein the Star
Protein, fat, and carbohydrates are the basic macronutrients that make up all of the food you eat. Of the three, protein is the most responsible for satiety, or the feeling of being full after eating. In addition, protein also requires the most energy to break down--in fact, 20-30% of the calories from protein that you eat is used to digest it, compared to 5-10% of carbohydrate calories and 0-3% of fat calories. In other words, if you want to eat less and burn more calories at the same time, make lean, protein-rich foods the star of your meals. Great options include fish, chicken, lentils, low-fat dairy, and lean beef.
A study from Cornell University revealed that people eat up to 50% larger portions of snack foods such as chips or cookies when they eat directly from the bag, compared to when snacks are portioned out beforehand. When you don't have a visual frame of reference for portion sizes, it's much easier to overeat, especially when it comes to sugary, salty, and fatty foods. Consider splitting up your bags of snacks into exact portion sizes with vacuum sealing so that you always know exactly how many calories you are consuming.
Portion Control Meal Serving Sizes
If you're among the throngs of people making a renewed commitment to healthier food choices and eating smaller portions, portion control serving sets take all the guesswork out of what, exactly, is the correct portion size for a variety of foods. And, the cleverly designed tools are all discretely marked inside their serving areas, so no one will ever guess that you're measuring.
Meal prepping can be an aid to self-disciple. By pre-planning your meals, you can exert greater control over your diet. When you meal prep, you choose precisely what you want to eat for the entire week and package it in the exact portion sizes you need (consider vacuum sealing so you can plan even further out). Since the decision to eat healthy is made just once for an entire week's meals, there is less self-discipline needed. And the guess work of how much food to prepare has already been measured.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires commitment, but cutting calories shouldn't require you to stress out or go to extremes. The tips above provide simple ways to reduce portion sizes that will quickly become daily habits, helping you slim down without even having to think about it.