Portion Control: How Much Is Too Much?

Most restaurants are serving double and triple times the amount of food we should be eating for a balanced diet, and these supersized portions are producing supersized waistlines. This epidemic is throwing off our ability to gauge just how much we should be eating at each meal. We are getting so used to these unrealistic portions that our "healthy" home cooked meals are starting to triple in size, meaning that "supersized" is sadly becoming the norm. Even though you might be choosing healthy foods, too much of a good thing can sabotage your weight-loss goals.

We all know lasting weight-loss comes from balancing the amount of calories you take in with the amount you burn. When it comes to making sure you stay within your allotted calories while still eating a balanced diet, properly portioning your meals is key! Here are some easy tricks to help you gain control of your portion distortion and set you up for a successful slim down!

"I Know I Need Protein, but How Much?"
Protein is where it's at when it comes to weight-loss, muscle development, bone density, brain health, better sleep, and lowering blood pressure. To reap all of its badass benefits, you are going to want to get 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories from protein. Of course, everyone's intake will vary according to weight and activity level, but the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.36 grams per pound. Now I know you are not walking around with a food scale, so this info is pretty much useless when you are at your favorite restaurant staring down at that massive piece of steak. However, the "handiest" tool for measuring portion size is actually the palm of your hand. In fact, three to four ounces of protein is equal to the size of your palm or a deck of cards.

Mom Was Right When She Told You to Eat Your Vegetables
I am a firm believer that you can never eat too many vegetables. No one ever got fat by eating too much broccoli. When it comes to vegetables, I throw the limits out the window and allow myself as much as I want. Vegetables are stocked with vitamins, nutrients, and fiber and are extremely low in calories. They give you the greatest bang for your buck when it comes to your daily caloric intake. Basically, they fill you up without filling you out. Because of this, I like to cover half of my plate with vegetables. If you fill up on your greens, you are much less likely to overeat.

The Low-Down on Carbs
If weight loss is your goal, you are going to want to limit the amount of refined carbohydrates in your diet and stick to "whole" or "complex" carbs. Refined carbohydrate foods such as white bread, pasta, white rice, and pastries lack essential nutrients and are basically empty calories. They also send your blood sugar levels on a roller coaster ride, which causes energy crashes and sugar cravings. Whole carbs such as potatoes, legumes, and whole grains are loaded with nutrients and fiber, and don't cause the same spikes and dips in blood sugar levels. They give you sustained energy and have positive effects on the metabolism. However, even when sticking to complex carbs, you still need to watch your portions because it is very easy to overdo it in today's carb-loving culture! The average carbohydrate intake for a healthy person that engages in high-intensity exercise should be one to three grams per pound of body weight. When portioning out my meals, I like to remember that a one-half cup serving of grains is equal to the size of my fist. Any more than a fistful deserves a doggy bag!

Use Fat (in Moderation) to Burn Fat!
Monounsaturated fats are super stars when it comes to benefiting your overall health. Found in foods such as olive oil, avocado, almonds, and seeds, these fabulous fats can improve heart health and boost brain power. They also help to satiate you and stabilize blood sugar levels which can lead to weight-loss. However, it's easy to consume too much if you're not careful! At nine calories per gram, fat has the most calories of all the macronutrients. In a healthy diet, about 30 percent of total daily calories should come from fat. When preparing your meals, keep those portions in check by sticking to one thumb tip (knuckle to tip) of oils, one cupped handful of nuts, one full thumb of nut butter, or half of an avocado.

Knowledge is power when it comes to maintaining your healthy lifestyle. By eating the proper portions you can eliminate hundreds of unwanted calories each day! Now go out there and lose weight by lightening your plate!

Jennifer Leah Gottlieb is certified as a personal trainer and weight-loss specialist by The National Academy of Sports Medicine. She built a successful business training a large roster of celebrities and many of Manhattan's elite. Jen has a knack for designing healthy meal plans, and she has helped clients lose hundreds of pounds throughout her career.