effective diet plan

Do you know anyone who is consistently counting calories for years and keeping track of their weight this way? Not likely. Although there are lots of convenient calorie calculators and apps at our fingertips, calorie counting is usually used for brief periods when your are most motivated to lose weight. But what happens when all that counting and measuring gets too tiring and you stop doing it? Is weight gain inevitable? We need a more sustainable approach that can be used in any situation for any meal. Check out this insanely practical diet plan for weight loss and maintenance.

1. Stop counting calories

Although counting calories and keeping a food diary can make you aware of the food choices and amount of food you eat, it is very unlikely that it will become a life long habit. Most people use it as a tool to immediately lose weight but forget about it after their diet, making the yo-yo effect more probable.

Simply stop counting calories and become aware of what normal portion sizes are. This is a very effective approach to weight loss since it is very simple to incorporate into everyday activities. By simply looking at a plate you’re able to see what the right amount of food you eat should be. But how to know what proper portion sizes are at a glance?

2. Control portion sizes

Portion sizes in the western diet have grown over the years up to double the size they used to be. Constantly bigger portions in restaurants and multipacks have made us forget what amount of food we should eat. Research concludes that the bigger portion sizes are the more we eat and tend to underestimate their caloric value. Nutritionists from  Arizona State University suggest a very simple and effective method for portion control:

Your hands are the perfect tool for portion control since they are always with you and in accordance with your body size. All you have to remember is the serving size for the main food groups.

3. Proteins

One portion of protein is the width and size of your palm. This includes chicken, red meat, fish or other protein.

protein palm portion size

4. Starchy food- carbs

One portion of starchy carbs is the size of your fist. This includes potatoes, rice, pasta, cereal, beans, etc.

fist portion for starchy vegetables

5. Fruit

One portion of fruit should fit in one the palm of a cupped hand.

fruit cupped portion size

6. Vegetables

One portion of vegetables should fit in the palms of two cupped hands.

vegetable portion

7. Fats

One portion of fats like e.g. oil, butter, peanut butter, coconut butter, mayonnaise, etc. is the size of the tip of your thumb.

top thumb portion for fats

One portion of fats like cheese, nuts, cream cheese, sour cream, salad dressing, etc.

thumb for fat portioning

8. Liquid calories

One portion should be the distance between your thumb and forefinger. This is for sodas, juices, milk, etc.

liquid portion size

How many portion sizes in one meal for women

When we know how to measure our food, meals simply become a question of combining all the needed food groups.
The recommendation for women is:

  • 1 portion of protein with every meal
  • 1/2 -1 portion of starchy carbs with every meal
  • 1 portion of vegetables with every meal
  • 1/2-1 portion of fats with every meal (oil, butter, etc.)
  • 1-2 portion of fruit per day -snack
  • 1 portion of fat per day (cheese, nuts, etc.) – snack

How many portion sizes in one meal for men

For men the portions are basically doubled.

  • 2 portion of protein with every meal
  • 1 -2 portion of starchy carbs with every meal
  • 2 portion of vegetables with every meal
  • 1 portion of fats with every meal (oil, butter, etc.)
  • 1-2 portion of fruit per day -snack
  • 1-2 portion of fat per day (cheese, nuts, etc.) – snack

Adjust your portions to your goals for weight loss

These are recommended portions for a balanced diet that will maintain weight. If you want to lose weight simply make adjustments to the portion sizes. For example keep one portion of protein, cut the carbs and fats in half and double veggies for each meal. These meal sizes are not carved in stone, simply make some changes in accordance with your goals and see how your body reacts. If you see results you’re on a healthy track to lose weight if not hang in there and make some more changes: cut the portion of nuts and cheese in half or reduce liquid calories.
Using hands for portion control is a simple system that allows you to make fast changes to your diet and observe how your body reacts to it without any fuss.

Controlling portion sizes for weight loss has been researched through several studies which all found a positive relationship between controlling portion size and weight loss in adults.(Hannum S et al, 2006; Pearcey S et al, 2002; Hannum S et al, 2004)

Quality counts

To lose weight the healthy way you shouldn’t forget about the quality of food. Choose leaner proteins like chicken and fish, whole-grain less processed carbs, healthier fats like olive oil, coconut oil or nuts. As a rule always try to consume food closer to the natural state of an ingredient than in a processed form. It’s better to eat grilled chicken breast than store bought chicken nuggets.

Check out here which healthy ingredients should be in a healthy stocked pantry.

Combined portion and quality control of meals will get you to your weight goals. You just have to start today!