The Concept of Calories and Portion Control

Years ago I was struggling to lose even a single pound! It was hard, and honestly I felt like nothing would ever work for me. It was around Thanksgiving time when I was thinking about all the irresistible food that I usually pile onto my plate. I mean, let’s be reasonable here… Deliciously juicy turkey, mashed potatoes bathed with butter and gravy?! Not to mention the scrumptious pumpkin pie…

It’s okay, I give you permission to look forward to, and enjoy, that wonderful day with family and friends.

However, this one little tip I implemented back then that has helped me master my mouth (or the food I put in anyway) has made a huge difference.

Use a smaller plate.

“Really?”, you might be thinking to yourself. Yeah, it’s as simple as that. Remember how I said I usually load my plate full? Well this concept is so simple that people sometimes overlook it! When you use a smaller plate, you automatically limit your portion sizes to something more appropriate for weight loss.

Now what about seconds you might say?

Look at it this way. I just went and measured my plates. The larger one is about 10″ and the smaller one is about 8″. Let’s say I use the smaller plate once. That’s about a 20% reduction in calories. Still decide you want seconds? That means you’re likely to eat a total 40% less using the smaller plate rather than the large plate.

I guarantee you will start to notice differences in your weight loss by implementing this one simple trick.

The Concept of Calories

A calorie is a calorie, right? Not so fast there. If you eat an ice cream sandwich, it’s very different from eating that same number of calories in vegetables and nuts. You’ll get carbohydrates and fats in either case, but they’re vastly different.

Your body reacts differently to consuming different types of foods. So if you jump on board the calorie train, make sure you know where it’s headed! Trust me it’s easy to get 2,000 calories in when you just eat junk food or stop by a fast food joint for a dollar menu party.

So what’s the deal with calories then.

A calorie is actually a measure of energy. When you stand, you use energy. This energy doesn’t come from out of nowhere. Your body uses energy it has stored in the form of fat or glycogen for example. When you eat, your body manages how it uses and stores that energy from food. Think of your body like a really smart rechargeable battery.

When you eat healthy foods your body handles it better than when you eat junk food. It’s like putting dirty gasoline in your car instead of clean gas.

In order to lose weight you must use more calories than you consume. To gain what you must use less calories than you consume. There’s no magic, it’s the simple law of conservation of mass (or energy).

Portion Control

Continuing on with the gas analogy, let’s look at a few scenarios.

One person drives a hybrid. This vehicle uses a lot less gas, and therefore needs to be refilled more frequently. Another person drives an SUV which uses a lot more gas and needs to be filled up much more frequently. You can see the larger vehicle requires more energy to be put in because it is using a lot of energy.

Size isn’t the only piece of the puzzle though. Let’s compare that hybrid to a performance race car. They may be similar in size, but the race car uses way more gas than the hybrid.

Think about this second comparison in terms of muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the more your body is like the race car that uses more energy because of its performance.

I know this example can be a little bit elementary, but it’s gets the point across.

Now what does that have to do with portion control? Portion control doesn’t just mean limiting the size of each meal you eat. It means either decreasing or increasing the size based on your goals.

This isn’t rocket science (but for some it may feel like it).

There are calculators and formulas available to use which can help you understand what you should aim for each day. For me though, I needed something more accurate, like The Results App.

Lastly, you could turn to a personal trainer at your local gym for guidance and accountability. That, of course, depends on if you’re willing to pay $160 per month and up for an in-person personal trainer.

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this post, it would be to educate yourself and build on a strong foundation of good habits so you can live a lifestyle of increasing health.

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