A LEGO holding some seafood, which looks like a big portion size.

It’s time to discover ways to portion management!

There are all types of “suggestions” and “tips” on the market, however at this time we’re going to indicate you the most effective technique.

What makes me so assured?

For a lot of of our On-line Teaching shoppers, we create portion management methods for weight reduction that don’t suck. Right now, we’ll share them with you too!

Right here’s what we’ll cowl:

Let’s do that thang!

What Are 5 Strategies for Portion Management?

This photo shows a LEGO in front of his food chart, where he determines portion sizes.

As you may know from our “How one can drop some pounds” information, the important thing to sustainable weight reduction is getting ourselves to eat fewer energy in a method that doesn’t make us depressing. 

As a result of our brains and our bodies are difficult emotional disasters, there are some suggestions and tips we will implement to guard us from…ourselves.

4 Methods for Portion Management:

  1. Use smaller plates. Of us will usually eat what’s positioned in entrance of them, so utilizing smaller dinnerware has been proven to assist individuals eat much less.[1]
  2. Drink a glass of water earlier than your meal. In case you chug a glass of water half-hour earlier than you intend on consuming, the H20 will take up some room in your abdomen. This may allow you to eat much less.[2]
  3. Take it gradual. It will probably take about 20 minutes to your physique to return round to the truth that it’s full, so slowing down your meals can assist you eat much less.[3]
  4. Use a meals journal. Recording every thing you eat and drink is an effective way to develop into conscious of parts, which can assist you management them.[4] Actually, one of many first missions we’ve got Nerd Health Prime members full is making a meals journal. 

All of those strategies will work to some extent, and so they’re good to bear in mind and in addition apply.

Nonetheless, nothing will get extra constant outcomes than truly studying the variety of energy within the meals you eat (Portion Management Tip #5)!

That is our primary suggestion for the right way to drop some pounds

A gif from the Simpsons that says "interesting."

Examine[4] after examine[5] after examine[6] reveals that our our bodies obey the legal guidelines of thermodynamics and that as a way to drop some pounds, we have to burn extra energy than we eat commonly.

  • Once you eat extra energy than you burn, your physique tends to retailer these additional energy as fats (weight achieve).
  • Once you burn extra energy than you eat, your physique will pull from fats shops for power (weight reduction).

Nonetheless, as we level out in our Energy In, Energy Out information, figuring out your precise “energy in” is usually a actual ache. Not solely that, however many individuals with sure persona traits can develop into neurotic about monitoring each single calorie. They fear in the event that they go 1 calorie over their each day allotment. 

So, what’s a nerd to do? 

Until you’re going to weigh out all of your meals (one thing I’ve completed earlier than) and be militant about monitoring, is it doable to “observe” your meals with a excessive stage of accuracy with out having it take over your life?

The reply: sure, by getting darn good at estimating! 

Portion Sizes: How one can Portion Management (The Finest Methodology)

A plate that that contains a portion of protein, healthy carb, veggies/fruit, and unsweetened drink.

You already carry with you the most effective technique for portion management.

Your arms!

This gif shows the Terminator looking at his hand, who realistically doesn't have to worry about portion control.

Even if in case you have robotic arms.

We’re going to make use of them to construct a wholesome plate, as proven above.

The “Nerd Health Wholesome Plate” was initially printed in our Information to Wholesome Consuming, which was impressed by our associates over at Precision Diet

We’re not going to fret about being precise. 

It’s actually arduous to be exact anyway.[7]

Nonetheless, utilizing your arms as a device for portion management gives a “adequate” technique that may assist your meals consumption:

This graph shows servings sizes for protein, vegetables, carbohydrates, and fats, based off the size of your hand.

As you may see, we’re going to focus our portion management technique on:

  • Protein
  • Greens (technically carbs, however vital sufficient to deserve their very own class)
  • Carbohydrates (suppose starches and fruit)
  • Fats

Every macronutrient will correspond to an space of your hand, to provide you a way of what a correct portion dimension needs to be. 

We’ve discovered that utilizing your hand as a information is probably the most useful technique for portion management:

  • You may not all the time have entry to small plates.
  • You may overlook to drink water earlier than every meal.
  • You may need a brief lunch break with out the posh of consuming slowly.
  • You may develop uninterested in logging all of your meals consumption.

Nonetheless, having an intuitive sense of what meals needs to be eaten in what parts will allow you to stage up your wholesome consuming.

When doubtful, match the meals in entrance of you to your hand and stick with it.

Let’s break this down a bit by speaking about protein and veggies. 

What’s the Right Portion Dimension Half 1: Protein and Greens

The above video is taken from Nerd Health Prime, as a part of our NF Kitchen sequence.

In it, Coach Lauren and Justin talk about the 2 most vital elements of each meal: 

Right here’s one thing that may appear counterintuitive: our #1 suggestion for portion management isn’t about limiting meals. As an alternative, ensure you get a correct serving of protein and greens each time you sit right down to eat.

In different phrases, if you start your wholesome consuming journey, don’t even fear about nixing any particular meals. Simply ensure you are leaving loads of room for protein and greens.

A serving of protein is in regards to the dimension and thickness of your palm:

A serving of protein should be about the size of your palm, like so.

Protein can come from any variety of sources, together with:

  • Meat (steak, bison, pork).
  • Fowl (hen, turkey, duck).
  • Eggs![8]
  • Fish and shellfish (salmon, tuna, shrimp).
  • Legumes (black beans, chickpeas).

Not a meat-eater? Learn our huge plant-based information!

A serving of veggies is in regards to the dimension of your fist:

A serving of veggies should be the size of your first (or greater).

Right here’s a fast, non-complete checklist of veggies that may fill half your plate:

  • Broccoli
  • Broccolini
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Onion
  • Asparagus

Relating to studying portion management, begin by ensuring you eat sufficient protein and greens.

How a lot?

As we talk about in our protein information, when constructing a plate goal for the next quantity of protein:

  • Dudes: 1-2 servings (6-8 oz or about 170-228 g): two palms
  • Dudettes: 1 serving (3-4 oz or about 85-114 g): 1 palm.

For greens, in apply you may in all probability eat as a lot as you may abdomen (the fiber will probably gradual you down), however goal for about 2 fist fulls at most meals, or about half your plate.[9] 

Don’t like veggies? I used to be as soon as such as you. Try 10 methods to make greens style good

Right here’s why you need to prioritize protein and greens in the event you’re battling portion management:

  • Protein. Consuming sufficient protein will help your well being as you age.[10]Loads of protein may also allow you to retain and develop muscle.[11] Plus, prioritizing protein will allow you to keep full and satiated between meals.[12]
  • Greens. Veggies are each excessive in vitamins and low in energy, which makes them very best for a wholesome plate. Plus, the fiber is not going to solely assist your well being, it’ll additionally hold your indoor plumbing in correct order.[13]

Within the video that kicks off this part, Coach Justin makes an awesome level: goal for a bit higher than you’re at this time.

That means in the event you don’t actually plan your meals in any respect, begin by having ONE meal embrace a very good protein supply and a few veggies.

A gif of fast food being replaced by less processed food, which needs to be portion controlled less.

So perhaps you make hen stir-fry this week. 

Upon getting that win beneath your belt, you may goal for doing a bit bit extra subsequent week (TWO meals that embrace protein and veggies).

We’ll shut out at this time’s information with some extra concepts on the right way to get going.

Earlier than we get there, we have to discuss what else can go into your wholesome plate. 

What’s the Right Portion Dimension Half 2: Carbs and Fat

After making room in your plate for protein and greens, what’s subsequent?

As Coach Lauren and Justin point out within the Nerd Health Prime video above, it’s time to incorporate some wholesome carbohydrates and fat!

Relying on what health camp you end up in and your historical past of “weight-reduction plan,” consuming carbs and fat may make you nervous. 

However as Coach Lauren factors out, they’ve a objective on our wholesome plate! You simply have to portion them out appropriately.

A serving of carbohydrates is about two arms cupped collectively:

Showing you a serving of carbs

If it’s raw, it’s about half the scale, so one cupped hand.

Examples of wholesome carbohydrates:

You additionally wish to ensure you’re together with wholesome fats in your weight-reduction plan too.

Fats is definitely probably the most calorically dense macronutrient, so comparatively it’ll take up much less room in your hand.

Here’s a serving of fats, roughly the scale of your thumb!

A serving of fat should be about your thumb!

Wholesome fats could be present in meals like:

  • Avocado 
  • Almonds 
  • Walnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Almond butter 
  • Peanut butter

The explanation individuals name it “wholesome” is as a result of the fats is unsaturated, though science has lately come round on saturated fats too within the right quantities.[14]

We cowl this intimately in our Information to the Keto Food regimen.

Saturated fat can come from issues like:

  1. Entire milk
  2. Full-fat dairy
  3. Coconut oil
  4. Grass-fed butter
  5. Lard
  6. Fatty cuts of meat

Relating to portion management, we have to pay shut consideration to carbohydrates and fat, as a result of that is the place individuals have the tendency to overeat. 

Nonetheless, that doesn’t imply we wish to fully ditch each meals teams both. 

A scene from the Princess Bride where the grandpa says "wait."

Right here’s why you must eat these two macronutrients:

  • Carbohydrates. Do you know fiber is a sort of carbohydrate? Yep. As we talked about earlier, you want loads of fiber for good well being.[15] Carbs are additionally an awesome supply of fast power, particularly fruit.[16] 
  • Fat. Some vitamins like Vitamin A are fat-soluble, which means they’re greatest absorbed alongside some fats.[17]Fats may also allow you to really feel full, which can assist with total portion management for the day.[18] Whereas a bit goes a good distance, you wouldn’t need a “zero fats” weight-reduction plan.[19]

Simply watch out right here.

Once we analyze the diets of our teaching shoppers who can’t appear to drop some pounds, it’s virtually all the time as a result of they’re overeating carbs or fat.

If you end up on this group, check out your hand the following time you sit right down to eat:

  • How a lot pasta are you serving your self? It ought to match inside your cupped arms.
  • How a lot olive oil did you place in your salad? It needs to be in regards to the dimension of your thumb or a tablespoon. 
  • How huge is your serving of peanut butter, REALLY? One serving, a tablespoon, is in regards to the dimension of a walnut:

This photo shows a serving of peanut butter, which is about the size of the walnut next to it.

Bear in mind: you don’t need to get this excellent. You simply have to be fairly good more often than not.

Even simply consciously fascinated by in case your portion sizes are beneath or over is a superb begin.

And so long as you’re constant along with your measuring strategies, then you may modify your parts primarily based in your progress!  

You may also discover some particular plates or containers useful when serving your self. 

How one can Use Portion Management Containers and Plates

One hack Coach Justin makes use of is straightforward Tupperware containers to portion management his meals:

Justin holds up the container he uses to portion control his meal.

You too can use some glass containers too if you wish to get fancy:

Here Coach Justin holds up his meal, held in a portion control container.

Don’t stress about discovering the proper container that precisely holds every macronutrient you want.

The purpose right here is that you’ve a fast body of reference for portion sizes:

  • The biggest portion of the container: greens go right here.
  • The 2 smaller parts: are to your protein and carbs.
  • The small little holder: your fat go right here.

Once more, don’t stress in case your container doesn’t match this description precisely. We’re all working off estimates right here, so let’s give attention to the large image.

These are some cool glass containers in the event you’re searching for one thing to purchase.

How one can Management Portion Sizes When Consuming Out

This photo shows a LEGO looking at a dog, who probably wants a portion-controlled taco.

An space of concern when making an attempt to portion management is eating out.

It looks like eating places serve you twice the quantity of meals that you just want.

Right here’s what Coach Justin does within the state of affairs: ask for a to-go field as quickly as you place your order.

Yeah, it’s a bit bizarre, however as quickly as you get your meals, place half of it within the container.

Increase! An additional meal for later. 

Since this adorable dog portion controls, he's walking home with his meal for later.

One other factor to contemplate: eating places need you to depart feeling full.

They usually do that by piling on the carbs. Suppose additional bread, a number of rice, loads of pasta, and many others.

So it’d make sense to separate these parts in two, and also you’re set for lunch the following day.

Additionally, in the event you get hungry after consuming solely half your meal, no drawback. Simply eat the opposite half. Even in the event you’re nonetheless on the restaurant.

The purpose is to consciously take into consideration how a lot you’re consuming. A break midway by way of can be utilized as a choice tree: 

Ought to I hold consuming?

Maggie Simpson pushing back from a table cause she's full.

This query alone can assist with portion management.

One last item: we all know consuming out at eating places is commonly a household or friend-bonding expertise, so we’d choose you ENJOY the night time. Meals is extra than simply energy. 

Simply plan for it! In case you eat a very giant dinner for a celebration, eat barely smaller parts for the following day or so and your physique might be proper again on observe. 

How one can Portion Management for Weight Loss (Subsequent Steps)

Within the video above, Coach Lauren and Justin stroll you thru consuming a Nerd Health Wholesome Plate IRL (In Actual Life).

It’s all nicely and good to construct a wholesome plate at house, however…

  • What in the event you’re at a restaurant? 
  • What if you must order a sandwich?
  • How about pizza?

Listed below are some suggestions from the Coaches for portion management IRL:

#1) How one can Portion Management a Sandwich

The trick right here is to pack in as many greens as you may. Yeah, you’re in all probability not going to get two fist fulls in, however you may squeeze in a whole lot of spinach, onion, sauerkraut, and tomato (yeah, it’s technically a fruit, whatevs) in your sandwich. 

  • Your carbs could be some sort of whole-grain bread (you are able to do an open-face sandwich if you wish to restrict this). 
  • Your protein can come from some turkey. 
  • Your fats is usually a little avocado. 

This is a gif of an avocado


You now have a turkey sandwich that matches our wholesome plate technique.

#2) How one can Portion Management Chili or Soup

This is usually a little harder when every thing is blended collectively.

In case you’re making it your self, maybe you measure out your hand parts as you cook dinner.

  • Put a palm-size portion of floor beef in.
  • Your greens could be onion, garlic, and tomatoes (once more a fruit, however who cares).
  • Your carbs could be pinto and/or kidney beans.
  • Your fats is usually a little little bit of cheese sprinkled on high.

Certain, perhaps you’re doing lower than two fistfuls of greens, and greater than a cupped hand of carbs (beans).

It doesn’t matter. Once more, the purpose is you’re placing a bit thought into correct parts.

In case you’re consuming out and ordering soup or chili, perhaps simply consider the top product in thoughts:

“After portioning every thing out, it needs to be about two fistfuls of meals. In order that’s what I’ll eat. Every thing else I’ll take house.”

#3) How one can Portion Management Pizza

It is a little trickier as a result of pizza is usually bread (carbs).

However Coach Justin has an answer for this.

First, he eats one thing he’s pleased with, like a salad. 

Then he parts out his pizza, which if he makes use of his hand technique, can be about two slices:

Justin holds up his hands, to show how he portion controls foods like pizza.

Is it excellent?


Does it assist Coach Justin attain his objectives and permit him to nonetheless get pleasure from life?


So experiment a bit by creating some tough pointers, see how you’re feeling, and course-correct as you go.

Bear in mind, any step you tackle leveling up your diet is nice.

Wayne is stoked that he made his small change for weight loss.

In case you don’t know the place to begin, I truly suggest you start by not worrying about what to take OFF your plate, however as a substitute what so as to add! 

Ensure each meal you eat has a wholesome protein supply and a vegetable. Upon getting that dialed in, THEN you may fear about portion controlling your carbs and fats. 

In case you need assistance alongside the way in which, we acquired you.

Listed below are 3 ways to proceed your journey with Nerd Health. 

#1) Our On-line Teaching program: a training program for busy individuals to assist them make higher meals selections, keep accountable, and get more healthy, completely.

As I stated earlier than, we train portion management to our shoppers who wrestle with overeating, so we’ll present a non-judgmental professional that will help you attain your objectives.

You may schedule a free name with our crew so we will get to know you and see if our teaching program is best for you:

#2) If you’d like an actual blueprint for leveling up your diet, try Nerd Health Journey! Our enjoyable habit-building app helps you train extra continuously, eat more healthy, and stage up your life (actually).

In case you comply with our Diet missions, you’ll study to portion management whereas incomes XP! Sah-weeeet.

Attempt your free trial proper right here:

#3) Be part of the Revolt! We’d like good individuals such as you in our group, the Nerd Health Revolt.

Enroll within the field beneath to enlist and get our Insurgent Starter Package, which incorporates all of our “work out at house” guides, the Nerd Health Food regimen Cheat Sheet, and way more!

Alright, I wish to hear from you:

Do you might have any suggestions or tips for portion management?

Do you utilize the hand technique that we lined at this time?

What’s your greatest problem with portion sizes?

Tell us within the feedback!


PS: In case you’re simply beginning your weight reduction journey, ensure you try:


Picture Supply: Recent lobster rolls, bean-there-donut-that-40358-2, Taco trike, Peanut/Walnut

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