How one can Portion Management (for Weight Loss)


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 “ideas” and “tips” on the market, however right now we’re going to point out you the most effective methodology.

What makes me so assured?

For a lot of of our Online Coaching shoppers, we create portion management methods for weight reduction that don’t suck. In the present day, 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 would possibly know from our “How to lose weight” information, the important thing to sustainable weight reduction is getting ourselves to devour fewer energy in a manner that doesn’t make us depressing. 

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

4 Methods for Portion Management:

  1. Use smaller plates. People will usually eat what’s positioned in entrance of them, so utilizing smaller dinnerware has been proven to assist folks eat much less.[1]
  2. Drink a glass of water earlier than your meal. In the event 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 would possibly aid you eat much less.[2]
  3. Take it sluggish. It may well take about 20 minutes on your physique to return round to the truth that it’s full, so slowing down your meals will help you eat much less.[3]
  4. Use a meals journal. Recording every thing you eat and drink is an effective way to change into conscious of parts, which will help you management them.[4] In truth, one of many first missions we’ve got Nerd Fitness Prime members full is making a meals journal. 

All of those strategies will work to some extent, they usually’re good to bear in mind and likewise 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 how to lose weight

A gif from the Simpsons that says "interesting."

Research[4] after research[5] after research[6] reveals that our our bodies obey the legal guidelines of thermodynamics and that as a way to shed extra pounds, we have to burn extra energy than we devour repeatedly.

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

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

So, what’s a nerd to do? 

Until you’re going to weigh out all of your meals (something I’ve done before) and be militant about monitoring, is it doable to “observe” your meals with a excessive degree 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 Greatest 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 methodology for portion management.

Your fingers!

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

Even you probably have robotic fingers.

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

The “Nerd Health Wholesome Plate” was initially revealed in our Guide to Healthy Eating, which was impressed by our associates over at Precision Nutrition

We’re not going to fret about being actual. 

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

Nonetheless, utilizing your fingers 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 necessary sufficient to deserve their very own class)
  • Carbohydrates (assume starches and fruit)
  • Fats

Every macronutrient will correspond to an space of your hand, to present you a way of what a correct portion measurement must be. 

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

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

Nonetheless, having an intuitive sense of what meals must be eaten in what parts will aid you degree up your healthy eating.

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

Let’s break this down a little 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 Fitness Prime, as a part of our NF Kitchen sequence.

In it, Coach Lauren and Justin talk about the 2 most necessary 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, be sure to get a correct serving of protein and greens each time you sit right down to eat.

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

A serving of protein is in regards to the measurement 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 massive plant-based guide!

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

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

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

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

In terms of studying portion management, begin by ensuring you eat sufficient protein and greens.

How a lot?

As we talk about in our protein guide, 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 most likely eat as a lot as you may abdomen (the fiber will probably sluggish 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 ways to make vegetables taste good

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

  • Protein. Consuming sufficient protein will help your well being as you age.[10]Loads of protein can even aid you retain and develop muscle.[11] Plus, prioritizing protein will aid you keep full and satiated between meals.[12]
  • Greens. Veggies are each excessive in vitamins and low in energy, which makes them excellent for a wholesome plate. Plus, the fiber won’t solely assist your well being, it’ll additionally maintain your indoor plumbing in correct order.[13]

Within the video that kicks off this part, Coach Justin makes an excellent level: goal for a little bit higher than you might be right now.

Which means should you don’t actually plan your meals in any respect, begin by having ONE meal embrace a great 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 chicken stir-fry this week. 

After you have that win below your belt, you may goal for doing a little bit bit extra subsequent week (TWO meals that embrace protein and veggies).

We’ll shut out right now’s information with some extra concepts on 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 Fitness 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 would possibly 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 fingers cupped collectively:

Showing you a serving of carbs

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

Examples of wholesome carbohydrates:

You additionally need to be sure to’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 dimensions of your thumb!

A serving of fat should be about your thumb!

Wholesome fats might be present in meals like:

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

The explanation folks name it “wholesome” is as a result of the fats is unsaturated, though science has not too long ago come round on saturated fats too within the appropriate quantities.[14]

We cowl this intimately in our Guide to the Keto Diet.

Saturated fat can come from issues like:

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

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

Nonetheless, that doesn’t imply we need to utterly ditch each meals teams both. 

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

Right here’s why it’s good to 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 excellent supply of fast power, particularly fruit.[16] 
  • Fat. Some vitamins like Vitamin A are fat-soluble, that means they’re finest absorbed alongside some fats.[17]Fats can even aid you really feel full, which will help with general portion management for the day.[18] Whereas a little bit goes a great distance, you wouldn’t need a “zero fats” weight-reduction plan.[19]

Simply watch out right here.

Once we analyze the diets of our coaching clients who can’t seem to lose weight, it’s nearly at all times as a result of they’re overeating carbs or fat.

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

  • How a lot pasta are you serving your self? It ought to match inside your cupped fingers.
  • How a lot olive oil did you place in your salad? It must be in regards to the measurement of your thumb or a tablespoon. 
  • How large is your serving of peanut butter, REALLY? One serving, a tablespoon, is in regards to the measurement 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 should get this good. You simply should be fairly good more often than not.

Even simply consciously occupied with in case your portion sizes are below or over is a good begin.

And so long as you might be constant along with your measuring methods, then you may modify your parts primarily based in your progress!  

You may additionally 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 easy Tupperware containers to portion management his meals:

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

It’s also possible to 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 got a fast body of reference for portion sizes:

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 concentrate on the massive image.

These are some cool glass containers should 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 as if 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 little 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 go away feeling full.

They usually do that by piling on the carbs. Suppose further bread, numerous rice, loads of pasta, and so forth.

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

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

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

Ought to I maintain consuming?

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

This query alone will help with portion management.

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

Simply plan for it! In the event you eat a extremely giant dinner for a celebration, eat barely smaller parts for the subsequent day or so and your physique can 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 residence, however…

Listed here are some ideas 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 most likely not going to get two fist fulls in, however you may squeeze in a variety of spinach, onion, sauerkraut, and tomato (yeah, it’s technically a fruit, whatevs) in your sandwich. 

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 generally is a little more durable when every thing is combined collectively.

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

Positive, 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 little bit thought into correct parts.

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

“After portioning every thing out, it must be about two fistfuls of meals. In order that’s what I’ll eat. The whole lot else I’ll take residence.”

#3) How one can Portion Management Pizza

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

However Coach Justin has an answer for this.

First, he eats one thing he’s happy 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 good?


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


So experiment a little 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 the event 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! 

Be certain each meal you eat has a wholesome protein supply and a vegetable. After you have that dialed in, THEN you may fear about portion controlling your carbs and fats. 

In the event you need assistance alongside the way in which, we bought you.

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

#1) Our Online Coaching program: a training program for busy folks to assist them make higher meals selections, keep accountable, and get more healthy, completely.

As I mentioned earlier than, we train portion management to our shoppers who battle with overeating, so we’ll present a non-judgmental knowledgeable that can assist you attain your objectives.

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

#2) In order for you a precise blueprint for leveling up your diet, take a look at Nerd Health Journey! Our enjoyable habit-building app helps you train extra steadily, eat more healthy, and degree up your life (actually).

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

Strive your free trial proper right here:

#3) Be part of the Rise up! We want good folks such as you in our group, the Nerd Health Rise up.

Join within the field beneath to enlist and get our Insurgent Starter Equipment, which incorporates all of our “work out at residence” guides, the Nerd Health Food plan Cheat Sheet, and far more!

Alright, I need to hear from you:

Do you may have any ideas or tips for portion management?

Do you employ the hand technique that we coated right now?

What’s your largest problem with portion sizes?

Tell us within the feedback!


PS: In the event you’re simply beginning your weight reduction journey, be sure to take a look at:


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

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