I have written about portion sized before, HERE. And I include a nice graphic that shows that a cup is about the size of a baseball and that half a cup is about the size of a computer mouse and 3 oz is about the size of a deck of cards. While I think that is somewhat helpful, I think it is more helpful to actually SEE real portion sizes versus what we often use as a portion.
I know I am the queen of “eyeballing” portion sizes and often I am WAY off. Not only am I way off, but my portion sizes tend to increase over time. Our eyeballs can easily deceive us.
The best way to monitor portion sizes is literally to weigh and measure your food. What a pain, right? Not really. It doesn’t take much time (though it does add a few extra dishes) and the big payoff is you actually KNOW how many calories you are consuming. For weight loss or even maintenance, knowing how many calories are in a bowl of cereal or a serving of yogurt can be the difference between gaining and losing.
Yesterday, for example, I made myself a granola-yogurt-rice milk-blackberry breakfast mess. Before I started I pulled everything out and looked at the serving sizes and calories on the side of the boxes. Here is something I found interesting: the serving size for the yogurt (plain-low fat) was 1 cup. The serving size for the granola was 3/4 of a cup.
I measured out 3/4 of a cup of granola and realized that I didn’t want anywhere near as much yogurt as a full serving of 1 cup. I measured out less than 3/4 cup (I used the same measuring cup) and it was really still more that what I needed. The rice milk was the same way. A serving was a half cup, but I only wanted a splash to help soften the granola. I measured out a half a cup to see how much it really was, and then poured into my bowl the amount I wanted. Turned out I really only had less than a 1/4 cup of rice milk on my cereal.
So here is my point: if I would have just used the measurements on the serving size I would have had more calories than I really needed and more food than I actually wanted. By paying attention I managed to avoid nearly 200 (!!) calories in my breakfast. For someone that is only 5’4″ tall and for weight loss should only be consuming about 1300-1500 calories per day, an extra 200 calories per meal is A LOT.
So here are some pictures of ACTUAL portions of ACTUAL food.
It means an extra 110 calories in your meal!
An extra 110 calories when you are trying to monitor your calories and lose weight, every day, adds up to 770 calories per week. To lose a pound of fat you need to reduce your calories by 3500 per week over your baseline metabolic calorie need. So you can see how easy it is for a little extra here or there to add up and prevent you from losing weight, or worse, how easy it is to cause weight gain!
I will be talking more about this in the coming days and weeks, but for now, just think about it. Pay a little more attention. How much creamer are you *really* putting in your coffee? Is it really a tablespoon or are you adding a 1/4 cup or more? All those splashes, dashes, and smidges add up over time.
Do you eyeball your portions?