Every good diet adresses portion sizes. The easiest way to determine the best portion, is to go by servings. Serving sizes can be found at the top of all nutrtition labels. Some foods won’t have labels, and it’s 2016.. So, google them! Once you know the serving, it is time to measure it out correctly. Depending on the seriousness and/or the design of the diet, there are 3 possible methods to measuring portions. These methods are: the food scale, measuring cups and spoons, and visual comparison. Although, your diet may gear towards a particular style, a well balanced dieter will understand how to do all of them. Trust me, there will be a time where one will work, and the others will not- that’s life. I would recommend using Myfitnesspal.com for tracking and recording, however, a pad and pen will work.
I. The Food Scale
This is my personal favorite, and by far the most accurate. I recommend all my clients purchase a food scale when beginning a diet.
- Very Accurate
- Essentially no mess or clean up
- Costs money. $15-60
- Not good with pasta or rice (cooking discrepancies, due to water gain/loss)
- Can be inconvenient when away from home (traveling, restaurants, etc.)
- Requires user to do simple math occasionally.
How to use it:
- Read the label of the food selected. Determine the size of the serving desired. (see diagram at bottom of document).
- Place the food-less plat or cup on the scale. push the ZERO or TARE button until the weight reads 0.00g, otherwise the plate will be added to the food weight. Note- if you put the plate/cup on the scale BEFORE turning it on, it will automatically tare it. Long story short, make sure the scale reads zero before weighing the food.
- Select between grams (g), ounces (oz.), pounds (lbs.), or fluid ounces (fl.oz.). Some scales may have milk, water, and other unique settings.
- Place food on scale until the amount reads the desired weight.
- Add into tracking app on phone or notepad.
- Enjoy your food
II. Measuring cups/spoons
This is the second best option. Not as accurate as the food scale, but good for people who don’t like dealing with numbers, and recipes.
- Cheap to buy
- Less math than the scale
- good for recipes
- great for complex foods (multiple ingredients already mixed)
- Good for liquids such as soup, milk, or juices
- Good for pastas and rice
- Good for things hard to find serving weight of (like grams or oz.)
- Can be messy and wasteful
- Requires cleaning after use (unless you’re gross)
- Not as accurate. Dependent on the user’s ability
- Not good for traveling
- Easy to lose
How to use:
- Determine which tool the desired food requires. Usually the label or recipe will inform you, but here are some suggested instances of use:
- Dry measuring Cups– solids and large quantities of powders, creams, sauces, butters, etc.
- Liquid measuring cups– liquids/oils
- Tbsp. or tsp. – powders, creams, sauces, butters
2. Determine the amount needed per serving. This can usually be found on the nutrition label. (next week’s article)
3. Properly measure. This can be tricky, and may take some practice. Here are some general guidelines.
Liquid measuring cup
- Place cup on a flat and even surface
- Pour liquid until near desired line
- observe from eye level
- The liquid should have a slight dip, measure from that point
- Add or remove until even
Dry measuring cup
- Grab the correct size needed for a serving.
- add cups if needed (1cup and 1/2 cup= 1 1/2 cups)
- Fill if food is already broken down, dice/chop if not. My fitness pal and/or nutrition labels will usually specify which.
- DO NOT pack it down, unless specified
- even the top with a knife, unless it says “heaping” or “rounded”.
- Make sure to distinguish between tablespoons (tbsp.) and teaspoons (tsp.)!
- Grab the correct size needed for the serving
- Add spoons together if needed (exactly like cups)
- DO NOT pack it down, unless specified
- Even the top with a knife, unless it says “heaping” or “rounded”(just like cups)
4. Clean up. This alone is why I prefer the food scale
5. Enjoy your food.
III. Visual Comparison
This is obviously the least accurate, but most convenient. It is perfectly fine for people who are just trying be healthier/making small changes. This method is not for people looking to make serious changes, prepping for a show, or those with bad self-control. I very rarely recommend this to any clients, unless completely necessary.
- Very Simple
- Costs nothing
- No mess or clean up
- Easily portable
- Good for people with obsessive tendencies (numbers can cause anxiety)
- Great in times of rushing or complete inconvenience (traveling, restaurants, etc.)
- Not accurate at all
- Differs depending on hand and finger size
- Up to the person to decide
- Hard to do with foods larger than a fist
How to use:
- Look at serving size on food label or fitness app.
- Use and memorize these comparisons ⇓⇓, don’t just guess completely!
3. Enjoy your food.
With most people, the biggest contributor to weight gain is almost always portion sizes. Therefore, learning about serving sizes and measuring methods is ideal for serious lifestyle changes. Hopefully this article as helped you to determine which measuring method is for you. At the end of the day,however, all methods should be utilized, and will be needed in certain instances. This will allow you to stick to your diet as well as you can despite barriers such as traveling and eating out. Keep a look out next week for the third and final addition to this series, which will be on properly interpreting a nutrition label, and miscellaneous tips I give me clients. Please like, share and comment.
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