(Note: always consult a physician before beginning any weight loss program)
In my last article I wrote about the importance of tracking your food intake, in this I am going to discuss the importance of portion control when losing weight or managing it. The importance of portion control cannot be stated enough if you desire permanent weight loss.
Brenda Sue and I have had numerous people contact us here, wanting advice for losing weight. We have a few standard questions that we ask about what kinds of foods these folks are eating along with questions about tracking and portion controls. You may, or may not, be surprised about some of the answers we have received about tracking, weighing and measuring. When you ask about these three things many people will say they do not have time for all of that.
Look, I am just going to be blunt – if you have no time for tracking, or weighing and measuring your portions, you quite simply are not serious about getting your weight under control. If you have time to vegetate in front of your television screen watching your favorite program on Netflix, you most certainly have the time to pay attention to portion controls. If you can create the time to visit your doctor for preventable, poor nutrition related ailments, you have time for portion control. If you can not make the time to weigh and measure the foods that you consume at home, you are not serious about controlling your weight, and you will never be successful at any lame attempts you might make going forward. No matter how expensive or pretty the packaging they come in, there are no magic powders you can mix into a drink that will increase your metabolism so portion controls are not necessary. No matter if the popular, world wide weight loss program you might be a member of tells you that certain foods are free to eat, you still have to manage your portion control. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of portion control to weight management. You have to know how much food of every type of foods you eat, including fruits and vegetables, in order to be successful at weight loss.
Weight management relies on calories in and calories out!
Neither you, myself, or anyone else can change the laws of thermodynamics. You have to consume fewer calories than your metabolism requires for simple maintenance in order to lose weight. No matter who you are, if you cannot lose weight, it is because you are still eating more calories than what your basal metabolic rate requires for you. Of course, there are some serious medical issues where this appears to not be true, but these are the exceptions and not the rule.
What is Basal Metabolic Rate?
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is often used interchangeably with resting metabolic rate (RMR). While BMR is a minimum number of calories required for basic functions at rest, RMR — also called resting energy expenditure (REE) — is the number of calories that your body burns while it’s at rest.
Your BMR can be used to help you gain, lose, or maintain your weight. By knowing how many calories you burn, you can know how many to consume. To put it simply:
Is your goal to maintain your weight? Consume the same number of calories that you burn.
Is your goal to gain weight? Consume more calories than you burn.
Is your goal to lose weight? Consume fewer calories than you burn.
Your BMR is determined by a number of factors, including:
Of these factors, you can take steps to change your weight and body composition. So if you want to change your BMR, your first steps should be to lose weight and increase muscle. But, this is going to require effort on your part to track and manage your food portions whether you want to or not.
There is a popular weight loss business that has existed for several years now, which has a list of foods that have no point value in their method of tracking. It is actually a pretty good program if you understand nutrition and their concepts. However, by not giving a value to foods on this list, people will quite often think they can eat as much of them as they want. I know this is probably not the intent of this weight loss business, but many of their customers will still over eat these foods after eating their maximum on foods that do have a point value. This simply does not work, when you end up eating more calories than your body requires for the day. All foods have calories whether they are nutritionally sound or not. Just because a food is nutritionally sound, it still does not mean you can eat as much as you desire. Calories in versus calories burned is still the rule of the day, no matter the source. Not that I would ever recommend it, but you could eat butter slathered bacon sandwiches every day and still lose body fat as long as you do not exceed your caloric needs. Conversely, even if you ate a majority of fruit all day, you could still gain weight when you exceed your caloric needs. The calories from different food types consumed are not equal in nutritional value, but they are equivalent in their energy value as the laws of thermodynamics apply to human metabolism. And this is exactly why we need to pay attention to portion control of the foods we consume each day.
When we are guessing on portion sizes, it is more common than not to underestimate how much we are eating by a fairly large margin. A tablespoon of peanut butter is roughly 100 calories, but you could be off by 50 calories or more if you serve yourself up a heaping tablespoon or two. It is difficult to know how much you’re eating unless you’re actually measuring it.
Another example would be daily snacking on almonds as I do. There are 255 calories in a one and a half ounce serving of almonds. If you are over this amount by only 15%, your serving is actually 293 calories instead of 255, or an increase of 38.
This 38 extra calories times 7 days equals 266 extra calories for the week. Compound that by 52 weeks and I have 13,832 extra calories per year. The result of 13, 832 calories per year over my caloric needs by itself is 4 pounds of body fat gained, simply from a 15% underestimation of the size of my daily portion of almonds. The caloric equivalent of one apple per day over my caloric needs, over the course of a year, would mean that I would gain would result in a 10 pound gain of body fat. One medium apple is 95 calories.
The bottom line is, if you are not tracking the foods you consume, and the portion sizes, you are not likely going to be successful in weight loss or weight management. This is the truth, even if you are following our plan here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness. If you want to know how many calories per day you require to lose or maintain your weight, you can check out our Calorie Counter Pro feature here on the website. We do not recommend anyone try to lose more than 1 or 2 pounds of body fat per week. Anything more than that is simply not healthy. We also have a pictorial body fat estimator if you want to know where you are with your body fat level and where you would like to get to. With our methodology, I guarantee you can achieve your goals over time, but this is going to require patience, and strict adherence to the plan. If you were to tell me that you tried our methodology here at David’s Way and failed to lose weight, the first thing I am going to ask you is if you actually quit eating added sugars and processed foods, and did you truly practice portion control while tracking the foods you consumed. No matter your answer to me, you will know for yourself whether you did or not.