When anybody(myself included) talks about healthy eating or weight loss tips, they usually conclude with the phrase “As with all things, portion control or eat the right portion ”.

But what does that even mean?

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What is meant by portion control?

Simply put, controlling your portion means sticking to a set amount (portion) of food in one sitting: The right amount depends on your calorie and nutrient needs.

In other words, Portion control is eating the right quantity of food based on your goals be it maintain weight, lose weight, gain weight.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just develop healthy eating habits, it’s important to have a good idea of what a healthy portion looks like.

Irrespective of the diet you’re following, portion control is crucial. Take it one day at a time. Living a healthy lifestyle is a marathon and not a sprint.

To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume, which inevitably means one thing: portion control.

Portion control doesn’t mean you have to eat tiny portions of everything.

You don’t want to eat tiny food and feel like you’re suffering on a diet, but you do have to eat fewer calories.

What is the difference between a portion and a serving?

A portion is how much food you choose to eat at one time, whether in a restaurant, from a package, or at home.

A serving, or serving size, is the amount of food listed on a product’s Nutrition Facts, or food label.

Different products have different serving sizes, which could be measured in cups, ounces, grams, pieces, slices, or numbers—such as 2 pieces.

A serving size on a food label may be more or less than the amount you should eat, depending on your age, weight, whether you are male or female, and how active you are.

Depending on how much you choose to eat, your portion size may or may not match the serving size. It may be less or more.

For example, one serving of granola may be listed as a quarter cup, but if you have two servings, your portion is a half cup.

Oftentimes, the right portion size is one serving, but that’s not always true.

To accurately practice portion control, you need to know the amount of serving in your foods and the number of calories per serving.

What are the correct portion sizes?

Being aware of correct portion sizes for different classes of foods is very crucial in mastering portion control.

The portion size of a particular food group depends on the serving size while the serving size depends on the nutritional makeup of the food.

1g of Carbs = 4 calories

1g of Protein = 4 calories

1g of Fat = 9 calories

It may help to invest in a scale or measuring cup to weigh food and correctly assess your intake.

Knowing how to estimate the number of calories in homemade food and reading food labels also increases awareness of proper portions.

If calorie counting seems like hard work, then knowing the recommended serving sizes for commonly eaten foods can help you moderate your intake.

Here are some examples:

  • Cooked rice or pasta: 1/2 cup (75 and 100 grams, respectively)
  • Vegetables and salad: 1–2 cups (150–300 grams)
  • Breakfast cereal: 1 cup (40 grams)
  • Cooked beans: 1/2 cup (90 grams)
  • Nut butter: 2 tablespoons (16 grams)
  • Cooked meats: 3 ounces (85 grams)

You don’t always have to measure your meals because it can actually be a bit tedious when you’re just starting.

However, doing so may be helpful for a short period to develop an awareness of what an appropriate portion size looks like. After a while, you may not need to measure everything.

Use Your Hands as a Serving Guide

Another way to gauge appropriate portion size without any measuring tools is by simply using your hands.

As your hands usually correspond to your body size, bigger people who require more food typically have bigger hands.

A rough guide for each meal is:

  • High-protein foods: A palm-sized serving for women and two palm-sized portions for men — such as meat, fish, poultry, and beans.
  • Vegetables and salads: A fist-sized portion for women and two fist-sized portions for men.
  • High-carb foods: One cupped-hand portion for women and two for men — such as whole grains and starchy vegetables
  • High-fat foods: One thumb-sized portion for women and two for men — such as butter, oils, and nuts.

What does the hand serving guide translate to?

Palm = Big matchbox or 100-150g =1 serving of protein

Tip of index finger = 1 teaspoon or 5mls = 1 serving of fat

Thumb = 1 tablespoon or 15mls  = 1/2 a serve of nuts

Closed fist = 1 Cup or 150g -200g = 2 servings of carbs

What is a healthy portion of rice?

Yes!!! I need to answer this separately because I’m tired of people making rice the villain. You can eat rice and still lose weight and belly fat, I promise.

A healthy portion of rice is 1 Cup cooked. You can eat a little bit more if you will be eating low carb meals for the rest of the day.

Please eat your rice biko. Carbs are not the enemy.

How do you start a portion control?

Whether you’re just starting or you just want to learn new tricks, these portion control tips will help you achieve your goal weight faster.

10 portion control tips to help you lose weight faster

1. Start with a glass of water

Drink 16 ounces (a big glass) or 500mls of water before you eat.

Filling your belly with water will naturally make you less likely to overeat.

Additionally, some symptoms of dehydration may actually be what’s causing your rumbling belly, so sipping some water before you eat may eliminate your “hunger” altogether.

This is my number 1 tip for you honestly and it works like magic.

Whether you want to eat a very high caloric food at home or you have to eat something unhealthy outside. Water first.

The problem is that a lot of us have been trained to drink water after eating. Some of us even eat without drinking water.

Drinking water before eating will help you eat the right portion without feeling deprived and also help you feel full faster.

2. Make carbs the topper instead of the base

Want to eat rice? Load up your plate with veggies and a serving of lean protein, then add a cup of rice.
Craving for granola? Instead of starting with a granola base, fill your cup with yogurt, add fruits, and then sprinkle just a tiny amount of granola on top for the crunch you crave.

3. Use a small plate and a small spoon.

This helps reduce your portion –  The small plate makes your food look more than it really is while the small spoon helps reduce how much you’re eating per time allowing you to savor your food.

Usually, I recommend drinking 500mls of water before eating if you’re using this method.

The reason is that for people like me that are Oliver Twist’s younger sisters when it comes to super yummy meals, using small plates don’t work for us at all.

We usually end up going for the second serving and if we’re not careful,  the third serving!

Therefore, it’s best to drink water to reduce your stomach capacity.

4. Plate backward

Use a normal size plate but half of your plate should be veggies and the remaining half,  protein and carbs.
I recommend number. You will be so full, you will think you’ve eaten the whole world! This is also known as portion distortion.

Think about it: a normal serving of pasta looks way smaller when it’s served on a huge plate — meaning we’re more likely to feel unsatisfied after eating. With portion distortion, you will think you’re eating more and you will be full for longer because of the added veggies.

Normally, we start plating from carbs. For example, if we want to eat rice, we heap it on the plate, then we add plantain, stew, meat and whatever veggies we want to add.

When you plate backward, however, every food must have a spot on your plate. No heaping of any food on the other.

Start with veggies, then protein and lastly carbs and fat.

5. Use the same bowls and plates

Implementing portion control tips can be a bit tasking when you’re just starting.

If you’re trying to weigh or measure everything you eat, that can lead to OCD. Hahahah! I’m kidding.

But seriously, you can’t measure your food all day, every day. So sticking with the same bowls and plates make it easier to eyeball your portion.

All you need to do is measure the food a few times using the same utensils, then you can start estimating with your eyes of experience.

6. Prep portion controlled meal in advance

It’s hard to serve yourself the right portion of food when you’re hungry and tired.

For this reason, we often eat too much at dinner time.

But if you prepare portion-controlled meals in advance, you’ll always eat the right amount.

Invest in portion control containers. I got mine from @greeniesng on Instagram. 

When you meal prep in bulk, serve the food in the right portion before refrigerating. This way- you have grab and eat meals ready for the week.

7. Set aside leftovers before your meal.

If you’re cooking dinner and intend to have leftovers for lunch or dinner the next night, portion it out before you even sit down to eat.

That way, you can determine the correct portions before you dig in. It’s much harder to stop eating when there’s still delicious, home-cooked food on your plate.

8. Don’t eat packaged food straight from the container.

Most of us eat/drink more than the recommended serving size on packaged food products.

Think about the last time you drank a pack of Hollandia yogurt. Drink you finish the pack despite telling yourself you wouldn’t?

Rather than eating snacks from the original packaging, empty them into a small bowl to prevent eating more than you need. The same principle applies to drinks.

Portion out the food while using the serving size on the container as your guide.

When you’re taking snacks on the go, portion them into Ziploc bags.

For example, if you buy a tin of nuts that contains 10 servings, divide the contents of the container into 10 smaller baggies ahead of time.

9. Eat mindfully

Eating when you’re distracted pretty much guarantees you’ll overeat.

If you don’t take the time to pay attention to what you’re putting into your mouth, it’s tough to recognize when you’re full.

To be more mindful when eating, Experts suggests the following.

  • Avoid eating in front of a screen. That means both your TV and your laptop.
  • Turn off your phone or put it away and sit quietly.
  • Enjoy the company of others and the food.
  • Chew properly
  • Take your time to savor your meal. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you’re full.

10. Portion control tips when eating out

Restaurants usually serve one person enough food for two or three. But you don’t have to eat it all.

  • If you are eating out, you can always ask for a half portion or a children’s dish. This will save you a lot of calories and help prevent overeating.
  • Alternatively, you could share a meal with someone or order a starter and side instead of the main dish.
  • If you order a full-size entree, box up half of it before you start eating.
  • Order a side salad or vegetables, asking for sauces and dressings to be served separately and avoiding buffet-style, all-you-can-eat restaurants where it’s very easy to overindulge.

Can you lose weight just by portion control?

To make these portion controlled meals more filling, remember to ensure meals are balanced in terms of macronutrients — a source of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs.

Include low GI carbohydrates like chickpeas, lentils, oats, brown rice, etc.

They are all wonderful sources of carbohydrate foods which digest slowly and give you energy for a long time.

Include healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil because the fat helps us stay more satisfied, plus it’s really good for your skin, hair, and body.

And, of course, good quality protein like chicken, fish and leaner cuts of beef and lamb which have been grass-fed, if possible. That helps improve the composition of the fatty acids the meat contains.”

For vegetarian sources of protein, stick to legumes, tofu, and tempeh.

When you stay away from junks and eat wholesome foods in the right portion, you will be amazed at how fast the weight will fall off.

I hope this helps.

10 portion control tips to help you lose weight fast fit4healthng.com

Thanks for sharing!


  • It’s funny, I was just telling my husband that we need to work on portion control, then I saw your post! These are some great tips!

  • Great tips! I’m trying to lose weight so I can enlist in the Navy and I have so much trouble with portion sizes. My mom is always trying to remind me about portion sizes but I still have trouble. I love food and I get hungry very easy. I’m in my late twenties though and I’ve found my metabolism slowing down. I still get hungry but then I pack on the weight if I eat too much.

    • Kiersten, try these tips and let me know how it goes. Try plating backward, drinking water before your meals and HIIT. The weight will surely fall off. I can’t wait to start calling you Captain Kiersten. Super excited for you.

  • I’m still working on this. It’s hard but trying to add more protein as it tends to fill you up. Good tips to remember when trying to not eat as much. It’s a struggle, and will continue to be. Thank you for the information.

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