Janice Stanger, PhD

Janice Stanger, PhD

Posted May 15, 2011

Published in Health

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Six Reasons Portion Control Will Make You Overweight

Read More: portion control, serving size, USDA, weight loss, whole foods plant-based diet

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Why Serving Sizes Undercut Health and Weight Loss

Run-of-the-mill diets focus on controlling the amount you eat by limiting portions. cherry on plate_opt.jpgThis is an attempt to fit a manmade, arbitrary concept (“serving size”) into a natural biological system (your body). While this strategy may work for some people for a short time, the long-term outcome is often counter to health and weight goals.

The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 is typical. Some of the serving sizes this report lists include:

  • Bread: one slice 
  • Cooked rice: half a cup
  • Cut up vegetables: half a cup
  • Fruit: one medium piece
  • Cooked beans: half a cup
  • Milk: one cup
  • Cooked meat, poultry, or fish: one ounce
  • Soft margarine: one teaspoon
  • Sugar: one tablespoon

Here are six reasons that portion control ultimately will not succeed in getting you to a trim weight and perfect health.

ONE. It’s too complicated. The USDA Guidelines, for example, first have you determine your daily caloric needs. Then there is a complex system to determine how much you need of various foods, either by the day or week. These Guidelines assume you measure, weigh, and track all your food and beverages. How realistic is this? How many people have the time to precisely measure and record every sip or bite they consume?

TWO. Your metabolism slows when you do follow portion control guidelines that artificially limit calories. You are not eating enough. Your body believes you are starving and slows down to conserve energy. Your digestive tract becomes ultra-skilled at absorbing all the calories you do consume. When you finally start eating more, your weight bounces back very quickly.

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