Diets are simple: expand more calories than you intake. However, counting calories has become more difficult as portion sizes have ballooned. Ever gone to The Cheesecake Factory? Those portions could feed a family of four. It’s hard to know what is a healthy portion and what is just too much. It’s important to know, though, if you hope to maintain your weight or lose weight. Being aware of serving sizes and proper portions can help you keep your calories in balance.
There’s a lot of negative connotation that comes with the word “calorie.” A calorie is simply the amount of energy in food. Your body needs energy to function. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats all contain calories; they aren’t separate from calories. According to MayoClinic.com, Proteins and carbohydrates have about 4 calories a gram, and fats have about 9 calories a gram. Alcohol also is a source of calories, providing about 7 calories a gram.” No matter where they come from, calories are either turned into energy or stored in your body as fat. By working out or decreasing your energy intake, you can burn up these fat stores.
Losing weight can be simple if you are conscious about your calorie intake, which can be easily controlled by how your portion control is: the smaller the portion, the less calories you intake. It’s that simple. If you decrease your daily calorie intake by 500 calories, you can reduce your weekly intake by 3,500, which will help you lose about a pound a week. Understanding serving sizes is the tricky part, and it is vital to portion control. According to LiveStrong.com, Serving sizes are often smaller than most people imagine. A single serving of meat, for example, is 3 to 4 oz, about the size of a bar of soap. A 3-oz portion of fish is similar in size to a checkbook.” Also, beware of the nutritional facts on the sides of packaged foods since the serving size is usually less than the entire package. So if there are 2 servings per package, you should double the calories that you see on the side for an accurate estimation of the calories you are eating by eating the whole package.
While researching this topic, I found a great reference on WebMD.com. Here, they divide foods into categories: vegetables, meat, dairy, etc. Click on a category (I chose vegetables) and then on a specific item (carrots). The site then shows you what you should compare your serving size to (1 serving of carrots = 1 baseball). This is a great tool because it gives you an everyday object as a reference; something that you already know the size of and can easily eyeball.