Serving Sizes and Weight Loss

Get serving size right and you'll be well on your way to reaching your personal "best" weight. This is probably the most common mistake people make when they try to follow a diet plan: going over on calories because of misunderstandings about how much to eat. Now, if you're eating nothing but pre-packaged diet dinners, the serving sizes are already controlled for you but the reality is that no one stays on packaged food forever. In the real world of eating there are some decisions that you need to make every time you eat. And when it comes to serving size getting it right is not as easy as it sounds, especially since restaurants and the food industry have made your serving size decisions for you (almost always too much!). 

Lose WeightNow, most people who are following a weight loss diet are given some way to control calorie intake - either by limiting foods or by specifying how much of each type of food to eat. Our Personal Diet programs use menu plans (a pre-set amount of food each day with a variety of choices you can substitute ) and also eating guidelines, which tell you how much and what kind of food to eat so that your diet is balanced and meets your personal goals. The eating guidelines give you serving sizes of each food in the group, and each serving has a specific amount of calories and other nutrients so that when you stick to these guidelines, you are getting the right amount and the right type of foods each day. This approach makes serving sizes simple because you know exactly how much to eat to lose the weight you want, and you can track your serving sizes and see if there are any trouble spots or patterns that you need to correct to reach your goal. This is really important to do if you want to reach your weight goal.  If you aren't following a diet plan like our PersonalDiets, you'll need to figure out how many calories you need to eat for your weight goal and then you'll need to keep track of the amount and type of food you eat to stay within your calorie range. Here's a few things to be aware of when figuring out how much to eat:

1. Packaged foods come in a variety of sizes, and it can be hard to tell how many calories you're consuming unless you read the nutrition label carefully. For example, a large carbonated fruit beverage may list 80 Calories per serving, but it may contain 2 1/2 servings per bottle. So if you drink the whole bottle, you get 200 Calories! Read the label to find out how many calories it contains and any other nutrient information that is important to you, but double check the number of servings in each package or bottle to make sure that you're getting the serving size you intended.

2. Bread and other baked goods are tricky when it comes to serving size. If you eat one large bakery muffin that would not be one serving of bread - instead, it is about 3-4 standard bread servings. Even plain bread comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. A standard serving of bread is about one ounce - that equals 80 Calories, but many types of bread are larger than that, so read labels for the calories and size of bread. It's very easy for this to add up quickly!

3. Meat portions are very large in restaurants and even in some packaged foods. A serving of meat is not one steak or one quarter pound hamburger. One serving of meat is just one ounce, so when you eat a  12-ounce piece of roast, you are getting 12 servings of meat! When you consider that very lean meat contains about 55 Calories per ounce and high fat meat has much more, these calories add up quickly. 


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Carolyn Classick-Kohn,MS,RD is the founder of the Personal Diet.  Carolyn offers a personalized diet and FREE diet support at both www.PersonalDiets.com & www.A-PersonalDietitian.com.  PersonalDiets are designed to your needs. This is accomplished by a proprietary technology and our expert's diet guidance.  Each diet is designed to your eating preferences, lifestyle, & health needs.  Become a Personal Diet member today - get a the "right" diet and the professional support you need! 

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