Tuesday, July 3, 2007

How small portions help in weight loss

portion control plate
This portion control plate has been designed as a weight loss aid for all those who hate diets and calorie counting. It has sections for every type of food: starchy carbohydrates (rice, pasta, potatoes and the like), protein (meat, fish, poultry), cheese, and a sauce circle. The general rule is that every type of food should stay within the borders that separate the sections on the plate. For pasta or rice with sauce, the food is first put to fill the carbohydrate section, then rearranged to a ring around the sauce circle, then the sauce circle is filled.

The plate seems to work better than a conventional diet. Both methods have been compared in a study of the University of Calgary: A hundred and thirty obese diabetics either used the portion control plate or have been taught by a dietician. The diet counseling was hardly successful, the patients lost only 0.1 percent of their weight on average. With the portion plate, weight loss was a bit better, at least 1.8 percent on average.

A different portion size trial has been undertaken with nineteen volunteers at a county medical center of Minnesota. They received free lunch for two months, one month with a normal portion and one month with a double portion of the same foods. With the double portions, daily intake was more than three hundred kilocalories higher on average, and the subjects gained more than a pound of weight in this month. In the month with normal portions, the weight remained more or less stable.

The problem of big portions is the norm that they set. It is very hard for the eater to ignore it and just eat as much as he or she likes. Most of us have been taught eat all up manners as a child. There is a close relation between portion size and obesity: Fast food portions are larger in the United States than in Europe and so is the obesity problem.

Portion-related weight loss tips: Take only half the amount of food on your plate than usual. Eat slowly and savour your meal. Do not finish your plate before the others have finished theirs. If you like, take another portion, but wait until the others have been served.

Photo credit: thedietplate.co.uk

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