Portion Control: How Much Food Should You Be Eating?

I get these questions so often. 

  • How much food should I put on my plate? 
  • How much should I eat? 
  • Do I have to count calories?
  • Why am I hungry after I eat?
  • I am eating the right foods but why don't I lose weight?

It's funny because I usually get scenarios that are polar opposites, from people that are starting to be healthy and "diet".  You will probably fall into one of these categories.  If you eat junk all the time and haven't started a good nutrition plan, you obviously will not fall into any of these.

Ms. Not Eating Enough:

This person is trying to "diet" and in an effort to do so, this person is probably burning muscle and living miserably.  Because I don't know about you girlfriend, but if I don't eat, I am not a happy camper.  So these people are normally a bit cranky all the time. 

Ms. Not Eating Enough puts all the right foods on  her plate but not enough quantity.  Either that or this is the "SALAD EATER".  You only eat salads which normally does not include arugula, watercress nor spinach so you end up with a bunch of non-nutrient dense greens and non-filling bowl which you devour and feel full right after, but about an hour later, you are FAMISHED.  This is why you are hungry an hour after you eat, because your portions aren't enough! If they were,  you should be able to make it to 2 1/2-3 hours until your next meal.

Guess what?

You are not eating enough!  But it's OK, you are not supposed to just know this.  But now we are going to change that.  But first let's talk about Ms. Eating Too Much Of The Right Foods, how about that for a name.

Ms. Eating Too Much Of The Right Foods:

These people are awesome!  They think that even though they are eating grilled chicken, broccoli, and brown rice, they can eat as much as they want of it and still LOSE WEIGHT.

I wish it were so, since girlfriend over here loves to eat, but unfortunately at the end of the day if you want to LOSE WEIGHT, you must EXPEND MORE CALORIES THAN YOU CONSUME.  So even if you are eating the "right foods", if you eat too much of them, you still won't lose weight.  You still must have portion control even though you are eating "clean foods".  I will repeat, "even if you eat clean foods all the time, if you over do your portions, you will not lose weight".

So, How much should you eat?

I'm going to give you a starting point for both Ms.Not Eating Enough & Ms. Eating Too Much Of The Right Foods.

If you have a plate, there should be an equal amount of:

  1. Lean Protein
  2. Starchy Carbohydrates
  3. Fibrous Vegetables

You can start with the size of your fist or the palm of your hand. For example, you would eat a piece of grilled chicken the size of your palm, a sweet potato the size of your fist, and roasted vegetables the size of the palm of your  hand.  And you should eat a small meal like this every 3-4 hours.


This is a starting point.  Once you can eat like this consistently for at least 4 weeks, you can start playing with your calories.  I didn't say COUNT YOUR CALORIES.

Unless you are doing some sort of competition or show, there is really no need to count your calories.  It's just not a way of living.  What usually happens to these people that live their lives counting calories, is that "THEY LIVE THEIR LIVES COUNTING CALORIES".  There are plenty of people that are in amazing shape and are ripped and don't count their calories, so there is some hope for you!

What you can do is learn how to control your portions and play with your calories without having to count every piece of food you put in your mouth (which again, is sooooo not healthy).

For example:  Say you have been eating a meal like I discussed above with the portion sizes we discussed.  Say you want to lose a few pounds.  I would tell you to cut 20% off of each food you put on your plate.  So if you had a piece of chicken the size of your palm, you would cut about 20% of it out, the same thing with the sweet potato, you would just eat a smaller potato (20% smaller).

By doing this you learn how to manipulate your calories but by looking at your food and knowing what a serving size should look like depending on what your goal is.  Instead of having to live miserably counting calories all day long.

You can do the same with adding calories.  Some of my clients when they start are not eating enough.  Sometimes I have to say whatever portion they are having add 20% more to each food.  It will all depend on your goal.  But this way you learn what a good meal should look like and how that particular serving size will affect your goals.  And sooner than later you will be a pro at knowing how much food you need to intake in order to achieve your goals.

I don't know about  you but that is way more fun than counting calories all day and thinking of food all day and thinking of what your next meal is and  how much you can eat!  Don't get stuck in this, it's not fun and it's not a way of life.

 I hope you put this to use!  I would love to hear about you, do you count your calories, how do you monitor how much food you intake?

My Eat To Be Fit Healthy Cooking Class is starting on Thursday September 1st.  Here you will learn how to make healthy food taste amazing so that you can enjoy the process of "DIETING".  We also discuss strategies for prepping, portion control, and tons of recipes.  If you want more info email me at michelle@michellemariefit.com.  Spaces are limited so reserve your spot now.