In the US and UK, portion sizes seem to have got much bigger than what they were a few decades ago. Many of us have no problem tucking away a good portion of our favourite food, and this generally means one thing, a higher calorie intake.
One of the best ways of tackling an overweight problem is to gradually reduce portion size for all meals of the day. Doing this also has the added benefit of still being able to eat some of the foods we enjoy.
Our digestive system works best with only small amounts of newly ingested energy and nutrients at one time, thus if you eat a meal and consume more energy than your body requires at that specific moment in time, then your body has to store the excess in the fat cells. It doesn’t always matter if you consume fewer calories than required over the whole day. Being in a negative energy balance only increases the chances that any new fat stored will be used up at some point when you don’t eat much for a few hours or when energy expenditure increases dramatically. But this is no guarantee. At some point the body may need carbohydrates so it’ll burn blood sugar, glycogen or convert muscle protein into sugar. Fat burning is at the bottom of the oxidative hierarchy, thus there is no guarantee that sufficient amounts will be burned at any time.
Eating smaller meals helps because there’s always less potential energy to be stored as fat. So at a time when your body can burn excess fat, it can continue burning off old stores and help you lose further weight.
Eating little and often also helps provide the body with regular protein to maintain muscle tissue. And as we always say, more muscle tissue means a higher metabolism and a faster fat burning potential.
Eating smaller meals has one more benefit; it stops you from feeling full and drained like after a big meal. After a large meal we never feel like moving for hours, until the meal has been digested completely. This means you’re not likely to get up and do stuff. In other words, you may become lazy for a few more hours. A small meal digested quickly, means you’ll be available to get up and do stuff quicker allowing you to burn more energy and fat stores.
So small meals, eaten often will have a triple benefit to losing weight.
- Fewer calories ingested
- A higher metabolic rate
- Less belly bloating effects
Ways to help reduce portion size
- Drink a large glass of water before meal
- Only add small amount to plate, then wait for 20 minutes and store the rest for the next day
- Use a smaller plate