Portion Size and Control

11 04 2013

My recent post on the unreliability of Nutrition Facts Labels made me realize just how important it is for people to understand the concept of portion control, and in order to enforce portion control, we must first understand the caloric content of portions. In order to determine such information, we need to know 3 things: the appropriate size of a portion, the number of calories per type of macronutrient, and the macronutrient composition of the food being measured.keep-an-eye-on-your-portion-sizes

Portion sizes

Before redesigning the wheel, let me refer you to another blog that specializes in portion sizing: Precise Portions.

You can find many visual cues online as well, much like the one on the right. Some basics include:

Meats: deck of cards

Starches, grains and fruit: size of a tennis ball

Nuts: palmful

Calories per type of macronutrient

This is the easiest part:

1 g carbohydrate = 4 kcal

1 g protein = 4 kcal

1 g fat = 9 kcal

Macronutrient composition of foods

Herein lies the tricky part. The truth of the matter is that it takes a long time to memorize the specific macronutrient breakdown or most foods. I’ve been working on this for so long that I have an excellent idea of the macronutrient breakdown of any meal put in front of me, and in turn can calculate the approximate calorie content. The key is that you have to accept that you’re always going to be ballparking. Meats are always a mix of fat and protein, and the cut of meat and cooking time/style can alter the calorie content as well. Oils, both for cooking and for use on salads and other dishes, are always tricky. If you prepared the meal, you’ll know how much oil you used, but if you receive a meal in a restaurant, oils are the main ingredient that can throw off anyone watching their diet. For this reason, it’s always wise to ask for dressing and sauces on the side, so that you can control the amount of extra fat (the most caloric macronutrient) going into your meal.

Here is an excellent list to get you started; I stole this from the American Dietetic Association. Remember, these are ballpark figures, but will help you on your way!

Vegetables contain 25 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrate. One serving equals:

½ C Cooked vegetables (carrots,    broccoli, zucchini, cabbage, etc.)
1 C Raw vegetables or salad    greens
½ C Vegetable juice
If you’re hungry, eat more fresh or steamed vegetables. Vegetables keep you full and prevent you from eating other fattening foods.

Fat-Free and Very Low-Fat Milk contain 90 calories per serving. One serving equals:

1 C Milk, fat-free or 1% fat
¾ C Yogurt, plain non-fat or low-fat
1 C Yogurt, artificially sweetened

Very Lean Protein choices have around 100-125 calories and up to 3-4 grams of fat per serving, along with around 20-30 grams of protein. One serving equals:

3 oz Turkey breast or chicken breast, skin removed
3 oz Fish fillet (flounder, sole, scrod, cod, etc.)
3 oz Canned tuna in water
3 oz Shellfish (clams, lobster, scallop, shrimp)
1 C Cottage cheese, non-fat or low-fat
6 Egg whites
¾ C Egg substitute
3 oz Fat-free cheese
1 C Beans, cooked (black beans, kidney, chick peas or lentils): count as 1 starch/bread and 1 very lean protein

Fruits contain 15 grams of carbohydrate and around 60 calories. One serving equals:

1 small Apple, banana, orange, nectarine
1 med. Fresh peach
1 Kiwi
½ Grapefruit
½ Mango
1 C Fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries)
1 C Fresh melon cubes
18th Honeydew melon
4 oz Unsweetened juice
4 tsp Jelly or jam

Lean Protein choices have around 150-175 calories and up to 8-9 grams of fat per serving, along with 20-30 grams of protein. One serving equals:

3 oz Chicken—dark meat, skin removed
3 oz Turkey—dark meat, skin removed
3 oz Salmon, swordfish, herring
3 oz Lean beef (flank steak, London broil, tenderloin, roast beef)
3 oz Veal, roast or lean chop
3 oz Lamb, roast or lean chop
3 oz Pork, tenderloin or fresh ham
3 oz Low-fat cheese (with 3 g  or less of fat per ounce)
3 oz Low-fat luncheon meats (with 3 g or less of fat per ounce)
1 C 4.5% cottage cheese
6 med. Sardines

Medium-Fat Proteins have 200-250 calories and up to 15 grams of fat per serving, along with 20-30 grams of protein. One serving equals:

3 oz Beef (any prime cut), corned beef, ground beef
3 oz Pork chop
3-4 Whole egg
3 oz Mozzarella cheese
¾ C Ricotta cheese
12 oz Tofu
Choose medium-fat proteins less frequently than lean and extra-lean proteins

Starches contain around 15 grams of carbohydrate and 80 calories per serving. One serving equals:

1 slice Bread (white, pumpernickel, whole wheat, rye)
2 slices Reduced-calorie or “lite” bread
¼ (1 oz) Bagel (varies)
½ English muffin
½ Hamburger bun
¾ C Cold cereal
13 C Rice, brown or white, cooked
13 C Barley or couscous, cooked
13 C Legumes (dried beans, peas or lentils), cooked
½ C Pasta, cooked
½ C Bulgar, cooked
½ C Corn, sweet potato, or green peas
3 oz Baked sweet or white potato
¾ oz Pretzels
3 C Popcorn, hot air popped or microwave (80% light)

Fats contain 45 calories and 5 grams of fat per serving. One serving equals:

1 tsp Oil (vegetable, corn, canola, olive, etc.)
1 tsp Butter
1 tsp Stick margarine
1 tsp Mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Reduced-fat margarine or mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Salad dressing
1 Tbsp Cream cheese
2 Tbsp Lite cream cheese
1/8th Avocado
8 large Black olives
10 large Stuffed green olives
1 slice Bacon

In the end, it’s simply a matter of time to program the brain to remember all this information. As always, the key to a healthy diet and staying fit is to eat appropriate portion sizes, and meals that consist mostly of lean meats and veggies with limited carbs and fats. Keep the portions reasonable, the processed nutrient-poor foods low and you’ll be well on your way to a healthy diet!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to shoot me a message!