Is portion control overrated as a weight-loss strategy?
Ask any weight-loss expert and they’ll tell you shedding pounds requires deprivation: Eat less food by putting less on your plate, and eventually, you’ll lose weight. That may just be a fallacy, according to a new study. The results suggest you can eat as much as you want—as long as you’re smart about it.
Researchers at Penn State served volunteers meals of varying sizes and measured how much of each meal they polished off. As the researchers expected, people who got more on their plate ate more food than they would normally; for instance, a 75 per cent increase in the portion size led the volunteers to eat an average of 27 per cent more calories. (Here are 30 Painless Ways to Cut 100 Calories!)
However, a third of the study participants had been part of a year-long weight loss trial in which they had been taught to make healthier food choices. While this group was just as likely to overeat when faced with larger portions, they tended to eat more of the healthy, lower-calorie foods on their plate; as a result, they still took in fewer calories than people who made poorer decisions about what they ate.
“If you choose high-calorie-dense foods but restrict the amount that you’re eating, portions will be too small, and you’re likely to get hungry,” says Faris Zuraikat, a graduate student and one of the study authors. The findings indicate that by filling up on low-calorie foods like vegetables and lean meats like chicken and fish, you can lose weight while still eating plenty. (Here’s the Absolute Best Diet for Weight Loss—And No, It’s Not Keto!)
“The study supports the idea that eating less of the higher-calorie-dense foods and more of the nutritious, lower-calorie-dense foods can help to manage hunger while consuming fewer calories,” explained Barbara Rolls, professor and the Helen A. Guthrie Chair of Nutritional Sciences, Penn State. “You still have a full plate, but you’re changing the proportions of the different types of foods.”
Originally published as Yes, You Can Eat Large Portions and Still Lose Weight—Here’s How on ReadersDigest.com.