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  • Writer's pictureJo Leccacorvi

Counting calories or portion control?

In simple terms, if you want to lose weight you need to eat and drink less calories than you burn, this is known as being in a calorie deficit. You can put yourself in a calorie deficit by eating fewer calories. Many people do this by counting calories, weighing food and using apps to track their calorie intake.


The Downside of Calorie Counting


As a reformed chronic dieter, I hate calorie counting. It can lead your to feeling hungry, experiencing guilt around eating certain foods, may lead to a low self-esteem, poor body image, using exercise to ‘earn’ food, losing weight, putting weight back on and being obsessed with losing weight and thinking ‘if only I could lose weight, then x, y and z would be so much better. This existence is miserable and can make you very unhappy. Equating weight loss with being successful may stop you from enjoying life and hold back.


Time-Consuming Struggle

Counting calories can be a tedious task, demanding considerable time and effort from individuals attempting to monitor their intake meticulously.


The Risk of Disordered Eating

This method may inadvertently contribute to disordered eating patterns, as strict calorie tracking can lead to unhealthy obsessions with food and body image.


Neglecting Nutrient Density

A key drawback is that calorie counting often disregards the nutritional value of foods. Focusing solely on numbers may result in overlooking the importance of nutrient-dense choices.


The Pitfall of Low-Calorie, Non-Filling Foods

Solely chasing low-calorie options might lead to consuming foods that lack satiety, leaving individuals feeling unsatisfied and potentially encouraging overeating. ###


Portion control


Are you wondering how you can possibly lose weight without counting calories? Well, it is possible, and this is what I do with my clients when they work with me one to one. I teach the wonderful women who work with me how to use portion control alongside their hunger cues to help them lose weight. There are many benefits to portion control.


Time Efficiency

Portion control offers a more straightforward approach, saving time compared to the meticulous task of calorie counting.


It helps with weight loss goals

Using portion control helps to reduce your calorie intake and prevents you from overeating and it can help you make more mindful food choices. For example, including protein, healthy fats and plant-based foods in your everyday diet.


Visual Guides for Precision

Using measuring cups can help you portion out your serving size for carbohydrates. For example, I always recommend around 35g or rice and pasta per person. So for two people I use one third of a cup to measure this out. This simplifies the process, allowing for a better understanding of portion sizes without the need for complex calculations.


Visual guides, like comparing your protein portion to the size of your palm, can provide a practical and quick way to ensure balanced servings. Examples of visual guides include:


  • One portion of protein: Palm of your hand

  • One portion of vegetables: Fist

  • One portion of carbohydrates: Cupped hand

  • One portion of healthy fats: Thumb

  • Divide the food on your plate according to the picture on the right hand side of this page


Listen to Your Body


As well as using portion control to help you with losing weight it is really important to listen to your hunger cues. Hunger cues include stomach growling, low energy, irritability, or a slight feeling of emptiness. Paying attention to these signals helps establish a healthier relationship with food.


Tune in with Hunger Cues

Understanding hunger cues is crucial. Recognizing the signals your body sends can lead to a more intuitive and sustainable approach to eating.


Using Hunger Cues Wisely

Instead of rigidly following external guidelines, allow your body's cues to guide when and how much you eat. Eat when hungry, stop when satisfied. In the quest for a balanced and sustainable approach to nutrition, the choice between calorie counting and portion control rests on individual preferences and goals. While both have their merits, the key is to find a method that aligns with your lifestyle and fosters a positive relationship with food.


We are all busy and calorie counting can be time consuming. Portion control and listening to your body’s hunger cues can be a easier way to help you get into a calorie deficit and help you lose weight.


If you would like to discuss your weight loss with me book in for a free no obligation chat with me. Click here to book.



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