The Myth of Portion Control and Calorie Restriction

Most of us have grown up learning that portions, and portion control, is important.

We all grew up with the “Food Pyramid.”

Of course, I DO NOT use the Food Pyramid as my nutritional model!! Most medical professionals today agree that it’s outdated, even if the USDA still promotes it…and promotes the idea of portion control, where you should eat a limited amount of each food group.

…Except for carb-heavy foods, which the Food Pyramid is unfortunately a big fan of!

The Harvard School of Public Health wrote that the Food Pyramid has an “overstuffed breadbasket” at the bottom, with a huge emphasis on carbs and on sugary fruits, and an unfair prejudice against healthy fats.

Today, society is becoming more paleo-friendly, and we’re realizing that essential amino acids from meat, and nutrition from leafy greens, is really where it’s at!

But, are we all still subconsciously influenced by the Food Pyramid that was drilled into our heads in elementary school?

I think so!!

See, you probably remember that along with its kinda-wrongheaded, low-fat views on how much we should be eating of which foods…the Food Pyramid was also all about the idea of “servings” and “portions.”

2 – 3 servings of meat or other proteins a day. 4 servings of fruit. 5 servings of vegetables. But what is a “serving”?

You might have learned that a piece of meat the size of a playing card is one “serving.” But should you limit yourself to 2 card decks of meat, a cup of beans, and 5 cups of greens a day, with some eggs or avocado thrown in?

Is that enough food?

In other words, is it good to follow these “portion control” rules?

Personally, I would say, there’s no good reason to monitor your plate that closely, even if you’re trying to lose weight.

Because the way you lose weight is by loading up your plate with 50% protein and 50% veggies; making sure your calorie intake doesn’t extremely exceed your BMR; intermittent fasting; healthy supplements; exercise.

How NOT to Lose Weight and Be Healthy…

The way you DON’T lose weight (in my opinion!!) is by eating only half of a porkchop instead of the whole thing, because you’re trying not to eat more than a playing card deck…

That only leads to a preoccupation with portion control, and a frustrated binge later on!

The other way you DON’T lose weight is by looking at the Nutrition Facts Labels on your food…a.k.a. the Food Pyramid’s bestie…unless you are looking at the right stuff.

What I mean by that is, obviously there’s nothing wrong with reading the Nutrition Facts, but when we do, we tend to check calories, fats, proteins and carbs. That’s great and all, but often foods that are marketed as “low-calorie” and “low-fat” (argh!!) are actually stuffed with unhealthy additives like High Fructose Corn Syrup, if only you were to check the ingredients list!!

If you want to learn more about the secrets of the Nutrition Facts, and why calories are NOT the most important part, read my two articles here and here!

“But Melissa, Don’t Europeans Eat Less, and Aren’t They Skinner than Americans?”

Sure, we know that Europeans tend to eat less than Americans, and that skinny Europeans are shocked by the huge portion sizes when they go on vacation here, and eat at our restaurants.

But I don’t think this means that Americans need to focus on “calorie restriction” and smaller portions.

Because, instead of dieting, portion control, and arbitrary “deck of cards” rules, we need to change what we’re consuming.

We need to change our lifestyles.

“Small” soft drinks at fast food places, that are 16 – 32 ounces?? Huge servings of French fries, loaded with up to 5 grams of greasy trans fats? I mean, that’s the stuff that’s really shocking those Europeans!

So, instead of worrying about whether our meals are only 500 calories, or worrying about whether our slab of meat is bigger than a deck of cards, we should be cutting out mega-unhealthy fast food.

Then, you should eat (within reason!) as much as you want, when it comes to your nutritionally-rich higher-fat, lower-carb diet!

About the Author Melissa McAllister

My name is Melissa McAllister. I just turned 44! I have a son and daughter and my husband and I are new empty nesters! My husband is the reason I eat, drink, and sleep health and fitness. He has 2 speeds, GO and GO Faster. We have been together for over 28 years and married for 23 (yes, he had me at “hello!”). Don’t get me wrong though…I was a Doritos and Coca Cola eating Hoover when I was in school! Fitness has been an essential part of my life for over 19 years. I have the 3 best jobs in the world—being a stay-at-home Mom, business owner, and group exercise instructor for several large fitness chains. I have been teaching everything from yoga to kickboxing for over 17 years. I have also had the great opportunity to train, inspire, and motivate other instructors for the past 11 years. You might even see me in a few fitness videos out there! 😉 Reaching out to others who are struggling to be healthy and happy is my passion. I couldn’t tell you next Fall’s latest fashion must have or what flowers to plant this season, but I can help you achieve your health and fitness goals. With your determination and my motivation, we can find and keep the best YOU! I will inspire by holding myself and those around me accountable!

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1 comment
Kim says July 1, 2018

All great info , I wish as a type 1 diabetic that I could do IF but sadly it’s not a safe option for me
But timed nutrition is working 😊

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