At its most basic, weight loss is a simple equation of calories in and calories out, which makes keeping track of what you're eating that much more important. "But what's the point," you ask, "when I'm already sticking to a healthy diet?" While we'd never tell you to stop eating avocados, nuts, or whole-wheat pasta, these foods (and others) are notoriously calorie-dense. If you're on the path to weight loss, it's no easy journey, but some simple reminders about portion control will ensure your healthy snack of nut butter and fruit doesn't become the calorie equivalent of an entire meal.
- Start with the basics: Before you can even begin to know what your meal plan will break down to, you first need to learn what your daily calorie requirements are. Keep in mind that the daily requirement is different for everyone based on certain factors like activity level, age, and gender. Use this handy calorie calculator to figure out your requirement, and even when dieting, make sure to never let calorie counts fall below 1,200. From here, you can better understand what the calorie counts should look like for your meals and snacks.
- It's all about balance: Proper portion control is hugely about balance; it's important that your diet is filled with all the necessary nutrient requirements — every day. The USDA guidelines are a good place to start, but if you have to make adjustments for a specialized diet, then make sure each meal consists of protein, complex carbs, healthy fats, and fresh produce.
- The right tools: To not overdo it on serving sizes, read food labels, and invest in a good set of measuring cups and spoons. When all else fails, use your fist as a way to measure carbs, the palm (no fingers) to measure protein, and the thumb should be the visual cue for fats (except for nuts, which should equal a small handful). Go ahead and eat all the veggies you want — no limits there!
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