Portion control is one of the toughest parts of any weight-loss journey, second only to passing on the doughnuts in the office kitchen. Fortunately, there's a simple way to ensure you're getting the right balance of nutrients in every meal: the 50/25/25 rule, also known among dietitians as the Plate Method.
Here's how it works: you fill 50 percent of your plate with nonstarchy vegetables, 25 percent with lean protein (meat or plant-based), and the last 25 percent with grains or starchy veggies, like potatoes. So, imagine a line down the center of your plate — vegetables on one side, and protein and carbs splitting the other. (The American Diabetes Association offers a helpful visual here.)
"I personally encourage using the 50/25/25 rule because it helps put into perspective the recommended portions of food groups," Starla Garcia, M.Ed, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian in Houston, told POPSUGAR. She suggests adapting the method even for meals that aren't as straightforward. Let's say your dinner contains both rice and carb-laden corn: "It's encouraged that you fit the two foods in that 25 percent of the plate," Garcia said, noting that this translates to roughly a fist-sized portion of rice and corn combined.
You'll find that the Plate Method equates to a filling meal — but because this is all about balance, be careful that you're not giving yourself permission to eat hefty portions of unhealthy foods. "Keep in mind how the food is prepared," explained Shauna Sacco, MS, RDN, a certified personal trainer and registered dietitian in Houston. "For instance, is it fried, or drenched in oil? Is it covered with a heavy cream sauce?"
"Because portion size is key with this rule, sometimes it helps to eat off a smaller plate," she continued. And even the vegetable side of your plate can be optimized to be healthier. "The more color, the more health benefits," Sacco said — think carrots and spinach.