Does portion control help in losing weight?
Nothing might be as confusing as the nutrition world. There are opposing views on everything -- from ingredients to diets. Possibly, the most common approach across India is portion control and calorie restriction. There are several ways this is usually done. Sometimes the approach can become complex and put a lot of pressure on eating. However, this is not the only reason that portion control can be problematic.
Portion control versus blood sugar balance
All foods are not created equal. There are certain foods which are low in calories and glycaemic index, and which are nutrient dense, and there are foods that might be high in sugars and low in nutrients.
A bowl of leafy greens is very different to one of potatoes. This is where the problem begins. When you eat foods that are high in glycaemic index and those that are more simple sugars, then you might use up your prescribed portion of food quickly, without providing you with a feeling of satiety. The result of eating a plate with portion controlled white rice, dal, and potatoes is that you are simply going to feel hungry again very shortly. This approach might allow you to eat whatever you want, provided you restrict portions, but at what cost? You will be hungry, crabby, and tired.
Portion control versus nutrient optimisation
Observing portions can be an approach where you gradually lose weight with whatever food you eat, but will you be getting the nutrients required for optimal health? You need micronutrients from a wide range food to prevent deficiencies. Deficiencies can trigger systemic inflammation leading to several symptoms and conditions. Most common health challenges have deficiencies of iron, zinc, magnesium, and other nutrients as root causes.
The more variety you eat, the more diverse your access to micronutrients. The good news is that many nutrient dense foods like leafy greens are also high fibre, low in calories, and great for you. You will not need to even restrict portions when the bulk of your meals comes from foods that are rich in nutrients and high in helping with satiety.
Portion control versus lowering inflammation for optimal weight loss
Many people try portion control as they feel it is the best approach for them. On the face of it, portion control is sustainable, you do not have to eliminate specific foods and therefore you can feel that you are not deprived. However, if you like this approach because it allows you to eat everything, the fact is that the quantity you can eat of everything is so restricted that yd.
The biggest sign that your meal is not working for you is when you feel hungry within two hours of eating. You also need to consider whether the body is in a state of systemic inflammation and whether there is optimal detoxification.
1. When there is systemic inflammation, the body needs even more nutrients. Consider the case of someone I met who follows portion control strictly. Despite this, she struggles with water retention, inability to lose weight, and several allergies. All these are signs of inflammation. This can be frustrating. Also remember that no two foods are created equal. We must always keep this in mind while restricting portions. At times you might need to move away from this methodology to help you lower inflammation. Lowering inflammation is a better approach to losing weight as body systems optimise.
2. Detoxification is a key aspect of weight loss. Everybody is unique, and each of us has specific systems or organs that are more vulnerable. If you are someone who has challenges with the lymphatic system, then your tendency to hold weight and retain water is higher. This is the kind of body that struggles the most with weight loss. If the lymphatic system is congested, then even restricting portions may not shift weight. All it will do is leave you hungry and prone to feeing anxious or depressed. If you instead focus on optimising the lymphatic system, then you start to lose weight and not hold on to water. Foods that are low in calories and rich in nutrients like leafy greens can also help to optimize detoxification.
3. Weight loss is far more complex than we’ve been told. It is not merely about calories in and calories out, which is what is applied with portion control. Each of us have different calorific requirements and different body systems. When we eat food, we also must consider whether our body is able to use it the right way.
One of the best ways to improve detoxification and reduce systemic inflammation, which are truly the keys to optimal weight loss, is to eat nutrient rich foods that low in glycemic index and high in vitamins and minerals.
4. The last thing to consider in this equation is cravings. Cravings do not mean you have no will power or that you are weak. It means that there is a flawed eating philosophy where you are eating in restricted portions, without considering what you need to feel satiated. Eating whatever food you like and merely restricting portions seems great on the surface. But imagine yourself eating a small amount of white rice, potatoes, and dal, and then craving a snack two hours later. On the other hand, imagine eating rich protein, leafy greens, and healthy fats intuitively and mindfully, until your body tells you that you are full. You will feel energetic, stable in mood, and have no cravings later.
Sustainable eating is something that is discussed a lot in the nutrition world. Usually those who speak about sustainable forms of eating are also telling you to eat all foods, but to restrict portions. I know that I do not want to be hungry every few hours. I want to feel vibrant, mentally stable, and calm. This translates into eating without rules of quantities.
Remember that the choice of ingredients is what matters. How you eat them is up to you. It does not mean that you must have leafy greens as salad or smoothie. The choice of the ingredient does make a world of difference, as it takes you away from portion control, and helps you lower inflammation, improve blood sugar balance, optimise detoxification, and in turn, improve overall health.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)