The Tiny Change That Could Save You 500 Calories A Day

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In a world overrun by crazy restrictive diets, miserable juice plans, and weight-loss pills, it’s easy to forget about one simple concept: portion control. But new research shows that making this one change—or paying more attention to how much you eat rather than what you necessarily eat (or don’t eat)—is the gold standard if you want to lose weight. In fact, scientists at Cambridge University have found that cutting back on serving size alone can help Americans eat an average of 527 fewer calories per day, resulting in a weight loss of one pound per week, all from by reducing portion size. 

Related: 15 Teeny Tiny Changes To Lose Weight Faster

How does this happen? Researchers crunched the numbers on more than 60 studies on food intake to find that the bigger portion sizes that are now so commonplace in our society have caused us all to eat more, regardless of our gender, hunger levels, how thin or fat we are, or amount of self-reported willpower. In particular, they found that supersized portions can add more than 500 calories to each of our plates every day, which has only helped to make us fatter… and fatter. 

“The message is that, however it happens, reducing the amounts of food that end up in front of us in the first place is key [to weight loss],” says Gareth Hollands, PhD, senior research associate at Cambridge University School of Clinical Medicine and co-author of the paper.

But there’s one big problem: The first and only step of portion control—eat less—is notoriously difficult to do. So how do you accomplish the feat? Here are the top meal-reshaping, fat-blasting tips from Lisa Young, PhD, author of The Portion Teller.

1. Forget about portions when you eat out, because restaurants are only notorious for serving oversized meals. Resolve before you even walk into a restaurant to split an entrée, supplementing with a salad or veggie side dish. Avoid all-you-can-eat deals like the plague, and wait to have your cocktail until after your meal, since alcohol is proven to trigger overeating.

Related: 4 Foods That Burn Belly Fat

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2. Downsize your plates and glasses to smaller tableware, which will go a long way in reducing how much food ends up on your plate. 

3. Most of us, even the healthiest, weight-conscientious of eaters, are serving ourselves WAY too much food, without even realizing it. Learn what an appropriate portion size looks like by using this handy visual guide

4. Fill half your plate with low-calorie, fiber-rich fruits and veggies that aren’t dripping in some butter or cream sauce (herbs and spices are your friends!), using one-quarter of your plate for a lean protein and the final quarter slice for a whole-grain carb like brown rice or sweet potatoes. (Lose up to 15 pounds WITHOUT dieting with Eat Clean to Get Lean, our 21-day clean-eating meal plan.)

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5. Plate your meal in the kitchen and keep serving dishes there so that you’re forced to get up for seconds rather than reach across the table.

Need more portion-slashing inspiration? Check out even more at-home tips right here.

By Caroline Praderio

This article ‘The Tiny Change That Could Save You 500 Calories A Day’ originally ran on Prevention.com.