AS long as there is life, there are people concerned about living healthily and part of that is maintaining a svelte body. But not many people like the idea of high impact exercises and would rather eat their way to slimness.
But is this possible? The simple answer is yes; however, there are some technicalities to eating your way fit.
One way this can be achieved is through food portioning. According to Shannon Grant, registered nutritionist and nutrition consultant, food portioning speaks to how much food you choose to eat at any one time for a meal or a snack — whether at home, at a restaurant, or from a package.
Grant pointed out that it is very common for food portion size to be confused with serving size and the difference must be noted.
“Serving size is a very specific and measurable amount of a particular food item. In other words, it refers to the recommended quantity of food items. For example, a serving of cooked rice is half cup. If you eat one cup of rice, that one cup would be the portion that you have chosen to eat; however, you would have had two servings of rice. In addition, a particular brand of a crackers may list a serving of their crackers to be two crackers; however, choosing to eat 10 crackers would be considered as your portion, but you have had five servings of that brand of crackers,” she said.
Added Grant: “It is important to note that the recommended servings for each food group varies for each person. It is dependent on the person's age, gender, level of physical activity, if the person is taking any form of medication or supplements, and/or has any form of ailments or is recovering from an ailment or any form of surgical procedure.”
With that settled, Grant said in order for portioning to be an effective medium in attaining the desired goal weight, incorporating more wholesome, unrefined foods such as the dark green leafy, yellow and non-starchy vegetables, fruits, mono/polyunsaturated fats (good fats) and more foods that are high in fibre is paramount.
“At the same time aiming to reduce the consumption of foods and drinks with a high sugar content, processed foods, and foods high in saturated and trans-fats should be adapted. So ultimately aiming to consume more foods that are nutrient dense compared to foods that are considered to have mostly “empty calories” should be used to determine the portions,” she said.
But can portioning alone lead to weight loss? Grant said for some, food portioning by itself can lead to weight loss; however, with nutrition, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
“That is why seeking individual attention from a qualified nutrition professional is important in order to receive guidelines that are tailored to your needs. Different goals will call for different approaches, so though the general rule of thumb for weight loss is to create a calorie deficit, which is eating fewer calories than you burn, other factors that can be either biological or clinical must be taken into consideration when attainment of a particular goal weight is being examined,” she said.
Grant also explained that proper food portioning can result in weight gain or weight loss depending on what the goal is; however, she said it is recommended that this is not done in isolation.
“Approximately 70 per cent of weight goals are attained from dietary changes while 30 per cent comes from exercise. Though significant changes in weight can be achieved from making the necessary dietary changes alone, for some persons this can be short-term and unsustainable,” she said.
“The incorporation of physical activity is vital for reducing the risk of developing chronic non-communicable diseases, and the improvement of the overall quality of life, while also helping to maintain weight goals that have been attained. Creating healthy habits and making better food choices are also integral factors to be considered,” she said.
Grant said that the fundamentals to weight loss suggests that creating a calorie deficit of about 500 calories per day can lead to a weight loss of about one pound per week.
“So if the aim is to lose two pounds for the week, a calorie deficit of 1,000 calories will be needed. The deficit in calorie will be subtracted from your recommended calorie intake to maintain the weight that you are currently at. If you're at 250 pounds, this means that within a month, just from utilising correct food portioning and being consistent, a weight loss of about four to 10 pounds can be seen. However, this is dependent on the dietary changes being made as well as other factors such as the age, gender and activity level.”
She also advised that consuming foods high in fibre helps to promote satiety — that feeling of fullness — which leads to eating less at one sitting and the ultimate goal of weight loss.
“Eating from smaller bowls and plates is recommended to help to 'trick' the brain into thinking it has eaten more food. Choosing healthier snacks throughout the day is also crucial. If you are going for longer than four to five hours without food, then you may want to choose a snack consisting of unrefined whole foods. Whole fruits, vegetables, yoghurt, mixed nuts are recommended. If you are craving something sweet, opting for dark chocolate is also a very nutritious option, also consuming an adequate amount of water throughout the day is essential. Water before meals has been said to act as an appetite suppressant, as well as replacing sugary beverages with water ultimately reduces additional calories and sugar intake,” she said.