ACHIEVING fitness, whether you are trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight, is not only about eating the right things, it is also about eating the right amount of things. This is essentially what portion control is — not consuming more (or less) energy than your body needs.
“For weight loss to take place, portion control must be one of the first things addressed in meal preparations,” nutrition advisor Janique Watts says.
She says that portion control is also directly related to a person's specific dietary needs, which should be calculated by a dietician or nutritionist. After this is done, the types of food had by the individual should be assessed.
“Perhaps the person would need to do some substitutions, incorporate more fibre, more lean protein or more vegetables to aid with the weight loss goal,” she says.
She recommends these tips for persons who are trying to achieve fitness by portion control.
Substituting simple sugars for complex
Eating more starchy foods like sweet potato, boiled yam, banana, etc, will stave off the feeling of hunger for longer. Complex carbs take longer to digest and so there will be a gradual release of glucose throughout the day in the body, while simple sugars from candy or sugar-sweetened beverages are assimilated quicker into the body and are subsequently used up just as quickly by the body for energy.
Try to have snacks high in protein or high in fibre. These foods take longer to digest and so will suffice until the next meal can be had. Fruits are also a healthier choice as they provide the body with vitamins and minerals needed for energy. Some fruits also have a high water content which aid in satisfying hunger pangs for longer.
The body needs water as it constitutes about 70 per cent of body mass composition. Sipping water throughout the day also curtails the temptation to overeat.
Increasing fibre intake
This is very important as fibre in the diet aids with the elimination of excess glucose from food eaten throughout the day which would otherwise be stored away as fat. Fibre also aids with the elimination of dietary cholesterol which contributes to weight gain. Soluble fibre also slows digestion and wards off the feeling of hunger. Insoluble fibre, which is mainly found in vegetables, does not contain any calories and so would be a perfect substitute for foods that contribute to excess caloric intake; that's a healthy nutritional trick!
Fitness expert and coach KerryLee Ricketts says that while weight loss can be achieved by portion control over time, “the results might take a while to show, as the body also needs to work off excess fat that was there before, so exercise can help significantly”.
Ricketts recommends that for best results while exercising, that you wait a while to begin working out after eating.
“It is recommended to eat about an hour before workout, or within a timeframe that will not cause you to feel too full or too empty,” he says. “If you eat a large meal, it is best to wait two or three hours before a workout, but not too long, or you will get hungry again and feel dizzy and unsteady while exercising.”
He gives some advice regarding the best exercises to do to enhance the effects of portion control.
“Cardio exercises encourage weight loss and maintenance,” he says. “These include activities such as walking, running, swimming and cycling. Weight training can also be helpful if you are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. This doesn't necessarily mean lifting weights, but activities that utilise your own body weight are also great. Push-ups, squats, pull-ups, ab crunches and lunges are great weight training activities.”