For Your Health

Pick Your Portion

Cutting Back Calories To Combat Weight Gain

Chad W. Lutz
This is America, and we like things big. We like big cars. We like big explosions. We like big cities and are pretty big fans of big budgets. In general, we just like big things. While this mentality may help us in some areas, one area where thinking big tends to hurt us is at the waistline. Inventors of the all-you-can-eat buffet and fast food restaurant concepts, American’s waistlines have been expanding at an alarmingly rapid rate since the first McDonald’s crew member uttered, “Would you like fries with that?”

There are many things contributing to expanding bulges in American’s midsections. The American culture is highly saturated with electronic devices aimed at convenience and leisure. Americans also tend to spend less time working out and more time watching TV or sleeping. A 2008 study released by the Nielsen Company actually showed Americans spent more time watching TV than sleeping (8 hours and 18 minutes opposed to just 6 hours and 20 minutes of sleep). The statistic reveals that when given the choice between doing something healthy (sleep) and leading a more bulge-prone lifestyle, Americans tend to gravitate towards more unhealthy behaviors.

Today, Americans eat more food than ever before. According to a 2000 fact book profiling food consumption in America, the USDA claims Americans eat on average of 2,700 calories daily, a whole meal more per day than people living in the 1970s (530 calories). The report goes on to show that Americans have access to nearly 3,800 aggregate calories Portions continue to increase and as access to accurate health and fitness information becomes more and more limited many people simply give up when it comes to losing weight altogether.

However, losing weight doesn’t have to be a lost cause. There are many things a person can do to lose weight, even on a fixed budget. One of the time honored and tested methods of shedding pounds is to decrease calorie intake. But before I get into the nitty gritty of weight loss, let’s talk first about what constitutes a calorie.

A calorie, as defined by the wonderful people at Merriman-Webster, “is the amount of heat required at a pressure of one atmosphere to raise the temperature of one gram of water one degree Celsius.” In other words, a calorie isn’t a chocolate morsel or a ham sandwich fleck or a piece of dried marshmallow. It isn’t a code for unlocking the secrets of the universe or some archaic text mapping the stars. A calorie is simply a unit of measure. So when a candy bar tells you that one serving equals 210 calories, it means ridding yourself of its potential unwanted pounds means you have to raise core body temperature enough to bring one gram of water to a sizzling 210-degree inferno. Obviously, the nervous and endocrine systems won’t allow total body temperatures to reach 398 degrees Fahrenheit. But if the true identity of a calorie can be used correctly, it can also be used to an advantage.

As a person exercises, the body’s core temperature rises and begins to literally burn food particles. This process is generally referred to as burning calories (wonder where they got that?). Every individual burns food particles at a different rate. This rate is referred to as metabolism or metabolic rate, which outlines the number of calories a person may process, on average, on any given day. All right, with me so far?

“So, how do I lose weight?” you ask, nearly strangling me for the information after begging the question. While you might get mad, no one super, cape-wearing answer that will swoop in and save the day. There are a number of things a person trying to lose weight can do, but one of the most effective is limiting portions.

If the 2000 fact book released by the USDA stands true, waistline combat begins at the plate. Instead of having that extra cookie when you really don’t need it or piling on a heaping helping of macaroni, cheese, and bacon bits, listen to your body. The old saying, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach,” holds surprisingly true. Here are some tips to help limit portion size (and the appearance of unwanted curves, bumps, bulges, and bruised egos):

1.) Take Only What You Can Eat

Many of us break this single golden rule that seems so easy to understand, but ever so hard to follow. Instead of loading your plate, take a moderately sized portion, roughly 7 ounces of food in total. Avoid filling the plate, which often times leads to massive munching.

2.) Eat Slowly

Take your time to eat. This isn’t a race. It’s dinner (lunch, breakfast, what have you). Studies show the stomach begins to recognize its capacity twenty minutes after the first bite. Taking your time may keep you from overindulging and ultimately adding more inches to the waistline. Eating slowly also helps reduce gastrointestinal discomfort and looks a lot more attractive, too.

3.) Take Control

Americans love the concept of “more.” “More” this and “more” that equal “more” enjoyment. Well, “more” in terms of food generally means “more” fat, and we all know what “more” fat means. When eating out, be conscious of the fact the head chef does not care you’re struggling to lose weight. Order smart. Choose low-fat options like chicken or fish, instead of beef, pork, or ham. Avoid super cheesy foods and basically anything fried. Many restaurants also serve monster portions. If you must indulge, grab a doggie bag and save half for lunch the next day.

4.) Vary Your Foods

A big part of losing weight is a balanced diet. All too often do we reach for the same comfort food over and over again. Eating the same foods might make us feel good in the short run, but long-term a stagnant diet may lead to a soggier stomach. Instead of eating a whole bag of potato chips and calling it a meal, vary your foods and try mixing in fruits and veggies. Though not everyone’s favorite, mixing certain foods and limiting others may actually provide health benefits eating single foods alone can’t produce. Nuts and fruit stand as a prime example. Both are good for you separately, but together, the fats in nuts actually help the body absorb the vital nutrients found in fruits. Avoid eating excessive amounts of one single food in exchange for a healthy snack or meal promoting a balanced diet.

5.) Exercise

The best way to combat overeating remains exercise. Exercise provides a boost in metabolic rate, which increases as activity level increases. Active lifestyles lead to slimmer waistlines. Without question, exercise provides weight-loss hopefuls the easiest remedy to controlling body weight. After creating and adhering to a consistent training regiment you may even be able to sneak a few over-indulgent moments past your body’s senses with little to no repercussions to your waistline or your health.

Remember, creating a better body isn’t easy work. But with the right tools and the right mind set, anything is possible. For more information on losing weight, consult your doctor, or check out great online resources like,,, and many others.

¡Para su porción!

*Chad W. Lutz is not a doctor. Advice given is this article is intended solely as helpful recommendation. Please consult your physician before engaging in any exercise or dietary weight-loss program.