I spend a good deal of my time working out, but I am a believer in, “Weight is lost in the kitchen, not in the gym.” So when other women ask me for weight loss advice, I’ll ask them what they are currently eating.
Usually I get an answer that sounds like it was torn from a diet book:
- Oatmeal or some other whole-grain cereal for breakfast.
- Fruit snacks throughout the day.
- A salad for lunch.
- Chicken and vegetables with a carbohydrate for dinner.
On the surface this looks like a good healthy diet. However, when I ask them how much of these items they’re eating, they often have no idea.
These days, I think most people understand the need to eat 5-6 small meals a day to keep their metabolism burning. But you need to know how much you’re eating. The difference between one cup of brown rice and two and a half cups, or between a teaspoon of olive oil and a few tablespoons, might be to blame for your plateau.
There would really be no sense for me to keep a food journal if I didn’t know the exact measurements of my food. I learned this several years ago when my husband was getting ready for a bodybuilding competition. We needed to measure and weigh all of his food exactly, so I did the same for myself.
It really taught me about portion sizes and what I needed to eat more of or cut back on. I have all my tools easily available on my kitchen countertop: the digital food scale, measuring cups, measuring spoons. And I measure everything; even though I’m pretty good now at estimating I like to be exact (I can be a little obsessive).
If you’re not interested in measuring this precisely, you can use your hands to determine serving sizes:
- 5-6 oz. lean protein is about the size of your palm
- A one-cup serving of complex carbohydrates (potatoes, rice, whole grains, etc.) is the amount cupped in one hand
- A good two-cup serving of vegetables or fresh fruits is two hands cupped together
When you start using your kitchen scale, you’ll start seeing the results you want on the bathroom scale.
Southern States Championships top contender Melissa Transou, a figure competitor, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports nutrition needs of female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com.