Follow these seven simple tips for controlling portions to help reach your weight-loss goals.
Weight loss scale
Credit: Lee Harrelson

Knowing what to eat and when are big steps to learning how to lose weight and keep it off. But knowing how much to eat may be the biggest step of all. Use these quick tips to simplify your portions and maximize your results.

1. Divide your plate into sections: ¼ for lean meat or other protein choices, ¼ for carbohydrates like potatoes or brown rice, and ½ for fruits and vegetables.

2. Think "baseball" when measuring carbohydrates like grains, breads, cereals, or starchy vegetables. For weight loss, one baseball-sized serving at each meal for women and 1½ to 2 servings at each meal for men is a good guideline to follow.

3. Think "palm of your hand" when measuring meats and use that as a guide for the amount of protein to eat at each meal. (Remember, this is the palm of your own hand.)

4. At snack time, aim for a small amount of protein (such as nuts, seeds, and low-fat dairy) paired with a ½ baseball serving of grain or a whole baseball of fruit. Combining protein and carbs when you snack will increase energy and fullness and decrease cravings.

5. For every "brown" food you choose, eat an equal amount or more of a colorful food. Aim for at least one colorful food at each meal and snack.

6. Think "ping pong ball" with your added fats like salad dressings, mayonnaise and butter. Limit your servings to 3 ping pong balls per day.

7. Alcohol metabolizes more like fats than sugars in the body, so count each glass of wine, bottle of beer, or cocktail as one ping pong ball of fat.

Tammy Beasley, RD, CSSD, CEDRD is a registered, licensed dietitian, spinning instructor, and certified specialist in sports nutrition and eating disorders. She is the author of Rev It Up-The Lifestyle Diet That Puts You In The Driver's Seat.