Full GOLO meal with chopped vegetables, brown rice, and a serving of grilled shrimp.

Helpful portion control tips for weight loss.

One of the simplest things you can do to help manage your weight is to become more aware of portion sizes.

Unfortunately, between our tendency to over-serve ourselves and the inclination to finish what’s on our plate, portion control isn’t as easy as "don’t eat too much." 

But with these simple portion control methods and by filling up on the right foods, you can be more in control of the amount of food you eat without feeling hungry.

1. Follow your GOLO Smart Card® and stick with GOLO's 2-1-2-1 formula when building your plate

Your Smart Card™ and our 2-1-2-1 formula are the perfect guide to help you fill your plate with the proper amount of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, and healthy fats to eat a balanced meal.

2. Use your hands as a portion guide

A simple way to portion your plate is to use your hand as a guide. Different parts of your hand can help you accurately measure your food.

Three different hands. One hand is cupped, one is balled up into a fist, and another is open. Each hand shows you how to accurately estimate how much food should be on your plate.


3. Practice mindful eating

It takes about 20 minutes after you start eating for the message that you’re full to reach your brain. This is where the term "mindful eating" comes into play.

When you practice mindful eating, you're giving your body more time to signal your brain that you're full, which can help you avoid overeating.

What are the best ways to eat mindfully?

  • Eat at a slower pace: Eating slowly allows your brain to catch up with your stomach so you know when you are full.
  • Eat "in the moment": Doing other things while eating, like watching TV or scrolling through your phone, tends to increase food intake. It's best to limit distractions and focus on the meal in front of you.
  • "Listen" to your body’s fullness cues: Take a moment to stand up and move around at some point during your meal. When you start to feel full, give yourself some time before taking another bite.

4. Drink a glass of water before your meal

The importance of staying hydrated is well documented. But drinking a glass of water before you sit down to eat can also help with portion control.

Whether it’s before a meal or throughout the day, drinking water can help with portion control. Water can help you feel more full and can also aid digestion.

5. Stick to a regular eating schedule

Your body will let you know when it’s time to eat. If you’re on a set eating schedule, you can anticipate mealtimes and prepare your food before you feel like you’re "starving."

Eating before you get too hungry is a great way to ensure you feel full without being enticed to return for seconds.

Whatever your schedule, it’s important not to wait too long between meals. GOLO suggests spacing your meals between 4-6 hours apart and not going longer than 6 hours without eating while you're awake.

6. Build balanced meals with nutrient-dense foods

Nutrient-dense foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. They are generally easier to digest, digest more slowly, and give your body more energy than processed foods.

By filling up on nutrient-dense foods, you're less likely to overeat during meals or feel hungry between meals.

Some good choices include:

  • Vegetables: salad greens, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, and zucchini
  • Fruit: strawberries, grapefruit, bananas
  • Carbohydrates: whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, steel-cut oats, brown rice
  • Dairy: whole milk, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt
  • Protein: eggs, lean meat, fish, tofu
  • Fats: nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil

7. Keep a food diary

It’s one thing to be mindful about what you’re putting into your body. But you may have a completely different perspective on what you eat and drink when you write everything down.

Keeping a food diary for a short period of time, such as 1-2 weeks, can help you spot problems that might be sabotaging your weight loss.

You can become more aware of your eating habits by tracking what you're eating and drinking for every meal. It’s only after you know your unhealthy habits that you’re able to break them. Make sure you track everything that you eat, not just meals. A bite of this and a piece of that can add up over time.

Benefits of keeping a food diary:

  • Increased awareness of positive and negative eating habits and patterns
  • Helps to identify food sensitivities
  • It makes it easier to change your behavior

Quick Tip: GOLO makes food journaling easy! Check out our 7-Day Food Journal to see if it can help with your journey.

How to portion control when dining out 

Most restaurants want you to leave feeling full, so they tend to serve much larger portions than you need. But there’s no need to cancel your dinner plans. Instead, try these portion control strategies to avoid overeating when dining out.

  • Start with soup or salad: Including a broth-based soup or leafy greens is a great way to start a meal.
  • Share a meal: Cut your cost and your portion with a friend.
  • Order a healthy appetizer: Sneak in an extra serving of veggies before you order your main dish.
  • Ask for a to-go container right away: That way, when your food comes, you can easily portion out what you want to eat and put the rest in the container to take home!
  • Enjoy the experience: Remember our tips for mindful eating? Dining out is a great opportunity to relax, take in your surroundings, and enjoy your company.

How portion control can help with successful weight management

When it comes to successful weight management, your focus should be on the quality of the food you eat, not the number of calories you consume.

Building a balanced plate means you’re eating a complete meal. You don’t have to cut out food groups or give up foods you love to lose weight. You just have to learn what to eat and how to structure the meal.

The bottom line: food is meant to nourish and be enjoyed. So, eat what you love, be mindful of the portions you eat, and find happiness with every meal.


This article was written by the GOLO team with facts supported by the following sources:

national library of medicine: portion size and obesity 
national library of medicine: portion size effect
national library of medicine: watching television while eating
mayoclinic.org: drinking water
mayoclinic.org: counting calories 


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