For every person who's trying to lose weight, there are probably five articles (at least) talking about that "one weird trick" that can help you do it.
This is one of them -- kind of.
Unlike most of the weight-loss tips out there, this isn't built on a scam, or trying to sell you something. This one isn't really even a trick. It's a tried-and-true method, yet hardly anyone ever does it. It's not even confusing!
Learn what a serving size actually is
I’m an unabashed lover of cheese. There’s nothing better than grilling a steak, sautéing some mushrooms, and tossing a few crumbles of blue cheese on top for good measure.
I’ve always known I was adding calories, but I never really understood how many until I decided a few years ago to start meticulously tracking everything I ate.
It turns out ¼ cup of blue cheese adds an extra 100 calories to a meal. I always knew cheese was a calorie-dense food, because it has quite a bit of fat, but 100 calories for ¼ cup? Damn.
Now, 100 calories alone isn’t enough calories to make a massive difference in my diet, or hinder any weight-loss efforts. But while I was tracking food intake something funny happened, and it’s been this way ever since: I became more mindful of the foods I was eating, and how many calories those foods actually had in them.
For example, a serving of peanut butter is two tablespoons and 190 calories. Who in their right mind can honestly have two tablespoons of peanut butter? Especially when that’s typically considered two level, not heaping, tablespoons of crushed peanutty goodness.
How it works in real life
Since I'm a fitness professional, my entire life revolves around helping people achieve the highest levels of sexiness possible. My clients all get fit, drop fat, and live a better life. I truly do have the best job in the world, but it’s not without its challenges.
Part of this process is helping them reach their goals in a sustainable way that allows them to leave me, yet continue crushing life. Unfortunately, in the world of weight loss, sustainability isn’t always very high on the list. It's all about fast results, but usually this means the start of a yo-yo-style weight loss, with initial success offset by that number on the scale going back up after a few weeks or months.
This is where learning about servings and portion sizes becomes a major key to success.
Drill into your head how many servings you're eating
It’s easy to add a little bit of extra flavor to meals via some cheese, dressing, or other calorie-dense topping. Over time, this becomes an automatic behavior. Most people don't even think about sprinkling cheese on top of tacos -- they just do it, as though it's not actually food if it's considered a topping. And then when that isn't enough, they add a bit more.
Learning about serving sizes can change the game. It's like pressing a mental reset button.
If you start measuring out every serving of cheese, peanut butter, or any other snack, topping, or dressing, you start to become more aware of what it is you're eating. Without even knowing it, you're practicing mindfulness.
Becoming more aware of what you’re eating can lead to better food choices overall, which can lead to more weight loss.
All because you decided to start learning what a serving of cheese actually looked like.
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Tanner Baze is a writer and trainer who tries not to mix cheese and peanut butter. Follow him on Twitter: @dtbaze.