I am asked this question pretty regularly, and my answer is very specific: It depends.
It depends on a lot of things. Here is a list of considerations when trying to determine the appropriate portion size for you:
- Your weight/overall health
- Your level of physical activity prior to/coming up after the meal
- How hungry are you?
Let’s take these individually.
Your weight. Are you overweight? Do you need to lose weight? Do you need to gain weight? Even with the Paleo Diet, you need to be careful to not over-eat. If you are underweight, you obviously need to eat more. But, to figure out the right portion size? Keep reading.
Physical activity. If you ran 5 miles before your meal, you can probably safely have that extra slice of bacon or the extra egg. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t burn fat when you exercise. You are burning energy. What you are trying to create is a deficit of calories over a period of time to keep your body from storing excess energy. If you know you are going to be running after a meal and need some energy, bump the carbs a bit. I usually will have an apple or some almonds 30-45 minutes before a run to help with energy during my run.
How hungry are you? This is my guide. If I’m hungry, I need to listen to my body. If I’m not, once again, I need to listen to my body. There’s nothing worse than over-eating or not eating enough. There is a big difference between hunger and cravings/appetite, however, and you need to be able to recognize the difference
In the end, you know what the right portion size is. Experiment. Eat smaller and smaller portions until you find the right size. Also, put less on your plate than you think you need. My wife and I also use the small plates for meals, now. It’s easy to go get more if you need it, but if you’re like me and tend to clean your plate, don’t load up. You’re just asking for trouble with a loaded plate.