Portion size is something that a lot of us struggle with. This is mainly because we’ve never really been told what an actual portion size should look like. The massive portions of rice, potato and pasta or huge bread rolls that we get made for us has probably distorted our idea of what we should be eating. To keep it really simple, a standard sized plate should not have a heaped amount of food on it. Ideally, divide your plate into thirds. One third for salads, one third for meats and one third for rice. Drain oil out of main dishes as this really pushes up your calorie intake, and where possible eat more salad then you normally would as it will help lower your calorie intake overall.
So what are carbohydrates and why do we need them. Carbohydrates are our main source of energy. We need energy to keep our body running, similar to how a car needs petrol. But, like a car, we can only store a certain amount of energy or petrol at a time. Once the tank is full, petrol starts to leak out. Once our carbohydrate storage centres (muscle and liver) are full, any extra carbohydrate is converted to fat and stored in our fat tissue (our bodies are very resourceful and know that energy is a valuable resource. It doesn’t want to just dump it so it stores it where we have the most storage space – our fat tissue). However, like a car uses up petrol pretty fast, we used up our carbohydrate reserves (scientifically called glycogen) pretty fast which is why it is recommended we have a portion of carbohydrates at each meal.
So basically, you need enough energy from carbohydrates to keep your body running but you don’t want too much. But I like carbohydrates you say? I want to eat more you say? Well, thankfully there is a way you can do this…
Exercise!! Yes, just like a car uses up petrol and has to be refilled after a journey, your muscles use up carbohydrate when you exercise meaning that in order to refill them you need to eat more carbohydrates! If you aren’t very active then you’re carbohydrate needs are lower. If you eat more than you need then you will put on weight.
Yet another reason to get out and get active!