Here Are The Best Food Proportions for Weight Loss

You need to remember that your proportion allocations for breakfast and dinner shouldn’t be the same, because the first gives you energy for the whole day while the second won’t be used.
Here Are The Best Food Proportions for Weight Loss
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 08 July, 2022

It’s not about getting obsessed with food. However, something as simple as controlling the proportions of your plate, the type of nutrients and their adequate quantity, could help us take care of our figure.

Moreover, the simple and even fun strategy of the so-called “plate method” will allow us to gain in health and well-being.

You also know that, when it comes to different diets and strategies for weight loss, there are a thousand options and recommendations. However, not all of them are healthy or effective. Next up, we’ll teach you how to measure the proportions of each of your meals. We’re sure that it will be a great help to you.

What is the “Plate Method”?

The so-called Harvard Plate Method is a tool for learning to eat healthily. Developed by health and nutrition professionals, it allows you to create balanced and healthy meals.

One of its strengths is that it emphasizes not only the quantities of food that can be included in a meal, but also its quality.

The “plate method” isn’t new. In fact, it’s a simple technique that nutritionists have been recommending for a long time. It’s very accessible to follow and could be summarized as follows:

  • Think of an imaginary plate, divide it in half, and fill it with vegetables.
  • The other half is then divided into two parts: one represents protein sources and the other carbohydrate sources.
  • Fruit or yogurt is recommended for dessert.
  • Meals should all be accompanied with water.
  • Vegetable oils (sesame, olive, etc.) are recommended for dressing and cooking.

It should be noted that this doesn’t imply eating from a single plate. You can mix everything together or make different recipes as a first, second, and then a dessert.

Take care of the proportions of your dishes and you’ll notice results

Depending on the nutrient, you should regulate the proportion in each meal.

Although this proposal is aimed at the general public, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s followed by athletes and people who want to lose weight without having to suffer, thanks to a varied, balanced, and healthy diet.

With the help of their advice, adequate proportions between foods are achieved and this has repercussions on some benefits – not only for general health, but also for weight loss.

  • In general, the portion of vegetables in main meals is increased. This helps to lighten the energy load since these are light and satiating.
  • If, in addition, everything is served on the same plate, the visual sensation of satiety is more effective.
  • It forces us to introduce all the basic nutrients of the food pyramid in their proper proportions. It should be noted that when it comes to losing weight not only calories matter but also the foods from which they come. At the metabolic level, protein does not behave the same as carbohydrates, for example.
  • We also understand that each moment of the day requires different and appropriate proportions: breakfast can’t be like lunch or lunch like dinner.
  • Finally, it leaves no room for doubt about those foods that should be eaten in moderation (sweets, soft drinks, snacks, or pastries). These have no place in his advice and there will be no question about his recommended portions: the less the better.

Let’s see below the main keys that we must take into account in order to choose the appropriate proportions at each moment of the day.

Breakfast proportions

The following proportions are what you should strive to include in your first meal of your day.

  • 40% fruit. Fruits are indispensable foods in the diet. It’s important to cover the daily needs of these foods, since they help reduce the risk of diseases in the medium term. Experts recommend eating plenty of fruits and vegetables to prevent pathologies.

Your best bet is to combine a few of them (an apple with some grapes, for example). However, the most suitable fruit to start the day are citrus fruits (grapefruit, orange, tangerine, lemon juice), kiwi, strawberry, banana, pineapple, watermelon, melon, peach, pear and cherry.

  • 40% carbohydrates. Now what do we mean by carbohydrates? And even more, if you’re trying to lose weight, should you even eat these foods?

It’s not only important to eat carbohydrates: it’s essential. The fact is that your body needs carbohydrates in order to function properly. It breaks down the sugars and starches into glucose for use as energy.

The fiber found in carbohydrates also helps you feel full, which in turn will allow you to achieve a healthy weight. Carbohydrates that are suitable options for breakfast include whole grains and cereals.

It’s important to ensure that sugars are low on the glycemic index. Otherwise, regular consumption could lead to health problems, according to research published in the Journal of Hepatology.

On the other hand, you shouldn’t neglect the amount of protein in your breakfast. Eggs, for example, are a good choice.

Lunch proportions

As you can see, the key to the central meal of the day is a proper balance between vegetables (50%) and carbohydrates (25%). In addition, as in breakfast, it’s essential to introduce a source of protein.

  • You can combine rice with steamed or roasted vegetables and then add a turkey breast, for example.
  • Foods like pasta, chickpeas, or quinoa are great choices for this time of day.
  • As a recommendation, it’s always best to add a little fruit to your daily lunch options.
  • One fantastic idea is to combine fruit with your salads.
  • For those people who find it difficult to introduce fruit at the end of meals or eat it alone, a sensational idea would be to add them to salads (spinach with strawberries, lettuce with pomegranate seeds, spinach with pineapple…).

As sources of fat, you can count olive oil, avocado, olives, oily fish, or nuts. We must not forget them in your diet to lose weight and they have their space in every meal.

Dinner proportions

Some foods are more suitable for the evening meal than others.

Now let’s take a look at the proportions of the dishes at dinner. As a general rule, this has the same composition as lunch, but the proportions should be smaller.

This is so because during the night the body doesn’t need as much energy and does a more restorative job. In addition, consuming smaller portions favors digestion and night rest, which are key points when looking to lose weight.

Again, vegetables are protagonists. You can opt for those that are more digestive such as zucchini, pumpkin, asparagus, aubergines, or spinach.

Again, protein shouldn’t be missing. Introducing them to all of your meals helps to cover the recommended daily needs as well as maintain muscle mass and promote satiety.

As for the sources of protein for dinner (and also for lunch), we can mention the following:

  • Fish: salmon, cod, tuna, sardines, or hake
  • Tofu
  • Grilled chicken or turkey
  • Vegetables that are well cooked or in the form of puree

Finally, when it comes to carbohydrates, you should include some, but in very small proportions and always of a complex type. A slice of whole-grain bread or some nuts are both good options that you shouldn’t pass up.

We also recommend reading: 9 foods that reduce stress

What else to know about the proportions of your dishes to lose weight

This method of controlling the portions served at each meal has its strengths and is perfect for learning to eat better and lose weight healthily.

However, you have to keep in mind that the advice offered is for the general population and to know how to maintain adequate proportions between macronutrients.

The exact amounts of each food should be adapted to each person and situation in particular, since they change a lot according to age, sex, weight, daily activity, complexion, or levels of physical exercise.

Also, apart from the main meals, one or two snacks can be added throughout the day if necessary. These can also be adapted to one’s conditions. The important thing is that they are light and nutritious options such as yogurt, fruit, nuts or bread.

As a complement, do not forget to implement other habits such as physical exercise, resting enough hours, or keeping stress under control.

Respect food proportions to lose weight

When planning a balanced diet, it’s necessary to pay special attention to food proportions.

An error in measurements could misalign the dietary pattern and generate an increase in weight. Put into practice the advice above to enjoy a better state of health.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Aune D., Giovannucci E., Boffetta P., Fadness LT., et al., Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all cause mortality a systematic review and dose response meta analysis of prospective studies. International Journal of Epidemiology. 2017. 46 (3): 1029-1056.
  • Bhandari P, Sapra A. Low fat diet. [Updated 2022. Feb 10]. In: StatePearls [Internet]. Treasure Island FL: StatePearls Publishing. 2022.
  • Drummen M, Tischmann L, et al. Dietary protein and energy balance in relation to obesity and co-morbidities. Frontiers in Endocrinology. Agosto 2018. 9: 443.
  • Harvard T. H. Chan. El plato para comer saludable. School of Public Health.
  • Jensen T., Abdelmalek MF., Sullivan S., Nadeau KJ., et al., Fructose and sugar: a major mediator of non alcoholic fatty liver disease. Journal of Hepatology. 2018. 68 (5): 1063-1075.
  • Slavin J, Green H. Dietary fibre and satiety. Nutrition Bulletin of the British Nutrition Foundation. Marzo 2007. 32 (S1): 34-42.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.