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How To Eat Less In One Easy Step

huge burrito

I ate less than this fellow

I live in America, where our portion sizes fall under Doin’ It Big. How to eat less? is apparently not a question that weighs heavy on our minds.

I had a burrito in a restaurant not too long ago that I could only eat 1/4 of. I kid you not. I’m a big guy, I typically eat between 3500 and 5000 calories a day to maintain my weight, and 3/4 of this monster went uneaten because it was the size of a car battery. 

Recent dietary changes

The major positive change for me (as far as body composition)  in the last several months has not had much to do with limiting myself as far as the foods I eat. In April I went nuts and ate Peeps and Cadbury Eggs every single day. And I did fine because I am getting better at knowing how my own body responds to foods.

I associate most of the results I am seeing with one simple change: the order I eat foods in.

I try to get a protein, some fiber, and some carbs at about 80% of my meals, unless I’m doing a fasting run or I’m busy and just don’t get around to eating.

Protein first

I eat the protein first. That’s it. I can’t remember where I first heard this suggestion, but I remember Adam Glass discussing it in a fat loss class at The Movement Minneapolis.

If I have a steak on my plate along with a potato, 100 Peeps, and an apple, I’ll eat the steak first. By the time I get done the protein has me approaching “full” and the rest of the meal proceeds sensibly because I’m nearly incapable of gorging. It wouldn’t be fun because I already feel satisfied. I’d probably one get through one of the Peeps.

If you’re struggling to eat less and you haven’t tried this, I recommend it, just to see what happens. If you have protein at the majority of your meals, eat it first, pay attention, and see what happens to your intake.

And now I’m off to find some candy.




Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Richard June 7, 2011, 11:43 am

    Great tip Josh! Portion control definitely provides a struggle for most of us! For some reason, my eyes are much bigger than my stomach. I also try to sabotage myself by eating as much as possible before my stomach has time to tell my brain to stop.

    Something that I have found that helps me is to drink a big glass of water 10-15 minutes before a meal. A lot of time that hunger feeling is really just thirst.

  • Eric | Eden Journal June 7, 2011, 1:28 pm

    You either have a very large plate or you are very good at stacking peeps. I don’t usually eat one item at a time, rather I typically go around the plate, one bite of steak, a bite of potato, 1 peep, and a bite of apple. I’ll have to try the protein first and see if I notice any difference.

    • Jeanette June 7, 2011, 4:49 pm


      I tend to be a “one-item-at-a-time” kind of gal by nature, mostly because it used to bug me if my foods touched. (I was picky, I admit it.) Now I can tell everyone it’s my strategy.

  • Ryoko June 7, 2011, 4:07 pm

    Other tip for eating less is eating slow. Give enough time to your brain to register your stomach is full. Sometimes, instead of a fork, I use chopsticks to slow my eating speed. If it is not challenging enough, use your non-dominant hand. Being a right-handed Asian, chopsticks in my left hand and trying to eat foods is certainly adventure.

    • John Sifferman June 8, 2011, 4:18 pm

      I agree 100%. Eating slowly ensures that you know when you’re actually full. I’m usually the last person finished eating in a group, but I’m able to enjoy my meals more. Sometimes, I even put my fork down between each bite just to drive someone crazy 🙂

      Protein provides a lot of satiety, too. So, it’s a common recommendation to include protein in each meal when trying to lose or maintain weight. You would have a hard time over-eating a meal of meat and fibrous veggies – one of the reasons low-carb dieting appears to be so “magical” 🙂

  • Big Will June 8, 2011, 7:12 am

    When i was following the Warrior Diet, the order of eating was veggies, animal matter, then any grain or fruit or alcohol. I have since learned to be more flexible with my eating. Protein first, these days. Simply because, when i get home, that is what i want.

    Peeps are gross. Our relationship is now ‘strained’.


    • Josh Hanagarne June 8, 2011, 11:57 am

      You’re gross.

    • Sarah June 9, 2011, 8:02 am

      I also can’t stand peeps…even stale, the way my family swears by…yuck 😛

      I’m totally trying the protein first thing though.

  • Gustavo | frugal science June 8, 2011, 10:06 am

    It is so easy to follow that I’ll give it a try. I’ll also follow Richard’s advice about drinking water first.

  • Alastair J June 9, 2011, 2:31 am

    Hi Josh,
    This kind of links to the Tim Ferriss slow carb stuff that’s doing the rounds at the moment. I changed to high protein and slow carbs and really have seen results. Lost about 24lbs and quite a lot of inches (width not height 😉 )
    I’m not hawking his book, I don’t follow it or subscribe to it all, but the protein first, veggies second, non-white carbs next just seems to work for me, with a binge day once a week of anything.