Consumption of portion-controlled food results in weight and fat loss, according to University of Illinois researchers.
Packaged portion-controlled entrees were compared to a self-selected diet based on the FDA’s Food Guide Pyramid (FGP). Sixty healthy women, ages 24 to 60, were randomized into two intervention groups for an eight-week parallel-arm study.
“The portion-controlled group consumed two frozen entrees daily, plus additional food servings from the FGP,” wrote the researchers. “The self-selected diet group consumed a recommended number of servings from the FGP.”
Diets were the same in composition—55 percent carbohydrate, 25 percent protein, 20 percent fat, and contained 1,365 calories.
The portion-controlled group lost an average of 12 pounds compared to 8 pounds in the FGP group. In addition, total cholesterol decreased 24.4 mg/dl in the portion-controlled group compared to 13 mg/dl in the FGP group.
—Obesity Research, March 2004
Q & A With Sandra Hannum
Sandra Hannum served as lead researcher on the University of Illinois Portion-Control Study
Q: What is an example of a portion-controlled meal if both meal plans had the same percentage of fat, carbs and protein?
A: The portion-controlled entrees that we used in our study were Uncle Ben’s bowls. In addition to these entrees, the subjects had salads and other foods in their diets. The diets for the two study groups were prescribed to be the same, but one group had to self-select their own foods in the proper portions. The group receiving the packaged entrees was less vulnerable to overeating because the correct portion sizes were given to them. Our hope that the group consuming the UB bowls would become accustomed to these portion sizes would eventually learn to eat smaller portions when consuming other foods as well.
Q: What are some suggestions for controlling portions?
A: For people who don’t like to spend a great deal of time preparing and cooking food, packaged entrees offer a good alternative to restaurant meals, which tend to be overly generous in size.