Paleo Portion Sizes

What are the correct portion sizes on the Paleo Diet?

Portion sizes seem to create a lot of confusion when people transition from a SAD diet to a Paleo diet. Conventional wisdom diet plans (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Tony Ferguson, Lite & Easy, Lighter Life, Slimming World, Slimfast… in fact, pretty much all of them) have at their very core defined portion sizes. These portion sizes are defined in many different ways; calorie counting to strict daily limits, staying within strict macro nutrient ranges or eating a set number of points each day – but they are all essentially strictly controlling the portion sizes the dieter is allowed to eat.

This means the conventional wisdom dieter knows exactly how much they should eat everyday – which takes the thought out of meal planning, as the exact portion sizes are prescribed. On a conventional diet plan, because the focus is on low calorie and often low-fat food, the dieter simply doesn’t get the nutrition they need, which often results in a near constant state of hunger. Clearly if you eat the right foods, Paleo foods, there is no need to feel hungry – even if you are losing weight.

On a Paleo Diet, the types of food are emphasised – not the number of calories,or specific macro nutrient ratios. This can lead to confusion – surely you can’t eat unlimited serving sizes, especially not if you’re trying to lose weight?

Paleo Portion Sizes Serving Sizes How Much

So, you can eat as much as you like on a Paleo diet?

This seems to be a common trap people fall into. The belief that on a Paleo diet you can eat as much as you like – and provided it’s good wholesome Paleo food, the weight will fall off. There even seems to be the mindset in some cases that as the food is so nutritious – the more you eat – the better!

This just is not the case. No matter how nutritious the food, calories do still matter. If you eat more than your body needs – even if it is grass-fed, organic beef – it has to go somewhere.

So what is proper portion control on a Paleo diet?

There’s not a one size fits all answer here. The best approach is to transition into a Paleo diet – and once you are used to your new way of eating, experiment with your portion sizes. You should eat enough so you are no longer hungry – but should know when to stop eating!

Of course depending on your lifestyle and body type, your calorie and macro nutrient needs are likely to be as unique as you.

Increasing the amount of fat and protein at meal times is a lot more satiating and should help to reduce portion sizes.

If weight loss is the aim, portion sizes should not be too generous; but also cutting out nuts, and heavily limiting fruit consumption is a good idea.

Often women automatically take the same portion sizes as men, when generally they should have a smaller serving size.

How do you manage your portion sizes? Have you changed your serving sizes since you started following a Paleo Diet?

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  1. edwina says

    hi suz
    i have a questions regarding nuts and fruit. is there specific properties in nuts that would cause you to put on weight (or hinder weight loss) or is it more about them being quite calorie-heavy and thus easy to over eat?
    Also i realise fruit is high in fructose (and can thus increase your insulin levels etc) but is one piece of fruit per day still acceptable when trying to lose fat?
    I have a small serving of macadamia nuts and one apple/mandarin/banana (occasionally) as my snacks during the day (along with 3 paleo friendly meals) and I want to check it is just being careful about portion sizes rather than the properties of these foods that would be a problem.

    • Suz says

      Hi Edwina, nuts are very calorie dense – and so easy to over eat. Also some nuts have a rather high Omega6/3 ratio – another reason not to have too many.

      I’d go for fruit that is lover in fructose – for example berries, with the added bonsu that they are full of antioxidants

  2. Janine says

    This is so much more complicated than I thought, I only realised a couple of years ago. At 38 I had put on 3 stone. I had never had to diet before but it had caught up with me, I think it was looking at old photos, made me realise I had to do something.
    The only thing that worked for me was (to start with) giving up anything with sugar in.
    I found ‘The dark side of fat loss’ totally fascinating.

  3. bellyjelly says

    Just realising how important portion sizes are, even on Paleo. I’ve been doing ok for the past 6 months, then in the last 2 months, have put on 3 kg. I know we’ve just been through the festive season, but really, the fault is all mine. I was thinking (as you point out) because it’s paleo, I can eat as much as I want. The bloat has been coming back – too much coconut flour baking, and just too much food!!!
    So I’m reigning myself in just a tad. I’ll stop baking for a while, and focus on more veges, and smaller serves.
    Thanks for the guidance!

  4. christi says

    I’ve learned in human anatomy that the human stomach (ideally) shouldn’t be no bigger than both of an individual’s fists put together volume wise. I was taught in high school to “eyeball” portion sizes: 1 fist = 1 cup, the palm of your hand is a 3-4oz serving of meat, etc. I’ve found that works best for me, especially since I’m only 5ft 2in, and actually measuring and weighing out my food with actual kitchen tools causes me to gain weight, because the portions are to large for me. For example; my fist is actually closer to ½ -¾ cup volume wise, my palm is 2-3 oz, a big difference compared to what i was taught in health/nutrition. So all in all my servings may be smaller than the SAD recommendations(oh well) and when filling my plate the paleo way many might say i eat to little especially veggies because volume is an issue with me(3oz meat and 1 cup vegetables compared to the usual recommended meals of 6-8oz meat and 2-3 cups of vegetables i read about) but I’m smaller than the average American or shorter anyways, i don’t feel deprived or like I’m suffering from any ill effects like malnutrition, hunger or Carb flu and the weight loss is slow, steady and easy to maintain and if i get bored, need a break or start to feel deprived i just increase the good carbs for a treat and its easy to maintain my weight. So in the end common sense, education and listening to your body is usually the best way to go.

  5. says

    Is it practically the same portion size as you would in a balanced diet? 2/3 veggies and 1/3 protein? Then we go to a macro level of limiting your protein to 1-1.5 cups? I’ve been doing Paleo for a while and I just Googled if I should be controlling my portions since I’m still trying to lose weight and boy was I surprised! I did think it was an all-you-can-eat spree. Glad I read this..

  6. Tracy says

    I’m 52 years old, 5ft 2 and obese at 180lbs, last Saturday made a commitment to Paleo life style
    and I never exercise, So with all my sins laid out, I have exercised for the past three days at least 20mins fast walk, and I’m not craving my old habits of Ice cream and BREAD!!!!! can any of you fantastic motivated Paleo peeps please advise me on portion control or any other insights, I’m so excited and motivated, any advice would be greatly appreciated, THANKS :)

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