Dr. Kellyann plate portion sizes

Perfect Portion Sizes for Weight Loss

Are You Not Losing Weight on the Paleo Plan? Here’s Why! It’s no surprise that living a Paleo lifestyle offers you rock-solid health. Living Paleo means you’re ridding yourself of inflammation-causing foods that include artificial ingredients, bad fats and sugary carbs. You’re also dialing in to how food makes you feel. The food you are now digesting brims with nutritional value, and this, of course, creates healthy cells. And yet embarking on a Paleo journey can be tough, especially when you don’t see that extra weight coming off. I often receive emails from Paleo patients that say: “I feel good, but I’m not losing any weight! What’s up with that?”

Know this:

When your body gets totally healthy and you ditch the foods that cause blood-sugar swings, inflammation  and gut damage, you eventually begin to lose weight naturally. When you first start living a Paleo lifestyle, you need to give your body time to flip its fat-burning switch to “on” to become a natural fat burner. The magic will happen! (I’ll be posting more on this issue in January.) In the meantime, if you’ve been living Paleo for a while and feel you still haven’t “taken off,” review the following troubleshooters. The first several focus on what you’re eating, and the last few are all about lifestyle habits.


  • Eating too much fruit? Eating too much fruit is easy to do. You push all the junk off your plate in your new eating regime and replace it with an overload of fruit. Just because fruit is natural doesn’t mean you can go to town. Fruit has fructose, and although some fruit can be very nutritious, consuming too much fruit creates havoc in the insulin department. The serving size is a closed handful of berries or chopped fruit, and ½ of a larger piece of fruit … like a grapefruit or a large apple.

Fruit service size in palm of hand

  • Eating too many nuts? Just because nuts are on the “yes” list, doesn’t’ mean it’s time to scarf! A nut serving size is a closed handful. Period. Not half a bag. Nuts will pile on the pounds, if you crunch away on them mindlessly, not to mention a lot of nuts have an off-balance omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, which won’t help you move toward health.
  • Keeping foods on the “no” list in your kitchen? I think you know where we’re going with this. Don’t hang on to stuff in your pantry or fridge for a rainy day. Donate, or, better yet, toss it. No need to explain this one.
  •  Indulging in Paleo treats too often? We are super glad you’re eating foods with healthy ingredients. Bravo! If you want to use the Paleo packaged cookies, breads, treats, and sweets once in a while, go for it. Just don’t make it routine or the pounds will start creeping on. Paleo-fied pancakes, breads, muffins, and cookies are totally yummy, but just make sure you have awareness of how much you’re actually eating.
  • Skipping the fat? Many people have ingrained in their minds that fat is evil. Some fats may be, but healthy fats on the Paleo “yes” list are anything but evil. Adding the right quantities of fat to your diet actually helps you lose fat. Try it; you’ll see.
  • Eating too much Paleo-approved fats? Again, quantity is an issue here. I love coconut fats, olives and avocados, animal fats, nuts and nut butters. They feed our bodies deep nutrition. When I first started eating Paleo, I downed too many coconut chips and nuts, and was way too liberal with my drizzle oils. When I adjusted the quantities, I adjusted my weight. The serving sizes are no more then two teaspoons of fats and oils (including coconut oil, coconut butter and drizzle oils like olive and avocado oils), and a closed handful of coconut chips, olives and nuts. If an avocado is what you’re aiming for, a serving size is 1/2. Full fat coconut milk is best, and 1/3 can is the suggested serving size.

Fist based portion size

  • Not measuring your food properly? You probably don’t need to think about portion control all the time, but you should get used to how to glance at your food and make sure you’re not getting three times what your body needs. Figuring out how much food you actually need is a real eye opener for most people. See above for portion-control tips. Other suggestions: Protein should be the size of the palm of your hand; you can fill the perimeter of your plate with non-starchy veggies; and if you need some starchy or dense carbohydrates, a good serving size is one to two cups, depending on your needs.
  • Falling into an automatic eating habit? After you start feeling better and begin looking better, you may start to relax a little too much and fall into some of your old patterns. Remember why you started this new lifestyle in the first place and make sure that you’re eating Paleo as a rule, not an exception. When you realize you’re having a gelato or a martini one too many times, be intuitive about it. Ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing, and shift back to the plan.
  • Not completely letting go? For some people, letting go of a lot of foods may be pretty easy, but clutching onto that one food or drink you struggle to let go of may be making it hard for your body to dump the weight. People commonly hold onto drinks and snacks with artificial sugars. These foods and drinks are destructive to your weight loss (and health) efforts. It’s time to let go!
  • Not getting enough sleep? You can lose 14.3 pounds a year by getting one more hour a night of sleep. Sleep deprivation causes you to gain weight while decent sleep helps you to lose weight.  Not sleeping enough causes you and your body systems (including important hormones) to run sluggish and inefficient. When your body slows down, you gain weight.
  • Not organized? If you don’t get organized with meals and pantry updates and planning ahead with regard to what you’ll eat at holiday parties, birthday bashes, etc., you’re asking for trouble. Have lots of “Yes” foods on hand at all times. Remember, a starving body can convince you of almost anything and can even rationalize the benefits of a Twinkie! Avoid setting yourself up for grabbing foods on the run that are surely going to keep you from achieving your healthy weight.
  • Expecting results too quickly? If you expect results fast or even at a moderate pace, you may be disappointed. For some, it may take a while for weight to normalize. Living Paleo is by no means a quick-fix diet. It’s a lifestyle diet that leads to forever results. Trust us on this one. It will happen.
  • Not managing stress? Chronic stress activates your stress hormones. If you or anyone you know is thin yet still has that “tire” around the waist, chances are it’s a cortisol tire. Too much stress means too much cortisol is released, giving you a middle-aged gut no matter how old you are! If your goal is weight loss, make stress management part of your plan.

When you get a handle on all of the above, the magic will happen. Be patient and trust that your body will do what it needs to do.

Keep thinking big and living bold!