January 20, 2019
calorie control
Wellness Tip

Portion-Controlled Meals for Weight Loss

by Berkeley Wellness  

Portion-controlled meals can help dieters lose weight, according to a study of 183 overweight or obese people (ages 25 to 65) in the journal Obesity.

Half of the study volunteers consumed portion-controlled packaged frozen entrees for lunch and dinner over 12 weeks (intervention group). The other half ate a self-selected reduced-calorie diet (control group). All participants received nutrition and behavioral counseling to help them meet a weight-loss goal of at least 5 percent of initial weight.

Though both groups lost weight, those eating the portion-controlled meals lost more—8 versus 6 percent of their initial weight, on average, with 74 percent of the intervention group meeting the weight-loss goal, compared to 53 percent of the control group. In addition, those in the intervention group were as satisfied with the taste and appearance of the foods as those selecting meals on their own, which bodes well for long-term weight management.

“Incorporating food provision and structured meal plans into a behavioral weight loss intervention may facilitate weight loss by reducing the complexity of planning and preparing reduced-energy food and meals and reducing cognitive load from decision-making,” the authors concluded. It also teaches dieters about how much food is appropriate.

The study’s lead author received research funding from Nestle, which provided the prepackaged foods, and from Jenny Craig, a commercial weight-loss program that uses prepared portion-controlled meals. The last author listed on the study is a consultant to and previous employee of Nestle.

One big challenge for dieters who consume these products frequently is to find ones that are nutritionally balanced and not high in sodium.

Also see 18 Keys to Healthy Weight Loss.