Lose Fat by Eating Half Portions

The hardest part about trying to lose fat and weight is the sacrifice it involves. Having to give up the things we love makes our brains rebel against our best intentions to eat healthily.

Here’s how you can indulge your cravings for fatty food and your desire to lose fat simultaneously: Eat half portions of dessert or anything you crave.

“But what a waste!”

The usual objection I get when recommending this simple Eat-Half strategy is this: “But what a waste to leave half on the plate!” My answer is very simple…

“Well these are calories your body doesn’t need so they will be wasted anyway. The only difference is whether it wastes on the plate or in your body. Which do you prefer?”

This reply usually begets a sheepish smile and a nod of acceptance.

Halve Your Portions

“An optimist will tell you the glass is half full; the pessimist, half empty; and the engineer will tell you the glass is twice the size it needs to be.”

– Unknown

Most portions, especially dessert portions, are larger than they need to be. Half a portion is enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. Leaving the other half satisfies your need to eat less and lose weight.

Double Your Enjoyment

Isn’t this a wonderful dieting strategy? You get to eat and diet at the same time, and so benefit in two ways:

  1. Eat whatever you want without guilt, in half portions.
  2. Feel virtuous seeing all the calories you left on the plate.

Make the forbidden half uneatable

If you’re not sure you can stop eating at the halfway point, find a way to ensure that you do not eat the second half. For example:

  • Ask a friend to share the dish with you. Then it would be rude to eat more than your fair share, wouldn’t it?
  • Cut off half and offer it to the person next to you, explaining that you’re not allowed to eat this half. This may also assuage your feeling of waste.
  • If you are alone with no one to share with, mash up half the portion unto an uneatable pulp to reduce your temptation.
  • Ask the waiter for another plate, dump half your portion on it and request that he take it away at once.
  • If eating on the move, deposit half into the nearest dustbin once you open the package.

These measures may sound drastic, but you only need to do this until it doesn’t bother you to leave the uneaten half on your plate.

Leave more than half and lose fat faster

The best part of this strategy is that over time, you may well end up leaving more than half on the plate.

This happens because your mind gets used to the concept of ‘waste’. Once you accept that it’s okay to leave a significant portion of food on your plate uneaten, it will stop mattering how big that portion is. You’ll be just as comfortable to leave three-quarters on the plate.

Lose fat and be happier

Nowadays, I easily stop eating after just one or two mouthfuls of tiramisu, cheesecake, or whatever I have a craving for. I’ve found that this is one of the key steps to be happy.

I’m happy because I experienced a delicious taste. I’m also happy to see the remainder on the plate. I don’t really need all that inside me since I’ve already milked the most gratifying first couple of bites.

Now is this the perfect way to cut calories or what?

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55 replies on “Lose Fat by Eating Half Portions”

Hey there, I’ll stand by this 100%…… 10 years ago I started halving my food intake, and soon enough, i couldn’t believe I had reached my goal weight much quicker than I anticipated…..I stayed fairly active as much as possible with walking everywhere and I played a team sport (softball), all while working 3 jobs, and studying……… I have unfortunately piled on the weight due to a medical reason, and once i get the all clear i’ll be aiming to do the same, with a little bit of help at the gym, so i can get toned!!!! I actually got the idea all those years ago from an aussie comedian who did the same…and she still looks great now!!! It does work!!!!

Hi Haley,

Great to know it worked for you and others you know! Thanks for leaving this enthusiastic testimony.


Great suggestions on eating half portions. But I don’t care for the suggestions about necessarily throwing out the food. I think ordering a to go bag as soon as the waiter delivers the food might could work as well. Halve the food and put it in the to go bag before you ever eat it. Then you half the other half to eat tomorrow. It saves the food from being wasted and actually can cut down on your food expenses.

I’ve found that real change and lasting weight loss happens slowly, and is VERY frugal.
25lbs over the last 6 mos may be slow, but it’s staying off, and I still enjoy my treats. (twice- I don’t feed the trash!)

I will offer the extra to anyone I’m eating out with (toddlers are GREAT helpers on this!) but seriously, throwing it away is just wrong.
If you’re only going to eat half, immediately wrap it up to use another day.
Your wait staff will even do this FOR you.

[…] for a smaller portion. Many restaurants will provide you with a half portion or a lunch portion if you ask. This can help you reduce your caloric intake. You can also split a […]

Hi dear Daphne, I so relate to this post as I am quite happy with letting food go and sweets to. But the trick I learned was, as you say to have that taste. One thing I do it take a teeny taste and eat like I was a mouse, nibbling slowly, only a tiny bit at a time. So it makes a little last a long way. I’ve found that it is the TASTE I want not the stomach full of a huge wad of sugar or carb or whatever. I’ve also learned to eat slowly as it can take a few minutes for the food to digest and register in our bodies as “full”. But if we eat slowly we will feel the full feeling before we have a HUGE plate of food in us. It also helps to only put a tiny bit of whatever on your plate. This is a fun post and one so many of need to hear. Thank you and hugs to you my rainforest friend. Robn :))

Dear Robin,

You’re absolutely right about just wanting the taste, and once we have that we’re quite happy not to finish the entire plate. I’m learning to ‘nibble like a mouse’ though I used to be quite a gobbler! Another trick I use is small plates – so it looks like we have a full plate, though the portions may be smaller or the same.

Your mention of rainforests makes me wonder – how come animals in the wild don’t overeat, but domesticated ones like us do? Interesting, and something else to think about regarding the rainforest and nature.

For me, its not the calories, its the CARBS that ruin me. :). Sometimes, I dont eat enough calories.

If its not in the house, I am not tempted. I always share any goodies I have 3, 4, 5+ ways if possible or I dont order it.

Hi Carla,

I used to love carbs, and have now cut down on rice and potatoes and pastas etc. I still love chocolates and dessert which are the richest type of carbs! Good on you for having a low calorie intake, though as you say be careful to have enough.

Thank you for the way to loose weight and have your cake also. It is worth trying. Have a great day.
Dan and Deanna “Marketing Unscrambled”

Dan and Deanna,

I like your use of ‘having your cake and eating it’. That’s exactly what this method allows! Thanks for this salient comment.

Weight Watchers says in restaurants to ask them to bring a take home box to the table with your meal. Then put half in it and take it home for the following day.

A mantra from Richard Simmons I heard 30 years ago is, “10 seconds on your lips a lifetime on your hips.” Funny and true.

Tess, what a good idea to ask for a take-home box with the meal. Here I was thinking I was so smart to eat half portions, not realising that Weight Watchers and other established names have already said so. Still, it’s nice to know I’m on the right track!

“10 seconds on your lips a lifetime on your hips” is funny, true, memorable, and very motivating!

I absolutely believe deprivation is not the key to keeping weight off! The half portions idea works well because most of the portions we eat (especially when eating out) are much bigger than we need. So while many people believe in deprivation, to your point, simply cutting back on the portion size can in many instances do the trick!

Hi Stacey,

You’re right about those portion sizes. The first time I had ‘gourmet’ meal, I stared in shock at the small portions and felt I’d been cheated of my money. Now I realise those portions are probably about right, and everywhere else serves too much!


I can totally see how you can satiate your craving by eating only half! Good for you!

For me it works a little differently. The key to maintaining my weight is exercise! I only allow myself to eat something (sort of a reward) AFTER I work out! This way, I can also guage what I can eat depending on how much calories I have burned. Yes, exercise is key and then I can eat anything I want…great post as always:~)


I remember reading on your blog that you work out everyday. That’s a good discipline, so that you get to eat everyday too! 😉

Me… I’m lazy. I jog sometimes though not enough to burn a lot, so I just have to work on reducing intake as well. You look great though – an inspiration to me to get back to daily exercise!

I found that losing weight is not that hard as anyone would think. It sure takes commitment and following a simple plan but the key element is persistance.

You need to monitor the calories, lose the junk food, sodas, sweets and do some physical exercises. I myself love dancing. And remember to use a fat burner to accelerate the fat metabolism.

Hi Bowtrol,

Thanks for your comment. Persistence is definitely key to making many things work, including diet and exercise. A little a day adds up!

Hi Daphne. An “A” for effort! It’s obvious you’ve put a lot of consideration into this — there are a lot of useful, realistic tips here. I used to have better willpower. These days however, that is not the case. I’m lucky in one way to be on a gluten-free diet. That cuts out a lot of dessert options when I’m out. As I’ve gotten older, I’m pretty satisfied after a good meal to not even want dessert. I’m happy with a good coffee.

Hi Davina,

Coffee works for me too! Maybe it’s an age thing… or maybe we’re just more refined in taste as we grow older 😉

I’m not sure why so many readers have commented on willpower. This whole point of this is that it doesn’t take me any willpower at all compared to when I deny myself. In fact I feel like I’m ‘cheating’ by eating the dessert so I’m actually caving in, just not all the way! I suppose it’s the mental difference between ‘not finishing’ (takes willpower) and ‘sneak a bite or two’ (indulgence). Intriguing. You just gave me an idea for another post!

Bravo! This is something I thought I was alone in–wasting food. But like you, it’s gone either way, and better NOT inside me.

Another trick I’ve tried with success is designating one day a week where I can have a “forbidden” treat. It helps allay that feeling of deprivation dieters get. As you’ve said, the new way of eating for good health becomes a habit, just as the unhealthy eating did.

Karen, welcome, and I’m so glad to find a fellow ‘waster’! You’re right that it’s gone either way, and much better outside us than inside!

I let myself have forbidden treats whenever I feel like it, which works out to once every week or fortnight I imagine. And I don’t feel guilty because as you point out, this has become the exception rather than the norm once the habit is formed. Thanks for adding this helpful comment!

Laurie, glad it works for you, and it’s a shocker to realise how much we’re over-served once our stomachs adjust to just enough. Oh by the way, yesterday I just allowed myself to finish a WHOLE ice-cream. So yes, we can eat all sometimes! 🙂

I agree that we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of foods that we love when trying to lose weight. I think savoring smaller portions is the way to go. Half sound about right for desserts.

Diane, smaller portions seem the way to go because so many people over-eat. For some rich desserts like cheesecake, even half is a struggle for me now. It’s nice to know I can leave whatever I don’t want on the plate!

It’s so powerful once you ask basic questions like, how much do I need to eat? how much money do I need to make? how much this or that …

The example I always think of is when people start to feel sick because they are full but they keep eating their desert. They keep going because they “already paid for it” … and I always wonder, well, how sick do you need to feel before you get your money’s worth?

I think it’s a shift from eat until done, to eat to feel good … and knowing what feel good really means for you.

JD, I used to be one of those people that would stuff myself silly, simply because I’d already paid for it and didn’t want to ‘waste’. In fact, at a buffet I’d even go back for more since the ‘time wasn’t up’ or something silly like that.

You’re right that at some point, you sit there feeling physically sick and start wondering why you do these things. Changing questions is an amazing way to change our focus and action.

Thanks for sharing Daphne. I would agree that leaving half the waste on the plate is better than consuming it. =)

Thanks for your comment John. It’s hard to argue with the “where would you rather have your waste” argument! 🙂

Wow! This is really good advice. Of course, I’ve read about halving portions, but never in this way before. You make it seem like such a good thing and I think you’ve done an excellent job addressing a lot of the issues some people might have with the idea of halving things. Thanks for a great post!

Positively Present,

Thanks for your affirming comment, as always. You know what? When I ‘discovered’ this method I really thought it was the best thing on earth, and I suppose that came across when writing about it. It IS a good thing when you try it!

Hi Daphne,

My uncle is a doctor who used to have a weight problem. He then dropped it all off and has kept it off for thirty years. His advice for all his patients or to anyone regarding how to lose weight is to eat whatever you want but just eat half of it. He says that many of his patients have managed to lose lots of weight and keep it off by following this strategy.

Hope all is well! 🙂


Wow that makes me feel as smart as a doctor, ha ha! Thanks for this information. At least I know that what I’m doing is defensible and not just some frivolous tactic. Your comment made this post worthwhile, because it’s a sort of confirmation. Thanks!

Terrific advice, Daphne. Everyone’s right about the willpower, and Jay’s right in saying you needn’t exercise your willpower for very long. My husband got me hooked on ice cream every night, nice “healthy” (big) servings. Before long, I didn’t recognize my waistline! But when I started serving 1 scant scoop in tiny ramikins, things improved rapidly. This works well for our meals, too: smaller plates. In case you’re still working on your own weight-loss plan, I know you’ll reach your goal soon! You’ve the right mindset. 🙂


Jay’s absolutely right that the effort is only temporary. After a while you just won’t want to finish the portion anyway.

Funny you should bring up ice-cream. My mum has got me going on an ice-cream almost everyday now! So I have to think about that one… Thanks for the encouragement on my weight loss. Ive had the goal for years!


Great idea! It fits with nicely with my ideas about mindful eating.

I’ve also found that when I’m at home, if I start out with smaller portions on my plate, I eat less. I always tell myself I can add more to my plate after I eat the first plate, but I rarely do.


Yes it does come closer to mindful eating. Starting with smaller portions is a great idea. It’s all a mind game isn’t it? Our minds would rebel if we deprived ourselves, yet co-operate if we tell ourselves we can eat all we want, because then we don’t want that much at all!

Hi Daphne,

I think this is a great idea. Controlling portion size is far more effective than trying to burn off calories after the fact. It takes no time to not eat another 300 calories, but it takes a serious effort to burn it off later.

Best of all, it helps to improve the potent skill of restraint . I will try this next time I go to a restaurant, even if I just leave a small amount (less than half) uneaten. In North America especially, restaurant portions are out of control. Way more food than we need.


Sigh, you just reminded me how hard I have to work to burn off those extra calories I ate today. So right that it’s a lot easier not to put them in, than to try and take them out! I

I had a burrito once in America – it was as long as my forearm and twice as thick. All for US$0.99! I stared at it in disbelief, and probably ate only an eighth. Definitely out of control portions!

Do try leaving something on your plate. It hurts the first time, and then eventually you’ll think nothing of it. Hope this method works for you!

Hi Daphne .. I agree most food platters are more than we need .. I think we need 20 minutes for satiation to work .. so if we leave 20 minutes our body at that stage will have had enough. The other thing is to have a glass of water half an hour before a meal .. & exercise = essential.

Perhaps portions will get smaller as the credit crunch continues hitting businesses .. we can see it already ..

Don’t waste somehow please!!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters


Your point about 20 minutes is excellent. Yes if we would only eat slower, we would also eat less! Ah, you’ve reminded me to drink lots before I eat. Sometimes I forget.

Good point about portions getting smaller for economic reasons. That can only be a good thing. I know it does seem like a waste. This is the single biggest reason most of us over-eat, I suspect.

This is a simple, yet really effective tip! Thank you for sharing it. As others have noted, it *does* take willpower, especially in the beginning, but after a few weeks of doing it, your stomach (and appetite) shrink, and then you almost always look at a plate of food and think “Oh, that’s much too much,” and so then it becomes easier.

I also like the idea of sharing your food with another person! In fact, if you go out to dinner with one other person, and split a single meal, then not only do you save the calories, but you save the money, too.


You hit the nail on the head about the shrinking stomach once this has gone on for a while. That’s in fact exactly what I think now when I’m served: “Gosh that’s a lot!”

Great point about saving money too. That alone is an incentive to share, even if you’re not concerned about calories. Thanks for these pointers!

Hi Daphne,

Well done. I’m with Evelyn though I don’t know if I could leave half of everything I ate, especially dessert 🙂 I would like to try it though. It always amazes me what an actual serving size is as compared to what we actually ingest. A serving of meat, for example, is roughly the size of a deck of cards. I’d be willing to bet not many people now a days are eating a steak that small.

Good luck to you 🙂


You’re so right that portions today are much larger than they need to be. The first time I was served one serving of wine, I was appalled – it was so little! I thought the restaurant was being cheap until I realised that IS one serving! Same goes for meat as you pointed out.

Do try it and let me know if it works for you!

I am not sure I can eat half of my dessert and not finish it. It will be too tempting to relish every last crumb. Also, desserts tend to look extra yummy! You sure have great determination to be able to resist temptation.

I try to maintain my weight by having only fruits for breakfast and nothing else but water till lunch time. I also have salads for lunch a few times a week. For dinner, I may go totally vegetarian especially when I am just eating at home. I also go to the gym, while my kids are having their swimming classes.

For myself, I think the trick is not to have in-between snacks. I find that my waistline expands according to the number of latte cups I drink.

All the best to your weight loss regime!


I approach it the other way round: instead of denying myself dessert, I allow myself to eat half, so I’m already giving in to temptation, just not all the way! I found this pretty easy to do, actually. You may too! Lattes, now, are different altogether – I down every last drop. Maybe that explains my thickening waistline!

Your diet is one I tried – nothing fruits until lunch gave me the most horrible headaches and I would gorge at dinner. So I gave that up. Glad to know it works for you. Wish I could do it. You sound like you have a great regime and figure!

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