Lifesize Portion Control Diet
This countertop tool kit may help you learn to manage better portion control for weight loss.
The Lifesize kitchen tool aims to put easy portion control in arm's reach, by placing a toolbox, if you will, right on your kitchen counter so that you can measure everything you eat. In theory, the product makes a lot of sense because eating proper serving sizes is key to weight loss and weight maintenance. With Lifesize, they say you can ditch what you already think you know about dieting, eat the foods you want without any deprivation, and portion every bite you eat with their eight-piece kit.
The base is a large white plastic frame that holds the eight measuring tools. It measures at just shy of two-feet long at 21 inches and when all the measuring cups are placed it stands a foot tall. It's a little large, bulky and will occupy a bit of countertop real estate, a hot commodity for those with smaller kitchens. The thick and sturdy plastic utensils are each marked with a brightly colored label so that users know which is used to measure carbs, meats, dairy, or baked goods.
The Lifesize Kitchen works like this:
Use the seven scoops and one cup to measure everything you eat, with more guidance provided in an oversized wall poster that measures 11" x 22" (It can be folded and stored with the countertop kit). The measuring cup labeled in crimson with a "C" for Carbs corresponds to the servings of carbohydrate foods you can have listed on the chart. For instance, for beans, granola, pasta, French fries, cheese puffs, and pretzels you can fill the cup once. For cold cereal, lasagna, popcorn, or chicken noodle soup you can fill the cup twice. For plain popcorn you can fill the cup four times. There's no regard for calories, fat, or other nutritional factors, simply measuring out the size of particular foods that seemingly have no similarities other than the classification as "carb." You can have the same amount of black beans as you can French fries. Lifesize suggests that as long as you're eating the right portion, the weight takes care of itself.
In addition to the countertop tool kit and wall poster, Lifesize comes with three DVDs to support your efforts. One is the kick-off DVD that demonstrates what Lifesize is, a step-by-step guide to using this system and program, and more about exercise and lasting weight loss. The second DVD is an interactive version of the poster; it's geared toward those who are more visual and want to see what a portion actually looks like rather than have it described on paper. Finally, the written materials DVD is just that, a readable guide to Lifesize.
- Promotes portion control
- May be ideal for a single person or those with ample kitchen space
- Exercise is encouraged
- Well manufactured
- Doesn't appear to focus on nutrition of the foods you eat, just serving size
- Guidance is full of inconsistencies
- Not all foods can be measured with the tool, leaving a lot of interpretation to happen under the "natural portions" and "free foods"
- No measurement tool for fruits and vegetables
- Permits more soda than milk
- Not an effective way to measure portion control if nutrition is important
- Unless you carry it with you, it only works at home
On Lifesize you are encouraged to eat six portions of food a day, and divide them across three meals. That could be two portions at each meal of the day, or a portion a breakfast, two at lunch, and three at dinner. You can have all the free foods you like.
Based on this guidance, a day on Lifesize might look like this, all of which should be measured with the tools:
Breakfast of 2 eggs + free foods like fruit and low-fat yogurt
Lunch of chicken salad and crackers + free foods like a fresh salad with low-fat dressing
Dinner of salmon, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach + any other free foods like salad and low-fat dressing
Snack could be hummus + free foods like carrot sticks
Dessert could be a brownie
Here is a look at each of the eight scoops and the foods those can serve.
This covers potatoes, rice, pasta, cereal, and chips. Granola, which is a similar carb, gets a different measurement under Goodies. You're permitted the same amount of French fries as you are black beans, edamame, and lentil soup. Breads aren't measured with the tools, but the chart suggests things like half a bagel, a single croissant (never mind the size), a single hamburger bun, and a single crab cake (which is more protein than it is a carb). No guidance is provided toward whole grain pastas, breads, or other grain-based foods. Pizza is also included under carbs where we should actually just be examining the crust; a pizza loaded with vegetables and light cheese might be fine for the single-serving recommendation but that is hardly equivalent to one that is loaded in several kinds of meat.
Thins like chili, stew, casseroles, and specifically take-out Chinese are listed here. A single serving of chili is recommended as a side dish or a single serving of mayonnaise-based salads like chicken, egg, and tuna. You can also fill two containers to enjoy a casserole, pot pie, or take Indian, Thai, Chinese, or Mexican takeout. Again, no regard is paid to the differences in these types of food - a Mexican dish rich in ground beef and cheese is quite different nutritionally than spring rolls or pad thai from a Thai restaurant.
This small, triangular-shaped tool looks like any pie server you've ever used. With Lifesize, you'll use it to cut cake, pie, brownies, and quiche. There are indicators on the tool for a "half measure" or "full measure" which may help keep size in control. However, there's no way to measure the difference between a slice of cake that stands several inches tall or a slender brownie that may not clear a half-inch tall. With the foods that can be the most calorically dense and nutritionally void, there's a lot of room for interpretation.
All of your animal products are listed here, from beef and pork to shellfish and chicken. Chicken parmesan is specifically listed here, while based on the other lists it easily could go under carbs or saucy dishes, too. Tofu and vegetarian meat substitutes are also included under meats; nutritionally, these are hardly similar.
A small plastic cup is also included, with measurements marked for beverages. Water is indicated on the wall chart as a free food, so you can have as much as you like. What's really interesting about the cup is that it has markers for juice, milk, and soda, allowing you to have much more soda than milk. The cup notes that is used for high-calorie drinks, with the measurement being appropriate for whole milk, and seemingly the same for skim milk, which calorically and fat wise are entirely different. If you want to drink your calories, this cup will be your guide.
Another striking note is that you can have all the lattes and cappuccinos with low-fat milk as you like under free foods, but you're limited to a small one with whole milk. The measurements for liquids on the chart don't seem to correspond with the measuring cup at all. Sports drinks can have "1 small can or 1 small bottle" - but there's no correlation to that on the measuring cup and a small size can be broadly open to interpretation; we'd prefer to see specific ounces mentioned or a correlation to the cup.
This tool is used to measure hard and soft cheeses, "cheese on top of French onion soup," and cream-based sauces like Alfredo. Creamed vegetables are specifically noted, and you can also use this scoop to measure frozen yogurt, ice cream, and pudding. Use three of these cups to pour milk on cereal (but this measurement is not to be confused with the amount of milk you can have in the cup). Other soups, cream-based as opposed to the soups listed under carbs, can also be served with this tool. There is no guidance provided for low-fat cheese or dairy products, no regard paid to the amount of sugar that exists in frozen treats, and the differences in yogurts available.
The tiniest scoop of all is reserved for butter, margarine, mayonnaise, and even pate. Consider this your condiment tool, as it can also serve croutons, gravy, jelly, olive oil, peanut butter, chocolate and maple syrup, or bbq and steak sauce. It once again lumps a lot of things together that aren't necessarily similar.
The final scoop is reserved for everything from marshmallows and candy to hummus and guacamole - again things that nutritionally couldn't be more different. Nuts, frozen ice cream treats, cole slaw, pasta salad (technically a carb as well as a saucy dish), and refried beans also appear under this section.
It describes Pop-Tarts as a naturally sized food and that you can eat just one; sounder guidance would be to not eat a processed pastry completely void of nutrition that is hardly something you could call natural. Eggs are listed as naturally portioned and you can have two, with no differentiation for egg size noted. Deli meat can have four slices; again, no guidance provided for actual serving size that can vary by thickness. You still have to use a lot of your best judgement here.
There is no scoop provided for fruits and vegetables because these are listed under free foods; you can eat as much of these as you want. Even for foods that tend to be low in calorie like fresh fruits and vegetables, it's still important to recognize that proper portions do exist. It's not advisable to eat an entire watermelon or several ears of corn. This also says that fruits and vegetable salsas are a free food, as are condiments like ketchup, mustard, and relish. According to the LIfesize chart, you can have limitless amounts of salt and sugar, as well as Jell-O, low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat salad dressing, and Manhattan Clam Chowder.EXERCISE
Little guidance is provided except for a brief mention on the beginner DVD provided by Lifesize. They do say that on days you exercise you can have both a snack and a dessert. On days that you do not exercise, you have to choose a snack or a dessert.CONCLUSION
At first glance, we had a few people inquire whether or not this was a child's toy; we assured them it was a new diet tool used for portion control. Lifesize certainly has the best of intentions, but we found too many inconsistencies and a disregard for the nutrition of food to call this a sustainable, effective weight loss tool. Portion control is of utmost importance for anyone, especially those who are seeking to lose weight; but the nutrition of the food, like calories, fat, sugar, and sodium, should not be disregarded and should be an important part of measuring the value of food in a person's diet. The Lifesize unit is a bit cumbersome, as it occupies a significant amount of countertop space. Unless someone packs the tool with them, they are left on their own for any eating experience away from the home.Common Misspellings
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