Re-proportion Your Plate to Lose Weight

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

2794-MyPlate-green300x273.jpgWe all know we need to eat more whole foods and fruits and vegetables to stay healthy. But, knowing the exact portion sizes for every single food out there can be daunting.

This past summer, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) introduced a helpful visual to make life easy. They call it MyPlate; I call it the half plate vegetable rule.

Plate Portions

  • Make half your plate vegetables at mealtime, or combine fruits and vegetables on half your plate. This will help add filling fiber to your plate, keep the calories down, and add some quality nutrition to your meal.
  • One quarter of your plate should be a protein choice. This could be anything that has significant protein like lean meats, fish, eggs, legumes, beans, or tofu. Adding this protein will help make sure you get the amino acids you need in the day, and help to keep you fuller longer.
  • The other quarter of your plate should be a high quality carbohydrate source. An example of this is brown rice, whole wheat pasta, more beans, peas, legumes, or whole grain breads. Adding this carbohydrate will help round out your meal, keep it balanced, and help you feel satisfied.
  • Use added fats sparingly on the plate and make sure they are healthy fats like oils, nuts, seeds, or avocado.
  • Fat free or low fat dairy can be included in moderation. An example is a cup of skim milk or 6 ounces of a fat free yogurt.


The plate rule can be very helpful to those who don’t have time to create different meals for the family, or for those who don’t want to worry about all the details involved in calorie counting. It’s simple, and easy to remember when dining out as well. You can apply the principle anywhere–all you have to do is be determined to stick to it!

Do you have any plate portion techniques that you use to keep your meals healthy?


  1. dmoffett

    USDA guidelines have killed hundreds of thousands and cost us trillions in health care. Do just the opposite of what they tell you. Eat lots of meat, good fat, leafy greens and very little to NO grains. I’ve lost 143 pounds in the last 20 months by doing the opposite of what USDA says.

  2. O.

    If someone is going to poke fun at that, whats left to eat? Dessert?

  3. Dix

    I’d find a paleo plate funny:
    50% Rabbit food
    50% Things with faces*
    (* not my idea, seen somewhere on the web)

  4. O.

    that’s because it’s an old microwavable plate from the 80’s

  5. ArrowSmith

    Of course. The USDA is pushing the dairy & grain industry. It’s all about money, bribes, corruption. There is no money in water.

  6. ArrowSmith

    That’s not very “green” of you to use plastic plates. Remember be sustainable!

  7. O.

    I have a plastic plate with dividers (like a paper plate) that helps me.

  8. Spectra

    Of course the USDA would tell us to include grains and dairy in this healthy plate, but you don’t really need either in a healthy diet. I fill 2/3 of my plate with veggies, have a serving of fish or tuna that I measure out, and a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit. Sometimes I’ll have a small serving of brown rice or beans, but I generally don’t eat much dairy or processed grains.

  9. T. Kallmyer

    I have a hard time believing the USDA when it comes to what we should be eating as they aren’t exactly unbiased. They always seem to promote Dairy and Grains heavily. If you look at their site, they recommend milk to be served with every meal and this is just not necessary or even wise. Unneeded liquid calories. Good old fashioned water is the best choice. I liked that Nicole mentioned other carbs besides grains and I would add that a sweet potato is also a great choice.