Losing weight is NOT easy! You may be looking to lose a few pounds and don’t know where to start. Or, perhaps you are in the process of making lifestyle changes and want to know how to take your progress to the next level. Regardless of your situation, I highly recommend portion control! Eating the proper serving size is a great first step for moderate weight loss and to achieve a balanced diet.
In the video below, Amanda Haney discusses how to lose weight by approximating healthy food portion sizes.
If you don’t like the video or want more information, continue reading.
The good news is, you do not have to carry around measuring cups or weigh your foods to know the correct serving size. Instead, you can use your hands or common objects to estimate your portions!
Serving size vs portion size
A common question I hear is, what is the difference between a portion size and a serving size? Both are commonly used in nutrition so it’s important to know the difference!
A serving size is a common unit of food measurement used to express how much of a food is recommended. The servings you need to consume varies based on age, gender, activity level, or specific medical conditions.
A portion is how much you serve yourself, which may be more or less than the recommended serving size. A food item may contain multiple servings, so it is important to read the food label. You also may choose to consume multiple servings in one portion.
Make your portions match your recommended servings in order to eat the proper balance of nutrients each day!
Here is how to achieve weight loss success by measuring food portion sizes using your hands or common objects
For fruits, most men and women need to consume 2 servings per day. A serving is considered:
- One cup of fresh fruit
- One medium whole fruit
- ½ cup dried fruit
For example, 1 cup is about the size of your fist and a ½ cup is what would fit in the palm of your hand. Also, one medium piece of whole fruit, like an apple or an orange, is the size of a baseball.
For vegetables, most men need 3 servings and most women need 2 and ½ servings per day. A serving is considered:
- 1 cup vegetables cooked or raw
- 2 cups leafy greens like spinach or lettuce
For example, 2 cups is what would fit in 2 handfuls or 2 fists. Also, a serving of a whole vegetable, like a tomato or potato, is the size of a tennis ball.
For grains, most men need 7-8 ounce equivalents and most women need 6-ounce equivalents. An ounce equivalent is:
- 1 slice of bread
- 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal
- ½ cup of cooked rice, pasta, or cooked cereal like oatmeal or cream of wheat
For example, a slice of bread is about the size of your flat hand or the size of a CD case. Also, a ½ cup of cooked grains is what would fit in a cupcake wrapper.
For proteins, most men need 6-6 ½ ounce equivalents and most women need 5-5 ½ ounce equivalents. An ounce equivalent is:
- 1 egg
- ½ cup cooked beans or lentils
- ¼ cup of nuts or seeds
- 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish
For example, 1/4 cup of nuts or seeds is the size of a golf ball. 1 tablespoon of peanut butter is about the size of your thumb. Also, 3 ounces of meat, fish, or poultry is about the size of your palm or a deck of cards.
For dairy products, most men and women need 3 servings per day. A serving is considered:
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1 ½ ounces of cheese
For example, 1 ½ ounces of cheese is the size of 4 dice or about the size of your pointer finger.
Now you are ready for your next meal or snack to make sure you are getting the proper serving size! If you get more than 30 minutes of physical activity per day or if you have specific medical conditions, meet with your registered dietitian for a more specific meal plan that fits your lifestyle.