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Nutrition

Portion Sizes 101

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It’s not only important to eat a balanced diet consisting of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats, but also consume these nutrients in the proper portions. Everyone’s portions vary depending on their body size, activity level, and overall goals. 

Portion Size Estimates

Here's a fast and simple way to know if you're really eating a single portion.

Carbohydrates

  • What it is: As the body's main fuel source, carbohydrates help build energy for the brain and muscles. Carbohydrates include whole grain breads, pastas, brown rice, couscous, quinoa and potatoes.
  • Portion Size:  A fistful is equal to one serving of carbs (this will increase if you’re training intensely).

Protein

  • What it is: Protein helps build muscle and maintain the immune system. Protein sources include fish, chicken, turkey and beef.
  • Portion Size:  A palm full is an appropriate portion (this may slightly change with activity level—Goal: 0.8 - 1 gram per pound of body weight per day)

Fat

  • What it is: Healthy fats repair cells, help transport and absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E, and K), and help regulate blood sugar. Healthy fats include olive oil, avocado and nuts.
  • Portion Size: Add in small amounts at each meal and snack (examples: 8 almonds, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, 1/4 avocado are all equal to a single serving)

Single Portion Sizes for Breakfast Foods

  • 2 eggs or 4 egg whites
  • 3 ounces turkey sausage 
  • 1 slice whole grain bread 
  • 1/2 English muffin
  • 1/2 cup All Bran Cereal
  • 1/2 cup Kashi GO LEAN cereal
  • 3/4 cup Cheerios
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1/4 cup low-fat granola

Examples of healthy breakfast ideas that are balanced and well portioned:

  • 2 slices of toast with 2 eggs
  • Small apple and 2 turkey sausage patties
  • 1 cup of yogurt with 1/4 cup of low-fat granola
  • 1/2 cup of cereal with 8 ounces of milk and 1/2 a banana

Single Portion Sizes for Snack Foods

  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 cup berries
  • 8 almonds 
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 5 whole grain baked crackers
  • 1 Kashi bar

Examples of Healthy Snacks that are balanced and well portioned:

  • 1 small apple with 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 banana and 8 Almonds
  • 5 whole grain baked crackers and 1 low-fat string cheese
  • 1 cup of raspberries and 1 low-fat string cheese
  • 1 small orange and 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 cup of low-fat yogurt
  • 10 baby carrots, 10 sugar snap peas, and 2 tablespoons of hummus
  • 1 slice of whole grain bread (3 grams or more of fiber) and 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter
  • Lara Bar
  • Myoplex Bar or Shake

Single Portion Sizes for Lunch Foods

Salad

  • 1/2 cup lettuce
  • 1 cup spinach or arugula
  • 1 cup bell peppers
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1 cup cucumbers
  • 1/4 slice avocado
  • 3 ounces turkey, fish or chicken
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 slice whole grain bread
  • 3 ounces chicken, turkey or tuna
  • 1 ounce cheese
  • 1/4 slice avocado
  • 1/2 cup lettuce
  • 1 slice tomato

Examples of healthy lunches that are balanced and well portioned:

  • Chicken salad: 1 cup of lettuce, 1 cup of spinach, 1/2 cup chopped bell peppers, 1/4 cup shredded carrots, 1/2 cup chopped cucumber, 5 ounces of chicken, 1/4 slice avocado, 1/2 cup garbanzo beans, and 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • Sandwich: 2 slices of whole grain bread with 4 to 5 ounces of meat, 1 ounce of cheese, 1/4 slice avocado, 1/2 cup lettuce, and 1 large slice of tomato
  • Chicken tacos: 4 small corn tortillas, 2 ounces of taco meat, 1/2 ounce of shredded cheese, 1/4 cup of salsa, and 1/8 slice of avocado

Single Portion Sizes for Dinner Foods

  • 3 ounces meat or fish
  • 1/3 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/3 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup cooked broccoli
  • 1/2 cup cooked bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup cooked onions
  • 1 small whole wheat roll
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Examples of healthy dinners that are balanced and well portioned:

  • 5 ounces of chicken (sauteed with 1 teaspoon of olive oil), 1 cup of brown rice, and 1 cup of broccoli
  • 5 ounces of salmon (sauteed with 1 teaspoon of olive oil), 1 cup of quinoa, and 1 cup of sauteed bell peppers and onions
  • 5 ounces of lean steak, 1 small whole grain roll, and 1 cup of mixed vegetables
  • Tuna salad: 5 ounces of tuna, 1 cup of lettuce, 1 cup of spinach, 1/2 cup chopped bell peppers, 1/4 cup shredded carrots, 1/2 cup chopped cucumber, 1/4 slice avocado, 1/2 cup garbanzo beans, and 2 teaspoons of olive oil

Portion Sizes at Restaurants

Restaurant portions are typically 25 to 40 percent larger than individuals should be eating, plus they're often filled with saturated and trans fats. A typical restaurant meal consists of 8 to 10 ounces meat, 2 cups of rice, and 1 cup of highly-buttered veggies. Our recommendation: 4 to 5 ounces meat, 1 cup of rice, and 1 cup of non-buttered veggies

Full disclosure: Athletes' Performance has a corporate partnership with EAS, which makes Myoplex bars and shakes recommended in the snack section of this article.


Tags: Eating Out, Cooking, Weight Loss, Food

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