By Lucy Gornall published
This is our portion size guide, perfect if you're still not hitting your weight-loss goals after trying lots of different methods. If you’ve swapped the bar for the barre and ditched unhealthy grub but you're still not seeing results, you might be overloading your plate.
Nutritionist Shona Wilkinson says portion size is ‘incredibly important’ and recommends decreasing your portion size by 15 per cent for fat loss. This also has some scientific merit for longevity: in the fabled "blue zones" such as the island in Okinawa, where people live the longest, a common maxim is to eat until you're 80% full to avoid overstuffing yourself.
That might seem easier said than done. After all, what does a typical portion size look like? Below, we detail how much of particular foods you should be eating, categorized by food type…
Fruit and veg portion size guide
Recent research by Imperial College London suggested that 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day could prevent premature death, but even two and a half portions can reduce the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease. One portion is roughly one handful.
One portion of fruit includes:
- One medium apple, pear, banana or orange
- One tablespoon on dried fruit
- Two satsumas
- 12 grapes
One portion of vegetables includes:
- One celery stalk
- Three heaped tablespoons of cauliflower, peas, broccoli, peppers, carrots of courgettes
- One tomato or seven cherry tomatoes
- Four heaped tablespoons of dark green leafy veg, such as kale or spinach
Carbohydrates portion size guide
Depending on your activity level, most people need six to eight portions of starchy carbs per day. This could be:
- One slice of bread
- One crumpet
- Half a bagel
- Three tablespoons of oats
- Two egg-sized potatoes
- Three heaped tablespoons of pasta
- Three heaped tablespoons of cooked rice
- Three tablespoons of cereal
Dairy portion size guide
Aim for three portions of dairy a day, which could include:
- 200ml semi-skimmed milk
- 150g yoghurt (one small pot)
- 30g hard cheese
Meat and protein portion size guide
- 70g cooked lean meat (equivalent to the size of a deck of cards)
- 140g cooked fish (equivalent to the size of a cheque book)
- Two medium eggs
- Three heaped tablespoons of beans
- 120g uncooked soya, tofu or Quorn
Good fats portion size guide
They might be healthy, but beware of going overboard on these fatty foods by sticking to the recommended portion sizes:
- ½ medium avocado
- One teaspoon of olive oil
- 49 pistachios
- 22 almonds
- Six Brazil nuts
- Seven walnuts
Portion sizes and the perfect plate
To nail your healthy eating plan, make sure your plate is perfectly balanced at each meal. Half should be vegetables, one quarter should be protein and one quarter should be carbohydrates. If you’re vegan, eat half beans or lentils and half veg. And contrary to what you might think, fats – including salad dressings, nuts and seeds – are encouraged, just be sure to stick to the guide portion sizes.
Lucy is Head of Wellness at Pure Sport and was formerly Health and Fitness Editor at various women's magazines, including Woman&Home Feel Good You. She has previously written for titles including Now, Look and Cosmopolitan. She lives and breathes all things fitness; she works out every morning, and mixes it up with runs, weights, boxing and endless box jumps. She is also a Level 3 personal trainer and teaches classes at various London studios, primarily Digme Fitness. Lucy is pre- and post-natal trained and helps new mums get back into fitness after the birth of their baby. Lucy claims that good sleep, plenty of food and a healthy gut (seriously, it's an obsession) are the key to maintaining energy and exercising efficiently. Saying this, she's partial to the odd Negroni on the dance floor with her friends.
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