Portion size guide: how to keep your weight-loss goals on track | Fit&Well

Portion size guide: how to keep your weight-loss goals on track

Our handy portion size guide will show you how to balance the perfect plate at every meal...

Portion size guide
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You’ve swapped the pub for Pilates and ditched unhealthy grub. So why are you still not hitting your weight-loss goals? Nutritionist Shona Wilkinson says portion size is ‘incredibly important’ and recommends decreasing your portion size by 15 per cent for fat loss.

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, categorised 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.