We do not always have a package or container that indicates what the specific serving size is of a particular food, particularly when dining out. To clarify, a serving size is a specific number of calories found in a serving which enables us to understand the caloric input and determine if this fits within our caloric needs. A portion is the actual amount we input (i.e. a serving size may be one ounce equaling 100kcal and we may input 2 ounces which is the portion that we consume equaling 200kcal).
Becoming acutely aware of portions enables us to better control our caloric input, which is an important step in developing long-term weight loss and weight management as well as maintaining a healthy body composition and girth. Of course, the nutrient density of food, the quality of that food, the timing of certain macronutrients and the quantity of those macronutrients are all critical components of managing and meeting our nutritional needs.
And, over the next few months, we will highlight those fundamental components of fitness nutrition. This week though, the focus will be on visualizing what a serving looks like and then estimating the portion size we are consuming. Follow the suggestions below for visualizing the food you input so that you may begin to meet and exceed your weight loss and maintenance goals.
Visual Portion Sizes – note the suggested serving size for each food group is listed then the type of food within that group is shown with the visual portion size comparison. For foods such as eggs or a half of an avocado, it is what it is, so no comparison is necessary. Some of these comparisons are identified by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and more details may be found at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Grains – 1 ounce equivalent equals
-1 slice of bread – a CD cover
-1 cup of cereal – a baseball
-1/2 cup of cooked rice/pasta or cereal – ½ a baseball
Vegetables – 1 cup equals
-1 cup of raw/cooked vegetables = a baseball
-2 cups of raw leafy salad greens = a softball
Fruits – 1 cup equals
-1 cup of raw fruit = a tennis ball
-1/2 cup of dried fruit = two golf balls
Milk – 1 cup equals
-1 cup of milk, yogurt or soy milk = a baseball
-1.5 ounces of natural cheese or two ounces of processed cheese = 1.5 9-volt battery
Proteins – 1 ounce equals
-Meat, poultry or fish (suggested serving sizes are usually 3-4 ounces for one piece) which is the size of a deck of cards or the size and thickness of the palm of your hand
-1 tablespoon of peanut butter = ½ golf ball
-2 tablespoons of hummus = golf ball
Oils – 3 teaspoons equals
-1 tablespoon vegetable oils = tip of thumb
-1 ounce peanuts, mixed nuts, cashews, almonds or sunflower seeds = tip of thumb
-1/2 medium avocado
Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Never Summer Fitness, LLC located in Grand Lake, Colorado. She may be reached at her website at www.neversummerfitness.com , her email at NSFGL@comcast.net, her blog at www.skyhidailynews.com and her Facebook page at Never Summer Fitness.