The importance of portion control


The Importance of Portion Control

When trying to lose or maintain your weight, one of the biggest issues that people run into is portion control.  I think we all know by now that a bucket of fried chicken or a big bowl of spaghetti is not going to help you reach weight-loss goals.  What you may not know is that overeating healthy food or under-eating (like skipping meals) is not going to help you reach that goal either.  

Let’s start by defining exactly what portion control is.  Portion control can be defined as understanding how much a serving size of food is and how many calories or how much food energy a serving contains.  What that is NOT saying is that portion control is everyone only eating one serving of things at a time according to the nutritional facts label.  However, it is very important for you to understand what is in one serving size.  How many calories? How much protein is there?  Carbs?  Fats?  What kind of fats?  What about sodium?  The list goes on and on, but for the purposes of this post, we are going to take a look at how much of each food group you should be eating daily.

The popular portion control method.

The popular portion control method.

According to, here are the daily recommendations for individuals who get less than 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity, beyond normal daily activities (those who are more physically active may be able to consume more while staying within calorie needs):

Women:    19-30    ––   5.5 ounce equivalents
                  31+    ––   5 ounce equivalents
Men:        19-30    ––   6.5 ounce equivalents
                31-50    ––   6 ounce equivalents
                51+    ––   5.5 ounce equivalents
*For reference, 1 small lean hamburger equals 2 to 3 ounce-equivalents and 3 egg whites equal 2 ounce-equivalents.
Women:    19-50    ––   2.5 cups
                  51+    ––   2 cups
Men:        19-50    ––   3 cups
                51+    ––   2.5 cups
*In general, 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 2 cups of raw leafy greens can be considered as 1 cup from the Vegetable Group.
Women:    19-30    ––   2 cups
                 31+    ––   1.5 cups
Men:        19+    ––   2 cups
*In general, 1 cup of fruit or 100% fruit juice, or ½ cup of dried fruit can be considered as 1 cup from the Fruit Group.
Women:    19-50    ––   6 ounce equivalents
                 51+    ––   5 ounce equivalents
Men:        19-30    ––   8 ounce equivalents
               31-50    ––   7 ounce equivalents
               51+    ––   6 ounce equivalents
*In general, 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal can be considered as 1 ounce-equivalent from the Grains Group.
Women:    19+    ––   3 cups
Men:        19+    ––   3 cups
*In general, 1 cup of milk, yogurt, or soymilk (soy beverage), 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese can be considered as 1 cup from the Dairy Group.

I would urge you to check out for more details on portion sizes, as well as more examples of specific foods and how they measure according to the chart.

If you are trying to lose or maintain weight, follow these guidelines to help be successful at reaching (or maintaining) your goals.  Also, make sure to increase your exercise, especially if you are trying to lose weight.  If you are used to eating larger portions, it is going to be tough to cut down at first, but stick with it and your body will start to adapt to it!