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A lot of people know how to eat healthy, but don’t know exactly how much food to eat. This portion size guide will help you understand how much of each type of food you should eat (i.e. calorie control), as well as help you follow a balanced diet.

I have taken a lot of this information from Precision Nutrition which has some great nutrition articles! Please note that these guidelines are for females. Most males would typically eat more food than this.

Each of your three main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) should follow these guidelines.

1. Protein

Protein includes foods such as lean meats (chicken, beef, fish), eggs, dairy and beans.

Each meal should contain around one palm sized portion of protein. So hold out your hand and look at the size of your flat palm. This should be the size of your piece of meat (or eggs, dairy or beans).

portion size
Source: Precision Nutrition

2. Vegetables

Vegetables includes cauliflower, carrot, spinach, broccoli, etc. It does not include white or sweet potato.

Each meal should contain around one fist sized portion of vegetables. For me, this is about one cup. If you are extra hungry, add more vegetables rather than protein, carbs and fats.

portion size
Source: Precision Nutrition

3. Carbohydrates

This includes vegetables such as white or sweet potato, fruit, plus rice, bread, quinoa, etc.

Each meal should contain around one cupped hand portion of carbohydrates. For me, this is about 1/2 cup.

portion size
Source: Precision Nutrition

4. Fat

High fat foods include oils, butter, avocado, nuts, nut butter and seeds.

Each meal should contain around one thumb sized portion of fats. For me, this is around one tablespoon.

portion size

Meal Examples

Breakfast could include:

  • 1 small piece of whole meal bread (1/2 cup carbohydrates)
  • 1 cup of eggs plus a bit of feta cheese (1 cup protein)
  • 1 cup of vegetables such as mushrooms, spinach, broccoli (1 cup of vegetables)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil to cook (1 thumb size of fat)

Lunch could include:

  • 1/2 cup sliced apple (1/2 cup carbohydrates)
  • 1 cup of cooked chicken and some cottage cheese (1 cup protein)
  • 1 cup of salads such as spinach, tomato, beetroot, carrot (1 cup of vegetables)
  • 1 tablespoon of salad dressing, or avocado or nuts (1 thumb size of fat)

Dinner could include:

  • 1/2 cup roast sweet potato (1/2 cup carbohydrates)
  • Small piece of steak (1 cup protein)
  • 1 cup of steamed vegetables such as broccoli, edamame, bok choy (1 cup of vegetables)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil for cooking of roasting (1 thumb size of fat)

Obviously if you’re eating something like a bowl of pasta with meat sauce for dinner, you are not fitting the portion size requirements. The portion sizes are designed to help you understand how much food to eat, but also help you eat healthier foods, and include protein and vegetables with every meal.

Everyone is different and has different nutritional requirements. This should be used as a guide only.

Rachael is an Australian born certified personal trainer and nutritionist who holds a Bachelor degree in Science.

After struggling for years to find an exercise and diet program that is tailored to women striving for lean and toned body with no bulk she designed her Lean Legs Program. This program is tailored to each body type and focused on helping women get toned but feminine bodies, without getting bulky.

Her mission is to empower women and help them stay in shape in a healthy and balanced way.

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