What Is A Portion Size?

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SkinnyMs. knows that everyone is passionate about the food they eat. People have strong beliefs about what is healthy, what is not healthy, and definitely about what constitutes a normal portion size. If you’re looking to eat healthily and stay fit, you may want to revisit your outlook on portion sizes. Consider the SkinnyMs. perspective on portion control, and change the way you eat, look, and feel.


If you eat out frequently, you may have oversized views on what constitutes a normal portion size! If you’re serving yourself a restaurant-sized portion of food at every meal, you’ll never be able to maintain a healthy body. It’s simply too much food!

As a general rule of thumb, portion sizes are approximately as follows:

Whole grains, whole grain pastas and single servings of fruit – one cupped hand
Veggies – two cupped hands held together
Meat/proteins – the size of your flat palm

While some nutritionists may recommend “tennis ball-sized” portions, in our experience, that tennis ball in our minds tends to change size according to the level of our hunger. Looking at your hand will allow you to make accurate judgments about the size of what you’re putting on your plate.

The truth is, we can and should consider a 1/2 cup of many foods more than adequate, especially when paired with other foods on our plate to create a balanced meal.


Do you want to shed excess pounds and feel energetic and clear-headed all day, everyday? The key is to eat five to six balanced, small meals per day. Distributing your eating throughout the day, in this way, will keep your metabolism revved up and your energy steady.

But in addition to focusing on portion size and meal frequency, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re eating clean, wholesome foods, and balancing the types of foods on your plate. If most of your calories are coming from carbs like pasta or bread, your body will not work as efficiently as it could.

To maintain a healthy balance, you also need protein to help balance your blood sugar levels and to slow down the digestion of those carbs, even if they are whole grain. You’ll also need healthy fats in moderation to keep your system moving smoothly. Plus, plenty of veggies will add fiber and vital nutrients. And of course,  you’ll need fruits for more fiber and that little bit of sweetness that we all need in our daily lives.


Moderation can be tough, especially in a society that offers gargantuan restaurant entrees! It can take a little time to get used to a 1/2 cup portion size of pasta. But balancing your meals will make it easier, especially when your plate also includes two cups of broccoli and four ounces of grilled chicken breast. The best way to maintain steady energy, shed pounds, boost metabolism, and feel great, is to eat small, varied, and balanced meals.

Need more helpful tips and tricks that will get you in the best shape of your life? Be sure to like our Facebook page and follow us on Pinterest for tasty recipes, clean eating tips, and healthy lifestyle resources. 


11 Comments on "What Is A Portion Size?"

  1. Debi coffey  February 4, 2012

    Can you make a visual, for Pinterest followers? : )

    • Skinny Ms.  February 5, 2012

      Interesting suggestion! We'll see what we can do, but really, it's just using your hands. They are generally a good rule of thumb.

  2. Joycelyn Urech  February 4, 2012

    I love your advice and hope lots of people will take it and use it. It is this type of information that everyone needs to get healthy. I was once 40 – 50 lbs overweight and lost that amount and more following a meal plan like you have described along with daily (6 days a week) exercise.

    Thanks for your articles…it will help many people get on the right track.

    • Skinny Ms.  February 4, 2012

      Joycelyn, Thank you so much. We wish more people would read about portion sizes…makes a big difference. Congratulations!

  3. Rachel Silverman Pfanner  July 7, 2013

    i am in a wheelchair and sedentary….how can i best lose weight and gain muscle?

    • Skinny Ms.  July 8, 2013

      Rachel, We have lots of workouts that can be done in a wheelchair. Look for workouts on the site that are for arms and shoulders. Also, begin with a clean eating plan, eat smaller portions, cut out all soda and drink more water. Check out this article: https://skinnyms.com/eating-clean-is-easier-than-y

    • SkinnyMs  March 4, 2014

      I am going through some older comments and saw this. We are working on creating an article for this, and we had another similar question from a reader. Please check back for the workout. In the meantime, please follow our recipes:)

  4. vickie  February 23, 2017

    is this rule of thumb for each meal ? so say I eat around 3 meals a day do this each meal ?

    • Kym Votruba  February 24, 2017

      These portion sizes are for each type of food, but are not necessarily suggesting how you should structure each meal. In other words, if you choose to include a grain with a meal, the serving size should be one cupped hand.

  5. Robin  April 16, 2018

    I’m vegetarian. What can I substitute for the meat to get a healthy protein that will keep me full?


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