What’s the right portion size for you?
Thursday, 20 August · 2 min read

Maintaining a healthy weight isn’t just about eating a balanced diet — the size of your portions also plays a role.

According to the UK’s National Health Service, women should consume around 2,000 calories a day and men 2,500 calories to get the energy they need, but this may vary depending on your age and how active you are.

Too many calories may lead to weight gain, so to maintain a healthy diet and weight, a person should aim to get their daily calorie intake from portions from each food group. This means:

  • 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables
  • 3 to 4 portions of starchy carbohydrates (cereal, pasta, potatoes, bread)
  • 2 to 3 portions of protein (meat, eggs or pulses)
  • 2 to 3 portions of dairy, or calcium and vitamin D-fortified dairy-free alternatives

What counts as 1 portion?

It's not always easy to know what a portion looks like in real-life. It's also not always practical to weigh out the portion sizes listed on food labels. The "hand rule" is a quick way to judge if your portion sizes are right. It works like this:

  • vegetables — a fistful counts as 1 portion
  • protein — a single serving of meat, fish, eggs or any other source of protein should be the size of your open palm
  • carbohydrates — these should fit into your cupped hand
  • fats — a portion of fats is approximately the same size as your thumb
Quote of the day

A healthy, balanced diet means eating the right types of food, and also making sure you’re getting the right amounts.

Paul McArdle, dietitian

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