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Ask The Trainer:“What size should my food servings be?”

Nov 29, 2018

Christian Agudelo, ACSM - CPT

Serving sizes play an important role in your daily eating habits. Knowing the right amount of servings will help avoid over eating and unwanted weight gain. Some standard numbers to follow are:

  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 cups of vegetables.

  • 5-8 ounces of grain, 1/2 from whole grains.

  • 3 cups of nonfat or low-fat dairy foods.

  • 5-6 1/2 ounces of protein (meat, beans, and seafood) each day.

  • No more than 5-7 teaspoons of oils, mostly from plants, fish, and nuts.

Earvin Bahena, NSCA - CSCS

Before we get into the details of the food serving sizes, it is important to understand the difference between servings and portions. A portion if how much food you decide to eat at one time while a serving is the amount of food listed on the products Nutritional Facts. How many servings of food you should eat depends on various factors; activity level, age and whether you want to gain or lose weight. According to the American Heart Association a diet based on 2,000 calories per day the following servings are as shown:

  • Vegetables: 5 servings of 1 cup of leafy green or ½ cup of cut up veggies

  • Fruits: 4 servings of 1 medium fruit or ½ cup of cut up fruit
    Grains: 6 servings with half of them whole wheat/high in fiber of 1 sliced bread or 1 cup of corn flakes or ½ cup of cooked rice/pasta

  • Dairy: 3 servings of 1 cup of milk or 1 cup of yogurt

  • Poultry, Meat and Eggs: 3 oz of cooked meat or poultry or 2 egg whites

  • Fish and other Seafood: 3 oz cooked fish or seafood

  • Nuts, Seeds and Legumes: Tablespoon of peanut butter or ½ oz of nuts

  • Fats and Oils: 3 servings of 1 oz of vegetable oil or 1 tablespoon of light salad dressing

Spencer O'Neil, NASM- CPT

When it comes to food portions the most important thing to consider is energy output. If you’re training multiple times a week i recommend as a general rule of 3.5 to 4 oz of meat twice daily simply for recovery. Try to incorporate at least two servings of ½ cup of carbs throughout the day. Adding 30-40 grams of natural fats is a great way to add a little energy boost. It takes time to dial in the appropriate amount of fuel (Carbs+Fats through trial and error. The more you burn the more you need to consume so it's always relative to your energy output.


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