All you need to know about Serving size

A central part of healthy wholesome eating includes choosing appropriate amounts of different foods. When it comes to working out a nutrition or diet plan, the Serving size is used to quantify recommended amounts of foods that can be included to make up the total daily intake.

Dt. Geetika Uppal

Gold-medalist in Nutritional Science and the founder of ‘Foodmatters by Dt.Geetika Uppal’

Is there anyone who would not want to have a healthy, fit, sleek, toned body? We all do; we all want to look good and feel great (some secretly and some quite unabashedly). New Year is the time when gyms’ make a field day with the memberships and sign-ups. And don’t we know the story that follows? Not even a quarter of those reach half-way.

Well, your willpower and determination aside, weight loss is one thing, and healthy weight loss is quite another. There is a simple calculation of how this works. When the calories consumed are more than the calories used up, the result is weight gain. And while physical activity is one way of burning the extra calories taken in (25 mins of walk, or a 10 min jog, or 13 mins of moderate cycling or swimming to burn off 100 calories); the other way is to mind what you eat to live a healthy and fit life (mind you, I did not say ‘get a fab body’).

The two crucial aspects for getting off those extra pounds are Physical Activity and Diet. The other important thing to bear in mind is that ‘Diet’ does not mean the fad food regimes or starving oneself, which many people indulge in without proper professional guidance. Diet is how you keep your body nourished with the right balanced foods and an understanding of the serving sizes required daily for each of those categories of foods.

Always remember, to lose weight, one must take in fewer calories than one burns off each day. Sedentary individuals and older people who are less active may burn fewer calories per day, while active men and women burn more. If one is trying to shed some kgs but cannot notice any changes with only physical activity, reducing servings and portions will undoubtedly help.

One should always start a diet plan taking expert advice before making any diet modifications. Especially pregnant women, individuals with medical conditions, and children under 18 years should strictly seek professional advice to check if the reduced calories are appropriate for their health and well-being.

For a normal adult, the following are the recommended portion sizes:
   ⦁ 0-3 servings of fats, oil or sweets
   ⦁ 2-3 servings of protein (meats or legumes)
   ⦁ 2- 3 serving of dairy products
   ⦁ 2-4 servings of fruits
   ⦁ 3-5 servings of vegetables
   ⦁ 5- 10 servings of cereals (breads/ rice/ starchy food)

What is a serving size? 

The serving size is usually taken as a common household measure that is appropriate to the food (such as cup, tablespoon, piece, slice, or jar). Different serving sizes are recommended as per the calories recommended. The calorie intake recommendation is based on age, height, weight, medical conditions, BMR (basal metabolic rate). Find below some of the serving sizes for different food groups, having the same calories per serving in the particular food group.

Cereals (per serving equals)

   ⦁ 1 slice of bread (white/brown/multigrain)
   ⦁ ∏ small bagel or ∏ English muffin or ∏ pita (1 ounce)
   ⦁ 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal (wheat flakes/cornflakes)
   ⦁ ∏ cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta
   ⦁ Vegetables (per serving equals)
   ⦁ 2 cups of raw leafy vegetables (used as salads)
   ⦁ 1 cup of other vegetables, cooked (cauliflower, eggplant, ladyfinger, etc.)
   ⦁ 1 cup of vegetable juice

Fruits (per serving equals)

   ⦁ 1 cup berries
   ⦁ 1 cup watermelon
   ⦁ 1 cup chopped, cooked, or canned fruit(no sugar syrup)
   ⦁ Apple, 1 small
   ⦁ 1 small Banana or ½ big banana
   ⦁ 1 large Orange
   ⦁ Strawberries (8 large)
   ⦁ 8-10 small grapes
   ⦁ 1 Pear or Guava
   ⦁ 1/8 Avocado

Dairy Products (per serving equals)

   ⦁ 1 cup milk (full cream and low fat will have a difference in calories, protein remaining the same)
   ⦁ 1 cup yogurt
   ⦁ 2 cups cottage cheese
   ⦁ ∏ cup ricotta
   ⦁ 2 slice low fat cheese (cheddar)
   ⦁ ¼ cup mozzarella or parmesan cheese

Protein (Meat and Legumes, per serving equals)

   ⦁ ¼ – ∏ cup cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish
   ⦁ 1 to 1∏ cup of cooked beans
   ⦁ 1 tablespoon of peanut butter or a handful of nuts
   ⦁ 2 small eggs or 1 large egg
   ⦁ Fats and oils (per serving equals)
   ⦁ 1 teaspoon oil, butter, margarine, or mayonnaise
   ⦁ 1 tablespoon salad dressing, cream cheese

All the portion sizes mentioned above are taken as one serving, so if we eat one slice of bread or one chapatti or ½ cup cooked rice, the calorie count remains the same.

The recommended portion for a 1200 Calorie Diet plan: 

⦁ ¾ cup lean meat or protein foods
   ⦁ 5 servings bread or starchy food like potatoes
   ⦁ 3 servings fruits
   ⦁ 4 or more servings of vegetables
   ⦁ 2 servings dairy (milk/cheese/yogurt)
   ⦁ 3 servings fat (including nuts)

A word of caution here, some substances we take in (sugar, canned & bottled drinks) have calories but no nutritional value. So you will be taking in the Kcal minus any benefits. These are best avoided for healthy living. Bear in mind; it is always health and wellness over ‘slimming down’.
Wishing you the best year served ever!

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