Portions and servings: Determining what's right for you | The Austin Diagnostic Clinic
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Portions and servings: Determining what’s right for you

Federal nutrition guidelines encourage you to eat a wide variety of foods.

The number of servings that is right for you depends on how many calories you need. Calories are a way to measure food energy. The energy your body needs depends on your age, sex and size. It also depends on how active you are.

Daily caloric intake

  • 1,600 calories for most women and older adults;
  • 2,200 calories for kids, teen girls, active women and most men; and
  • 2,800 calories for teen boys and active men.

Those with lower calorie needs should select the lower number of servings from each food group. Their diet should include two servings of meat for a total of 5 ounces.

Those with average calorie needs should select the middle number of servings from each food group. They should include two servings of meat for a total of 6 ounces.

Those with higher calorie needs should select the higher number of servings from each food group. Their diet should include three servings of meat for a total of 7 ounces.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women, teens, and young adults up to age 24 should consume three servings of milk daily.

If you eat a larger portion, it is more than one serving. For example, a slice of bread is one serving. A hamburger bun is two servings.

For mixed foods, estimate the food group servings of the main ingredients. For example, a large piece of sausage pizza would count in the bread group (crust), the milk group (cheese), the meat group (sausage), and the vegetable group (tomato). A helping of beef stew would count in the meat and vegetable group.

What counts as a serving?

Bread, cereal, rice

  • 1 slice bread
  • 1 tortilla
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta or cereal
  • 1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal
  • 1/2 hamburger roll, bagel or English muffin
  • 3-4 plain crackers
  • 1 pancake (4″)
  • 1/2 croissant (large)
  • 1/2 doughnut or Danish (medium)
  • 1/16 cake (average)
  • 2 cookies (medium)
  • 1/12 pie (2-crust, 8″)

Vegetable group

  • 1/2 cup chopped raw or cooked vegetables
  • 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables
  • 3/4 cup vegetable juice
  • 1/2 cup scalloped potatoes
  • 1/2 cup potato salad
  • 10 French fries

Fruit group

  • 1 piece fruit or melon wedge
  • 3/4 cup fruit juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped, cooked, or canned fruit
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit

Milk, yogurt & cheese group

  • 1 cup milk or yogurt
  • 1.5 ounces natural cheese
  • 2 ounces process cheese
  • 1.5 cups ice cream or ice milk
  • 1 cup frozen yogurt

Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, & nuts group

  • 2.5 – 3 ounces cooked lean beef, pork, lamb, veal, poultry, or fish (Lean Beef Choices: Round tip, top round, eye of round, top loin, tenderloin, sirloin.)
  • 1/2 cup cooked beans
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup nuts

Fats, oils, & sweets

  • Use sparingly