Learning to control portions is a huge factor to tipping the scale in the desired direction. But advice can be elusive and hard to understand. I mean what does 3 ounces really mean?? What does a cup look like? And how much is too much anyway?


To break it down in a way that’s easy to understand and practical to use, we spoke to In-Shape’s resident nutrition expert, Jason Coulie, who specializes in weight management and sports performance.


First rule of portion control is not to talk about portion control. Just kidding, this isn’t Fight Club. Jason recommends establishing a frame of reference, so you know how to eyeball a serving size and keep portions in check.




Protein like chicken, fish, meat

3 oz is a typical serving size so look for a piece the size of a deck of cards.

Refined carbs like pasta

One serving is the size of your fist.

Nuts like almonds and cashews

One serving is the size of a golf ball.

Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and cooked veggies

One serving is the size of a baseball or the size of your fist.

Fruits like berries, sliced apples, cubed watermelon and pineapples

One serving is a large handful.

Peanut butter or other nut butters

Stick to a dollop the size of the tip of your thumb.


One serving of cheese is equivalent to the size of the tip of your index and middle finger placed together.


If you have the will power to stick to one serving, read the label carefully or think about the size of three Hershey Kisses.


Jason also says to remember the 5 Ps, “Portion Prep Prevents Poor Practice.” He recommends preparing your meals and snacks before you leave home to help you stick to your healthy eating plan throughout the day. Use appropriately sized containers and packages to help separate your portions per the sizes above.


If you’re going to be eating out, Jason recommends having the server split the meal and box half of it up before bringing it to the table. Restaurants notoriously overserve, so by receiving only half the portion at meal time, you can fill up without filling out. Plus, you’ll have another meal for the next day waiting for you in your fridge. Now that’s a win-win.


Now, did someone mention a Hershey Kiss??