July 14, 2023

Perfect portion sizes

If you’re trying to be healthy, lose weight or are wanting to maintain your weight, portion sizes are something you’ve no doubt considered. But what is a healthy portion size? And how many portions of each food group should I eat in a day? The key to eating a healthy diet is to eat a variety of foods in the appropriate amounts. Making healthier choices also involves eating certain foods more often, and in larger amounts than others. This article aims to provide you with some tips and information to help you choose healthy portion sizes.

Some considerations

Whilst this article does give some information on standard portion sizes, we must be aware that as everyone is different, we must expect there to be some individual variation within this. For example, if you are very active, you will need more calories, therefore your portion sizes may need to be higher, or you may need more portions. The same goes for the other way – if you are really inactive, you may need less. There are many factors that affect this, including your activity levels, your sex at birth, your age and your metabolic rate. So please use this information, but tailor it to work for you.

Portion sizes

We hope that the following will be a helpful guide for you.

Carbohydrate foods


Food Healthy portion size What this looks like visually
Bread 34-36g One medium slice, 1 roll
Pasta 75g uncooked weight (or 150g cooked) 2-3 tablespoons
Rice 50g uncooked weight (or 150g cooked) 2-3 tablespoons
Potatoes (these are counted as a carbohydrate, not a vegetable) 120g (boiled with skin)

180g (jacket with skin)

2-3 egg sized potatoes

1 medium jacket

Cereal 40g 3 tablespoons

Protein foods

Food Healthy portion size What this looks like visually
Cooked meat (including chicken, turkey, beef, pork and lamb) 90g A pack of cards
Cooked fish 140g The palm of your hand
Eggs 120g 2 medium eggs
Beans and pulses (including baked beans, chickpeas, kidney beans and lentils) 150g 4 tablespoons
Soya and tofu 100g 4 tablespoons
Nuts and seeds 25-30g One small handful or 1 tablespoon

Dairy and alternatives

Food Healthy portion size What this looks like visually
Milk (or calcium enriched plant-based alternative like soya, oat or almond milk) 200ml (1/3 pint) One glass
Yoghurt 125-150g Standard pot or 3 tablespoons
Hard cheese 30g A piece the size of a small matchbox

Fruits and vegetables

Food Healthy portion size What this looks like visually
Apple, pears, orange, banana 80g One medium fruit
Smaller fruits, e.g. plums, fresh apricots, satsumas 80g Two fruits
Berries (including grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries) 80g A handful
Dried fruits (including raisins, dried apricots, dried mango, prunes) 30g One tablespoon
Vegetables (including sweetcorn, carrots, green beans 80g 3-4 tablespoons
Cherry tomatoes 80g 7 cherry tomatoes
Salad 80g One cereal-bowl full

Fats and oils

Try to limit use of oils and spreads and measure them out, as it’s easy to add too much, especially when cooking or drizzling oil on a salad. It’s best to use ‘unsaturated’ oils like olive oil and sunflower oil, in place of others. A portion of oil and spread is about 5g / 5ml (equivalent to a teaspoonful).

Number of portions each day

Using the information above on portion sizes, this information gives you an estimation of the number of portions of each food group you will need to consume in a typical day to maintain your goal weight. Remember that you can always split portion sizes in half to make smaller snacks between meals. This information does not include drinks, oils and spreads, and also doesn’t include ‘foods high in fat and sugar), e.g. crisps, biscuits, chocolate, sausage rolls.


Food group Number of portions across the day Useful notes
Carbohydrate foods 3-4 portions


Always try to choose carbohydrate versions which are wholegrains, or higher in fibre, e.g. granary bread, wholewheat pasta, basmati or brown rice, potatoes with their skins, higher fibre cereals like oats, weatabix and shredded wheat.


Protein foods 2 -3 portions Try to eat less red meat and processed meat (e.g. ham, sausages, burgers). Choose lean meat wherever possible (e.g. lower percentage fat mince). We should try to include more beans and pulses (e.g. lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans) and two portions of sustainably sourced fish each week, one of which is an oily fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel, fresh tuna).
Dairy and alternatives 3 portions Wherever possible, try to choose versions which are lower in fat and sugar. Some yoghurts, for example can be really high in sugar and you will need to check the labels to compare to ensure you have a healthier variety.
Fruits and vegetables 5 portions – as a minimum. Eat more if you can! Variety is key – try to include a range of different colours is a good way of getting a range of different micronutrients.


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