Understanding Portion Sizes

How Much Should I Eat?

Although serving size is not necessarily the same as portion size, you can use the serving size to help determine your portion size. The serving size can be used as a guide for how much you should eat of each food. This can be a key part of trying to lose weight, as counting calories and how many servings you are eating will prevent you from eating too much.
This is where good cooking supplies, such as an assortment of measuring cups and a digital scale, can come in handy to measure serving sizes more precisely. Particularly if you are trying to lose weight, knowing how many servings you are eating and how many calories they contain is important if you're trying not to exceed your daily calorie allowance.
How many calories you can eat each day will not be the same for everyone. Some of the factors that may determine your daily calorie count include:
  • Age
  • Weight
  • Gender
  • Genetics
  • Amount of physical activity. 
To lose weight or to maintain it, you will need to balance the calories you eat with the calories you burn. Those who burn more calories by exercising can eat more calories. The USDA has information on the number of calories that may fit in with your particular situation based on a number of factors. Your healthcare provider can also help you determine an appropriate number of calories to consume each day, based on how much you exercise and a number of other factors.
Once you know how many calories you need to either lose weight or maintain it, you can use this number to keep track of serving sizes. If you are going to eat some cereal for breakfast, for example, you will likely eat more than one serving (serving sizes for breakfast cereal are notoriously tiny). This is where the measuring cups can come in handy. Once you measure how many servings you want for your portion size based on your daily caloric intake, you will start to become familiar with how much the correct serving size looks like.
From there, it's basically simple math to multiply how many servings you are eating by how many calories are in a serving. Then you can use simple addition to keep track of your total amount of calories each day to stay within your appropriate amount. However, it can be difficult to keep track of your calories throughout the day in your head, so let's look at some ways to keep track of how much you are eating.
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