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Size Matters: Your Guide to Healthy Portion Sizes

Have a lot on your plate? Paring down your portions is the easiest secret to staying slim.
Smoothie portion size The Right Portion Sizes

Does squeezing into your workout tights feel like a feat of gymnastics? Before you swear off everything but baby carrots, consider this: The culprit behind weight gain may not be what you're eating, but how much. Since the late '70s, we've added 570 calories a day to our diets, and half of them can be attributed to larger portions, according to research at the University of North Carolina. "Even though today's serving sizes can be more than triple what the USDA recommends, they've become our new normal, and anything smaller can seem puny by comparison," says Lisa R. Young, PhD, RD, a FITNESS advisory board member and the author of The Portion Teller Plan. Fortunately, having strong visual aids, like the ones on these pages, can go a long way toward helping you shift your mind-set. Once you know what right-size portions look like, selecting them will become second nature. The best part? You can downsize your plate -- and your weight -- without giving up the foods you love.


Standard size: 22 ounces
Better-for-you size: 8 ounces

Calorie difference: 235

Even the smallest size at most smoothie shops is often double the amount you're supposed to sip. And a large can contain 40 ounces and 1,000-plus calories.

Lessen plan

Pass up the juice bar and bring your own recovery drink to the gym. "I like store-bought smoothies, such as Dannon DanActive or Oikos Organic Drinkable Greek Lowfat Yogurt," says Tanya Zuckerbrot, RD, the author of The F-Factor Diet. At home, make your own smoothie by blending three-quarters of a cup of lowfat milk with a half cup of frozen fruit and half a banana.