It's The Size That Counts! A Look At Portion Sizes

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for a while, we're all fully aware of our need for five a day on the fruit and veggies, plus the importance of portion control. 

A third of people in the UK under estimate how many calories they’re taking in,  according to an analysis of Office of National Statistics data.

The data suggests that men eat more than 3,000 calories a day while claiming to eat a more lean 2,000.

Women claim to eat around 1,500 calories while actually getting almost 2,500 a day.

The recommended daily calorie allowance is 2,500 for men and 2,000 for women. The study of more than 4,000 people looked into energy expenditure and how accurately we report what we’re eating.

Public Health England chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone said under-reporting of calorie intakes has always been a feature of all diet surveys.

“Some people forget what they’ve consumed and some change what they record knowing they are part of a survey. There’s no way to get rid of under-reporting, but the steps we take to minimise it makes the National Diet and Nutrition Survey the most robust data on the population’s diet.”

Public Health England recommends breaking down our daily calories into around 400 for breakfast and 600 calories each for lunch and dinner, with a few extra drinks and snacks throughout the day.

Though we eat more than we actually need thanks to the abundance of convenient foods available to us. We work more, leaving less time for exercise. Plus, when we fall of the wagon, the gym just doesn't seem so exciting any more! 

Throw in the tendency for much larger portion sizes than we’d make for ourselves at home and it’s easy to be quickly thrown off balance when trying to keep tabs on how many calories we’re eating.

It’ not just a case of getting our calories from food. We’re also ignoring those we quaff, in the form of wine (one glass containing up to 250 calories), fruit juices packed with sugar and that daily coffee to get us going in the morning (we won’t mention the whipped cream and caramel syrup… you get the picture).

We've spoken to many members who are baffled by their slow weight loss efforts when they believe their diet is super saintly. 

Eating healthy options is a great start, though without portion control, you could easily find yourself overfilling your plate with excess calories... healthy stuff or not. 

So, we've outlined exactly what a portion looks like, to help you plan your meals around your workouts...


Portions per day: 3 – 5

1 portion = 80g (amount you can hold in the palm of your hand)

  • 2 spears / florets of broccoli or cauliflower
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 tablespoons of mixed vegetables and salad
  • 5 cherry tomatoes


Portions per day: 2 - 3

1 portion = 80g (size of a tennis ball)

  • 1 medium-sized apple, pear, peach or banana
  • 2 plums, kiwi fruits or satsumas
  • 8-10 strawberries
  • 12-16 grapes
  • 3 tablespoons of tinned fruit
  • 1 medium glass of fruit juice

Grains and Potatoes

Portions per day: 1 - 3

1 portion = the size of your clenched fist

  • 2 slices wholegrain bread (60g)
  • 1 60g roll/bagel/wrap
  • 5 tablespoons of pasta or rice (180g)
  • 1 50g bowl of breakfast cereal
  • 1 fist sized potato, sweet potato or yam (150g)

Calcium-rich Foods

Portions per day: 1 - 3

1 portion = 200ml milk

  • 1 200ml glass of milk (dairy or calcium-fortified soya milk)
  • 40g cheese (the size of 4 dice)
  • 60g tofu (the size of 4 dice)
  • 1 150ml pot of yoghurt/fromage frais

Protein-rich Foods

Portions per day: 3 - 5

1 portion = size of a deck of cards (70g)

  • 3 slices of lean meat
  • 1 fillet of chicken (115-140g)
  • 1 fillet of fish (115-140g)
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 5 tablespoons of lentils/beans
  • 1 tofu/soya burger or sausage

Healthy fats and oils

Portions per day: 1 – 2

1 portion = 1 tablespoon

  • 2 tablespoons (25g) nuts and seeds
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) seed oils, nut oils
  • Half an avocado
  • 140g oily fish

Need a little help working off the excess?

We take a look at a few ways you can whip your workout routine into shape...

Time It Right

Hectic working schedules and social commitments make it hard to cram a gym session into your day. So make it work for you. If you're a social butterfly, plan your training sessions in the morning to kickstart your day.

Love a post-work tipple? Consider a lunchtime workout.

Check out our tips on when you should workout.

Eat Light

It's always possible to treat yourself without going full throttle. Opt for a lighter version of your favourite pub dish. Swap the sides for a salad, hold the sauce... or treat yourself to a light bite.

Buddy Up

Research suggests that working out with a friend could boost your workout intensity and duration by up to 200%. It also makes it much harder to shrug off the gym in favour of an afternoon tipple and those pesky extra calories!

Shout For Support

Our Personal Trainers will work with you to track what you're eating, and ensure you're doing enough to burn off the excess. 

Increase the efficiency of your gym sessions and maximise your workout time to achieve your fitness goals with one of our expert Personal Trainers.


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