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Estimating Serving Size At A Glance

Estimating serving size is a skill mastered through time and practice. For beginners in the art of controlling servings, always having to use the scale and measuring cup to follow a nutrition plan or Canada’s Food Guide can be a hassle.

Here are some objects you can use as references to estimate serving size without having to actually measure it:




250 ml (1 cup)

Most vegetables and fruit, Bran Flakes®, Cheerios®, Rice Krispies®, Honey Comb®, Corn Flakes®, milk, soya beverage

The size of a fist or a baseball

175 ml (¾ cup)

Mini-Wheats®, Shreddies®, Frosted Flakes®, All Bran®, Raisin Bran®, gruel, quinoa, croutons, yogurt, tofu, soft drink

The size of a tennis ball

125 ml (½ cup)

Harvest Crunch®, Muslix®, pasta, rice, couscous, potatoes, legumes, cottage cheese

The size of a computer mouse

60 ml (¼ cup)

Dried fruit, light feta cheese, ice cream, pudding

The size of a golf ball

45 ml (3 tablespoons)

Nuts and seeds, avocado

What can be contained in a closed fist

30 ml (2 tablespoons)

Cream 15 % M.F., sour cream, cream cheese, light mayonnaise, dip

The size of a ping-pong ball

10 à 15 ml
(2 à 3 teaspoons)

Butter, margarine, oil, regular mayonnaise, peanut butter, salad dressing, caramel, brown sugar, sugar, honey, molasses, jam

The tip of your thumb

120 g (4 oz)

Fresh fish, crab, shrimps, clams

The palm of your hand including your fingers

90 g (3 oz)

Meat, poultry, deli meat, canned fish

The palm of your hand without your fingers, or the size of a deck of cards

60 g (2 oz)

Firm cheese with 20 % M.F. or less

The size of 3 stacked dominos

30 g (1 oz)

Firm cheese with more than 20 % M.F.

The size of your whole thumb

Measuring the containers you use often can also be useful. For example, if you always drink milk in the same glass, measure the quantity of liquid it can contain and compare it to the reference serving. On the other hand, you can associate each container with a serving size. For example, find a bowl that can contain 175 ml, and use it every time you eat gruel or yogurt. Counting your servings will therefore become much easier!

And don’t forget that at the end of the week, these small details are what makes the difference between maintaining your weight, and losing weight!

Vanessa Martin

A newcomer to Nautilus Plus, Vanessa Martin holds a degree in nutrition from the Université de Montréal and is a member in good standing of the Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec. She also works in the hospital setting and loves to blog in her spare time. Passionate and versatile, Vanessa plans on enhancing her knowledge in the field of psychology with an eye to better guiding and motivating the habit-changing endeavors of her clients. Member of a running club, she enjoys taking part in the competitions organized in her area. Vanessa is currently training for a 21 km race and would like to run her first marathon!

Estimating Serving Size At A Glance is a post from I'm taking charge. I'm taking charge is a blog that aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
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