How to Measure Proportions for the Paleo Diet

By Kellyann Petrucci, Melissa Joulwan, Patrick Flynn, Adriana Harlan

Portion distortion is common and should be monitored on a Paleo diet. Most people never realize how much they’re eating in a day. Until you get in the swing of things, make sure you pay attention to the portion sizes of what you’re eating. After the first 30 days, understanding correct portions becomes second nature, and you automatically know how much should be on your plate. The goal here is to reset your visual imaging.

The amount of food you choose to eat every day is determined by three variables:

  • Your hunger level

  • Your energy level

  • Your exercise/activity level

To build each meal, you need to take those three variables into account and fill your plate with an appropriate portion size of Paleo foods.

With the following at-a-glance guidelines, you can stay on track, whether you’re eating in a restaurant, traveling for work or pleasure, or dining with friends — no embarrassing or annoying tools involved. You’ll develop a useful lifetime skill that will help you quickly eyeball how much food to grab.

  • Protein: A serving of meat, fish, or poultry should be about the size and thickness of your palm. (That’s about 3 to 4 ounces for women, 5 to 6 ounces for men.) Each meal should include a serving of protein.

    A serving of eggs is as many as you can easily hold in your hand. (That’s about two or three for women, three or four for men.) For egg whites, double the amount of whole eggs.

  • Vegetables: A serving of vegetables should be at least the size of a softball. You can’t eat too many vegetables, so fill your plate with at least two or three softballs’ worth.

  • Fruit: A serving of fruit is half an individual piece (for example, half an apple, half an orange) or a tennis ball–size serving of berries, grapes, or tropical fruits. (That’s about half a cup.)

    Eat no more than two servings of fruit per day, and break them up across meals and snacks to distribute your sugar intake. Eating multiple servings in one sitting will release more insulin than if they’re broken up throughout the day.

  • Fat: A serving of liquid fat should be about the size of a super ball, or typical bouncy ball. (That’s about 1 tablespoon.) Each meal should include one to two servings of fat.

    A serving of nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, and olives is about one closed handful. A serving of avocado is one-quarter to one-half of the avocado, depending on its size. A serving of coconut milk is one-third of the can.