Balanced Portions

Information on this page:
  • Overview of Calorie Consumption 
  • Tools to Control Portion Sizes
  • How to Eat Healthier as a College Student
  • How to Use Your Hand to Measure Food

Choosing to eat healthy portions in college sounds intimidating, however, it does not have to be! The total number of calories an individual should consume varies based on gender, age, height, weight, and physical activity. According to the 2015-2020 nutrition guidelines, estimates of calorie consumption vary from 1,600-2,400 calories per day for adult women and 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day for adult men. It is important to note that these estimates may vary based on the need to lose, gain or maintain weight. 


Controlling portions is key to maintaining a balanced diet. Here are a few simple modifications to your diet you can do to improve your overall emotional and physical health. You can use measurement tools to calculate your serving sizes but you can even use your plate or hand as a portion guide. If you choose to use your plate or bowl as a portion guide, half the plate should be vegetables or salad, quarter of the plate should be protein such as chicken or eggs, another quarter of a plate should be complex carbs such as sweet potato or brown rice, and high-fat foods such as oils and butter should be half a tablespoon. 


If you choose to use your hand as a serving guide, a guide to each meal is: a palm sized serving of protein for women and 2 palm-sized serving of protein for men. A fist sized portion of vegetables and salads for women and two fist sized portions for men. One cupped-hand portion of high carbohydrates such as whole grains and starchy vegetables for women and two cupped-hand portions for men. Lastly, one thumb-sized portion of high-fat foods such as oil and nuts for women and two thumb-sized portions for men.


“9 Tips to Measure and Control Portion Sizes.” (n.d.).Healthline. Retrieved Nov. 19, 2019 from

Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level. (2018). Retrieved November 19, 2019, from