Food Serving Sizes

How large is the size of one serving of food?

What is the size of a serving of food? The US Department of Agriculture's Food Guide Pyramid shows how many servings of food you should eat every day from 5 major food groups. But, how many servings of food are right for you? How many calories should you consume each day? Here's the serving size for a wide variety of food. (To visit the USDA online for their complete Food Guide Pyramid and more nutritional information, click on food serving size.)

Most adults and children age 6 and older fall into 3 categories based on how active they are.

Activity Category

  

Low

1,600 calories per day — many sedentary women and some older adults.

  

Medium

2,200 calories per day — most children, teenage girls, active women, and many sedentary men.

  

  

High

2,800 calories per day — teenage boys, many active men, and some very active women.

  

The number of servings you need from each food group depends on your age, sex, size and activity category.

  

Food Group
and number of
Daily Servings
Typical Food Serving Size

  

Meat Group:

Low

5 ounces

The daily amount needed from this food group is based on your activity category. One serving of lean meat, fish or poultry — 2-3 ounces — is about the size of a deck of cards. These foods count as 1 ounce of meat: 1/2 cup of cooked dry beans or peas, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, 1/3 cup of nuts.

Medium

6 ounces

High

7 ounces

  

Milk Group:

Low

2-3 servings

1 cup of milk or yogurt.
1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese.
2 ounces of processed cheese.

Medium

2-3 servings

High

2-3 servings

  

Vegetable Group:

Low

3 servings

1 cup of raw leafy vegetables.
3/4 cup (6 ounces) of vegetable juice.
1/2 cup of other vegetables, cooked or chopped raw.

Medium

4 servings

High

5 servings

  

Fruit Group:

Low

2 servings

1 medium apple, banana or orange.
5 large strawberries.
1/2 grapefruit.
3/4 cup (6 ounces) of 100% fruit juice.
1/2 cup chopped, cooked or canned fruit.
1/4 cup of dried fruit.

Medium

3 servings

High

4 servings

  

Grain Group:

Low

6 servings

1 slice of bread, 1 muffin or 1 small roll.
1/2 bagel or English muffin.
1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal.
1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice or pasta.

Medium

9 servings

High

11 servings

  

Water and Other Liquids

We all should drink several glasses of water and other liquids daily. But, how many glasses? What size is one glass? Based on your body weight ...

  

125 Pounds

10 Glasses

8 ounces (1 cup) per glass. Alcoholic drinks don't count.

150 Pounds

12 Glasses

175 Pounds

14 Glasses

  

Nearly everyone gets about half of their daily water requirement from solid foods and fruit and vegetable juices. But seniors often have a reduced appetite and sense of thirst. This can lead to dehydration, one of the most frequent causes of hospitalization after age 65.

Early warning signs include persistent fatigue, muscle weakness or cramps, headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, forgetfulness, deep rapid breathing, or an increased heart rate.

However, these are also the side effects of many prescription medications. So, if you or a loved one have any of these symptoms, and they are persistent, talk to a doctor, or go to a hospital emergency room.