Portions vs. servings: What’s the difference?


By pH health care professionals

Trying to eat right can be difficult! You try to “watch your portions” and make healthy choices. But sometimes enjoying one portion of something actually includes several servings. That’s because a portion and a serving are not the same thing.

A portion, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says, is “the amount of food that you choose to eat for a meal or snack. It can be big or small.” Whereas a serving is “a measured amount of food or drink, such as one slice of bread or one cup (8 oz.) of milk.”

Food and drink labels specify the product’s servings. For example, a small bottle of juice may say that there are two servings in the bottle. Figuring out how many calories and how much sugar you’re consuming in your portion of juice would require a little bit of simple math. Drinking the whole bottle, in this case, would mean you just multiply the nutrition facts by two.

As another example, let’s say you cook a big pot of mashed potatoes using a special recipe from your cookbook, and you decide to have two scoops. Two scoops is your portion. Uncle Bob loves potatoes and has three scoops; that’s his portion. But what about servings?

To find out how many servings you would be consuming, check your cookbook. It may specify the nutrition facts for each recipe, including the size of a single serving, as well as how many calories and how much fat, sugar, sodium, fiber and vitamins you would get per serving.

Why does this matter?

Many people choose their portions with their eyes. We are told that watching our portions is a good way to monitor our weight. However, portions can be pretty subjective. My portion of something may be much larger than someone else’s.

Servings provide a more objective way to quantify your nutritional intake. When you look at how many servings you are actually eating in your portion of food or drink, it can be an eye-opener, especially if you are monitoring your calories.

Be proactive

Learn more about weight loss and what works here, and contact us to learn more about how nutrition testing can help you customize your diet for better health!

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, health care attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. To learn more about the pH Health Care Team, click here.


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