Food Portion Sizes You Should Use During The Military Diet

Military diet portion
Angie Moore
Written by Angie Moore

Fitness experts agree that for any diet to work, strict discipline is required especially when it comes to meal planning. Some diets would provide one or two days per week as cheat days and it is during these days that dieters often lose control and go crazy on what they eat.

One of the best ways to lose weight is to stick to the meal plan and be disciplined enough to still follow the appropriate portion sizes during the off days. The Military Diet is no stranger to that, given that it actually has more off days than the actual days on diet.

Portion sizing defined

But what is portion sizing? Portion size is the amount of food generally considered to be one serving. Dietitians have long come up with guidelines on how much nutrients a body should consume and how it translates to actual the food that we consume.

Military diet and portion sizing

Fortunately, this diet does not care for sizes. What matters most is the number of calories that a food has. The main goal of the Military Diet is to limit the daily calorie intake to about 1300 calories on regular days and 1500 calories on off days. See our article on Day 1 of the Military diet to help you plan your meals.

Military diet plate

The meal plan that was developed had this particular goal in mind and it combines food that meets a certain number of calories and fat burning qualities.

The standard meal plan for this diet would have the following serving sizes:

  • Broccoli: 1 cup
  • Carrots: 1/2 cup
  • Green Beans: 1 cup
  • Cheese: 1 slice
  • Tuna: 1 cup
  • Meat: 3 ounces
  • Cottage cheese: 1 cup
  • Ice Cream: 1 cup

This should be followed strictly on the first three days while the off days can have some variation.

Green beans

Keep in mind that you should still keep within the limits of 1500 calories and this is where visualization kicks in.

Visualizing portions

Visualizing the portions can help when substituting one food for another and it guarantees that you don’t have to bring along measuring aids to determine if the food you want to eat can be used. This visual trick not only helps you decide better but it also makes you more aware of the food choices that you make.

Visualizing portions

So how does it work? Simple, use your imagination and follow the portions described below:

  • For carbohydrates, it should be about half a cup, so imagine a cup of coffee but drink half of it.
  • Fruits and vegetables deserve a little leniency so imagine a serving is about the size of a regular apple for fruits, and about half an apple for vegetables.
  • A matchbox can used to compare the serving size of protein (fish, meat or poultry). These can appear to be small but you can always have more than one serving of each during off days. Just be mindful of the calorie count.

It takes practice and a lot of self control to master portion sizing but you have to keep your goal in mind and know that in the end, the benefits of losing weight will be great.

For some tips on how to lose weight, see our article on what exercises to do during the military diet to learn more.

About the author
Angie Moore
Angie Moore

Angie brings a mix of knowledge and experience in diet creation and fitness best practices. With Kansas State University‘s bachelor’s degree in dietetics and over 7 years of experience working with thousands of clients to better their life, Angie is passionate about your health and well-being. She is also a well-known foodie, having published a few books about diets that work. For most of the time, you can find her in the gym working out with friends and clients, pushing them for top results and fulfilled life.

  • Albert Dorell

    Is it the same with the general principle of “eating smaller meals more frequently” as a method of weight loss? Perhaps the point is that it is far easier to overeat, and not realize the total amount you’re eating if you eat multiple times a day. With 2 meals or so, it’s a lot easier to keep track and eat less.

    • The simplest thing you can do is follow the diet plan. The portions are clear-cut so there’s no second guessing. If you have your own food, then make sure to just divide the food portions into several meals.
      The problem with only 2 meals per day is that you may get too hungry and overeat on your next meals.

  • Chynna Lambert

    Do you mean that it’s better to count the calories rather than monitoring the portion size of your meal? I’ve always thought that when you eat smaller portions frequently, your stomach does not get enlarged, so in the future, you feel full quicker. Thanks for this, Angie!

    • Calorie counting and portion control helps you monitor your food intake for adequate weight loss. Eating smaller amounts of food may help shrink the stomach, as many studies show,

  • Steven Schick

    The size you have per meal is just a personal preference. For me, eating lots of small meals makes it harder to keep my calories down, because for some reason it makes me want to eat more. The best way to lower your calorie intake is to count calories. Reducing portion sizes won’t help if you aren’t counting calories.

    • The ideal way it would be to count calories and reduce portion size. For most of the people, eating more meals per day (smaller, of course) helps them feel full for longer and thus stops craving. However, we are wired differently and if this doesn’t help you, you should try with less meals per day in larger quantity.

  • Steven Garcia

    It was so nice to see ice cream as part of the meal plan, though I think it should become more specified. I mean, does this mean I could eat any type or flavour that I want as long as it’s in the 1 cup size or there are certain flavours that are only allowed?

  • Nicole Rodriguez

    I guess visualizing portion sizes won’t really help you know the calorie content of certain food, since the military diet cares more about the calories of the food than its sizes. How would I know if I’m still on the right track? Yes, I may be able to follow the correct portion but how about its calories? Thanks, Angie.

  • Hello Nicole and thanks for dropping by. Just a clarification, the military diet is keen on portion control, as well as calorie counting. Since most of us do step out of the house to eat and can’t carry our kitchen scales to determine portions, there are ways to visually monitor our food intake. One example is to imagine a matchbox representing a serving size of protein. It takes practice getting used to it, but with consistency, you’ll get the hang of it.
    These portion sizes have corresponding calories, so be vigilant with your food intake.

  • Hi Steven and for your question, the meal plan includes 1 cup of vanilla ice cream only. Oh, that’s about 300 calories. :o)