South Beach Diet Portions Explained

Article posted in: South Beach Diet South Beach DIY
South Beach Diet portions

So, your South Beach Diet Grocery Guide tells you to eat one ounce of cheese. What do you do? Grab a small handful of feta—plus a pinch more—and call it an ounce? If you said yes, and guesstimating is your usual way to measure, you’re not maximizing the program—and it could take you longer to lose weight. Using measuring tools is the very best way to ensure you’re eating the proper portions, but we know that that’s not always realistic—especially if you’ve got only 10 minutes to eat. So how exactly do you measure out South Beach Diet portions in a pinch?

We’ve got a solution! We’ve compared some of the most popular South Beach-approved foods with normal household items. First, a reminder about the food types and then a measurement that makes sense for those moments where measuring cups just aren’t an option.

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Check out these South Beach Diet portions and their comparisons for measuring on-the-go:


lean proteins

South Beach Diet stakes its success on Proteins because they fuel your body and digest slowly, keeping you feeling full longer. When we say Proteins, we mean  beef, pork, chicken, eggs and fish.

The recommended serving size for cooked beef, pork and poultry is three ounces, which is the same size as a deck of cards. Three ounces is also the recommended serving size for fish, but because of its shape, it’s easiest to compare fish to the size of a checkbook. If you have ground meat, again, the magic number is three ounces, and a serving size is slightly smaller than your fist. Keep sausage or deli meat to a two ounces per-portion or two lipstick containers.

Here are some helpful tips for measuring South Beach Diet portions in a pinch:

Cooked beef, pork or poultry (3 oz.) = the size of a deck of cards

Ground meat (3 oz.) = a little smaller than a fist or ¾ cup

Fish (3 oz.) = the size of a checkbook

Sausage or rolled up deli meat (2 oz.) = 2 lipstick containers

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Healthy Fats

healthy fats

Olive oil. Nuts. Avocado. Coconut milk. Dairy. Fats keep you satisfied so you’ll be less prone to hunger. But a little goes a long way in the calorie department. So one tablespoon of olive or canola oil means one tablespoon. No time for measuring spoons? Use a rule of thumb—literally. The length of your thumb is roughly a tablespoon.

A one-ounce portion of cheese is the size of four dice. A ¼ cup (or one ounce) of nuts should fill a golf-ball-sized area in your hand. Nut butters and salad dressing serving sizes are two tablespoons, roughly the size of a ping pong ball. And last but not least, seeds. A serving size is three tablespoons. Ping pong plus a thumb. Done.

Here are some helpful tips for measuring South Beach Diet portions in a pinch:

Olive oil (1 Tbsp.) = length of your thumb

Nuts (1 oz or ¼ cup) = golf-ball sized area of your hand

Nut butters (2 Tbsp.) = ping pong ball

Seeds (1 oz. or 3 Tbsp.) = ping pong ball + your thumb

Salad Dressing (2 Tbsp.) = ping pong ball

Cheese (1 oz.) cubed = 4 dice

Non-Starchy Vegetables

South Beach Diet portions

Raw vegetables (like broccoli, spinach, asparagus and kale) are nutrient powerhouses and are loaded with keep-you-feeling-full-longer fiber. At least three servings a day of non-starchy veggies is the recommended amount on our program. One serving of vegetables is either one cup of raw veggies or ½ cup of cooked veggies. Use a baseball to measure one cup. Use a tennis ball to visualize ½ cup of cooked vegetables.

Here are some helpful tips for measuring South Beach Diet portions in a pinch:

Raw vegetables (1 cup) = baseball

Cooked vegetables (1/2 cup) = tennis ball

Ready to go grocery shopping? Get the full South Beach Grocery Guide here for a list of items that are South Beach-approved >