You can have the best possible training program but if you lack the basic knowledge of nutrition you will be settling for subpar results. Unless you match your eating efforts with your training efforts you will end up leaving some of the results on the table.
When it comes building a lean, fit and healthy body, the amount and quality of the calories you eat matter the most. But you don’t necessarily have carry a scale or Tupperware containers with you to everywhere you go. Unless you absolutely love tracking calories, measuring portions can be simpler than being a slave to strict numbers. After all, for most people eating is an enjoyable experience. Not an exercise in math.
That’s why the cheapest and simplest possible measuring tools travel with you wherever you go. Your hands that is. Here’s a foolproof way to build a results supporting meal, every single time. These hand portions work even if you are eating most of your meals in restaurants.
Protein – Two palm sizes with each meal
Match the protein on your plate to the thickness, width and height of your palm, times two. This is ridiculously easy to do with steaks, fish fillets or chicken breast. And by stretching your mind a bit you can apply it to minced meat and even eggs, especially to an omelette or “sunny side up”. The palm size still works with legumes and pulses, but it might be easier to measure those items as heaped cupped handfuls. Two hands is still the starting point for legumes and pulses, for most people.
Non-Starchy Vegetables – Two fist sized portions with each meal
Except for some digest discomfort in the beginning due to the high fiber content, there is no such thing as too much vegetables. Focus on eating slowly and properly chewing your food to help the digestion.
Carbohydrates and Starchy Vegetables – One to two cupped handfuls with each meal
Not a “cup” but a cupped handfuls.
Fats – One to two thumb sizes with each meal
Think whatever fits between the base and the top of your thumb, including the width and the thickness. This is simple when eating solid fat sources such as avocado, nuts or even butter. But it becomes a more challenging concept to grasp for most people when trying to measure oils in liquid form. In which case a non-heaped tablespoon of 15 grams might be an easier way to think about liquid forms of fats.
Are these hand measurements perfect. No, but it sure beats carrying a scale or tupperware containers with you to anywhere you go. Or stressing whether the meal in front of you has 22 or 24 grams of protein.
These hand portions also works in a restaurants that serve excessive portions. By using your hands you can simply leave out what didn’t fit into the hand measurements. And if you felt like the protein or vegetable serve was too small, you can make it up at the next meal.
These portions work when you cook at home and wonder how much oil to use when stir frying vegetables or how much butter to add when sautéing mushrooms. By no means is this easy to adjust to in the beginning. But over time it becomes easier to eyeball portions when you get used to the hand measurements. A good practice makes you better. And with that comes more freedom.
What if I am not getting any results with the hand portions?
Like with most things in health and fitness, portions too are individual. Use them as a starting point and adjust based on the results you are getting. You might have to eat less or more. Maybe you need to swap some of the fat to carbohydrates or the other way around. There’s a chance your carbohydrate and/or fat portions need to be smaller and your vegetable intake higher.
Adjust, do it for few weeks, and adjust again if necessary, based on what you see after that two week period. And keep in mind that your hand portions might be spot on but if you drink two cans of soft drink each day, it’s probably not the hand portions that are holding you back.
Remember that you are not a slave to these portions with every single meal you eat. Some meals can have more of something and others will have less. At the end of the day, what matters are the daily, or even weekly totals. There can be fluctuations from meal to meal, or even day to day.
Track your results and adjust your meals accordingly. Otherwise you are just guessing.