If your used to meal prepping you rely on containers and scales to help you portion out your food to meat your MACRO needs. But what happens when your traveling and can’t meal prep? Or your out to lunch with office buddies and theres a buffet with oversized portions? Learning how big your portion sizes SHOULD be is a key factor to staying on track and/or loosing weight. Not sure how to gage portion sizes without containers or scales? Its easy, just use your hands! Your palm determines your protein portion, your fist determines your veggie portion (non-starchy veggies), your cupped hand determines your carb portions, and your thumb determines your fat portions. Now this isn’t an exact scale and we all know everyone is a little different, but since bigger people have bigger hands and smaller people have smaller hands, it helps to provide the right measuring guidance for your own food intake. With that being said, we can now break this down even further into food groups.
Use a palm-sized serving when eating protein rich foods like meat, fish, eggs, and greek yogurt. Meaning, use the same thickness and diameter as your palm per serving. There are roughly 20-30 grams of protein for each palm-sized serving. Depending on your goals and activity levels, women are recommended to have 4-6 palm-sized portions of protein a day where as men can have 6-8 a day. Meeting these protein needs helps build lean muscle, burn fat, as well as aids in recovery.
Vegetables can be a confusing and often misunderstood food group. As mentioned earlier, a serving of vegetables is a fist-sized portion. Here, we are looking to incorporate non starchy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, peppers, and carrots. Remember, the thickness and diameter of your fist is your serving size. Women are recommended to have 4-6 portions a day and men are recommended 6-8 fist-sized portions. When sticking to non starchy vegetables, feel free to have more! Just remember that not all vegetables are created equal.
Forget the bad things you’ve heard about carbs, when eaten in the right amount they give you energy for performance and balance hormone levels. Stick to carbohydrate-dense foods such as quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, and fruits (again not all fruits are created equal and do contain high amounts of sugar). The guidelines for women are 4-6 cupped handfuls each day and men are recommended 6-8 servings a day. A rule of palm…try to eat carbs around your workouts as well as earlier in the day!
Give one or two thumbs up to fat! Stick to oils, nuts and seeds, avocados, and nut butters when eating fat-dense foods. One serving of this vital macro is the size of your entire thumb and provides 7-12 grams of fat. The recommendation for women is 4-6 servings a day and men are recommended to consume 6-8 thumb-sized portions a day. Remember that many foods have fat in them as well as other macros (ex. salmon has protein but high in Omega 3 fat) so take in account the other foods on your plate! Your daily amount of fat contributes to a healthy immune system, its essential to brain health, and improves blood cholesterol levels which can decrease your risk of heart disease.
So now that you know a little bit more about portion sizes and a helpful tool to measure these servings, lets put down the fork and knife and start using our hands to eat!