Portion Sizes

 | Articles, Nutrition  | 90 Comments

I’m not a fan of counting calories, because quite frankly it’s a little bit of  a hassle and besides, it’s not always accurate. If you rely on searching for nutrition facts in handbooks, websites or apps, you can’t be sure the data are correct. In fact, research has shown they can be off by about 25%  because of measurement errors, incorrect labeling, or food quality. You have to also consider “calories out” which comes with another 25% measurement error because it’s hard to determine exactly how many calories you burn on any given day. It will vary depending on the activities, workouts, and individual differences. The good news is that calorie counting is rarely necessary. All you need is your own hands to determine your portion sizes:

  • Your palm determines your protein portions.
  • Your cupped hands determine your veggie portions.
  • Your one cupped hand determines your carb and fruit portions.
  • Your thumb determines your fat portions.


Protein Intake

For protein dense foods like meat, fish, or egg whites use one palm sized serving. Two palms for men.






Vegetable Intake

For veggies like broccoli, spinach, salad, carrots, etc. use two hands cupped together sized serving. Double the amount for men.




Fruit and Starchy Carb Intake

For carbohydrate dense foods like grains, starches or fruits use a cupped hand sized serving. Two cupped hands for men.




Fat Intake

For fat dense foods like oils, nuts, nut butters, avocado, egg yolk, etc. – use your entire thumb sized serving. Two thumbs for men.





Body Size

Our hand size correlates pretty closely with our body size including muscle, bone, the whole deal. Therefor your hand is a personalized and portable measuring device for your food intake.


Planning your meals

Based on the guidelines above, which assume you’ll be eating about 4 times a day, you now have a simple and flexible guide for meal planning. Remember that this is a starting point. You can adjust your portions or meal frequency depending on your goals and the progress you’re making.  You can’t know exactly how your body will respond in advance, so stay flexible and adjust your portions based on your hunger, fullness, goals, etc.


For example if you’re trying to lose weight but don’t seem to get any results, you can try to eliminate a cupped palm of carbs at a particular meals. Or if you’re having trouble gaining weight, you can add an extra cupped palm of carbs or a palm of protein. Since this is a starting point, it will always be important to adjust your portions based on how is this working for YOU.


If you want to take this a little further and dig a little deeper, I have a really good guide to help you eat right for your body type.




Join ZGYM Today!

Fitness. Simplified.

Get in the best shape of your life.

In just 20 minutes a day.


Become a ZGYM member to get access to even more, premium, specialized workouts, recipes, workout schedules, and Zuzka's Food Journal by joining ZGYM.

More Info


90 comments on “Portion Sizes”

  1. private avatar image

    Private  | 

    Hey, Zuzka! I was just wondering what the recommended number of portions a day is for an endomorph? Would just help if I knew a goal per day. 🙂

    • private avatar image

      Private  |  Los Angeles, CA, USA

      Anywhere from 3 to 5 -the only difference is the carbs added to your portions. For endomorphs it should be only after a workout. XO

      • private avatar image

        Private  | 

        Okay, thanks so much!!

  2. private avatar image

    Private  | 

    Hi Zuzka! I’m following your ZGYM for a while and it’s really great, but the nutrition system you offer seems quite mysterious to me. I’ve been counting calories for 2 months, it gives me a really astonishing results couped with regular ZGYM workouts – but I’m kind of stuck from counting every day. Maybe you can help me to dive into your nutrition system?
    I see what portions of every food you suggest – palm of fish/meat/poultry or quark, thumb of fats etc. Also I get that you suggest eating 4 times a day. But how many of this portions should I have per day? 4 portions of each (protein, veggies, carbs, fats)? That seems a lot!!! Or maybe you have some guidelines like “eat fat twice a day, protein 3 times a day and veggies 4 times a day”? (it’s clear only for carbs – you explain this in your body type article)

    • private avatar image

      Private  | 

      Hey there, I was looking for the same and read through a lot of comments.
      There was this answer back then (on page 3 of comments):
      Private | LOS ANGELES, CA, USA
      FEBRUARY 10, 2015 @ 9:37 AM REPLY
      Once a meal.

  3. private avatar image

    Private  | 

    do you have a coupon code or a free trial to zgym so we can check out the workouts first?

  4. private avatar image

    Private  |  Irkutsk, Russia

    Hello,Zuzka! i need your advaice ! I live in Russia, in Siberia. In winter we are now, and the big problem with fresh vegetables and herbs. Tell me, please, how to eat? Now we have a home vegetable potatoes, carrots, pumpkin and beetroot. Fresh vegetables absolutely not tasty, stuffed with nitrates, and are expensive. From fruit now there are apples, bananas, oranges, tangerines, grapefruits. I do not like meat,but try to eat chicken and sometimes protein drink cocktails. My body seems to be of the type to yours, but there is no elasticity and relief, and the like. I ask your advice as to whether to add more exercise to eat right and necessary? I would like elastic, dense body, and it at me yet soft. I train with you for more than half a year, a lot of training on your training via Youtube.I train with you for more than half a year, a lot of training on your training through Youtube. Really looking forward to your answer. I hope you read this. Thank you

    • private avatar image

      Private  |  Los Angeles, CA, USA

      Hi Anastasia, please read the FM and WEM meals and then brows through my recipes for better understanding of what recipes are low in carbs and what recipes you should earn with a workout if you want to get leaner than you already are. Potatoes are WEM. Carrots, pumpkin and beetroot are relatively low in carbs and can be FM. Apples and citrus fruit are FM. Bananas are WEM. Your portion size will also matter of course, but it’s all explained in my nutrition guide or in my book 15 Minutes to Fit. If you’re sometimes not sure, then google the name of product you have and check the nutrition facts. One serving should be within 12g of net carbs (total amount of carbs minus the fiber). Also google starchy carbs – those are always WEM and processed sugary food is also always WEM even if one serving is less than 10g of carbs. For example you can have a lollipop that has less than 10g of carbs but it’s not healthy for you because it’s just a pure sugar.

  5. private avatar image

    Private  |  Irkutsk, Russia

    Hi,Zuzka!Thank you, I understand you. I will follow your recommendations

  6. private avatar image

    Private  |  Irkutsk, Russia

    Hello,Zuzka! I train with you early in the morning, immediately after waking up. on empty stomach .me so comfortable and I was so used. how do you feel about that? after exercise – breakfast oatmeal on the water, a bit of cheese and coffee.

  7. private avatar image

    Private  | 

    Hi Z,
    I feel like I remember hearing somewhere at some point in time, the thickness of your animal protein comes with a hand measuring rule too. I can’t imagine a piece of meat can be 4 in thick, but as long as it fits in your palm it’s a serving lol. I thought it was about 1in thickness (or to your first knuckle). Does that sound familiar??

  8. private avatar image

    Private  |  Bucuresti, Romania, Romania

    Hello, Zuzka!
    The portion sizes are a big struggle for me. First of all I am petite: 1.61m height and cca 50 kg weight.

    If I reduce portions and eat 5 times a day (either with your portion size or any other way of reducing my portions) I seem to starve and crave a lot. I cannot keep this style on the long run.
    If I eat until I feel full, I am constantly covered in a layer of fat (not big, but annoying anyway) and do not show the muscle definition no matter how much I work out.

    I seem to go in a vicious circle without any sight of a balanced solution.
    If you have any suggestions here, I am all eyes and years.
    Thank you!

  9. private avatar image

    Private  | 

    Hi Zuzka!

    About the carb portion sizes, are these before or after cooking? Grains like oats and rice absorb a lot of water, and one cupped hand in cooked vs uncooked rice is very different!

    Thank you ☺

Add a comment

Note: You must be logged in to add a comment. Please log in, or register for a free account.

New to ZuzkaLight.com?

Become a ZGYM Member and get in the best shape of your life!

More Info

Already a member?

Registering for a free account will allow you to: comment on articles, add your own profile picture, get notifications when another member replies to one of your comments, and add workouts to your own personal favorites list.

All fields are required.