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.
For protein dense foods like meat, fish, or egg whites use one palm sized serving. Two palms for men.
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.
For fat dense foods like oils, nuts, nut butters, avocado, egg yolk, etc. – use your entire thumb sized serving. Two thumbs for men.
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.