Whether you are looking to lose, gain or just maintain your weight, getting the correct sized portions will be an essential factor in determining your success.
This is often one of the reasons why people are put off the idea of healthy eating, as they have the misconception that doing so involves the tedious task of counting and tracking every single calorie they consume.
However, unless you are an athlete or trying to get to really low body fat percentages, then this practice is both unnecessary and impractical, as in many ways can actually be bad for your health.
The reality is there is no reason to overthink the way that you eat and obsessing over the smallest details of every meal is one of the reasons why society has developed such a problematic relationship with food.
Eating has turned into a stressful chore that has taken control of people’s lives, when instead it should be an enriching and enjoyable experience that enhances it.
Research has also found that calorie counts on food labels can be as much as 25% above or below the stated amount, so even by using this method, you could still be largely over or under eating.
So what is the alternative?
Luckily there is a proven method that is used widely around the world in determining how much you should be eating and the best part is it can be done anywhere and anytime, without the need for any fancy equipment.
Meaning you can pack away the food scales, forget the tracking apps and stop panicking over counting every single grain of rice.
You probably haven’t realised it, but your hands are proportionate to your body and therefore they can be used as a tool to measure out how much of each nutrient you actually require.
So with that in mind:
- A serving of protein is around the size, thickness and diameter of the palm of your hand
- Fats the size of your thumb
- Carbohydrates and vegetables are the size of your fist.
- A portion of fruit is roughly the equivalent to half a large fruit, 1 medium sized fruit, or 2 smaller ones.
How many servings you need of each will vary depending on your individual circumstances, such as your goals, body composition and how you choose to eat your meals.
Putting it into action
As with everything else, there is no one size fits all correct way to determine the amount that you need, which is why in order to find out what works for you will require a trial and error process of seeing how your body responds.
As a reference point though, the average woman’s daily requirement will be between 3-6 servings of each nutrient, which is around 1 for every meal. Men on the other hand require nearly double that amount, needing around 6-8 servings per day, or roughly 2 for every meal.
How you break them up will depend on your personal eating preferences and the foods you choose to consume.
Too put this in perspective, if an individual was eating 3 balanced meals a day then:
An average meal for women would be; a palm sized portion of protein, a fist sized portion of carbohydrates, two fist sized servings of vegetables and a thumb sized serving of fat.
An average meal for men would be; 2 palm sized portions of protein, 2 fist sized portions of carbohydrates, two fist sized servings of vegetables and 2 thumb sized servings of fat.
The standard recommendations are to include one fist sized serving of vegetables to every meal, but the reality is people simply aren’t eating enough.
That is why I have upped it to two, as the only way to ensure to avoid deficiencies in your diet is to make sure you are getting at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
That should give you a better idea of how to determine portion sizes without counting calories and next weeks post will be looking at how to apply these principles so that you can eat in accordance to your weight goals.
How do you think you can use this approach to change the way that you eat and prepare meals?
Post your thoughts or questions in the comments below.