This week I was asked by a friend how much they should be eating at meals as they feel their portion sizes are too big and thus preventing them from losing weight. So I thought would write a quick blog today for anyone else who was not quite sure of how much they should be eating.

In a recent seminar that I watched they recommend using your hands as a good way to estimate your portion sizes: in general, our hand size is in proportion to our body size. A larger person is very likely to have bigger hands (like everything there will be some outliers but this is true for most people). Therefore, your hand is a very useful portable measuring device.

Here’s how it works:

  • Your palm determines your protein portions
  • Your fist determines your veggie portions
  • Your cupped hand determines your carb portions
  • Your thumb determines your fat portions

For men:

  • 2 palms of protein dense foods with each meal (meat, fish, dairy, beans)
  • 2 fists of vegetables with each meal (carrots, spinach, broccoli)
  • 2 cupped hands of carb dense foods with most meals (grains, starches, cereals, fruits)
  • 2 entire thumbs of fat dense foods with most meals (butter, nuts, oils)

 

portion control men

For women:

  • 1 palm of protein dense foods with each meal (meat, fish, dairy, beans)
  • 1 fist of vegetables with each meal (carrots, spinach, broccoli)
  • 1 cupped hand of carb dense foods with most meals (grains, starches, cereals, fruits)
  • 1 entire thumb of fat dense foods with most meals (butter, nuts, oils)

Like all nutrition advice, this is just a starting point from which you may need to tweak things. If you start eating this way, but do not see a reduction in your weight (if weight loss is your goal) try reducing the portion sizes a little further.

For many people this can be a real eye opener that it can be very easy to eat portions that are too big for you. In particular, the starchy carb dense foods seem to be the easiest to over-consume. If you think about things like your cereal in the morning or your bread portions there is a good chance you are eating too much (I know I do when it comes to my granola!). Starchy foods themselves are not bad for you, it is just the fact that they are really tasty and less filling than proteins (think a steak versus pasta, which would fill you up quicker?)

For protein intake, it is recommended that you include it in at least 2-3 of your meals each day.

So give it a try, to see if your portion sizes are correct for you.

Thanks,
Paul