Portion Control


People are often surprised that I don’t normally recommend calorie counting to my clients.

It's not because I think it doesn’t work (it does) or that calories don’t matter (they most definitely do).

It’s just that I don’t think most people need or want to use use math or take measurements every time they sit down to eat a meal.

That’s why I teach my private clients this simple method of measuring portion sizes of protein, carbs and fat. . Here is a handy guide to help you stay on track.  Note: I put vegetables into their own category even though they are technically carbohydrates.

  • Vegetables = 2 fist sized portions
  • Carbohydrates = 1 cupped hand serving for women, 2 cupped hand servings for men
  • Protein = 1 palm sized serving for women (3-4ounces), 1-2 palm sized serving for men (6-7 ounces)
  • Fat = 2 thumb sized portions
Source:  Precision Nutrition

Source:  Precision Nutrition

An Example:

Here is an example of a simple meal with the correct serving sizes for men and women:

Protein + Veggie + Carb + Healthy Fat

For women, the meal might look like:

  • Protein = 1 palm sized serving of fish.
  • Veg = 1 fist-sized serving of broccoli + 1 fist sized portion dark green leafy salad
  • Carb = 1 cupped hand serving of brown rice.
  • Fat = 1 thumb-sized serving of olive oil + 1 thumb-sized sprinkle of sunflower seeds on the salad

For men, the meal might look like:

  • Protein = 1-2 palm-sized servings of grilled chicken.
  • Veg = 2 fist-sized servings of broccoli.
  • Carb = 2 cupped-hand servings of brown rice.
  • Fat = 2 thumb-sized servings of avocado.

Remember:  This is just a starting point!

The great thing about this system is that it is simple and easy to use. Using your own hand to determine portions will help you "eyeball" serving sizes and keep your calories and nutrients in balance.

Activity Level:

Depending on your activity levels, you may find that the basic starting point is either too little or too much food.

I suggest that you try this approach consistently for a week and see how it goes. Keep track of how hungry you feel and take note of any changes in weight or how your clothes fit.

If it works well, great! If you feel too hungry, try increasing one or two of your portions in some of your meals. If you feel stuffed or aren’t losing weight (if that’s what you desire) then try decreasing one or two of your portions in some of your meals.

One of the best skills you can learn is to listen to your body.  Experiment and see what works for you. 

People who insist that they need to be  told EXACTLY what to eat, down to the smallest of details, are typically the people who do not have much long-term success. They’re either “on” or “off” their rigid plan. 

On the other hand, people who are flexible enough to create a meal plan that fits their unique lifestyle are more likely to make changes that eventually bring them long-term success.