Proper Portioning (Major 🔑)

Proper Portioning

Eating the right amount of food for your is one of the keys to looking, feeling, and performing your best so it's important that you know how to do this.

We often know what to eat, but how much do we need to eat?

This is mainly going to depend on our goals.

If you want to lose weight you need to eat in a way that puts you in a caloric deficit so you consume less than you use.

If you want to gain weight you need to eat in a way that puts you in a caloric surplus so that you consume more than you use.

If you want to maintain weight you need to eat in aw ay that puts you in a caloric equilibrium so that you consume about the same about that you use.

The cool thing about this approach is that it can work with any dietary philosophy. We'll start by showing you the balance approach and then how you can modify it for your preferred way of eating. Most diet programs "work," at least initially, because you either cut out a bunch of foods that don’t get replaced or you dial in the portions.

Even better, this is something you can take with you anywhere you go. No weighing out foods, tracking macronutrients or counting calories. These things have their place, but they are rarely the most effective and also very often inaccurate (more on that another time).

But what it does is help create a system for monitoring and managing your intake. The challenge is that it's a little too micro-focused.

We’re going to used your hand to help portion out your meals. And I’ll give you a “meal plan” too. 

Palm - Protein

Cupped Hand - Carbs

Thumb - Fats

Fist - Veggies/Fruits

That’s your guide. 

And here’s your “plan” for each day (based on about 3 meals or so with a couple "snacks". This is just a starting point.)

Ladies:

3-4 Palms Protein

3-4 Fists Veggies (+1-2 non-starchy vegetables since we can all benefit from a bit more veggies in our day)

3 Cupped Hand Carb

3 Thumbs Fat

Gents

6-8 Palms Protein

6-8 Fists Veggies (+1-2 non-starchy vegetables since we can all benefit from a bit more veggies in our day)

4-6 Cupped Hand Carb

4-6 Thumbs Fat

The two graphics below, from my mentors at Precision Nutrition, should help you visualize what this all means.

pn-calorie-control-men-776x1024.png
pn-calorie-control-women-771x1024.png

And I'm sure many will appreciate this: for booze, sub out 1 serving of carbs OR (not both) fats for each drink. So if you’re planning on going out a night, plan ahead!

The reason this works is that instead of counting each calorie, we're focusing on portions. You don't even need an app. On a piece of paper, write out each category above with the respective portion number and check it off during the day as you go.

I can also give this as a pretty broad recommendation because it's based on the size of YOUR hand. So, it naturally adapts to each individual.

Also, it's fairly easy to adjust for various dietary philosophies. For example, if the Keto (high fat, low carb) is your jam, move all but one or two portions of carbohydrates into your fat category. If Paleo is up your alley, you might move a couple portions of carbohydrates to fats and or protein and make sure your food choices fall within the Paleo parameters. Vegans may need to move a palm or two of protein into fats and or carbohydrates.

To use this, start by reviewing your food journal see how your portioning lines up and the adjust your eating until it fits a bit better within these parameters. If you haven't recently kept a food journal, try to capture the next few days and then see how the portions line up. Adjust and adapt from there. 

If weight loss is your focus:

Reduce your portions in the following order, one at a time and assessing each time before reducing again - carbohydrates, fats, proteins.

This means that once you have your baseline, you'll start by reducing your daily intake by one portion of carbohydrates, keeping all else equal, and then assessing the impact (via biofeedback) over the next 10-14 days. 

Use your biofeedback to determine if it makes sense to stay at this level of intake or proceed to reduce your intake further by removing one serving of fat. 

Repeat this process of assessing and adapting using your biofeedback to guide your decision.

Once you start to notice progressive changes in your bodyweight, you can stay at that level of intake until you plateau at which time you can start this up again or until you reach your desired body composition and want to move into maintenance. 

Know that fluctuations on the scale are normal and a part of the process. Use all of your biofeedback to determine if something is "working" and not just scale weight. It's important that you DO NOT significantly reduce your intake at any given time.

If weight gain is your focus:

Increase you portions in the following order, one at a time, and assessing each time before increasing again - protein, carbohydrates, fats.

This means that once you have your baseline, you'll start by increasing your daily intake by one portion of protein, keeping all else equal, and then assessing the impact (via biofeedback) over the next 10-14 days. 

Use your biofeedback to determine if it makes sense to stay at this level of intake or proceed to increase your intake further by adding in one serving of carbohydrates.

Repeat this process of assessing and adapting using your biofeedback to guide your decision.

Once you start to notice progressive changes in your bodyweight and/or muscle development, you can stay at that level of intake until you plateau at which time you can start this up again or until you reach your desired body composition and want to move into maintenance. 

Know that fluctuations on the scale are normal and a part of the process. Use all of your biofeedback to determine if something is "working" and not just scale weight. It's important that you DO NOT significantly increase your intake at any given time.

Never adjust too much up or down at once or the likelihood of sustainable adherence is greatly reduced. Give yourself some time to assess whether or not something is working. Changes take time.


Download a free Weekly Portion Tracker here:

Evan CookComment