How Much Should I Eat? Portion Guidelines Explained

September 1, 2019 Written by

How Much Should I Eat? Portion Guidelines Explained

Portion guidelines can be tricky. Not sure how much to eat? The best place to start is by using your hand.

Fit in a good balance of protein, veggies, smart carbs, healthy fats by using your hand(s) as your guide to build your plate for each meal/snack.

Portion Guidelines

Protein

Females: 1 palm (~ 20-30g of protein)
Males: 2 palms (~ 40-60g of protein)

Vegetables

Females: 1 fist
Males: 2 fists

Carbohydrates

Females: 1 cupped hand (~ 20-30g of carbs)
Males: 2 cupped hands (~ 40-60g of carbs)

Fat

Females: 1 thumb (~ 7-12g of fats)
Males: 2 thumbs ( ~ 15-25g of fat)

Females:

Eating like this for 3-4 meals a day put you around 1,200-1,500 calories each day.
Active women do best with 4-6 servings of each food group per day (~1,500-2,100 kcal).

Males:

Eating like this for 3-4 meals a day would get you around 2,300-3,000 calories every day.
Active men respond best with 6-8 servings of each food group per day (~2,300-3,000 kcal).

⚙️ From there, customize by adjusting the number of portions to meet your unique needs and goals.

For example, you may need MORE food because you…

• Are larger in stature
• Are feeling light headed during your workouts
• Eat less frequently throughout the day
• Are very active
• Are trying to gain muscle
• Aren’t getting muscle-gain results

If that’s the case, add the following:
Men: 1 cupped handful of carbs and/or 1 thumb of fat to a few meals every day.
Women: 1/2 cupped handful of carbs and/or 1/2 thumb of fat to a few meals each day.

You may need need LESS food because you…

• Are smaller in stature
• Feel full after meals
• Eat more frequently throughout the day
• Are not very active
• Are trying to lose weight
• Aren’t getting weight-loss results

If that’s the case, remove the following:
Men: 1 cupped handful of carbs and/or 1 thumb of fat from a few meals each day.
Women: 1/2 cupped handful of carbs and/or 1/2 thumb of fat from a few meals each day.

As always, pay attention to hunger cues, emotions that drive decisions, hormones and stress. Then adjust as needed.

For Kids/Teens

One easy way to size up portions is to use your hand as a guide. Kids have smaller hands than adults, so it serves as a reminder that kids should eat smaller portions, but note: athletes may need more than the average child. The purpose is to teach a point of reference for kids. Think of it as a visual learning tool. Without it, they may not have an understanding of portion sizes and end up under or over eating.

As always, pay attention to hunger cues, energy, activity levels and stress. It’s normal for children to have appetites that vary when they’re growing. Adjust as needed. The point of this challenge it to help kids find a good balance of protein, veggies, smart carbs and healthy fats for optimal energy and to prevent deficiencies.

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