All disease starts in the gut, and
just as food causes chronic disease, it can be the most powerful cure.
THE IMPACT OF NUTRITION ON YOUR HEALTH
Your food choices each day affect your health — how you feel today, tomorrow, and in the future.
Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall health.
Unhealthy eating habits have contributed to the obesity epidemic in the United States: about one-third of U.S. adults (33.8%) are obese and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese.1 Even for people at a healthy weight, a poor diet is associated with major health risks that can cause illness and even death.
A Better Way to Control Portions and Calories
At Precision Nutrition, they use a simple method that helps people build an awareness of what they’re eating. It’s easy, it’s portable, and it’s scaled to the size of the individual.
All you need are the ability to count to 2, and your own hand.
Here 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.
Of course, everybody is a little different. There’s not one “perfect” way of doing things, just as there’s not one “perfect diet” for everyone. But since bigger people tend to have bigger hands and smaller people have smaller hands, your own hand can be a personalized (and portable) measuring device for your food intake. True, some people do have larger or smaller hands for their body size. Still, hand size correlates pretty closely with general body size. And that means that with this system most people’s meals and portions will scale to their body size.
Let’s break down how this works one food group at a time.
How Much Protein Do Clients Need?
First, let’s start with protein.
For protein-dense foods like meat, fish, eggs, cottage cheese and Greek yogurt, use a palm-sized serving. This means a serving has the same thickness and diameter as your palm. Each palm-sized serving provides approximately 20–30 grams of protein.
For men, we generally recommend six to eight palm-sized portions of protein each day. To simplify further, we generally suggest two palm-sized portions in each meal, assuming clients eat four meals per day.
For women, we generally recommend four to six palm-sized portions of protein each day. For simplicity, this works out to roughly one palm-sized portion in each meal (again, assuming four meals per day).
This helps clients meet their protein needs to build muscle, burn fat, improve recovery and boost performance.
How Many Veggies Do Clients Need?
For nonstarchy colorful vegetables (think broccoli, spinach, salad, carrots, etc.), use a fist-sized serving. Again, a fist-sized portion has the same thickness and diameter as your fist.
For men, we generally recommend six to eight fist-sized portions of vegetables each day. That comes out to roughly two fist-sized portions in each meal.
Of course, clients are free to eat more veggies, but just adding one fist-sized portion to each meal is a great starting place for many people.
How Many Carbs Do Clients Need?
For carbohydrate-dense foods—like grains, starches or fruits—use a cupped hand to determine your serving size. Each cupped handful provides approximately 20–30 g of carbohydrate.
For men, we generally recommend six to eight cupped handfuls of carbohydrate each day. This works out to roughly two cupped handfuls in each meal.
For women, we generally recommend four to six cupped handfuls of carbohydrate each day. This works out to roughly one cupped handful in each meal. This gives clients enough carbs to fuel performance, maintain hormones and feel good without getting excessive.
How Much Fat Do Clients Need?
For fat-dense foods like oils, butters, nut butters and nuts/seeds, use your entire thumb to determine your serving size. A thumb-sized portion is the thickness and entire length of your thumb, and each serving provides approximately 7–12 g of fat.
For men, we generally recommend six to eight thumb-sized portions of fat each day. This works out to roughly two thumb-sized portions of fats in each meal.
For women, we generally recommend four to six thumb-sized portions of fat each day. This works out to roughly one thumb-sized portion in each meal.
This amount gives clients enough fats to support the immune system, maintain sex hormones and perform many other vital functions without being excessive.
Now Stay Flexible
Of course, just as with any other form of nutrition planning—including calorie counting—this serves only as a starting point. You can’t know exactly how your clients will respond in advance. So stay flexible, and help clients adjust their portions based on hunger, fullness, activity level and type, goals and, most importantly, results.
The Most Important Thing Clients Need to Know About Calories
Weight loss does not have to be complicated. Clients can become lean and healthy without following a prescribed meal plan, making themselves miserable in the gym or even counting calories.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Fat loss—like any life change—often requires trying new things, getting out of comfort zones and swapping old habits for new ones. And when it comes to food portions, size does matter. But clients don’t need a calculator, a scale or a calorie-counting app.
All they need is their hand. And the willingness to try something new.
My favorite Gourmet Nutrition recipes.
Food that tastes good and is good for you.
By John Berardi, Ph.D.