Forget counting calories, there’s another way

Lisa Austin Blogs, Nutrition Related Leave a Comment

Forget counting calories.

There’s a better way to figure out how much food you should eat at each meal, every day so you can look and feel better.

All you have to do is take a look at your hand.


Using your fist, palm, cupped hand, and thumb to practice calorie control, you can avoid the hassle of actually counting calories, all while ensuring you’re getting the whole food nutrients your body needs.

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: The best way to lose weight is to count calories.

The only problem? It’s not true.

The problems with calorie counting

The first problem with counting calories is the sheer amount of math and hassle to figure out your “caloric needs”. That means handbooks, websites, and apps just to plan your lunch.

(ugh, rolling eyes)

Then, you have to assume that the calories estimates used for the websites and apps are correct. (They’re often not. How can they be?) If you would like to know more on that check out this great article from The Manly Zone. John goes into detail about the problems with calorie counting.

In actually, research has shown they can be off by about 25% because of incorrect labeling, laboratory measurement error, and food quality.

Then, of course, you have to estimate your “calorie expenditure” each day — the amount of calories you burn. However, that often comes with another 25% measurement error because of the equipment you’re using, laboratory measurement errors, and individual differences.

That means there’s a possible 25% error on the “calories in” side, and another 25% error on the “calories out” side.

Still think it’s even worth it?

  • pulling out measuring cups
  • dusting off the food scale
  • whipping out your calculator to add everything up
  • subscribing to apps and web services to track these less-than-accurate numbers?

Of course, we definitely should know how much food we’re eating each day and every day. We need to know what we are eating so we can make adjustments. It’s working, we continue what we doing, it’s not working, tweak and make changes.

I know…counting calories itself is a drag!

No wonder so many people give up after a while and revert back to eating their old eating habits. No wonder so many people have a hard time sticking to calorie-reduced or macro-ratio diets.


The calorie counting antidote

Here’s the good news: counting calories is rarely necessary. Along with Precision Nutrition, we gauge food portions differently. No carrying around weigh-scales and measuring cups. No calculators or smartphones. All you need is the ability to count to two. And your own hand. Your hand is proportionate to your body, therefore your serving will be different than the neighbourhood giant.

Here how it works:


To determine your protein intake


For protein-dense foods like meat,palm-for-protien2

fish, eggs, dairy, or beans, use a

palm- sized serving.

We recommend women eat one

palm-sized portion with each meal.

Note: a palm-sized portion is the same

thickness and diameter as your palm.


To determine your vegetable intake


For veggies like broccoli, spinach, salad,fist-for-veggies2

carrots, etc. use a fist-sized serving.

We recommend women eat one

fist-sized portion of vegetables

with each meal.

Again, a fist-sized portion is the same

thickness and diameter as your fist.

To determine your carbohydrate intake


For carbohydrate-dense foods — likecupped-hand-for-carbs2

grains, starches, or fruits — use a cupped

hand to determine your serving size.

We recommend women eat one

cupped-hand sized portion of carbohydrates

 with most meals.


To determine your fat intake


For fat-dense foods — like oils, butters,thumb-for-fat2

nut butters, nuts/seeds — use your entire

thumb to determine your serving size.

We recommend women eat one

thumb-sized portion of fats with most meals.

Planning your meals flexibly


Based on the guidelines above, which assume you’ll be eating about 3-4 times a day, you now have a simple and flexible guide for meal planning.

Of course, just like any other form of nutrition planning — including calorie counting — this only serves as a starting point.

You can’t know exactly how your body will respond in advance. So stay flexible and adjust your portions based on your hunger, fullness, and other important goals.

For example, if you’re trying to lose weight but seem to have stalled out, you might eliminate a cupped palm of carbohydrates or a thumb of fats at particular meals.

Remember: This is a starting point. Adjust your portions at any time by asking yourself ” how’s that working for ya?”



Here is an infographic that you can download and keep as a reminder to help you stay on track.


Portion Control Guide infographic

*Photos from Precision Nutrition

Would you like the whole infographic bundle? Simply click on the button below and I will send you the portion control guide along with a couple extras. You will also learn why counting calories aren’t the best use of your time when trying to be mindful of how much you are eating.

Need help? Have questions? I’m here to make it easier. If you have questions, then let’s connect. I will help figure out what you need in order to become stronger and healthier version of yourself.

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