Many people wonder exactly how much they should eat for their specific goals, whether these are weight loss goals, performance improvement, or muscle gain. Today I’m going to go over a good starting point if you want to get an idea of how much you should eat on a normal day.
First off, you do not need to count calories (unless you really want to). For most people, it is better to pick a starting point for your portion sizes and then actually listen to your body. If we can learn to tune in to when we’re really hungry and when we’re full, we can naturally regulate our eating and get the correct amount of food without a ton of math and logging all our food. This will lead to better success in the long-term since at some point everyone gets tired of logging and counting everything they eat.
A good starting point is to use your hand to measure portion sizes. Since you’ve always got your hand with you it makes it easy to know how much you need no matter where you are. :) Also, hands are generally proportional to the size of the person. Smaller person equals smaller hands, so you’ll getting less food if you’re a smaller person and more if you’re a larger person, which works out great.
Here is a good starting point for most people:
Men can begin by eating:
2 palms of protein dense foods at each meal
2 fists of vegetables at each meal
2 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods at most meals
2 thumbs (about 2 tablespoons) of fat dense foods at most meals
Women can begin by eating:
1 palms of protein dense foods at each meal
1 fists of vegetables at each meal
1 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods at most meals
1 thumb (about a tablespoon) of fat dense foods at most meals
This assumes you’re eating 4 times a day. If you eat more or less times a day, you add in or subtract servings as necessary.
As you’re eating, you should slow down, think about your food, and actually listen to your body and how you feel. When you can tell when you’re truly still hungry, or totally full, this will make it easy for you to adjust your food up or down as needed.
For example, let’s say you’re a man who wants to lose some fat mass. In this case, you may want to scale down your carb dense food to 1 handful per meal, or maybe try just 1 serving a fat instead of 2 at some meals. For women, they could cut to 1/2 a handful of carbs or 1/2 a thumb of fat. For most men and women, we always leave the protein and veggies at the full amount regardless of your goals.
On the other hand, let’s say you’re a woman looking to gain muscle and have no need for fat loss, in that case you may want to up your carbs to 2 handfuls at some meals.
As you tune in to how you’re feeling when you eat you can continue to adjust your amounts so that you feel good and move towards your goals. If you need some extra help getting started with a nutrition plan, schedule a nutrition consult with us and we’ll help you get started! All nutrition services are offered separately from our personal training and CrossFit group classes.