Hand-Size Portion Guide

Using hands to measure portions is a good approach for most clients who don’t need specific amounts of foods or macronutrients.

  1. Hands are portable. They come with you to work lunches, restaurants, social gatherings, etc.
  2. Hands are a consistent size, providing a consistent reference.
  3. Hands scale with the individual. Bigger people need more food, and tend to have bigger hands, therefore getting larger portions. Smaller people need less food, and tend to have smaller hands, therefore getting smaller portions.
  4. Hand-size portions can help you track food choices, nutrients, and energy simply and easily. This saves time-consuming and often unnecessary weighing and measuring, which most people don’t need.

Use the following meal framework or template for a simple and flexible meal planning guide.

For each meal, you might begin by eating:

  • 1-2 palms of protein-dense foods;
  • 1-2 fists of non-starchy vegetables;
  • 1-2 cupped handfuls of carb-dense foods; and
  • 1-2 thumbs of fat-dense foods.

This per-meal template is just a starting point. 

Individual needs and preferences will vary.

For instance, men generally need more food than women, younger people more than older people, and athletes more than sedentary people. 

For most moderately active men, this translates to a daily And for most moderately active women, this translates intake of about: to a daily intake of about:

  • 6-8 palms of protein dense foods • 4-6 palms of protein dense foods
  • 6-8 fists of vegetables • 4-6 fists of vegetables
  • 6-8 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods • 4-6 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods
  • 6-8 thumbs of fat dense foods • 4-6 thumbs of fat dense foods

Work with your goals, needs, activity level, and more importantly, results.

Track progress closely, use outcome-based decision making, and stay flexible.