Portion Control: How much to eat?
By Brian Zaugg, BPhEd, CPT
In today’s society, the word obesity has grown to become a global epidemic. As a society we are now larger then ever and those numbers are continuing to grow as the years go on. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the number of overweight and obese Australian adults has increased by 2.8 million between 1990 and 2005. It is anticipated that if this current level of growth continues, by 2020, 75% of the population will be overweight or obese. This shows an alarming and rapid increase in progression of the disease.
With such an issue being in constant view of the public eye, there has been an overwhelming urge to maintain a healthy weight. This has brought along a surge in weight-loss products, weight-loss schemes, low-fat food items, low-carb items, natural sugar replacements and much more. The one most recognized word used in promoting such products, is the word calorie. Simply announcing the word around weight conscious people brings on wide spread talk and fear when consuming certain foods. A calorie is a term used as a means of energy measurement however in food terms, the calorie amount stated defines how much energy is obtained from the food ingested. In an effort to provide a guideline for the public, a recommended daily intake of 2000 calories was announced that would fulfill 97-98% of healthy individuals based on research. This created number has caused people in a weight conscious world to consciously count the number of calories consumed in a day, in an effort not to exceed the 2000 calorie limit which “may” cause weight gain.
Calorie counting is widely carried out yet this extreme form of measurement is only needed by some athletes and bodybuilders. This time consuming method proves to be nothing but an annoyance, which often leads to obsessive behavior and failure at the task at hand. There is a much easier form of portion control that can be carried out by every person with nothing more needed then the persons own hand. A world leading exercise nutritionist and founder of Precision Nutrition, Dr. John Berardi, created this method to help with his clients carry on with their hectic lifestyles while still maintaining proper portion control without calorie counting. So after much statistic regurgitating and back-story telling, here it is, nice and simple.
All you need are your eyes, your hand, and the ability to count to two. No scales, measuring cups, caloric website or dietary books are needed.
- Your palm determines your protein portion
- Your fist determines your veggie portion
- Your cupped hand determines your carb portion
- Your thumb determines your fat portion
Now as far as serving amounts go;
- 2 palms of protein dense foods with each meal;
- 2 fists of vegetables with each meal;
- 2 cupped hands of carb dense foods if including extra carbs;
- 2 entire thumbs of fat dense foods if including extra fats.
- 1 palm of protein dense foods with each meal;
- 1 fist of vegetables with each meal;
- 1 cupped hand of carb dense foods if including extra carbs;
- 1 entire thumb of fat dense foods if including extra fats.
While this description is easy to follow, often a visual image makes learning such a system easier then it already is. Below is a picture of what Dr. John Berardi calls an “anytime plate”. This meal is designed to be consumed at anytime of the day to help maintain/improve body composition.
As you can see, this is a very simple method in gauging how much food you are consuming. While it is not the be-all and end-all of portion control, it is a very easy system to maintain. The next time you sit down to eat your meal, take a quick look at your hand and see if that’s what you should eating.
So, unless you’re a bodybuilder competing in a show in a few weeks, a boxer trying to make weight for a weigh in, or carrying out a nutritional experiment, forget about the calorie counting. It will do nothing but take up your valuable time that could be spent better elsewhere.
2008. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Overweight and Obesity in adults, Australia, 2004-05. ABS Cat No. 4719.0. 2008, Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved October 22nd, 2012, from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/4719.0Main%20Features22004-05?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=4719.0&issue=2004-05&num=&view=
Andrews, R., St.Pierre, B., (September 25th, 2012) Calorie Control Guide for Men and Women. Precision Nutrition. Retrieved October 22nd, 2012, from http://www.precisionnutrition.com/calorie-control-guide