If you're looking for a simple, effective, no-stress way to track your food intake, here it is!
Adapted from the Precision Nutrition model, this anatomically based measurement system is designed to help you adhere to your nutrition tracking once and for all. Because your hand is a portable and proportional tool, you won't need to measure things out, use a scale, or otherwise fuss too much. Adherence tends to drop off when the process is too complicated, time consuming, or otherwise inconvenient.
If you want to stick to it, keep it simple!
I LOVE the measurement system Precision uses, but I find that their calculators grossly overestimate calorie needs for most people. This is where I've come in and fine-tuned based on what I've seen work for most people to optimally build muscle and lose fat, otherwise known as body recomposition.
Daily consumption for body recomposition allots for: 5 cupped handfuls of carbs, 6 thumbs of fat, 5 palms of protein, and 6 handfuls of veggies.
Further broken down, this looks like:
3 daily meals with
1 cupped handful of carbs
1 palm of protein
2 handfuls of veggies
2 thumbs of fat
1 pre-workout meal with 1 cupped handful of carbs
1 post-workout meal with 1 palm of protein
Because this is a very "standard" calculation, we can allow for some variability of needs by adding and subtracting carbs.
To lose weight, omit carbs at dinner.
To gain weight, add a serving of carbs after workout.
If your workout time is very early, you can opt for a "second lunch" instead of breakfast, or otherwise rearrange your meal times; as long as you get your pre-and post-workout timing right and get all your portions in, you're good!
While the hand-measuring method is super simple, you can always refer to the chart below if you feel lost or need more frame of reference. But DON'T get hung up on advanced macro tracking! Adherence is always highest with the simplest method, and that's what we're after.
So what should you eat, anyway?!
While no foods are absolutely off-limits, you should be mindful of the quality of your choices for optimal performance, recovery, and body recomposition. When choosing proteins, always opt for the leanest choice possible. Lean cuts of meat are preferable to fattier selections, such as boneless, skinless chicken breast vs rotisserie chicken. Some foods commonly regarded as good protein sources--beans, lentils, eggs, nuts, and bacon--are actually higher in other macronutrients like carbs or fat. Meat, fish, tofu, seitan, vegan meats, are usually going to be the highest proportion of protein vs. other choices.
Use the graphic below to create a grocery list, and add some of your own favorite foods.
Credit: Precision Nutrition
How to create the perfect meal
Now that you've got your grocery list, it's time to plan some meals! This mix and match method makes meal planning simple, effective, and dynamic. Take the opportunity to experiment with new foods--it's an adventure in your kitchen!
Credit: Precision Nutrition
Let's get tracking!
Now that you have everything you need to build healthy meals and portion them out appropriately, let's get started on tracking your daily intake.
This 3 week tracking sheet can be printed out, folded up, and taken with you anywhere for easy tracking.
Download the file here
What happens if you're not seeing results?
When we fail to see results, it's almost always the result of under- or over-estimating, off-program bites we've forgotten (or not wanted) to log, or not giving it enough time.
If your goal is to lose weight, try one of two things:
Remove one portion of carbs in your day
Reduce the amount of fat you portion in your meals, this one is easy to underestimate.
If your goal is to gain weight, try one of two things:
Add one portion of carbs in your day
Add one portion of fats in your day
It's always a good idea to give things time. Before deciding "it's not working,"
Give it a good 2 weeks
Double check to see if your portioning is accurate and honest
If you make any adjustments, also give them 2 weeks before further adjusting
Nutrition is often the biggest obstacle toward attaining fitness goals. Exercise is important, but it's only half of the picture.
If you could finally simplify and conquer this obstacle, how would that improve your life?
How would you feel in a day?
How would you feel about yourself in your body?
How might your health outcomes improve?
What more could you conquer?
Take a moment to imagine the possibilities. Whenever you slip up, or the effort doesn't seem worth it, imagine what it would mean to you to meet your goals, and remember that tracking only takes a few minutes a day. Every tiny step gets you closer to where you want to be.
Keep sight of your future self, and remember that you're worth it!