The Easy Way to Control Your Food Portions and Macros

A wise man once said, ‘people who cut their caloric intake when aiming to lose weight will surely fail’.

Okay, so I may have completely made that one up, but here’s the truth about calories and weight loss- the relationship between the two isn’t as simple as you’d think.

In a perfect world, fewer calories equals a fit and athletic body. Yes, that might sound super tempting but keep in mind that you tend to lose muscle, energy and essential nutrients when you reduce calories.

Then, it’s just a matter of time before you’re so deprived of calories and nutrients that you’d break the diet and go on a massive binge.

Suffice to say, this is not the best way to lose weight.

There’s so much more to life than just counting calories though. The more astute will sense that I’m about to deliver a mind-blowing truth:

‘To lose weight effectively, controlling food portions and macros is key’.

That said, here are two things you should start with

– one, know what the right calorie intake is, and two, know how much of the macros, e.g., fats, carbs and proteins you’re getting from your food.

To this end, you won’t be needing a scientific calculator or any of that complicated stuff. We’ll be keeping it as simple as possible so the everyday Joe and Jane can achieve the body type and weight they’ve always wanted.

Once you learn how to trust your instincts and count by hand (which we assume you know), you’ll be eating your way to a long and healthy life.

portion control without counting calories

How to Control Food Portions Without Counting

All the food portioning tool you’ll ever need is in your hands. Literally, they’re your hands and fingers!

Let’s consider a typical male’s food consumption every day:

  • a handful or two of carb-dense foods, including extras
  • a fist or two of vegetables per meal
  • a palm or two of protein-dense foods per meal
  • a thumb or two of fat dense foods per meal, including extras

Then, a typical female’s food consumption:

  • a handful of carb-dense foods, including extras
  • a fist of vegetables per meal
  • a palm of protein-dense foods per meal
  • a thumb of fat dense foods per meal, including extras

Keep in mind that this isn’t an iron rule, but more of a guide. You can adjust it depending on factors such as body type and what you want to do, e.g., build muscle, lose fat, etc.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way we’ll take a look at the macronutrient ratio you need according to your body type. Most of the foods you’ll be eating fall into three categories- fats, carbohydrates and protein.

Food portions palm fist handful

 

Related: What your Macros are and How to Count Them

 

Have a Specific Goal? Here’s the Macronutrient Breakdown

Let me address the elephant in the room and say this right now- every individual will have a different macronutrient ratio, each person may have his or her own goal.

In the weight loss department though, most aspire to lose fat and replace it with lean mass, so let’s assume this is the case.

The general recipe for fat loss is this- cover all your nutritional deficiencies and portion your food, and you’ll experience a degree of success. We’re talking about a dramatic change in body composition and an uptick in terms of health.

But then comes the question, ‘what’s next?’ How do you know what to eat, and how much?

Let’s do a little dive right into the food composition science to get that answer. Also, I’ll be separating them according to body type so you’ll know what to follow.

Body types, otherwise called somatotypes by Dr. John Berardi are classified into the following:

I types as Ectomorphs, O types as Endomorphs and V types as Mesomorphs.

With Dr. Berardi’s help, here’s a list of my body types:

  • Type 1. Think endurance athletes and you’ll get the point. These individuals have a small and thin bone structure.
  • Type 2. An NBA power forward or CrossFitter fits the bill here. They will have higher muscle mass and mid-sized bone structures.
  • Type 3. NFL linemen, heavyweight lifters and big-sized athletes with high mass (including fat) and large bone structures belong here.

It makes total sense that every body type will have different calorie and macronutrient needs, and this is what we’ll explain in detail below.

Body types

Related: The 10 Commandments of Fat Loss

 

Type 1 Individuals and Their Nutritional Needs

We’ve established the fact that type 1 people have thinner limbs, build and bone structure.

What’s surprising is that these individuals have such tremendous energy reserves, mainly because their metabolism is like a well-oiled machine.

These individuals typically have more movement in a given day and they don’t like sitting down or being idle for too long.

Nutritionally speaking, type 1’s tend to be more tolerant of carbohydrates. Their bodies perform well on a variety of macronutrient plans.

What I’d recommend for a type 1 individual is a macronutrient ratio of carb/protein/fat in a high-low order, respectively.

  • Get 50 percent of your calories from carbs
  • 30 percent of your calories should come from protein
  • The rest (20 percent) should be from fat

Remember what we said about counting calories? Don’t do it. Keep things simple with intelligent portioning and going with your gut feeling.

Here’s a sample food portioning to get you on the right track.

Type 1 Men

  • Three handfuls of carb dense foods per meal
  • Two fistfuls of veggies per meal
  • A thumb of fat dense food per meal
  • Two palms of protein-dense food per meal

Type 1 Women

  • Two handfuls of carb dense foods per meal
  • A fistful of veggies per meal
  • A half thumb of fat dense food per meal
  • A palm of protein-dense food per meal

Got all that? Let’s move to the next body type.



 

Type 2 Individuals and Their Nutritional Needs

Type 2 people are a bit more complicated when it comes to nutritional needs.

This is because they usually have a bigger build in terms of body and bone structure compared to type 1’s. Think those who are in the professional sports leagues and disciplines such as wrestling, boxing, CrossFit and gymnasts and you’ll have it down pat.

So, you’ll naturally assume that type 2’s will need more macronutrients and calories, right?

This is kind of true, partly because their bodies turn extra calories into muscle mass in an active state. A type 2’s inner mechanism also favors growth hormones and testosterone instead of generating fat.

For this reason, type 2’s can generate more power and have an easier time bulking up when they want to. However, staying lean and muscular is still the best way to go.

A good mix of macronutrients is key to a type 2’s diet. Here’s a rough breakdown of the food you need.

  • Get 40 percent of your calories from carbs
  • Then, 30 percent of your daily calories should come from protein.
  • Lastly, 30 percent will come from fat.

When translated into food portioning a typical type 2’s meal will look something like this.

Type 2 Men

  • Two handfuls of carb dense foods per meal
  • Two fistfuls of vegetables per meal
  • Two thumbs of fat dense foods per meal
  • Two palms of protein dense foods per meal

Type 2 Women

  • A handful of carb dense foods per meal
  • A fistful of veggies per meal
  • A thumb of fat dense foods per meal
  • A palm of protein-dense foods per meal



 

Type 3 Individuals and Their Nutritional Needs

Last but not least we have Type 3 people.

This group can be classified under the ‘large’ category.

Type 3’s are typically heavy in build, with a big mass and a significant percentage of body fat. Powerlifters, football players and heavyweight boxers can be classified under the type 3 category.

With such a significant amount of mass, these people tend to stay put and not be as active as type 1 or 2’s. To compound this problem type 3’s don’t have much in terms of metabolism and daily energy output.

The extra calories they consume are immediately turned to fat, especially when it’s a carb source.

Staying lean and keeping their weight under control will prove to be a challenge.

However, that writing on the wall shouldn’t be taken as a defeat. Work hard, eat right and you could be as fit as you want to be!

Scientifically and nutritionally speaking though, the best way to go about this is to assume a high protein, high fat, and low carb diet.

Low carbs mean fewer chances of them turning into fat. Also, the downside of carbs will be somewhat offset when you consume them before or after a workout.

So, as an example you will want to eat carbs pre-workout, then take the remaining portions at night if you exercise during the mornings. Do it vice versa if you like working out in the afternoon or evenings.

What does the macronutrient pie look like for type 3 individuals? Easy. It should be 40 percent of fat, 35 percent of protein and 25 percent of carbohydrates.

Again, the ratio should only serve as a rough guide of what’s important. If there’s anything you should memorize then it’s this: more fat, more protein and fewer carbs.

Now, what about the portioning of calories? If you’ve been paying attention throughout then you’ll know that we’ll be using the ‘fist and hand’ serving rules, as shown below:

Type 3 Men

  • A handful of carb dense foods per meal
  • 2 fistfuls of vegetables per meal
  • 3 thumbs of fat dense foods per meal
  • 2 palms of protein dense foods per meal

Type 3 Women

  • A half-handful of carb-dense foods per meal
  • A fistful of vegetables per meal
  • 2 thumbs of fat dense foods per meal
  • A palm of protein-dense foods per meal



 

Calorie and Carbohydrate Cycling- What is It?

Now we’ve come to a point where I’ll show you a better way to lose weight.

It’s called carbohydrate and caloric intake cycling, and it’s actually simpler than what it sounds like.

I promise that when you combine food portioning and cycling you’re already on your way to a slimmer and fitter you!

Before I explain the concept though, keep in mind that controlling your calories, managing your macros and eliminating nutritional deficiencies should still take top priority in your weight loss goals. Think of cycling as a more advanced version of staying lean, and should only be observed when you get a handle on macros and food portioning.

So, are you ready?

Caloric and carb cycling is the idea of eating fewer calories from carb sources during ‘off’ days, or when you’re not working out and eating more calories from carb sources during ‘on’ days, or when you’re working out.

Why calories from carbs and not protein or fat? Simple. Carbohydrates have unique properties in that they can shape how you look and feel compared to protein and fat.

Carbs can mean the difference between a body full of flab and a fit physique. Too much and you risk a too-high intake and slow down your metabolic rate.

I can keep on talking about caloric and carb cycling all day long, but that’s not what you’d want. Therefore, I present to you, the reader, my patented guide to carbohydrate and calorie cycling.

Rule #1. On active days, e.g., when you’re going to the gym, doing metabolic conditioning and stuff like that, get more starchy carbs as stated in your nutritional guideline.

Rule #2. On days when you’re not working out, e.g., staying at home, doing moderate exercise and activities, hit only the baseline carbs and the recommended veggies, fats and proteins.

That’s it! You don’t need a calculator, just your hands. Measuring the exact number of calories, carbs and macros are just for those who have too much time.

The bottom line is you have other things to worry about, particularly how you’re going to get your protein, fat and carbs from healthy sources. Staying lean and fit has its merits, and it’s about time you get those benefits!

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