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outFit With Kit: How to Calculate Portion Control With Your Hand

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Whenever I get asked by my clients about losing weight, I talk to them about portion control. Personally, I am a big eater. I enjoy eating, and I enjoy eating good nutritious foods. I just eat a lot of it, and at the end of the day, even healthy foods (such as chicken breast, olive oil, and nuts) consumed in large amounts can still put on the pounds. When I'm looking to drop a few or maintain my current weight, I watch my portions. 

When it comes to weight maintenance or weight loss, the basic principle is energy in versus energy out. Simply put, if you are consuming more calories than your body needs for fuel over a period of time, the extra calories deposit as fat into the body. One pound is roughly 3500 calories. So to lose one pound, you would have to burn and cut 3500 calories and be conscious that you were not consuming more than what your body needed.

In an ideal world, we’d all forgo the concept of “calorie-watching” with a deeper focus on eating better—vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and legumes. Realistically, however, my clients quickly become exhausted with vegetables consumed at every meal, every day of the week. It all backfires somehow and the next thing I know, they show up to a session with a McDonald's cup in hand. They want to experiment with different foods and even some naughty ones. It then becomes even more important for my clients to learn about portion control and gauge how much food they should be eating at home or dining out.

With measuring cups and tools at the ready, it’s obviously easier to calculate portion size at home. When you’re eating out, restaurants are notoriously known for their large—way too large—portions. And if you’re anything like me, my eyes are much bigger than my stomach, and it’s difficult not to finish every last bite.

One of the best ways to calculate portion control when eating out at restaurants is using your hand as a measuring tool. Although the hand is not completely accurate, it makes you conscious about not overeating, and it comes pretty close to exact calculations.

When in doubt, use this general guide to keep your portions in check.




PROTEINS (PORK, BEEF, POULTRY, FISH, AND TOFU): THREE OR FOUR OUNCES
The palm of your hand, thickness and size

CREAM CHEESE, PEANUT BUTTER, AND SALAD DRESSING: ONE TABLESPOON
The thumb

BUTTER AND OIL: ONE TEASPOON
The tip of thumb

CARBOHYDRATES, DESSERTS, FRUIT, AND STARCHES: 1/2 CUP
A cupped hand

OTHERS: CEREAL, SOUP, LASAGNA, QUICHE: ONE CUP 
Closed fist

VEGETABLES: STEAMED, RAW, AND GRILLED:
Unlimited amounts (with little-to-no oil or butter)


Kit Rich is Los Angeles-based fitness trainer with endless exercise and nutritional know-how. Hollywood's hottest stars are addicted to Kit's unique, multi-disciplined approach that combines cardio, yoga, Pilates, and weight training. Kit's clients are immediately taken by her funny and honest approach to health and fitness. She treats her clients as she treats herself, "with a hard challenge, sensibility, sensitively, and a good laugh." Follow Kit on Twitter @kitrichfitness.