How to Do Hand Portion Math to Track Your Macros

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Reviewed by Brian St. Pierre, MS, RD


There are so some ways to trace your dietary consumption.

It can appear overwhelming to choose an (correct) methodology that works for you.

That’s why we’ve developed the hand portion methodology.

It simplifies vitamin monitoring in a method that’s accessible to anybody—and may suport any of your well being and health targets.

A breakdown: The Hand Portion Method

Precision Nutrition’s hand portion methodology gives a simple resolution to monitoring your macros, permitting you to handle your meals consumption with out weighing, measuring, or counting energy.

The methodology is easy: Estimate portion sizes along with your arms.

It’s not about meticulous measurements—reasonably, it’s about utilizing your hand as a dependable gauge for portion sizes.

What makes the hand portion methodology notably efficient is its inherent alignment along with your physique’s proportions. Plus, the scale of your grownup hand stays fixed, guaranteeing consistency in portioning.

Here’s an outline:

  • Protein: Your palm determines the scale of your protein portion.
  • Vegetables: Your clenched fist determines the scale of your veggie portion.
  • Carbohydrates: Your cupped hand determines the scale of your carb portion.
  • Fat: Your thumb determines the scale of your fats portion.

Once you’ve got an thought of what every portion appears to be like like, you may goal to satisfy your customized each day advisable steadiness of parts.

How many hand parts to eat

Most individuals will meet their dietary wants by consuming:

  • 1-2 palms of protein-dense meals at every meal
  • 1-2 fists of greens at every meal
  • 1-2 cupped handfuls of carbohydrates at most meals
  • 1-2 thumbs of fat-dense meals at most meals

Depending in your targets and body, you might want to regulate these normal suggestions up or down.

Benefits of the hand portion methodology

When it involves monitoring macros, the hand portion methodology gives a number of advantages:

  1. Accuracy with minimal effort: Our inside analysis exhibits that hand portion monitoring is 95 p.c as correct as different monitoring strategies—however with out the hassle of meticulous measurement. Check out these outcomes to see for your self how nicely hand portion monitoring works.
  2. Can be custom-made to your dietary preferences: Whether you comply with a Mediterranean, Paleo, vegetarian, ketogenic, or totally plant-based food plan, you may apply this methodology.
  3. Easy to handle macronutrient splits: With the hand portion methodology, you’ve got the ability to fine-tune your macronutrient break up. Adjust the proportions of protein, carbohydrates, and fat to align exactly along with your particular person wants and aims.
  4. Helpful software for estimating calorie consumption: Each hand portion is equal to an approximate quantity of protein, carbohydrates, fats—and subsequently energy. For instance: 1 palm protein ~ 130-145 kcal; 1 fist of veggies ~ 25 kcal; 1 cupped hand of carbs ~ 110-120 kcal; and 1 thumb fat ~ 90-100 kcal.

Assumed number of meals selections

Our hand portion system assumes a mixture of high-fat, moderate-fat, and low-fat protein sources; a mixture of fruit, starchy tubers, beans, and complete grains for carbs; and a mixture of fat-rich complete meals (equivalent to nuts, cheese, or avocado), blended meals (equivalent to pesto or nut butters), and pressed oils for fat.

And, the hand portion methodology may be adjusted to suit particular person dietary preferences.

For instance, if you happen to’re following a ketogenic food plan, you may merely enhance your fats consumption to make up for the lower in carbohydrates.

Examples of the hand portion methodology: Approximate portion sizes for every macronutrient

Here are some examples of how a lot you’d eat utilizing our hand portion methodology.

However, these are simply approximations. The precise portion sizes will rely on the scale of your particular person hand and your physique’s wants.

For males

A palm-sized portion of protein equals about 4 ounces of cooked meat/tofu, 1 cup of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, 1 scoop of protein powder, or 2 complete eggs.

A fist-sized portion of greens is equal to about 1 cup of non-starchy greens equivalent to spinach, carrots, cauliflower, or peppers.

A cupped hand of carbs is about ⅔ cup of cooked grains or legumes, 1 medium-sized fruit, or 1 medium tuber.

A thumb-sized portion of fats is round 1 tablespoon of oils, nuts, seeds, nut butter, avocados/guacamole, cheese, and darkish chocolate.

For girls

A palm-sized portion of protein equals about 3 ounces of cooked meat/tofu, 1 cup of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, 1 scoop of protein powder, or 2 complete eggs.

A fist-sized portion of greens is equal to about 1 cup of non-starchy greens equivalent to spinach, carrots, cauliflower, or peppers.

A cupped hand of carbs is about ½ cup of cooked grains or legumes, 1 medium-sized fruit, or 1 medium tuber.

A thumb-sized portion of fats is round 1 tablespoon of oils, nuts, seeds, nut butter, avocados/guacamole, cheese, and darkish chocolate.

Approximate math for macronutrient parts

For number-oriented customers, primarily based on the examples above, these are the approximate macros every of the parts present.

Macros for males’s approximate parts:

  • 1 palm of protein ~ 24 g protein, 2 g carbs, 4.5 g fats, 145 kcal
  • 1 fist of veggies ~ 1.5 g protein, 5 g carbs, 0 g fats, 25 kcal
  • 1 cupped hand of carbs ~ 3 g protein, 25 g carbs, 1 g fats, 120 kcal
  • 1 thumb of fat ~ 2 g protein, 2 g carbs, 9 g fats, 100 kcal

Macros for ladies’s approximate parts:

  • 1 palm of protein ~ 22 g protein, 2 g carbs, 4 g fats, 130 kcal
  • 1 fist of veggies ~ 1.5 g protein, 5 g carbs, 0 g fats, 25 kcal
  • 1 cupped hand of carbs ~ 3 g protein, 22 g carbs, 1 g fats, 110 kcal
  • 1 thumb of fat ~ 2 g protein, 2 g carbs, 8 g fats, 90 kcal

Please keep in mind that these are approximations.

All elements of calorie and macronutrient calculations are primarily based on averages with recognized error charges.

Testing the accuracy of hand portion math

In the examples beneath, we’ll display that utilizing the hand portion methodology is 95 to one hundred pc as correct as rigorously weighing, measuring, and logging the whole lot you eat.

Example 1

Our first instance particular person is a feminine athlete who weighs 135 kilos and has 18 p.c physique fats. She maintains a excessive activity-level, participating in two coaching classes per day. This is what she consumes in a day:

  1. Pre-workout @ 6 am: 16 oz of black espresso, 1 cup of plain low-fat Greek yogurt, 1 cup of chopped pineapple, 2 tbsp of chopped walnuts, 1 glass of water.
  2. Workout @ 7:15-8:30 am: Sips on 16 oz of water in the course of the coaching session.
  3. Post-workout shake @ 9 am: 12 oz of water, 2 scoops of protein powder, 1 medium apple, 1/2 cup of old school oats, 2 cups of spinach, 1 tbsp of floor flax seed, 1 tbsp of almond butter.
  4. Lunch @ 12 pm: 3 oz of salmon, 1 cup of steamed blended veggies, 1 medium candy potato, 1 tbsp of coconut oil, 2 glasses of water.
  5. Mid-afternoon snack @ 4 pm: 1 banana, 2 tbsp of pure peanut butter, 1 glass of water.
  6. Workout @ 5:30-6 pm: Sips on 16 oz of water in the course of the coaching session.
  7. Post-workout dinner @ 7 pm: 3 oz of chopped hen breast, 2 cups of cooked complete grain pasta, plus 2 cups of sautéed veggies with 2 tbsp of additional virgin olive oil, minced garlic and white cooking wine, 2 glasses of water.

If you compute the energy and macronutrients of this particular person’s consumption utilizing the USDA nutrient database, you get:

  • 2672 kcal
  • 170 g protein
  • 264 g carbs
  • 104 g fats

And if you happen to translate this particular person’s consumption into hand-size portion phrases, you get:

  • Protein = 5 palms (Greek yogurt, protein powder x 2, salmon, hen)
  • Veggies = 5 fists (spinach x 2, blended veggies, sautéed veggies x 2)
  • Carbs = 10 cupped arms (pineapple x 2, apple, oats, candy potato, banana, pasta x 4)
  • Fats = 9 thumbs (walnuts x 2, flax seed, almond butter, coconut oil, peanut butter x 2, olive oil x 2)

By multiplying these portion numbers utilizing approximate hand-portion math for ladies (seek advice from the part above), the estimated consumption is:

  • 2672 kcal (exactly the identical as calculating it with apps and spreadsheets)
  • 166 g protein (4 g lower than calculating it with apps and spreadsheets)
  • 273 g carbs (9 g greater than calculating it with apps and spreadsheets)
  • 102 g fats (2 g lower than calculating it with apps and spreadsheets)

As you may see, the distinction between manually monitoring and utilizing our hand portion methodology is a matter of just a few small grams.

Example 2

Our second instance particular person is a reasonably energetic male who weighs 210 kilos and has 17 p.c physique fats. This is what he consumes in a day:

  1. Wake @ 5:30 am: 12 oz of black espresso
  2. Breakfast @ 7 am: 4 complete eggs with a big bunch of peppers, scallions, and mushrooms cooked in a big pat of butter, positioned on an entire wheat wrap, with ~1 oz cheese, 1 cupped hand of black beans, and a few pico de gallo, giant glass of water, 12 oz black espresso.
  3. Super Shake @ 10:30 am: ~10 oz of water, 2 scoops of chocolate protein powder, 2 cups of spinach, 2 cups of frozen cherries, ~1 tablespoon cacao nibs, ~1 tablespoon of chia seeds.
  4. Lunch @ 2 pm: 4 oz of turkey breast, ~⅔ cup of quinoa, 1 fist of blended veggies, 1 apple, 2 thumbs of roasted almonds, 1-2 giant glasses of water.
  5. 1-2 cups of inexperienced tea @ 3-4 pm.
  6. Dinner @ 6 pm: 8 oz of sirloin (lean), 2 cupped arms of roasted crimson potatoes with onions, 2 cups of roasted rainbow carrots, 2 tbsp of olive oil for roasting, 1 glass of wine, 1-2 giant glasses of water.

If you calculate the energy and macronutrients of this particular person’s consumption utilizing the USDA nutrient database, you get:

  • 3130 kcal
  • 212 g protein
  • 283 g carbs
  • 111 g fats

And if you happen to put this particular person’s consumption into hand portion phrases, you get:

  • Protein = 7 palms (eggs x 2, protein powder x 2, turkey, sirloin x 2)
  • Veggies = 6 fists (scallions/peppers/mushrooms/pico, spinach x 2, blended veggies, rainbow carrots x 2)
  • Carbs = 9 cupped arms (wrap, beans, cherries x 3, quinoa, apple, potato x 2)
  • Fats = 8 thumbs (butter, guacamole, cacao nibs, chia seeds, almonds x 2, olive oil x 2)
  • Alcohol = 1 (wine)

When you multiply these portion numbers utilizing approximate hand-portion math for males, the estimated consumption is:

  • 3183 kcal (53 kcal greater than calculating it with apps and spreadsheets)
  • 220g protein (8 g greater than calculating it with apps and spreadsheets)
  • 285g carbs (2 g greater than calculating it with apps and spreadsheets)
  • 113g fats (2 g greater than calculating it with apps and spreadsheets)

Once once more, the hand portion methodology is almost as correct as manually weighing and monitoring parts—and far less complicated.

We will help you meet your targets

Our Ultimate Macro Calculator will help you determine the perfect macronutrient ratio on your particular vitamin and health targets. From there, our hand portion methodology can information you alongside the street to success.

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