How to Stop Counting Calories And Not Gain Weight [1 Unique Strategy]
Counting calories sucks.
It's boring, time-consuming, and difficult to do. Unfortunately, many nutrition experts claim that counting calories are the only way that you can lose or gain weight.
Thankfully, there is a simple way that you can measure your food intake and have an easy idea of how many calories you are consuming.
Today we are going to teach you how to stop count calories and not gain weight, using 1 unique strategy.
Welcome to Part 2 of the White Coat Trainer Diet Series:
- In part 1 we discuss the three most important factors that contribute to successful dieting. If you haven't read it yet, you can find it at The Importance of a Balanced Diet (3 Key Principles You Need To Know)
This post will cover a simple, yet effective method on how to quantify your food intake, and recommendations for determining the amount of food you should consume.
THE ONE UNIQUE WAY TO MEASURE YOUR FOOD INTAKE
So how do we determine the amount of food you need to consume in order to achieve your dietary goals?
Let's start with a quick analysis of your current diet.
If you are like most people, you probably eat a wide variety of different foods on a day to day basis. Breakfast tends to be the meal that is consistent for most people, while lunch and dinner can have more variety.
However, if you were to actually break down each one of your meals, you may notice that some things are constant.
First off, the volume of food that you consume at each sitting will be similar, as your body can only tolerate a certain amount of food at one time.
Secondly, despite the variety in your lunch and dinner, they probably contain similar proportions of the three food categories: carbohydrate, protein, and fat.
For example; most meals usually contain some type of protein: chicken, shrimp, beef, tofu, etc and some type of carbohydrate: bread, salad, vegetables, rice, pasta, sauce etc.
Some meals may not even have a protein, and may only be comprised of carbohydrates.
Now let's attempt to quantify the amount of food you had. Can you estimate how much of the protein you ate? What about the carbohydrate?
Fortunately, there's a quick and easy way to quantify your food. Just compare the serving to the size of your hand.
Was the protein or the carbohydrate the size of your thumb? A couple of fingers? The size of your palm? Or was it closer to the size of your fist?
Thankfully, thats all you need to compare it to!
* your Fist is roughly the size of 1 cup
* your Cupped hand is roughly 1/2 cup
* your Palm is about 3-4 oz of food
* your Thumb is roughly the size of a tablespoon
Obviously, a female who is 5'3 and 110 lbs will have a smaller hand than a 6'2, 200 lb man but it doesn't matter. This doesn't have to be an exact science. The calories on nutrition labels vary widely anyway.
Your hand will be personalized to YOU and those are the portions you should use for yourself.
PORTION CONTROL MADE EASY
So how do you measure your food? How much of each macronutrient should you consume?
When selecting your meals, it is ideal to choose something from all three categories at each major sitting.
The macronutrient that people eat too much of is carbohydrates. This is because carbs are easy to eat in large quantities and they are overly abundant.
The most common carbohydrates are bread, cereals, rice, pasta, dairy, most desserts, and almost any drink that isn't water.
To make matters worse, we are traditionally accustomed to having at least half of our plate be composed of the carbohydrate.
Excess carbohydrate consumption is one of the leading causes of poor weight management, insulin resistance, and increasing body fat levels.
When selecting carbs, it is helpful to choose whole wheat options and fiber-rich varieties.
Whole wheat options have a lower glycemic index, which does not cause rapid changes in sugar/insulin levels like simple sugars do, while fiber helps slow down the digestion of carbs increasing satiety and further decreasing large fluctuations in glycemia.
CARBOHYDRATE PORTION GUIDELINES
If eating vegetables, your portion size could be the size of your fist.
If eating non-vegetable carbs, your portion size should fit in your cupped hand.
Women can eat 1 cupped hand per meal while men can consume 1-2 cupped hands per meal
HOW TO ESTIMATE THE CALORIES IN CARBOHYDRATES
- Half a cup of non-vegetable carbs is approximately 100-150 calories
- 1 cup of vegetables almost has a negligible amount of calories
- Beware of liquid carbohydrates (soda, juice etc) 8 ounces of these beverages are another 100-150 calories
Fat is the macronutrient that most people are afraid to eat. Unfortunately, fat has gotten a bad rap from the media and many popular diets. Just look at how many foods have a big label reading "Fat-Free."
This is a disgrace.
The truth of the matter is, the vast majority of people don't eat enough of the right kinds of fat- the ones that our bodies need, and the ones that actually have a multitude of health benefits. These are the mono and poly-unsaturated fats.
If you only take one thing away from this post, it should be this. Please do not be afraid to eat fat!
Healthy fats are an excellent way to help maintain energy levels and satiation throughout the day.
In addition, fats have twice the calories as carbohydrates and proteins, which can help offset any large decrease in caloric intake that comes from eating fewer carbs.
FAT PORTION GUIDELINES
When eating fats, your thumb should represent one serving size.
Women can consume one serving per meal while men can consume up to 2 servings per meal.
HOW TO ESTIMATE THE CALORIES IN FAT
- One tablespoon of liquid (olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil) and semi-solid fats (nut butter) is approximately 100 calories
- One tablespoon of solid fats (nuts, avocados, seeds) is approximately 50 calories
Protein is the most important macronutrient. Protein is always essential.
Fortunately, many foods are high in protein. These mainly include high-quality animal products such as lean meats, eggs, and egg whites, and wild caught fish and seafood. Whole milk and cheese also provide good sources of protein but keep in mind that dairy comes loaded with additional fat and carbs.
For vegetarians, tofu is a great substitute, as are different legume varieties such as lentils and chickpeas.
Protein powders are also extremely convenient and an easy way to get a quick serving of healthy protein.
PROTEIN PORTION GUIDELINES
The size of your palm determines your protein serving size.
Women can consume 1 serving per meal while men can consume up to 2 servings per meal.
HOW TO ESTIMATE THE CALORIES IN PROTEIN
- 3-4 ounces of protein is approximately 200-300 calories from animal based protein (chicken, steak, fish)
- Legumes are also carbohydrate-based, so it is easier to use your cupped hand (~1/2 cup) as the serving size. Again this will be approximately 100-150 calories.
HOW TO STOP COUNTING CALORIES AND START LOSING WEIGHT
If your goal is to lose weight, simply start off by using the strategies outlined in this post.
Men should consume anywhere from 1-2 servings of each macronutrient at each major meal.
This means consuming 1-2 fist of vegetables, 3-8 ounces of protein, and 1-2 thumb sized servings of fat at each major sitting. If you are going to consume non-vegetable carbohydrates (rice, pasta, breads), only consume 1-2 cupped hand servings.
Women should consume 1 serving of each macronutrient at each major meal.
This means consuming 1 fist of vegetables, 3-4 ounces of protein and 1 thumb sized servings of fat at each major sitting. The non-vegetable carbohydrate should only be 1 cupped hand serving.
In addition, you must avoid liquid calories. Do your best to consume water and only with all of your meals. Ditch the sports drinks, juices, and sodas. If you absolutely have to have a flavored drink, try seltzer or fruit-infused water.
Sticking to this approach of portion control, you will likely begin to notice weight loss in ~2 weeks.
If you do not notice any difference, then begin to decrease the quantity of each of serving sizes by a small margin. Also, you can begin to use our other weight loss strategies which we have written about extensively here.
So there you have it. This is the simplest way to quantify the amount of food you are consuming without having to actually weigh, measure, or count calories again.
These portion guidelines can be used wherever and whenever you go and can help you determine how much food you should consume in one sitting.
With that said, do not forget that total caloric intake is only one factor in long-term dieting. Use the principles discussed here and in Part 1 to ensure that you are consuming high-quality foods from each food group at every sitting.
Now that you are armed with the key principles of dieting and determining how much you should be eating, we can discuss how to create your perfect diet.
So in a nutshell...
- Consume a high-quality food from each food group in every meal.
- Use the size of your hand to determine your portion sizes at each sitting.
- Women should consume ~1 serving of each food group at each sitting while men can consume 1-2 servings.
Be sure to check out Part 3- How To Start Eating Clean, Even With An 80 Hour Work Week where we synthesize all of the information presented and provide quick tips on developing a sustainable diet for yourself.
Are carbohydrates the major macronutrient in your diet? How many items in your refrigerator say fat-free?
Don't forget to share this awesome strategy if you know any one who struggles with portion control.
Subscribe to keep getting articles like this one, and receive a copy of our free Ebook- The White Coat Trainer Nutrition Guide!