A Fist, A Palm and A Thumb

What should you eat? How much should you eat? 

In our previous mail, we introduced you to our two-part message about nutrition.   To review, it looks like this:

1) Nutrition is not complicated and

2) Changing your diet is not that big of a deal.

We’re going to continue fleshing out part 1 of the message today, with a really uncomplicated, simple and intuitive method for determining how much food, and what kinds of food to eat every day. This is probably our longest email, but don’t worry, it’s got lots of pictures :)

A Fist, a Palm and a Thumb

This is so simple you’re probably going to ignore it, but if you follow it then it will change your life.

Counting calories is confusing, generally impractical and very inaccurate. But we still need some way to quantify how much food we’re eating if we want to affect our body composition. Thankfully, if you have a hand, and the ability to count to 2, you have everything you need to create a perfectly nutritionally balanced meal, tailored to your exact body size and daily calorie requirements. If you follow this system even 80% of the time, you’ll have a new body in about 12 weeks.

To best control portion sizes, just compare what’s on your plate to the size of your hand, and follow these simple rules:

Eat 3-4 meals every day containing:

1) 1 or 2 Palm-sized portions of protein (1 if you’re female, 2 if you’re male)

2) 1 or 2 Fist-sized portions of vegetables

3) 1 or 2 Thumb-sized portions of healthy fats

4) 1 or 2 Cupped Handfuls of dense carbohydrates

That’s it. You now know absolutely everything you need to know about nutrition. As always though, the devil is in the details, so let’s look at some examples.


Precision-Nutrition_Palm-Sized-Portions_Steak-Example_Female Precision-Nutrition_Palm-Sized-Portions_Steak-Example_Male The above photo represents what we mean by 1 or 2 palm-sized portions of protein: A piece of meat, chicken, fish or eggs the same size and thickness as the palm of your hand.

If you want to use protein powder, count 1 scoop as 1 portion.

If you are vegetarian, your best protein option is soy.

Protein is an essential nutrient for recovering from exercise. If you want to get fitter and stronger, you have to meet your protein requirements. Having adequate protein in your diet will also increase your metabolic rate, keep you full between meals and provides the raw materials your body needs to produce many important hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters and antibodies.

If you don’t eat enough protein, life basically sucks!


Precision-Nutrition_Palm-Sized-Portions_Cauliflower-Example_Female Precision-Nutrition_Palm-Sized-Portions_Vegetable-Example_Male2

Here’s what a fist-sized portion of vegetables looks like (that’s cauliflower in the photo, in case anyone is reading on a small screen!) For best results, aim to include vegetables with all of your meals, daily. This could be Cucumber , Lettuce, Radishes, Celery, Asparagus , Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Bok Choy, Cauliflower, Mushrooms, Bell Peppers, Spinach, Green Beans, Carrots, Onions, Aubergine….or more or less anything else you can pull out of the ground and eat!

Vegetables are the absolute best source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals in our diets. These micronutrients are involved in pretty much ALL of the reactions in your body that produce energy. This is why you feel awesome and energetic when you meet all of your vitamin and mineral requirements! When you eat enough veg, the increase in energy will make you feel more motivated, and more likely to stick your nutritional plan. The added fibre will also help keep you full between meals and maintain a healthy digestive tract.

Healthy Fats

Precision-Nutrition_Palm-Sized-Portions_Nuts-Example_Female Precision-Nutrition_Palm-Sized-Portions_Nuts-Example_Male1

Here’s an example of thumb-sized portions of healthy fats (almonds, in this case). Having adequate fat in your diet is essential for good health. Fats are incorporated directly into our cell membranes, where they affect everything from our risk of cardiovascular disease to our mood. They are essential for maintaining a balanced hormonal profile and they are also digested slowly, so they help keep you full throughout the day.

Include a little olive oil, avocado, nuts, coconut oil, fish oil or flax seed with each meal daily. You don’t need much, but you certainly should never avoid these healthy fats!

Dense Carbohydrates

Precision-Nutrition_Palm-Sized-Portions_Berries-Example_Female Precision-Nutrition_Palm-Sized-Portions_Berry-Example_Male

Many people are shocked to hear that vegetables are a “carbohydrate”, so we have separate set of guidelines for what we call “dense carbohydrates” – whole-food starches and fruits.

Carbs get a bad rep…and it’s easy to understand why. Carbohydrates are burned by your body during intense exercise to produce energy – but if you eat a lot of carbohydrates and you don’t do very much intense exercise, your body can only do one thing with them: store them as fat! That doesn’t mean that carbohydrates are evil or that you should never eat them though! It just means you need to choose the right amounts and types to match your activity levels.

By the time you’ve been training with us for a few weeks in CrossFit Sandyford, you’re going to have ramped up your intensity levels quite significantly, so you’re going to need 1-2 cupped handfuls of dense carbohydrates at most meals. Rather than naming everything individually, we’ve put together the chart below to help you out with picking the best carbohydrates for your meals:

carb types

[Click the thumbnail above for a larger image]

Include 1-2 cupped handfuls with each meal and you’re good to go! That’s it for today! Next up we’re going to talk about meal ideas, recipes, shopping lists and all that good stuff…

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