How to Stop Counting Calories Using 1 Unique Strategy

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Counting calories sucks.

It’s boring, time-consuming, and difficult to do.  Unfortunately, many experts claim that counting calories is 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 a pretty good estimate of the number of calories you are consuming without actually having to count them.

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:

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.

Let’s get started.



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.

Fat will probably be sprinkled in there with the oil your food was cooked in.

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?

Your hand is the perfect tool to determine your portion sizes.

* 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 by large margins anyway.

Your hand will be personalized to YOU and those are the portions you should use for yourself.



So how do you measure your portion sizes?

How much of each macronutrient should you consume?

Should you have a general idea of how many calories your meals should have anyway?

I will show you how your hand can help you answer each one of these questions.

The first thing that you have to do is create a meal that has something from each macronutrient (Carb, Fat, Protein) at each major sitting.

Now let’s go over how much of each you should eat.



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 bread > White bread

Whole wheat pasta > Regular pasta

Quinoa > Brown Rice > White Rice

Sweet Potatoes > Regular Potatoes


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.

Vegetables are also considered carbohydrates. Thankfully, they are in a totally different camp, and can almost be classified as a totally different food group.



  • 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



For those of you who are adamant about knowing the calorie content of your food, here is a simple way to calculate it anyway.

  • 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.

Even saturated fat is necessary in our diet.  The caveat is, saturated fats should come from healthy high quality sources such as coconut oil, organic eggs and grass fed meat, and to consume it in moderation.

If you remember absolutely nothing from this post, and you only take one thing away from it, 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.

You’re welcome.



  • 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.


  • 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.

Protein is necessary to make enzymes, proteins, hair, nails, and of course muscle.

Muscle is by far one of the healthiest tissues you can have on your body. Do not be afraid of adding muscle to your frame.

Muscle will

  • help boost your metabolism,
  • help maintain a healthy weight
  • help prevent osteoporosis
  • increase strength levels

Check out How To Build Muscle Naturally Using Scientifically Proven Principles to learn the most efficient way to build this important organ.

Anyway back to protein.

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, but as always, supplements are to be used in moderation.



  • 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.



  • 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.



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 hands per meal.

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, it is absolutely critical to avoid liquid calories. This is the number one bad habit you can break right now! (Check out 7 Bad Eating Habits You Can Change Immediately to learn a few more.)

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.

If you stick 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, starting with How To Lose Weight Naturally Using The Incredible Power of Food.



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 portion control 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?

Have you ever counted calories for any amount of time?

How many items in your refrigerator say fat-free? 

Comment below and let us know.

Don’t forget to share this awesome strategy if you know anyone who struggles with portion control.


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Alex Robles, MD / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH

Alex Robles, MD / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH

Alex & Brittany Robles are OBGYN's, fitness experts, and founders of The White Coat Trainer, a site dedicated to improving the health and fitness of busy individuals. Their advice has been featured on KevinMD, The Doctor Weighs In, My Fitness Pal, Reader's Digest, and The Active Times. Learn more about them here.

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