Building a Meal: Portion sizes & balancing your macronutrients

By Briana Brown, NTP, CF L1

Preparing meals doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it can be quite simple. When creating meals, we are looking to incorporate all three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Compared to micronutrients, our bodies require a relatively large amount of these nutrients. We must receive these macronutrients on a daily basis, as it not only enables our body to perform optimally but to function at the most fundamental level. These macronutrients provide our body with calories (energy), and they are the building blocks of cellular growth, immune function, and overall repair.

How to build your plate:
Protein: Pick a protein (around 4-8 oz.)
Carbohydrates: Fill at least ½ of your plate with low-starch, colorful vegetables (your goal is the full rainbow of colors every week!) Starchier vegetables such as roots and tubers are great carbohydrate sources post workout.
Fat: Add healthy fat (ex. Avocado, salad dressing, butter, etc.)

Now that you know what to put on your plate, let’s talk about how much. Exact portion sizes will depend on your activity and goals, so please adjust accordingly. Here’s how much of each food to eat at each meal and snack based on standard serving sizes: 

FoodPortion Size
Meat, poultry, fish, dairyThe size/thickness of your palm is equal to approximately 4 ounces
EggsOpen handful
Veggies (greens, cauliflower, etc.)At least ½ of your plate
Starchy veggies (potato, pumpkin, etc.)The size of your fist
FruitAn open handful
Oils & buttersThe size of your thumb
Coconut & olivesOne open handful
Nuts & seedsOne closed handful

Happy Eating!

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